by Mike McNamee Published 01/06/2012
The arrival of a fourth paper to complement the Fotospeed 'Natural' series led us to pull in the entire set for a comparative test. They make an interesting quartet which will probably generate a specialist following. If you are looking for skin-slicing fine detail look elsewhere, these are papers most at home with the soft and delicate, the subtle and arty images of fine art printing. They are all 100% cotton rag, all acid free, with a weight of 315gsm and a calliper around 460microns. As fine art papers, therefore, they have a certain presence in hand due to their weight and thickness.
The group is split by virtue of the surface finish and the use of OBAs in the 'bright' versions. The Natural Textured finish is somewhere between a true artist's watercolour paper and a pastel surface. The Natural Soft Textured variants are smoother (but still with a distinct character) and 'soft'. This softness manifests itself as a more 'bendy' print in the hand, but importantly as a more absorbent surface which collects ink in a characteristic way feathering the edges between solid blocks of colour. In many ways it behaves like an un-sized watercolour paper (or certainly a lightly sized one).
fotospeed, paper, printers
We first tested Natural Textured and Natural Soft Textured papers in June 2005. Their baseline properties seem to have changed little, but our testing methods and printers have changed quite a lot. The gamut volume, for example, has risen from 520,000 to 615,00 (+20%) due to the HD UltraChrome ink set. We also test using a high gamut target these days.
The un-brightened pair have a creamy base colour, the Natural Textured more so. As expected the brightened papers are cooler, about 3 Lab points blue, with high whiteness (ranked 5th and 10th in the database). The fluorescence readings rank 34th and 56th in the database. It is the brightness where these papers stand out, occupying the pole positions in our database of more than 200 media.
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