What my eyeballs tell me on paper choice

When they are inkjet coated you can expect deeper blacks, bit more sharpness, and of course a bit more color saturation.” Jon Cone on Awagami Paper June 2017

First let me say that I am loving Piezography and PiezoPro inks - the whole nine yards. Cannot tell you how sweet it is to print just like the monitor and really see the image pop on to paper. Much easier done than said… and challenging my image curating in post in rewarding, new ways.

Second, printing shots of my dog alternatively in matte (Cone Type 2) and satin using glossy on Hahnemuhle Baryta Fine Art (something close to that… I’m at work without the box), the hair on the dog and the detail pops in the matte in ways that glossy just doesn’t seem to show. I know I’m supposed to like the glossy better but I don’t. My eyes have yet to see a comparison where the deeper blacks of the glossy “look” better than the detail of the matte. So I searched here to see what I can find, and best as I can tell this is close to applying - even though it’s not specifically in context. (Yes, it’s probably a misapplication - which is why I’m writing).

So what’s my question? Given Jon’s quote above, I’m wondering whether the quoted statement is a generic difference between the two types of paper and true broadly, or not. My own anecdotal evidence is narrow relative to yours, but it seems to confirm Jon’s quote. Appreciate the insight and experience of Master Printers - especially as I may not have sampled a paper that gives glossy a fair shot. Suggestion elsewhere has been made to try Canson Platine Fibre Rag Inkjet paper before making a conclusion, but I’m all ears and eyeballs. Thanks!

@jon might want to reply to this but he was referring to coated (matte or glossy) vs uncoated (no inkjet receptors at all on the paper surface).

That being said, depth is in the eye of the beholder and our new UltraHD-MK is the darkest ink ever made for matte printing so the paradigm has shifted re: glossy vs matte IMO.


I was referring to paper that is uncoated in regards to inkjet receptor coatings that are applied to the paper during formulation of the paper or during post processing of the paper. For example, all Western fine art and commercial inkjet papers are sent for coating with an inkjet receptor coating prior to sheeting it and boxing it up to send to customers. Customers are essentially printing on this receptor coating rather than the actual paper (unless by accident they print on the uncoated side of the paper…). Often with the Japanese made papers they are too thin to post coat and instead an inkjet receptive material is added to the slurry before the paper is formed by sheet or by roll - but not always - some are post coated prior to selling as inkjet paper.

Without the coating applied to the paper prior to printing, the results will not be as satisfactory to most users. In some cases the ink bleeds and spreads out… on some media the ink actually pools and puddles. There is a general lack of sharpness and saturation. Blacks look pale. So the whole industry applies a pre-coat. It does not need to do this with other forms of printing such as lithography or flexo-print, etc…

An exception to this are papers made of certain fibers like gampi, kozo and (my favorite) mitsumata. These fibers are found in traditional Japanese papermaking and are naturally receptive to inkjet ink (as well as traditional Japanese inks) and I think they work well without the pre-coating or the sizing introduced during formation.

Having said that, Arches HP watercolor paper is not pre-coated but has enough gelatine sizing to actually do a great job of it when inkjet printing… there may be others as well which have traditional tub sizing and not intended for inkjet…


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Jon: Yes, as noted, I quoted you out of context with respect - exactly as you point to - the coated/uncoated papers. My apologies for spurring you to regurgitate much of that, but thanks for the broader detail. Let me add that what spurred me to write is that that original particular discussion led me to wonder about whether there was a similar reason my eyes might be seeing less of a difference between glossy and matte inks in Piezo Pro? And I wondered as well whether there are any generalizations we can make about how the eye perceives effect of various combinations of paper (matte, satin, glossy - coated / uncoated) and ink types (matte and glossy) in terms of the effect in tone and detail.

I’m sure you’ll point out the effect is more nuanced as the juxtaposition of tones can create a perception (or not) of sharpness in ways similar to Barry Thornton’s discussion on films and developers relative to sharpness. But I’m wondering if there is much written on this… as outside of our friend Jeff Schewe (Sp?) and a few others? Your Community Edition offers more concrete info than a lot of books by the way… on the preparation of the image for printing and it’s useful even though I work with Capture One.

Walker: Thanks for those reference links. I’ll be looking forward to whatever you ultimately post!

Thanks again!

Hi ,

Matte paper can be more beautiful, but I don’t think it can ever be more brilliant. Even with HD, MK Dmax is a long way from PK Dmax. I use an HD SEL set on Moab Entrada and DMax is somewhere around L*16.
That said, I think people overemphasise dynamic range especially given that once the eye settles into the context it has no reference point for a deeper black. I think tonal separation is far more important, (especially on the microtonal level that Piezography seems to achieve). Try placing a standard colour ink print of a B&W image on mediocre polymer-based paper where the tonal curve was managed by something as brutal as Adobe black point compensation, beside a HD K7 Piezography print of the same image on matte paper. The colour print is so obviously muddy and flat in comparison but I’m pretty sure that if you measure the reflective density you’ll see that its Dmax is actually deeper.

I think the problem is more about lifting the threshold and shadow detail off Dmax than Dmax itself and then maintaining an even rise and separation of tones in the toe of the curve. Most of the piezo curves that I have used do an excellent job of this. When I don’t have an exact match I usually find the master curves acceptable with some minor target adjustments. My guess is that the curve you are using is not a good fit for the paper you are using it on, or it’s a gloss overlay problem.


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