Pearl? Matte? Gloss? Satin? Headache...

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by brianmichel, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. brianmichel

    brianmichel Member

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    Alright, I've been looking around for more information on this, but I can't find any definitive examples of what the end difference of these papers are. Yes, yes I realize that a glossy paper will have a shine to it when printed, and a matte paper will produce an image with no shine. But what's the deal with Pearl and Satin? I can't find anything on these, are any of these preferred for printing, I know that I should probably try some of each, but I wanted to baseline what to expect from all of these, let me know if you guys have any experience with these kinds of paper.

    For the most part I'm looking at Ilford Multigrade RC paper, since it seems pretty prevalent and cheap in order to be economical in my first printing extravaganza.

    Any information is appreciated, thanks!
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    So, pearl is supposed to have some deeper back shine, i.e. pearlescence, as opposed to strong reflection. Satin is supposed to have some of the iridescence of the fabric. The issue most people have with straight glossy is that it reflects back very strongly, the image is totally obscured if you don't hold it at some magic angle. So there have been various attempts to get rid of that back shine while keeping as much of the DMax as possible. That's my take on it.

    You should be able to order a paper sampler and see what works best for you. As for me, I am a fiber matte kinda guy. Don't like gloss shine at all. I can live with pearl and satin and semimatte though.
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Just the opposite Pearl appears less contrasty not such deep blcks, despite the emulsion being identical.

    The major difference is how the prints reflect light, most manufacturers used to provide dealers/retailers with a swatch to show the differences.

    Matt can look really nice and natural to some, many prefer Pearl, others Glossy. As Keith says many of us prefer unglazed Glossy fibre based papers they are probably the best of all.

    Ian
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Satin is much more matte than its name would suggest vis a vis Pearl. It is said to take handcolouring better because of its "tooth" but I haven't tried it for this yet.

    I like the surface but compared to Glossy( the student's favourite for courses) and Pearl, it sells an awful lot less. My fear is that it is surface we could lose unless demand is at least maintained. Give it a try with a small pack and then buy bigger if you like it. The best message to Ilford about what it should continue to produce is its sales figures.

    pentaxuser
     
  5. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    In the Ilford Multigrade RC range satin is the least glossy and has the least depth of black. Pearl has more sheen, and deeper blacks -quite good blacks in my opinion.
    If I was forced to only print on RC this would be the surface I would choose, as I much prefer it to glossy. Ilford do this surface in Warmtone RC as well, also very nice, with a warmer base than Warmtone fibre.

    Alan Clark
     
  6. brianmichel

    brianmichel Member

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    So in ascending order of gloss for the Ilford range it goes; satin, pearl, glossy. Once again I think playing with all of these would be beneficial since I don't print much. Thanks for the help!
     
  7. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

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    I prefer RC glossy for my displayed work because it has better contrast. I find Pearl and Satin lack contrast; the only good thing about these papers is finger prints aren't left on the print as it would on glossy. So for clients I give them Pearl/Satin and increase the contrast more. Nonetheless, I prefer fiber paper for my personal work
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    In RC Pearl is a great finish, paper's expensive so make a choice. Satin's interesting but the surface marks easily it's not good for constant handling and general use.

    As for Gloss versus Pearl well look at colour snapshots the surfaces are much the same, I like both and am ambiguous, if I'm printing to scan then glossy.

    Ian
     
  9. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Brian,
    For the Ilford Multigrade 4 RC range, yes.
    The fibre range has matt and glossy.
    Small 25 sheet packs are available. The best thing is to buy a pack of satin , one of pearl and one of glossy, then print the same negative on all three. You will soon discover which you like best.

    alan Clark
     
  10. brianmichel

    brianmichel Member

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    Alan,
    I think that's what I'm going to do, now that I have a better understanding of what to expect. I'll pick up a 25 pack of each and give it a whirl!
     
  11. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Eadwardy says that Pearl and Satin lack contrast. I find that Ilford Pearl has more contrast than Ilford Satin. The difference is very noticable. Satin doesn't really have a black, but the Pearl does.

