by Mike McNamee Published
Epson UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper Having got our feet wet, we moved on to test the current top-of-the-range art, smooth paper from Epson - UltraSmooth Fine Art (USFAP).
The data here were not quite as spectacular as the SFA but excellent just the same. USFAP is a 100% cotton rag paper, acid and chlorine free and neutral buffered with calcium carbonate for archival longevity. The slight cream tone is natural as no optical brighteners (OBAs) are used in this paper, it is optically dead in UV light and there is no hint of UV-lift in the spectral trace. We have noted of late that some of the "fine art" papers we have had lying around have yellowed slightly where exposed to the atmosphere - one of the signs which causes the limited edition, fine art types to shy away from OBAs. UltraSmooth is available at 250gsm in roll form and at 325 and 500gsm in double-sided sheet form. Rolls are available in 17" 24" and 44" widths. The surface is callendered to a very smooth finish, akin to Enhanced Matte paper from Epson.
The blue diamonds are the reference colours in the actual file. The yellow triangles are the SP profile result - note that they are fully saturated but rotated anticlockwise, ie more yellow. The red squares of the Pro profile are the correct hue but desaturated, a slightly preferable result.
"SP" profile and the summary data are tabled. Both tests were carried out at 2880dpi on the 4800 using Matte Black Ink. For comparison we also looked out our initial trial data, where we tested UltraSmooth in an Epson 7600 using Photo Black ink. Analysis of the audit data is quite complex if you are trying to determine if one profile is better than another. The newer "SP" profile did not fare quite as well as the older one - the print was more yellow biased in both the skin tones and the neutral greys and was slightly lighter in overall tone across the gamut. The upside of the "SP" profile was that the slightly lighter rendering gave more shadow detail - down about 8 RGB points more, before blocking occurred. None of the problematic, surface density irregularities of SFA was evident with this paper.
Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper This is a slightly textured, water colour style paper. It is 260gsm and available only in A3+ size. It has a 100% cotton rag base, is acid free and has a small amount of brightener to give the images a little more kick. The base colour is within a couple of tenths of absolutely pure neutral white. It is difficult to tell which is the printing side of the material and you have to use the "lick test" - the print side is the stickier of the two.
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