Recently I reviewed some of Crane’s 100% cotton papers and said that I would be getting to test and review the rest of which they sent me. These tests have been completed and I have the results. As you will read, all of the results were great with the exception of one. The one consistent factor throughout all of the papers was the black to white points. Black is always at a level of 4 and white is always around a level 198 keeping a nice dynamic range of colors.
The first test was on the Museo II Archival Double Sided Matte Paper. This paper can only be used on printers of which do not bend paper and have an alternative feed settings for thicker stock papers. Because of this factor, Museo II is not available in rolls, but in sheets up to 17′x22′. Museo II is intended for Photographers and Artists who make their own bound books and portfolios. With a paper brightness of 91, the colors pop off the page to give you a realistic look to any photograph. The only problem seen with this paper is if not careful the printer will feed incorrectly and your print will be crooked. This only happened on the second side of the prints.
The second test was on Museo Max paper. Another 100% cotton Archival Fine Art Matte Paper. Also with a brightness of 91, this paper takes on the visual qualities of the Museo II paper, but being a thinner stock and single sided it allows for use in rolls. Also, just as the Museo II did, the colors pop right off the page. This the type of paper you would mount and frame for a gallery showing. When looking closely with the naked eye you can actually see how the ink spreads and absorbs into the fabric.
Next, for a retest of the Portfolio Rag was a yellow and black butterfly on sitting on a green and purple flower. There is so much color in the photograph that you can’t expect anything but perfection in the print, but I was disappointed again. This paper absorbed the ink so much that it actually starts to blur inside the paper. The ink seems to bleed into itself to cause softness to the eye. So far, out of all of the Crane paper choices, Portfolio Rag seems to fail all of the tests. That is not to say the paper would not suit some else’s needs, but for photographs, I would not use it.
The last test was also using the Silver Rag, but for a color photograph. Crane’s documentation did state that their Silver Rag paper can be used for both color and black & white so why not try it. The photograph is of a back road in the countryside with trees and grass and fields. Taken right after a rain storm so the ground is wet and the sky is dark. The paper absorbed the inks just as it did with the black & white photograph of the clouds, keeping the dynamic contrast and tones enough to give you a sad and depressing view. My only complaint on the Silver Rag paper is the semi-gloss coating it contains. It obviously helps the quality of the results, but it has a strange feel and smell to it. The smell is almost of nail polish. But for a thick paper as this is, Crane still makes it available to you in rolls of 50 feet.