This is my review of Permajet Photographic Paper.
I’m going to try to keep this as concise as I can but as helpful as I can at the same time. I’m excited though, very excited about what I’ve seen from the samples of paper provided to me by John, a product manager for Adeal, the Melbourne based supplier of the Permajet range of products.
I touched on this in my previous blog post, that I recently met with John at the Brisbane Educational Photo Expo. He was kind enough to provide me with a selection of papers to test with my own print setup. This week I was able to take some time to study the promotional material supplied to me and get down to some test prints. So let’s get into it.
I had not heard of Permajet before I met John. They are a UK based company that have been manufacturing an ever increasing range of inkjet paper and canvas since 1999. Their website claims to have the world’s largest range of photographic inkjet papers and canvases which is impressive! They sell their products in around 20 countries around the globe and recently have started making moves in Australia to join the bigger players here. It seems that they are fairly well known in the UK for their quality products. After meeting with John I spoke with a friend of mine there who has seen Permajet’s products before and he said I’d be very pleasantly surprised with the paper.
What are we testing here?
The test papers are as follows:
Titanium Lustre 280GSM - A metallic paper with a slight textured surface providing a lovely shine to the surface.
Gloss 271GSM - A very bright white, high gloss paper.
Museum 310GSM - A slightly textured matte fine art paper with a warm white appearance.
Oyster 271GSM - This paper has a beautiful pearl/lustre finish, a nice bright white paper.
I had 2 A4 sheets of each paper type and used Permajet’s own ICC paper/printer profiles for each paper type. I created the prints and waited 24hrs before returning to them for a final verdict. This was to ensure that the papers were truly dry and I was getting even, consistent results across the board.
First thing was to download the ICC profiles for the paper types that I received. This involved registering my details with Permajet’s website and creating a login. I’m not sure why a login is needed but it’s not a difficult thing to setup so I’m not particularly troubled by it. I know some people would be put off by this though, especially as many other paper suppliers offer profiles without having to give any details over. Like I say, it’s no big deal for me though.
The profiles were handily grouped together in a bundle for one easy download and Permajet has an easy to understand pdf document that you can download to help install the profiles should you need it. One thing I did notice was that the Titanium Lustre (and two or three others) profile was separate from the bundle. Maybe this is due to it being a newer paper, I don’t really know? Not a problem though and again simple enough to download.
My choices for prints were photographs that I commonly print and sell, photographs that I have printed on other manufacturer’s paper so that I know how they usually perform on print media. I chose one photograph that I thought would look good on each of the paper types (Shorncliffe Pier) and then another different type of photograph on the other sheet to see how it would reproduce another different style of photograph.
I already have my own custom print templates set up in Lightroom so it was as simple as selecting the photograph, changing the ICC profile, soft proofing the photograph again and entering the print dialogue. Easy! The printing process was smooth and no problems were encountered. However, one thing that would be nice to see from Permajet in the future would be a recommendation for the media type for each type of paper.
Allow me to explain…
In the print dialogue that pops up when you are about to print a page, there is a section called “Print Settings”. Here you can select which print feeder you want to use, the media type and a few other options. Since I’m using a third party paper and not one manufactured by Epson, there is no corresponding setting for Permajet (or any other paper manufacturer) media types. Epson wants you to only use Epson papers, of course! Note that selecting the correct Media Type here is crucial, as this setting instructs the printhead how to lay down ink based on the type of inkjet receptive coating present on the paper – it has nothing to do with the paper weight or thickness, which must be set in the “Paper Configuration” menu. Most third party paper manufacturers will provide you with this information along with the generic ICC profile, since the profile was generated using specific media type settings.
Fortunately it’s relatively easy to figure out which of these Permajet papers is a good fit for each of Epson’s media type. For the less experienced photograph printer this may be a difficult choice due to the extensive range of papers that Permajet offers. It’s worth noting that on the Permajet website you can find a pdf document with printer driver settings but these apply only if you don’t use any colour profiles.
Aside from this it was plain sailing, or printing I should say, and there were no problems or hiccups along the way. I did have my young assistant (my dog - ‘Wolf’) helping me in his own special way…
So how did the prints turn out? Here we go!
I’m excited about this paper. I currently use a paper called “Vibrance Metallic” from Breathing Color which is very similar in appearance, only without the slight texture. Let me be straight up honest right now. I love Breathing Color’s paper, it’s beautiful but it’s very expensive to get hold of, particularly in Australia. There is a small outlet in Australia that delivers only roll paper from Breathing Color, which is a pain to deal with. Cut sheets are only available from the US. The price of shipping is much more than the paper itself. It’s almost prohibitively expensive for us here but it really is good. It does bring your cost/profit margins really close though.
Why am I telling you this? Well Titanium Lustre is the first paper that I’ve seen that comes close to Vibrance Metallic. Titanium Lustre is an amazing product!
