Epson launches fiber-based photo paper

Epson today is introducing Exhibition Fiber, a new premium paper intended for use with its professional line of photo printers. According to Epson, this paper was specifically created to mimic the F-surface, air-dried fiber papers used in traditional photographic darkrooms. It is a doubleweight paper, approximately 325 gsm in weight, and should work equally well with both color and black-and-white photographs.

I have been printing with Exhibition Fiber on an Epson Stylus Pro 3800, with custom ICC profiles, for the past few days, and have been blown away by the quality of the prints I’m getting. Exhibition Fiber has a soft gloss without the pebbly surface texture found in some of the more popular semi-gloss papers, and it is extremely white. The detail I’m getting out of the shadows is amazing, and I’m seeing little or no bronzing in the highlights, which translates into a smooth print with nice reflectivity. And color images look vibrant and rich, unlike some of the other fiber-based papers I’ve used, like Harman Technology’s excellent Matt FB or Ilford’s Gallerie Gold Fibre Silk (which I wrote about last week ), which, to be fair, are tuned for black-and-white prints.

Epson wouldn’t quote me a price, saying that they were still working on it. They would say that Exhibition Fiber would be “competitive” with similar fiber-based offerings from Harman, Crane, Moab, Ilford and and others, which means that it should range from $1.50-$2.50 per letter-size sheet. (Hahnemühle has announced that it will offer a fiber-based paper this fall, but I haven't gotten a chance to play with it yet).

Exhibition Fiber should be available in November, in 25-sheet packages at four sizes: letter (8.5" by 11"), Super B (13" by 19"), C (17" by 22"), and 24" by 30". Custom profiles for the new paper have been created by the gang at Pixel Genius, and should be available in a special area of their site by October 15.

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