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Old hand with HP papers? Help needed with choice

  polymath 21:44 19 Apr 2019

Will the latest HP inkjet papers still do the same as 20-year-old ones of the same description?

I’m into art and photography, picky about colours, and chose my latest inkjet printer, a Canon, mainly for its faithful colour reproduction. In my quest for a paper that doesn’t ruin it, I’ve gone through the motley pile of inkjet photo papers I’ve accumulated since 2000 (including Epson, HP, Canon and others), and the only one that works for me (by a long chalk) is the matte side of HP Two-sided Photo Paper, with its leaflet printed in 1999. No reference number there, but it states it’s suitable for HP Deskjets, HP Professional Series and ‘Colour Printers’.

I only have about 10 sheets left. It’s A4, which I use a lot, but I’d also like a small size/s. Would it be safe to assume that a current HP matte inkjet photo paper would also work? (Online’s my only option, and I can’t afford any more shots in the dark!). Preferably single-sided for value, and it doesn’t need to be as thick as the old paper (no weight mentioned either, but the thickness is about 4 sheets to the mm).

  x13 22:08 19 Apr 2019

Have a look at the matte reviews here . Some good tips such as using as 'plain paper' rather than 'photo paper'. Might give you useful information. 200 sheets cheaper than 100? Good lock.

  wee eddie 00:31 20 Apr 2019

Over the last couple of decades, Paper Glazes and Inks have changed considerably.

Whether for the better, I know not.

The Industry will, of course, say that they have improved but, is it their profit or the quality of the product, that has improved?

Even if what you buy now, says the same on the package as it did then, it will have changed, so don't build up your expectations

  polymath 21:39 23 Apr 2019

Thanks for that, x13. It was nice to go straight to a particular paper, after endless searching, especially with manufacturers and websites using different descriptions for the same thing (comparing g/m and microns, anyone?) And apart from museum quality papers, I’m sure matte ones have got fewer. (I do use glossy sometimes, but not for around the house - too many reflections here!).

Yes, the reviews are useful and positive, including one re exactly my purposes; that clinched it and I’ve ordered a pack. Not from Amazon (as I’m in Ireland and this paper’s sellers aren’t, so delivery’s pricey), but from an Irish supplier (Hunt Office). While there I noticed another hopeful-looking one, by Navigator (a make I remember good reports of from amateur photographers); also 120g (a good weight for me). 250 sheets, €7, RRP apparently nearly €40. Ordered 2 packs of that - if it turns out not quite right for art, it’ll still be cheap enough for less demanding colour stuff. (I suspect it’s discontinued stock, so will grab more if it’s good!).

Thanks wee eddie - I’ll need it! It really is a trial-and-error business (wish I could buy a sample pack of, say, a sheet or two each of all the white A4 120g papers on the market!).

I’ve done a test that seemed quite scientific at the time, on a bunch of papers I have (a mix of makes, weights, age and glossy/matte). I scanned a colour drawing done on pure white paper, and judged purely on reproduction of hues (disregarding the saturation). Only one paper captured orange (rather than making it brown), just one other the red (ditto), and yet another got the lighter, yellower green. Though the ultramarine type blue fared okay, none of them captured the blue that’s basically cyan (too mauve or too yellow). And all but one gave the white a tint (blue, mauve turquoise or cream), the exception being the old Viking Direct own brand photo paper that I remembered lurked in the crafts box (too thick for my previous printer).

It then dawned that the results were pretty meaningless, as I’d only tried one paper setting, and of course with only one printer!

I’ll report back on the new papers’ performance in my Canon MP640 multifunction (the HP one’ll take about 2 weeks longer, being a back order).

  polymath 15:29 01 May 2019

Tried the Navigator paper when it arrived (called Colour Documents Ultra Smooth). It's a clear white with a slight sheen, designed to print both sides, and opaque enough for it.. (Another 120 g/m paper I tried, a one-sided inkjet photo paper, is quite see-through in comparison).

In case it helps anyone, what I've been testing with is more of a colour document than a painting (the shipping forecast map we wished we could find, to be exact, with details added from here and there). I chose it because it's in 6 colours (mostly felt tip); a rich red, orange, 2 blues & 2 greens (plus fine & very fine black lines). And the contrast between colours, and between light and dark blue & green, is important for distinguishing the different 'layers' of information easily. (And with most of the area left white, it's not too hard on ink!).