It produces some beautifully deep tones and has a really wide colour gamut for a paper of this type. Colour reproduction is extremely accurate and the texture provides an extra punch to the photograph. Look at the reflections in the water under the pier, they look beautiful. Any photograph that has a large reflective surface in it like a body of water, glass, etc. NEEDS to be printed on this paper. It’s stunning! It handles everything from the dark blacks on the “Lake Samsonvale" print to the light whites on the pier handrails on “Shorncliffe Pier”. The detail is exquisite and it has a look of clarity that is hard to define in some paper types. It really sparkles in the light too and who doesn't like sparkly things? I feel this paper would be wonderfully suited to HDR photography, Black & White Photographs and Costal Landscapes to name a few. This is going to be my ‘go to’ metallic paper going forward. Permajet has one incredible product on their hands.
I have to admit, gloss is not my thing, it’s just not, BUT and it’s a big but (it’s even in capitals!) this is a good looking paper. My first impressions are it has a beautiful thick sheen. It looks as though it’s been laminated! The colour reproduction is again very accurate with a great range of tones. The deep blues in the “Shorncliffe Pier” photograph look really really nice along with the warmer colours on the pier. It almost looks three dimensional such as the feeling of the paper. Just holding the print you can tell its a really high quality product. The bright white colour of the paper provides a wonderful contrast to the deep colours that it produces. I can see this fitting into my range of papers in the future.
This paper immediately reminds me of Canson’s Arches Aquarelle Textured Rag. Permajet’s Museum is a far superior product though. The texture is enough to give a quality feel that you’d associate with a heavier stock but at the same time provides a beautiful feel that is not as pronounced as the Canson paper but it’s definitely better for it. One of my biggest gripes about the Canson Aquarelle Rag was that the texture is so thick that the ink didn’t penetrate into the paper very well leaving some small white patches through the print. This simply doesn’t happen with Museum.
I love the detail in this paper. On the “Red Centre” print the tree stands out beautifully from the dusty background, the colour is 100% spot on displaying every tone perfectly as it is on my screen. The paper’s base colour is a slight off white, almost a slight yellow tinge too it, very similar to Breathing Color’s “Pura Smooth”.
This is a beautifully constructed fine art paper that I can see being a big hit with Permajet Customers. I’m very much inclined to use this paper for a number of my photographs that I’m due to display in a gallery early next year.
Oyster is another paper type that is relatively new to me in terms of my work. It’s a Satin Lustre type paper with a lovely smooth feel to it.
I’m a simple creature, generally speaking I stick to matte paper or metallic where I can so I was a little bit out of my comfort zone with Oyster. It has a very subtle sheen to it which becomes more obvious once a print has been created. I must admit when the first print came off my printer I was unsure. I felt the colour wasn’t quite what I was expecting. This is not unusual though for a print straight from the printer so it’s only right to let it settle and dry for 24hrs before making any kind of judgement.
I’m very much glad that I did! The colour is exceptional once the paper is dry. It has the complete range of deep dark tones through to the light bright highlights that I’ve seen on all of the Permajet papers so far. I’ve found that this paper is a nice fit to my style of photography. I shoot quite open, bright scenes with large amounts of sky or water and the pearl finish to the paper really enhances this much better than I imagined it ever would. The paper is naturally a very bright white paper which with the pearl finish is a very good combination.
What can I say? I’m impressed with the results achieved with the Permajet range, very impressed. After I sat down to make some notes about these papers I called John right away to give him the feedback that you’ve read right here. To John’s credit, he’s now arranged for some more of Permajet’s range of papers to be sent to me so I can have a deeper look at their products, create my own ICC profiles and test more of the range. This is the kind of service that I’m sure will help put Permajet on the map and help them to become an increasingly bigger player in the print media market.
There are a couple more general things that are important to note about the Permajet range.
Some of Permajet’s range of papers are not free of OBA’s (Optical Brightening Additives). Optical Brightener Additives (commonly referred to as OBA's) are widely used in paper coatings, textiles, and laundry detergents to increase the perceived "whiteness" of the treated products. While OBA's appear to be a great solution for enhancing the whiteness and overall image quality of inkjet paper, OBA's can pose a threat to the integrity and longevity of a fine art print by causing color shifts, and yellowing over time. From the documentation supplied to me the majority of Permajet’s papers do appear to contain OBA’s. The printing media industry does seem to be pushing away from using OBA's so hopefully Permajet are taking steps to move away from this process too.
The majority of Permajet’s range of paper is acid free. Papers with acid in them usually turn yellow as they age. It also can’t escape becoming brittle in the long run. This may, in turn, break the paper as it ages more and more and thereby making you lose a lot of important things written on them. To avoid this, more and more manufacturers are turning to the acid free paper to keep them from losing such important pieces of fine art. It’s good to see Permajet is on board with this too.
The Permajet range is all Archival quality paper and they work closely with the Fine Art Trade Guild to ensure that the paper meets the high standards demanded of it. Each paper type has an archival certificate available on the Permajet website which details the paper quality and specification which is useful in reassuring user confidence in their products. Each of the papers that I've seen and those that I've been able to test are of an excellent quality. They each display a wide gamut of colours and are incredibly colour accurate when used with Permajet's own ICC Profiles.
Thanks for taking the time to read this review. It’s been long but I wanted to be honest about the products and give you the best feedback possible. If you’ve made it thus far through this relatively long winded post then I salute you! If you have any questions or comments then the comments section is open as always or feel free to shoot me an email.