Following on from my review of Fotospeed's range of smooth matt inkjet papers ( here and here ) I then moved on to two more Fotospeed trial packs - "Photo Quality" and "Fine Art Glossy". As before this is a fairly subjective review, simply printing a couple of images on each of the sheets in the pack and looking at the results. Also, all printing was done with Fotospeed's own generic "canned" profiles from Lightroom.
Whenever subjective terms are used, such as the warmth of the paper white, these are always in comparison with my baseline reference, Epson Archival Matte (EAM).
Fine Art Glossy
This is a small pack of only three paper types. They're heavy papers with a smooth soft sheen surface. Branded as "Fine Art" they are predictably expensive. They were also the most disappointing of all the Fotospeed papers I've tried. Here are the details.
A (very) slight warmth to the paper white.
Good contrast and sharpness
Nice weight, with a smooth soft sheen surface
The feel in the hand is OK
Very warm paper white, almost amber. When held side by side with EAM it is way too amber for my taste.
Very soft sheen, almost matt, with a very slight texture.
Heavy with some feel, though not as nice as a matt pure cotton paper (which is my favourite for feel in the hand)
High contrast but a little dark. Whether this could be improved using a different profile, or by tweaking the print I couldn't say but as nearly all the other papers came out just about right I counted this as a negative for this paper.
Platinum Gloss Art Fibre
On my monochrome test print there is a purple cast to the light shadows / dark midtones. This makes it unacceptable. (Whether this could be fixed using a better profile, or using Epson's ABW driver mode I don't know but I have no desire to find out).
Very high contrast, making it too dark in the lower tones. I didn't like this.
Soft sheen surface.
Reasonable weight, feel is OK but not as nice as the nicer matt papers.
All in all I was disappointed by the last two of these fine art gloss papers and Platinum Gloss Art Fibre was unacceptable to me using the canned profile. Whether I'd get better results with all of these using better profiles or tweaking the image to suit the paper I don't know but as all the other Fotospeed papers I've tried have given good results with no effort I didn't see the need to try further. Platinum baryta was the best and for the colour print was visually almost identical to the Smooth Cotton matt paper.
Photo Quality - Glossy
The trial pack for this actually contains matt as well as glossy and lustre but I haven't tried the matt papers yet so I'm only reviewing the glossy and lustre papers here.
All the papers were very good and gave very good results using canned profiles. The feel in the hand is quite different from the fine art matt papers, feeling much more like the kind of prints you used to get from high street processing in "the olden days". You could insultingly call it "plasticky" but actually I think it's quite nice. Some of these papers are very glossy indeed but many are very similar to the pearl/lustre that again you would be familiar with from high street print processors.
All of these papers look very different when you angle them so you can see the reflectiveness of the surface.
Warm but not amber-warm. More like a very subtle gold or antique bronze. A unique paper white, in fact, different to any other of the papers tested and very nice.
Subdued look but good contrast and sharpness.
All properties identical to Metallic Lustre except surface is very high gloss, like Cibachrome. When angled to see the reflectiveness of the surface the "metallic" name is clearly seen.
Very beautiful paper, one of my favourites.
Photo Smooth Pearl
Good contrast and sharpness
Soft sheen surface
V good paper
Very bright white, the brightest of all. When compared to others it almost looks blue-white. Perhaps excessively so when seen side by side with other papers.
Good contrast and sharpness
High gloss surface
Very good paper
Identical to PF Gloss except it has a soft sheen surface
All the Photo Quality gloss papers were very good. PF Gloss was a favourite because of its value for money (almost as cheap as EAM) but Metallic Gloss was easily my favourite and a very special paper.
As before, after doing an arm's length visual comparison of each paper I put some of my favourite ones behind glass. All my prints are intended ultimately for framing so this is how they will be seen by my customers.
Also as before, once you put the paper behind glass most of its unique properties except for the paper white colour disappear. Even comparing the expensive and ultra-high-gloss Metallic Gloss with a totally matt surface like Platinum Matt and the low cost matt Epson Archival Matte, it is difficult to tell the difference in normal viewing once behind glass. Even when angled to see the reflective surface it's hard to tell the difference because the glass becomes the dominant reflective layer.
However, if you were to produce an edition of prints intended for a different kind of viewing, e.g. presented in a portfolio box, Metallic Gloss does have a very special quality. I also love the gold, or perhaps antique brass, paper white, especially with monochrome prints.
In summary, all of the Photo Quality Gloss range are very good, all of the Fine Art Smooth Matt are very good, but I was less keen on a couple of the Fine Art Glossy.
Will I switch? Not yet. I'm very tempted by Metallic Gloss but I'd have to work out what I was going to do with it. Framing behind glass it would lose its specialness while costing me more than twice as much per sheet. Whatever you choose, the two factors that can't be ignored and that should dictate your choice are the paper white colour and the price.
All "glossy" papers (all in the Fine Art Glossy trial pack and all the glossy and pearl/lustre in the Photo Quality trial pack) were printed on my Epson SC-P600 printer using Epson Premium Semi Gloss as the media type with Photo Black ink and Quality set to Quality (1440 DPI). These are as per Fotospeed recommendations.
Fotospeed generic profiles were used for each and all prints were done from Lightroom. The prints were allowed to dry for at least 12 hours before critical viewing.
All prints were viewed while standing in an external doorway on a reasonably bright but not sunny day. The A4 print was held at arms length. I might occasionally look up close but at no point did I use any magnification.