The Navigator paper's the best so far of my motley bunch, by quite a long chalk. The white's white, the black's black (looking identical to the original), the general saturation's good, fine detail crisp, and the contrasts are retained for easy viewing. It even got the orange well, which only 1 other did (an oldish Canon matte photo paper).

I think I've been misjudging the papers re the light turquoise blue. It was the only hue that was noticeably out on the Navigator paper (not greeny enough), and it's been wrong on all the papers so far. i wondered if it was doing that colour in pencil (quite glossy and indented), but now think this particular built-in scanner is just not so good at picking up turquoise. But it doesn't matter for a document, as this paper got the tones right, so no clarity's lost. (And I'm disinclined to start testing again with another method!).

So it seems very good at what it's designed for, e.g. leaflets, presentations & brochures. (And hopefully for anyone, being for no particular printer). I used the plain paper setting, as urged to on the packet.

Just out of curiosity, I also tried the Semi Glossy setting, and the difference was dramatic. The black was grey, all colours dull, and the tones too samey (making it too busy all over, and tiring to read).

The HP paper's due next Tuesday; I'll report back then.

  wee eddie 15:56 01 May 2019

As a matter of interest. What Monitor are you using and what are its Colour Settings

  polymath 17:35 01 May 2019

Not currently using a monitor, just the multifunction printer's scanner via the controls on the printer. (Computers out of action at the moment, and hence my good dedicated scanner using smartphone instead).

I was reminded about the headbanging nature of Colour Managenent the other day, when I had the bright idea of directly printing a Google document from the phone, in the blue that's roughly the same as the problem one. I knew it wouldn't be much help as soon as the blue letters appeared on the screen, in a pale, unreadably dazzling swimming-pool hue. Sure enough, the printout was a good, readable mid blue!

I was trying to get to grips with colour matching when the computer developed its problem. Can't remember the monitor settings, but remember that having nothing to do with Windows Colour Management was recommended.

  wee eddie 18:20 01 May 2019

Now, I am not a Photographer but I do know that there are frequent discussions about the accurate reproduction of colour on various Monitors and by different Printers

  polymath 11:44 07 May 2019

Yes - there are plenty of those, wee eddie! I suppose it's all the individual permutations of hardware, software, RGB & CMYK, ink technologies and papers (along with constant new printer models!). When embroiled in a colour management problem I often lose sight of the big picture, and find it helpful to take a step back and read an introductory article to refresh the basics. Then some of the details become self explanatory (e.g. what differing terms mean the same thing & vice versa!).

My monitor settings might still be handy somewhere, as what I left off to look into the laptop problem was trying to find the right colour settings for scanning some old 35mm slides for printing out/sending electronically. But I'm pretty sure I ended up removing the monitor settings I tried, as they were only muddying the water. It's a 20" LG flatscreen, that came with my Packard Bell computer in 2007. And I definitely remember now stopping/disabling Windows Colour Management, as it was interfering rather than helping (in Vista SP2). There may be something helpful in my notes, if your setup is any way similar?

  wee eddie 13:17 07 May 2019

I think that we are getting to the nub of the matter.

First you have to set your Monitor to display colours accurately.

This is a specialist task and we have plenty of photographers here who will happily discuss the matter, ad infinitum, and also, probably help you get that sorted.

Once you have your display giving you an accurate representation of your picture, you can then adjust the pictures settings to persuade the printer to print what you see.

  polymath 21:35 07 May 2019

Sorry, wee eddie, and thank you for your usual sound advice, but I got the wires crossed and thought your curiosity about monitor settings arose from some problem with your own system!

I don't think I described things very clearly, either. The colour glitch in my desktop system was a separate one (scans from opaque originals having an overall blue cast). It seems quite a common problem; I'd been reading up on it and experimenting with the various types of colour controls (to be continued when the computer's working again). The monitor struck me as good at showing colours faithfully, with no adjustments except its own calibration that happened (automatically, I think) the first time it was joined up and switched on. (Trying the settings was to illustrate what I was reading about them).

The recent problem with the turquoise blue when trying papers is with the no doubt more basic scanner that's in my otherwise very good 3-in-1 printer, as I can still use it without a physical computer connection. I can print files in my phone to it wirelessly,, but using the scanner is via the Copy button on the printer itself (so no screen involved with that). It just seemed the quickest and simplest way of comparing papers (at the time!).

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