Over on the Luminous Landscape forum (a forum I choose not to participate in) there’s a thread about recent changes to Canson Rag Photographique. John Dean in particular has reported some worrying findings:
There’s a special on Canson in this country but ending very soon, and I was about to stock up on CRP anyway, esp at sale prices, but these reports stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t get any sense out of the local suppliers, so I bought one pack and did some testing. The paper packaging is subtly different, and doesn’t say “Made in France” on the back any more.
I can’t replicate John Dean’s results - I didn’t get any blotchiness at all when printing images with deep shadows and areas of pure black, unlike in the EEF fiasco a couple of years ago. But I did find some changes. Prints on the paper, both colour and QTR, are modestly but noticeably warmer than on the old stock using existing ICCs and QTR curves. Neutrals are now slightly warm Moreover, QTR curves that were linear no longer are, and I’m getting a darker dmax.
For colour work I assume I could re-profile, but for Piezo there would be a change in the toning of the prints.
I’m still running tests, but if I’m going to take advantage of the sale then I’ll have to jump in the next 24 hours. Has anyone else had experience with recent batches of CRP?
Lost their exclusivity with Arches.
Added first private label contract in their 500 year history (Epson)
Got bought by Fila.
Then got bought by Dixon (or something along those lines.)
Changed distro from independent to Legion (direct conflict of interested with sub-quality Moab).
They also lost their top marketing guys who really had a good connection with labs in US and doubled the sales year to year from '15 to '16.
I would say Canson is starting to be (or is) destabilized as a premier paper source and is going to slowly go the route of Innova if they don’t turn the ship around fast. It’s very worrying for us professional printmakers.
I’ve been using the UltraSmooth for my personal work, but HPR308 is actually really stable now. It has OBA but they changed their coating tech about a decade ago and addressed the sulfur exposure issues well.
I actually also really love the Hahnemuhle Bamboo paper. It’s smoother than its first iteration and does not have OBA.
Thx again. Any other brands worth looking at, in addition to Hahnemuhle? One local supplier I spoke with when seeking to understand what was going on with Canson suggested Museo Portfolio Rag, but it’s a bit pricey in this country.
Portfolio Rag was amazing back in the day (one of my defaults). Then Crane sold it to Intelicoat and it got crappy. Mottles and spots in the shadows. I lost four editioning clients on it, stopped using the paper, and never looked back. It de-stabalized as well.
I’ve finished my testing and have spoken at some length with the importer, and have calmed down a bit.
The measured white point of the old and new batches seems fairly close - only delta E of around 0.2. Despite that there’s definitely a small but clearly noticeable warm shift when printing colour, and also when printing monochrome using QTR-K3. Re-profiling deals with the colour printing case, and for K3, I assume that adding in a small amount of the cool curve would do likewise. Most of the shipped QTR K3 neutral curves are slightly warm rather than dead neutral anyway, IMHO.
For Piezography, I print using Special Edition, and whatever colour shift there is must be small compared to the SE effect. Actually if anything my SE test print was every so slightly less warm using the new CRP batch than the old, so go figure. When checking linearisation, the difference between the a,b numbers for the two batches was smaller on my Piezo printer than on my colour printer, which is what I’m seeing in my test prints.
There were also linearisation differences between my Piezo and K3 printers. My P2 curve for CRP is still linear on the new batch, but my K3 curve isn’t. The new-batch K3 curve tracks much the same curve as the old batch down to the 90% patch, but then dives to a much darker dMax at 100%. Go figure.
So there’s no sign of John Dean’s mottling. The importer was adamant that despite shifting a huge amount of stock during this sale period, no-one else had mentioned this. He was also adamant that although some Canson production has shifted, it’s only three papers and CRP is still being made the same way with the same coating. So all I can conclude is that what I’m see is batch variation. There’s no sign at all of John Dean’s mottling. The fact that he is getting on both CRP and the Epson Legacy version is puzzling.
I bought a box of A2 Rag Photographic when it was on sale in France late last year, not only because it seemed good value but because Ilford have stopped doing Smooth Prestige Heavyweight Matte in A2 sheets. The blacks do not seem as consistent as the Ilford paper on my 3880 using Epson OEM ink. My house is in a very dry area which may not be helping either. I would not go as far as to say it was blotching but just slightly variable absorption.
“… and is going to slowly go the route of Innova if they don’t turn the ship around fast …”
Can you please elaborate on what the problems were with Innova and roughly when they occurred? I used to use ISCHW a fair bit and still have a small stock here, purchased around seven or more years ago. I don’t believe that much of it is imported into this country any more, at least not the inkjet papers.
The problems with Innova are many-fold but the major issue is their use of Midstate which does the manufacturing from master rolls to smaller rolls in the US. <edit, not accurate information about alum. bottles. This was different midsate company. There are LOTS. Please see note about alum in next paragraph.>
I launched Innova (held the party for them at least) at SPE 2005 in Chicago. They sent me a ton of rolls to test/print with for the show and the last few rolls were the first Midstate batch. They had lines running through them. I found a chunk of aluminum can in one . . . I should have seen the signs then and stayed clear but I was in love with Smooth Cotton. It was an amazing dMax! I had 1.72 at the time on Piezography ink.
Wayne (and later others) all tried to assure me that the problems were over. I would buy a roll or a box and see the exact same issues . . .
That said, they did just come out with a Fabriano line (from the mill that has been making paper since 1200 something) so maybe there is a glimmer of hope.
Sorry for the late reply on this thread Brian. I do not know what manufacturing methods they use for paper into your country, but I doubt it’s the same. Innova papers I’ve seen in other countries do not exhibit as many issues as I’ve seen in the states. But I certainly have not seen as many batches overseas as I have in US.
Again. Let me be clear about my interpretation of Innova paper: I think it’s a fantastic coating (with scaling problems in Smooth Cotton being fixed over the years) and certainly a good paper base. It’s the problem of manufacturing (quality controlling the rolls and sheets, how they are packed, etc.)
And again, the Fabriano line I saw looked great. But this was under low light and not with my own ink and hand on it. Dana and Jon and I put paper through the wringer before we certify it as stable (internally). We’ve only certified a handful of papers that we can confidently say to clients will hold up (from batch to batch to be the same) for years. That is a very important step and real trust that we need to have in the paper supplier.
I’m getting some paper and will post my updated opinions re: Innova when I have them in hand.
I’m rooting for Canson to turn the boat around too . .
Thanks Walker for those additional observations. JeffG is the one most interested in Innova and is going to the trouble to import some, so his experiences will be interesting as a point of comparison. For my part my stock of ISCHW is old and it is what it is - I don’t plan to import any. I’m mostly interested in what’s happening to Canson, esp CRP, so any further experiences you or John Dean have will be of interest.