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Fotospeed Fine Art Paper Review

What’s the practical difference between these papers?

Alex Nail

Alex Nail is a professional mountain photographer and Mountain Leader based in Bath.

alexnail.com



There’s always been an aspect of ‘Emporer’s New Clothes’ when discussing fine-art printer papers. There are plenty of articles online explaining gamuts, d-max, substrates and coatings as if they are the be-all and end-all. The particularly technically minded love delving into detail in search of the absolute best and I’ve been down that road myself, but it’s not for everyone.

What most people will want to know is: What’s the practical difference between these papers and will the resultant prints be the best they could possibly be? (spoiler: yes!). With that in mind here’s a pragmatic explanation of some of Fotospeed’s Fine-Art Papers and my personal choices.

For my own printing I’m interested specifically in fine-art papers which can be used in my Canon Pro-1000 inkjet printer, this process is commonly known as ‘giclee’ and (despite sometimes having a slightly smaller gamut) compares favourably to C-type (or lightjet) on a few counts namely:

  • The paper weights are generally heavier and therefore suitable for “hinge mounting” in a frame without noticeable warping.
  • The paper weight itself makes these prints tactile – they feel as good as they look.
  • True matt finishes in a variety of textures are available.
  • You don’t need a printer the size of a building to produce state-of-the-art giclee prints!

Since I have a personal bias towards matt papers I spend a bit of time comparing matt and gloss and more time talking about the matt papers generally.

Colour Management

Before we get started, I do have to add one important caveat. Unfortunately picking a nice paper is pointless if you don’t have a good printer, an accurate print workflow and a solid (although not necessarily comprehensive) understanding of colour management. 

Unfortunately picking a nice paper is pointless if you don’t have a good printer, an accurate print workflow and a solid (although not necessarily comprehensive) understanding of colour management.
If you want your prints to come close to what you see on screen you need a screen that displays the gamut you are working in (whether it be sRGB or AdobeRGB), some method for accurately profiling the screen, a high-end printer, accurate paper profiles, a basic understanding of soft proofing and an understanding of how to knit all these aspects together! I use Fotospeed’s free profiling service to create custom print profiles for my Canon Pro-1000 which I found to be much better than the generic profiles. I used their guides to make sure my print settings were ‘just so’.

With good colour management and neutral lighting, you should be able to produce prints which are almost identical to what you are seeing on screen.

Paper Types

Fine-art papers can broadly be broken down into 2 categories, Matt and Glossy.

I’ve avoided any heavily textured matt papers because I find too much texture distracting on smaller prints. This is a personal choice dependent on subject matter-
I’m comparing 6 different papers all from Fotospeed whose papers I recently switched to having mostly printed on Hahnemuhle and Canson papers in the past. The Fotospeed papers are of the same high standards as the papers I have been used to, so switching brands made perfect sense given that Fotospeed is a UK company with excellent technical support (which I have leaned on a few times!) who are very supportive of the UK landscape photography community.



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