Fotospeed matt paper review - part 2


Fotospeed smooth matt papers under test

Two posts ago ( here ) I wrote a fairly subjective and hand-wavy review of Fotospeed's smooth matt inkjet papers. I had bought a trial pack containing 3 sheets of each.


The overall impression was:

  • All the papers are very good

  • All gave good contrast and sharpness

  • All had good colour reproduction

  • All had good black and white reproduction, neutral within the limits of paper white, with no metamerism or colour casts.


This was using the generic "canned" profiles downloaded from Fotospeed's site. My baseline for comparison was Epson's Archival Matte (EAM), my long term standard paper.


Today I took a second look and wrote notes of my subjective opinion of each. Here are the results.


NOTE: If you want highly scientific pixel-peeping densitometer type tests, you should probably look elsewhere.


Black and White


Smooth Cotton

  • A slight warmth (compared to EAM)

  • Slightly better contrast than EAM, whites were a little brighter, good sharpness

  • Nice weight and luxurious feel in the hand

  • Smooth surface


Platinum Matt

  • Slightly brighter white than EAM

  • A little more contrast, brighter whites, good sharpness

  • Mid weight (in comparison with other papers in the trial)

  • Plain feel (i.e. not luxurious but not nasty - unremarkable)

  • Smooth surface


High White Smooth

  • Warm white

  • Good contrast and sharpness

  • Mid weight, good feel, smooth surface


Natural Soft Textured

  • Very warm, almost yellowish

  • Good contrast, brightness and sharpness

  • Heavy, good feel, slight texture barely visible in normal viewing

  • Good paper but be aware of the very warm paper white


NST Bright White

  • Bright white paper with very slight pinkish tone, only visible in comparison with other papers

  • Very nice B+W tones

  • Good contrast, brightness and sharpness

  • Good weight, good feel, less luxurious than Smooth Cotton

  • Slight texture, barely visible in normal viewing


Platinum Cotton 305

  • Very warm paper white

  • Good contrast, brightness and sharpness

  • Good weight and feel

  • Smooth surface


The choice is overwhelmingly determined by the paper white and whether you want a warmer, cooler or more neutral white. When comparing side by side this quality is far more visible than any other. Contrast and sharpness are almost evenly matched across all papers and all are good.


My favourites among these papers for black and white were Smooth Cotton and Platinum Matt, with special mention for NST Bright White. Smooth Cotton has a nicer feel in the hand but Platinum Matt wins based on paper white and black and white tone reproduction. See at the end for the comparison with EAM behind glass.


Colour


This can be more easily summed up. For the print I chose it was difficult to see much difference between the different papers except for the paper white and this was much less obvious with colour than with black and white. Colour reproduction and fidelity were very good for all and I'd be happy with any of these papers but the choice again comes down to paper white.


In conclusion, I'd choose either Smooth Cotton or Platinum Matt (same as for B+W)


Behind Glass

Viewing conditions so far involved holding the paper in the hand and comparing side by side with EAM in an open doorway in normal daylight on a bright but cloudy day.


So my next test was to put the papers behind glass. I took a sheet of my usual backing board, placed the prints on this, and put a sheet of glass on top. I then went outside into the full daylight (still bright cloudy) to look.


The Fotospeed matt paper shortlist behind glass

This time, for black and white, EAM was my favourite with Platinum Matt second but it was tight and I'd be happy with either of these or even with Smooth Cotton.


For colour, my choice was Platinum Matt but again I'd be happy with either EAM or Smooth Cotton.


Overall, Platinum Matt has the edge based on tone (paper white), fidelity, and feel but it's very close to Smooth Cotton. When you put price into the equation I'd have to stick with Epson Archival Matte, at only 40% of the price of the cheapest of these papers. If you want some snob or show-off value then perhaps you'd go with Smooth Cotton so you could say you print on a 100% cotton paper.


I've also tested the Gloss and Photo Quality trial packs. The Gloss selection (only three paper types) was the biggest surprise. I'll write these up in the next post.