Monday, November 14, 2011

Product Review - Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper

Today I'm going to review a product that I use. I thought it might be useful to some readers out there that are looking for a good paper for their prints, and also useful to people who might be interested in my printing process. So here it goes: 

Digital images from my Migration Series

When looking for a paper for prints there's several things that you have to consider - and these things change from person to person. I have been a fan of glossy papers for years and really never considered looking for anything else. However for my Migration series I wanted to try something a little different so I got some Velvet Fine Art Paper and fell in love. I've since gone back and evaluated quite a few different papers and I just keep going back to the Velvet.

The things I was specifically looking for: how archival is it? Does it have a texture? How sharp are the prints? How do the prints look overall? What's the paper made from?

Two 13x19 inch prints from my Migration series printed on Epson's Velvet Fine Art Paper

The Epson Velvet Fine Art paper is made from 100% cotton rag(which is important for fine art prints - because it means it's a quality paper and the paper is archival). There is a beautiful texture to this paper - which gives it a tactile dimension you wouldn't normally have with prints. The prints look fantastic - the color is deep and saturated the sharpness is good and the texture adds a great dimension to the print.

Close-up of a small portions of the print to show the paper's texture

Larger section of 13x19in print with signature in corner

With Epson's Velvet Fine Art paper it seems the printer and inks play a large role in how archival this paper is.  Since I'm using a Epson R1900 with Epson UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 Inks any prints I make should last more than 100 years if framed and more than 150 years if framed behind UV filtering glass(according to Wilhelm Imagine Research - But apparently the Epson Velvet Fine Art paper only lasts approx 61 years framed if printed with some other inks. So this is something to keep in mind if you're not using the UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 Inks. Of course 61 years is still a really long time but not quite as long as 100.

Since it is a heavier paper it can be a bit of a pain to load the sheets into your printer - on the R1900(as well as the the 3880 and 3800) you load it through the back of the printer rather than the top. Don't get too frustrated if it doesn't load on your first try or even your 10th try - as this seems to be normal when you first start and I've tried it on three different Epson printers and they all seem to do this until you get the hang of it.

As I said before I do love this paper. I love the texture - I think it adds a gorgeous dimension to the print. I love the saturation of the tones that you get. It's a great paper if you prefer matte finishes and a little texture.

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