Canson Infinity has released its latest fine-art inkjet paper, the Baryta Prestige II, with the sole purpose of maintaining the aesthetics of a traditional darkroom paper. Over the past few years, one of inkjet printing’s main goals has been to emulate the look and feel of so-called darkroom papers, specifically fiber-based, black-and-white, silver gelatin papers, because these papers truly hit the mark in terms of tonal range and inherent tactile impressiveness in a printed photograph. Distinctively heavyweight, fiber-based prints also have some of the most visually engaging qualities when it comes to a physical photograph, especially in the realms of fine art and printmaking. Canson Infinity’s new Baryta Prestige II paper succeeds in replicating this look since it matches a neutral white base and hefty 340gsm weight with an updated formula that no longer contains any optical brighteners.
Described as a “digital darkroom paper,” Canson Infinity has positioned this paper for art photography as a natural and neutral paper capable of holding very deep black tones and high detail without looking unnatural. Aside from the weight of the paper, the other key component to achieving the darkroom paper look is the use of a barium sulphate (baryta) coating before the ink-receiving layer. This coating is responsible for the unique tactility and natural gloss texture that’s neither cloyingly shiny nor too dull. There is some visible surface texture, depending on the angle of the print to light, and this texture helps break up some overwhelming reflections that would affect higher gloss surfaces. At the same time, the finish is glossy enough to yield rich tones and colors, deep blacks, and clear white tones for a wide, apparent dynamic range.
Indicated by the “II” in the name, this second-generation paper’s primary update to the former Baryta Prestige is the omission of artificial optical brightening agents (OBAs). The lack of OBAs results in a more neutral base tint, natural color rendering, and contributes to greater print longevity. In a more technical sense, the CIE whiteness value for this new paper is 88, compared to 112 for the previous generation; this new paper is slightly warmer and more natural rather than having a hyper-white base.
More than just OBA-free, this paper is also acid-free, buffered, and features a hybrid base made from alpha-cellulose and cotton, which further contributes to the distinct texture that resembles a traditional darkroom paper. It’s a 340gsm-weight paper, like its predecessor, but is slightly thicker than version I (400µm vs 370µm).
Baryta Prestige II is available in a variety of sheet and roll sizes, ranging from 8.5 x 11" sheets up to 60" x 50' rolls.
Have you used baryta papers for inkjet printing? What are your thoughts on working with papers reminiscent of former darkroom papers? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.