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During my three days as the guest artist and ambassador for Canson Infinity at PhotoPlus Expo 2012, I answered lots of questions about papers and printing. It seemed however that several specific questions came up over and over again.

So here’s a list of the most popular questions and my responses. Of course these are my views and opinions, and do not necessarily express those of Canson Infinity. Nonetheless, I believe in being as transparent and honest as possible, keeping in mind I make a living from my photography and therefore am responsible only to myself.

What printers do you use and recommend?

I use an Epson 3880 17“ wide printer and a Canon iPF 8100 44” printer. I use both regularly, and it’s just a matter of whether I’m printing on cut sheets or rolls. I keep the Canon loaded with rolls since it’s easier and more convenient when making large prints which I do regularly. In terms of printing quality, both are very good and depending on the image, difficult to tell apart. The Epson may have a slight edge in the reds and magentas, while the Canon has always been good with the blues. But both are excellent, and buying any current model from either manufacturer is a toss-up in my opinion.

Having said that, the new Canon Pixma Pro 1 looks like a great option for those who want the best bang for the buck, 17″ wide printing, and Lucia inks for maximum permanence. Canson has profiles for it on their website.

Why do you use and recommend Canson fine art paper?

I think there are three primary reasons that I choose Canson papers for all of my fine art prints.

    1. First, I like the idea that Canson is a company solely dedicated to one thing, making the best fine art papers. And they’ve been doing it since the early 1500’s which means they have incredible experience and are totally committed. There’s a long list of legendary artists who have used Canson paper over the last 400 years, and that heritage is something I want to associate myself with as well as my fine art prints. Customers appreciate that as well.
    2. None of the cotton backed Canson papers use OBA’s (optical brightening agents) and therefore the permanence and consistency of the papers is something I don’t have to worry about. (Some of the RC papers use OBA’s but I only use the fine art papers which are cotton based.
    3. Great ICC profiles from Canson that means you’ll get great results  – assuming of course you’re monitor and color workflow is properly calibrated.
    4. Canson owns their own paper mill in southern France, and so they control the paper making process from start to finish. This means superior quality control which translates into consistent prints regardless of whether printing from sheets or rolls, from the same or different box. Many of the other popular printing papers from well-known brands are not made in-house, and instead are outsourced to the same mill in many cases.
    5. Finally, their line of papers makes it easy to choose which texture and finish is right for your prints. Like matte papers? Then there are great choices from smooth to very textured for that watercolor look and feel. Prefer a fiber finish? Then Platine is awesome for color, and the Baryta for black and white with an amazing dmax value of 2.7 using Canon inks. Great options for all preferences.

What is your favorite Canson paper?

When I started using Canson papers almost five years ago, I used Rag Photographique almost exclusively for its ultra smooth matte surface and great blacks. If I want slightly more texture, I choose Edition Etching. Lately however I have been using Baryta more and more for it’s great color, detail, and smooth finish, yet without the glare that many fiber and luster papers create. If I prefer a slightly textured surface, then the Platine is also a favorite.

It all depends on the print and what I want to convey. Subtlety and softness of a forest scene in fog, or the drama and loudness of a majestic landscape at sunrise.

What’s the difference between the different papers/surfaces in the Canson line?

As in the previous answer, it comes down to whether you prefer a matted surface or a more photographic surface. Many prefer the look and feel of matte papers for the painterly look they impart on a photograph. Others like the high contrast and more reflective surface of fiber papers. In either case, Canson has great options to choose from. The best way to learn and appreciate each is to experiment and find what works best for you and your images.

Can I use Canson paper with any printer?

Yes they will work great with any of the professional series printers from Canon, Epson, or HP. In addition, Canson provides excellent paper profiles on their website that I use for my own printing as well.

What do you recommend for black and white photographs?

In terms of dmax and smoothness, the Baryta Photographique is hard to beat. And it feels great to hold and touch since it is a 310gm paper.

What new products does Canson plan to release in the future?

There are some really great new papers coming soon, but I can’t talk about them now. I have had the privilege of beta testing some, and all I can say is I’m really excited about the future. There’s also a new museum canvas which I particularly want to try, and it should be released in the US early next year.

How can I get sponsored by Canson?

Have a really strong portfolio, become a good fine art printer, and develop a public platform for you and your work. The short answer? Work really hard and be passionate about helping others. Even if you don’t get sponsored by others, it’s a great way to stand out from the crowd and make a difference.

What camera do you use?