Photography News Issue 53

Photography News | Issue 53 | photographynews.co.uk

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First tests

Fotospeed Signature Cotton Etching 305 From£34.99

There are many joys of home printing, and towards the top of the list is the myriad options when it comes to paper choice we have available nowadays. Whether you like heavy or lightweight papers, glossy or textured finishes, or vibrant or muted reproduction, the options are out there. All you have to do is find your ideal partner/s and that of course is time-consuming and going to cost you a few quid. You could let the paper makers help you, though, as Fotospeed has done with its Signature collection where it has got together with five leading photographers to promote the four finishes. So, for example, we have landscape ace Joe Cornish endorsing Smooth Cotton 300 and fine art workers Faye and Trevor Yerbury promoting Natural Soft Textured Bright White. Such collaboration seems a good idea to me so you can at least relate a genre of photography to the paper finish. Fotospeed recently announced Platinum Cotton 300 and even hotter off the press is Cotton Etching 305, which is getting its first public airing at this year’s Photography Show. The photographer connected to Cotton Etching 305 is fine art worker Doug Chinnery. Check out his work on dougchinnery.com. Cotton Etching 305 is a matt textured finish and at 305gsm it has a lovely heft. The surface finish is clearly revealed with sidelighting (as the picture below shows), but from the front viewed at arm’s length the effect is subtle, depending on the

Specs

Prices and size availability A4 25 sheets £34.99; A3 25 sheets £67.99; A3+ 25 sheets £79.99; A2 25 sheets £133.99; rolls ranging from £123.49 to £310.49 Weight 305gsm, 100% cotton Compatibility Pigment and dye inkjet systems Media colour Bright white Opacity 99% Water resistance Very high Acid free Yes Calcium carbonate buffered Yes Drying behaviour Instant OBA content Yes Contact Fotospeed.com

Images Fotospeed’s new addition to its Signature collection showed good versatility in terms of subject suitability. If you want delicacy, that is okay; if you prefer more punch that is okay too, considering that it is matt textured material.

Prints emerged frommySC-P800 very slightly damp so I allowed them a few minutes before handling them and examining the results. Overall, I was pleased with the results; very pleased. There wasn’t a single print that I was unhappy with or that I felt needed reprinting with a tweak of some sort. I thought the boldly coloured shots looked as good as the more subtle ones, while fine detail was always nicely portrayed with clean lines and no smudginess. Beforehand, I thought the richly saturated images would lose their impact andpunchas that canhappen on matt textured papers but that didn’t prove to be the case. Colour vibrancy remained impressive while close inspection also showed that shadow details held up well and didn’t block up. Where highlights on the file were bright, neutral and crisp, that translated onto prints very successfully. There was no sign of muddiness or greyness in the highlights and tonal gradation was impressive too. Skin tones looked faithful, not too pink or red, while blue skies in my scenics looked spot on too.

A box of 25 sheets of A3 paper costs £67.99 which translates to £2.72 a sheet. So this is a premiummaterial but it does deliver a premium performance, and deserves to be reserved for your best work, not printing the family snaps on. If you are looking for a top-quality and versatile fine art paper, there is no doubt that Fotospeed Cotton Etching 305 can deliver the quality of result discerning photographers would expect so it is definitely worth trying. Pros Dealt really impressively with a wide range of subject matter, feel, lies flat out of the box, texture, clean white base Cons Nothing There were a couple of contrasty, saturated colour images that I thought would almost certainly be rejects, as I had struggled with them before and had been disappointed with the outcome. No such issues here, though, with this new Fotospeed paper. Moving to monochrome, my images looked equally satisfying as the colour images with depth, rich blacks, smooth mid-tones and the tonality I had previsualised. The paper’s all-round ability to handle such a wide range of subject matter, contrast range and different degrees of saturation and so capably was a nice surprise. Some textured fine art finishes are less good with rich images with deep blacks, but no such shortcomings here. Apologies if this is all rather gushy, but honestly there wasn’t a print that I was unhappy with so I had little to have a moan at. Obviously, I am talking about the paper and how it performed, not the aesthetics of the images here. WC Verdict

lighting and subject, ie. it is more evident on areas of smooth tones and less so on detailed areas. Out of the box it lies flat so during my test there were no issues such as head strike on my printer: an Epson SureColor SC-P800 using Epson’s inks. I also put a few sheets through the Epson Expression XP-15000, a printer tested in this issue. I picked a variety of images formy test, from portraits and street shots to scenic and more abstract shots. Several were shots I use regularly for paper reviews so I know them well. Among my test batch I had shots that were low key, high key, rich, desaturated and monochrome. Such diversity would helpme assess the paper’s potential and determine what subjects are best suited to the new material, although that is obviously a subjective matter. Due to deadlines, I didn’t have enough time to get Fotospeed to make me a custom printing profile, a free service offered to its customers, nor was there a generic profile available. So I made my own using the X-Rite i1Studio, the same colour management solution I use to calibrate my monitors. Prints were checked under daylight LCD bulbs.

Images Fotospeed’s latest paper is a matt, textured finish so has a fine art feel and look. The shot below right shows the paper’s texture picked out with side-lighting to give you an idea of its look.

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