    Alan Clark
     
  12. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    In the 'good old days', photographers working with 'glossy' fiber based paper had choices in the way they could dry prints. One option was to squeegee the wet print onto a waxed, polished metal plate (called a 'ferrotype plate'). This would produce a mirror-like finish on the print that was the ultimate in glossy. Alternatively, they could dry the prints face down on fiberglass screens, or in blotter books, for a more subdued gloss. Ferrotyped prints were commonly used for commercial (reproduction) applications, while the air-dried version was more common for artistic and display applications.

    When RC papers were introduced, manufacturers knew that the new technology would take away the choice that photographers had for the surface finish of dried prints, so they opted to provide choices of surfaces that emulated the options that were available with fiber based paper. RC glossy paper produces results that are similar to ferrotyping, while the Ilford "pearl" surface emulated air-dried glossy fiber-based paper. Kodak had a similar product like but used letter designations - F was 'glossy', while "E" approximated the effect of air-dried fiber-based glossy paper.

    Matte paper is just that - very flat. The most common use for matte paper is for situations where monochrome prints were to be hand colored, although occasionally you will see a matte photograph on display. "Satin" is Ilford's term for a surface that is part-way between true matte and their "pearl' surface - Kodak had a similar surface that they designated as "N" and sometimes described as "soft gloss".
     
  13. lightwisps

    lightwisps Subscriber

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    My paper of choice is Ilford MG fibre glossy. That gives me the opportunity of drying it in my Arkay either face up or face down. In other words face up is glossy and face down is a semi-matte. Either way, you are free to do whatever toning you chose.

    Don
     
  14. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

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    I agree 100%. Sometimes I also have the impression that satin has bit less sharpness, but that could be because of the reduced contrast. My choice is pearl. It does have a good black, it's not too shiny to become annoying and you won't see any fingerprints on it, something very important for me. Let's just say that pearl is a good compromise between glossy and satin (matte really).
     
  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    As I said before the Satin is a very deep lustrous finish it looks amazing, but in truth has a low Dmax.The black of Satin looks amazing until you compare it to Pearl or Glossy.

    On this AlanC and I would agree as we compared prints. (We don't disagree onn other issues either).

    Ian
     
  16. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Ian,
    You know I always agree with you!
    The satin also looks like it has deep blacks until you dip a print half in water. Then the wet half looks really good in contrast and D max, and the dry half is revealed to be poor in blacks and lower in contrast as a result.

    Alan Clark
     
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Matte fiber has the lowest DMax of all and ... looks and feels the best to me :wink:
     
  18. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Gee, thanks Ian :smile:.

    I really like the pearl surface in RC - it is similar to the N surface that Kodak used to offer.

    When I used to use FB paper (a very long time ago) there were always some phtos that looked really good on a matte surface Ektalure.

    Matt
     
  19. John Bragg

    John Bragg Member

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    Pearl has a reasonable D max and provides a more creamy rendition of highlights. The whites are not as stark and high tones are better separated. My choice over the other finishes....
     
  20. wogster

    wogster Member

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    Glossy is a shiny paper, matte is flat, it's just like paint, Pearl is somewhere between the 2, trying to give the advantages of both. I find that Glossy has the best contrast, but can be easily marred by fingerprints, matte has a lower contrast but is not affected by fingerprints, Pearl is kinda in between, has better contrast the matte and better resistance to finger prints then matte.

    Satin can mean two things, some satin papers have like a cloth layer, under the emulsion, so they have a rough surface, other satin papers are more like pearl papers. Never liked the rough surface satin papers. I always liked pearl for general purpose printing, using glossy and matte when needed for some reason. With multiple grade papers, best is to buy a small package of each and try them to see what you like best.
     
  21. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    and the best part? well, it's not like you have to choose one and forget the other forever :cool:

    lately, it's been a coin flip between satin and pearl for me. i don't fret about contrast and dmax too much--i like the feel of photograph-as-an-object these two surfaces give