Review: Moab’s Somerset Photo Satin

We recently purchased some of Moab’s Somerset Photo Satin, a new paper that we first encountered at this year’s PMA show in Las Vegas.

Somerset Photo Satin is a thick (300gsm), 100% cotton fine-art paper made by St Cuthberts Mill, one of the oldest paper makers in the U.K. It is quite white, with a brightness of 97.5%, and it is free of whiteners and other optical brightening agents (OBAs). It does, however, contain buffering agents designed to help protect the paper from atmospheric contaminants.

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Crane & Co. sells Museo paper business

museo-logo.jpegWe’re currently getting ready for the annual PMA convention, which will be held next Thursday through Saturday in Las Vegas. While we were working on lining up meetings with the media companies, we discovered that Crane & Co., the venerable stationers based in Dalton, Mass., had sold their Museo line of digital fine art media to a new company, Intelicoat:

On December 17, 2007 Crane & Co. announced the sale of their digital fine art paper business, including the Museo brand of products, to Intelicoat Technologies. Intelicoat is the leading coater and converter of inkjet media including papers, films, canvas, and other fabrics. Crane will continue to supply the base paper and existing technologies.

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Old school postcard printing

We’re always on the lookout for interesting paper stock for our printers; most of the time, though, it’s paper that actually goes through the printer. Last fall, while wandering through our local photo store (Pro Photo Supply, if you’re in the Portland, Oregon area), we found some postcard stock from a company in Wisconsin called Romar.

Romar’s Post-Pix are definitely from the pre-digital era. They have a paper protector that hides a strong adhesive on the front of the card; you simply remove that and affix any 4" by 6" photo in its place. The result is a nice, thick postcard that holds up well in the mail, and makes a great statement with your own pictures.

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Glossy papers from Red River and Moab

We’ve been testing quite a few printers in the past month or so–in fact, there are 10 printers set up in various states around my office as I write this. When we evaluate a printer, we start out with the printer manufacturer’s papers with our test images; in theory, that combination should offer the best quality “out of the box.” Realistically, it’s also the way that most people will use their photo printer. (The printer companies have also understood that providing a range of high-quality papers is a smart business move, so it’s a much easier way to go than it was a few years ago.)

When you want to compare prints between printers, it helps to have a more-level playing field. Looking at a print from competitive printers on the same paper stock can help draw some clear delineations on the qualities of a specific unit. To get to this point, we profile the paper-printer combination with either X-Rite’s i1 or DataColor’s PrintFIX Pro, which gives us an ICC profile that we can use when printing from Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture. Both products do a very good job of creating ICC profiles for us: the X-Rite solution offers more automation, but the PrintFIX system–since replaced by the Spyder3 Studio–is significantly less expensive. We find the profiles created with both to generally be of high quality, although you can often find very good profiles on the paper vendors’ Web sites.

When printing on matte papers, we’ve found Epson’s Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte (formerly Enhanced Matte) to be a good strong paper that has held up well and reproduces images very well on printers from Epson, Canon and HP.

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