Photography is, in the end, all about the print. I'm looking to move the business of selling photographs back up the ladder a few rungs, and so art-quality printing is important. And, most of the major print-houses were in attendance. In looking at their offerings, while the image quality from all of them is excellent, their fine-art printing just doesn't get it. Their paper choices are very limited, mostly to a "matte," a "lustre," and maybe a "linen" surface. Some also offer "metalic" prints. None offered the kind of printing that I would want to be able to sell as a "fine art print."
And so, I started looking at papers and printers.
I visited several manufacturers of paper, and what I got was an education in how paper is made, and what has to be done to a piece of paper to make it hold ink properly. Knowing nothing about paper, except for a couple of names, I started by looking for a booth that caught my eye, and that led me into the Canson booth.
Canson is a French company, and they've been making papers since the mid-1500's. And, they're affiliated with Arches, who started making paper when Christopher Columbus was doing his thing, sailing the ocean blue. Their line of papers for digital printing is called Canson Infinity, and the paper is simply gorgeous. All of the folks in their booth were extremely knowledgeable, and I got a great explanation about the difference between traditional art papers and art papers that are good for printing with pigmented digital inks. Armed with a little knowledge and a nice sample pack, I headed out to look at more paper.
I also visited Hahnemühle, MOAB, and Red River Paper. Canson and Hahnemühle had the greatest depth of selection, followed by MOAB and Red River Paper. All of the papers are beautiful, but the Canson seemed to have an incredible depth to the images, and MOAB had a similar appeal. MOAB and Red River Paper are both made in the USA, so I'll probably generally want to try to use them.
Laying Ink on Paper
With the knowledge that great paper is available, I moved on to looking at printers. In a pie-in-the-sky world, I'd be looking at 24" roll printers, but I already know that they're so far out of my price range that I didn't even bother with them. Instead, I looked at the large-format-desktop machines that could handle up to 13"x19" papers (or maybe 13" rolls). All of the paper people said that either Canon or Epson models that used pigment inks would provide excellent, archival-quality results.
The representatives from Canon and Epson were both excited to extol the virtues of their machines. The output from each printer is beautiful, so it comes down largely to price. Canon's Pro-1 and Pro-10 show up in the literature from Canson and MOAB, and the cost of the PRO-10 and supplies appear to be a little lower than the comparable Epson.
So there you have it -- my take on Photo Plus Expo 2013. I had a great day, met my objectives, learned a lot, and was able to lock down a number of plans. If you missed them, you should read my posts from Friday and Saturday. To sum everything up:
- I'll be sticking with my current cameras for now, and concentrate on infrastructure upgrades, even though I am worried that Sony will abandon the A-mount and I'll be stuck with a dinosaur.
- When I do change cameras, I'll probably move to Olympus (!).
- I've ordered a tripod I'll be much more likely to use -- the MeFOTO Road Trip in green.
- I've ordered a Drobo 5n to add to the network. Since I have a stack of 1TB SATA drives available, I'll start out with about 4.5TB of available space.
- I'll be doing my own fine-art printing, and have ordered a Canon Pixma Pro-10.
- I'll be using either MOAB or Canson-Infinity papers, or a combination of both.
- I did make that important vendor contact. There will be more on all of that later.
So, there's been much exciting forward motion! And some exciting projects will soon be kicked off. The next few months are going to be really great!