By Bryan Linden
Moab by Legion Paper has recently released two new series of fine art paper families. Colorado Fiber, which is Moab’s interpretation of traditional silver halide F-type fiber papers, and the Lasal Photo series of papers that provide popular traditional surfaces at an economical price.
I performed image tests on each of Moab’s new offerings with a combination of fine art and portrait images and test charts, encompassing a wide range of images and colors as well as color bars, black and white, and images with heavy shadow detail. Image tests were done using Epson Stylus Pro 3800 and 4800 printers, printed from Photoshop CS2 using ICC Profiles available from Moab’s website. Some prints were also made using Image Print 7.0 RIP from ColorByte Software (www.colorbytesoftware.com).
Colorado Fiber Satine 245 is a 100% alpha-cellulose paper in 245gsm weight. The surface is enhanced with a slight fiber texture and feel and, according to Moab, has a Dmax of up to 2.4 and an air-dried pearl/semi-matte type-F surface. Moab describes the paper as having a glacier-like white surface, and achieves this with OBA’s (optical brighteners). This paper is also touted as Water-Resistant, but I didn't test for that aspect for this article.
Overall I liked the look and feel of this paper but feel it lacked any real pearl texture. I found it difficult to tell a surface difference from Fiber Gloss 245, viewing at a short distance. It is very bright, as claimed, but I wish the surface had a bit more shine and tooth to it. Colors rendered well, and there were no handling problems. Colorado Fiber Satine 245 sells for $79.99 for 25 13x19-inch sheets and is available in many cut-sheet and roll sizes.
Colorado Fiber Gloss shares the identical specs and pricing as Fiber Satine other than surface texture and is extremely similar in appearance and color rendition. The gloss surface is understated compared to glossy prints from a traditional lab, and the texture of the paper is reminiscent of fiber-based darkroom paper. Blacks are rich and the Colorado Fiber series is a good choice for prints that you want to have that classic feel.
The new Lasal line comprises Photo Gloss 270, Photo Luster 270, and Photo Matte 235. The glossy and luster papers are meant to be comparable to traditional glossy and luster photo surfaces, while Photo Matte is akin to Epson’s Enhanced Matte Paper. Photo Gloss and Photo Luster share many specifications, including an instant-dry and smudge-resistant surface, 270gsm weight, OBA-free bright white surface and water resistance. The main difference is in surface texture.
Lasal Photo Matte 235, unlike the previously mentioned papers, is double-sided 235gsm weight and has an instant-dry smooth matte surface. The paper is very bright white and contains OBAs. I liked this paper very much, especially using a custom profile. In my various tests, I tended to prefer it to Epson’s Enhanced Matte.
The entire Lasal line is priced affordably and sells for up to 30 percent less than Epson or other OEM’s original paper. Color rendition is good and is consistent with Moab’s downloadable ICC profiles in the Lasal line, and even with the Colorado papers I tested.
Consistent manufacturer profiles allow me to offer different surface options of the same photos to my customers, which is a big plus. I may want to sell a large print on a fiber-based surface and smaller prints on a traditional surface, and it’s nice to know Moab has created profiles that render colors closely even among different surface textures and colors.
While I did like the prints produced on the Lasal line, I can’t help but compare them to the glossy and luster surfaces I’m already used to that I feel closely match traditional type E-surface and gloss surface papers. If you’re looking for extreme high gloss luster or glossy surfaces, you’ll likely be disappointed. The texture or tooth of the the Colorado Fiber Satine is much less distinct than what I’m accustomed to.
The gloss and luster papers have a poster-like look to them and remind me of offset or movie poster surfaces. To see how someone not used to studying prints would react to the surfaces, I asked my wife, a hairdresser by trade, to give me her opinion. "This one looks and feels like a poster,” she said, referring to Lasal Photo Luster, which leads me to believe other users would likely perceive them similarly. The look is by no means objectionable, just different than I expected. Street price for 50 Sheets of 13x19-inch Photo Gloss and Photo Luster 270 is about $71.99; Photo Matte 235 is $41.99.
Moab has done a great job of making their ICC profiles available on their website, and the color consistency is very good. I did notice a huge difference in Dmax when I used my own ImagePrint 7.0 profiles instead of Moab’s. Shadows that had been a little plugged in print opened up, and I actually saw more visible dynamic range on custom profiled Photo Matte than the same image on Photo Luster with Moab’s profiles. This is common with most canned profiles vs. RIPs and custom profiles, but the differences I could see are more significant than I’ve observed lately with manufacturer profiles.
If your tastes lean to subtlety and you prefer low gloss vs. high gloss, you’ll love these products. If you’re looking for high gloss or noticeable surface texture, then you may be dissapointed.
Bryan Linden is a photographer and digital imaging expert who has been capturing digitally since 1993. His photography work encompasses wedding, portrait, entertainment, event, fine art and more. Linden is a regular presenter on digital imaging related subjects at industry events and gives workshops on a vari-ety of subjects. Linden recently joined Album DS Design Software as VP US/Canada Marketing/Sales.