by Mike McNamee Published 01/10/2013
Most of this we can cope with, using a bit of fleet-footed statistics. The major headache has been the media names.
Manufacturers continuously refresh their names and branding, and also cut new deals for re-boxed product sold by additional distributors. We also have to be alert to new coating processes being introduced. Our big table is therefore an honest attempt, but comes with a health warning, especially on costs and naming. We took our costs from supplies thrown up by Google in much the way that a newcomer might seek them out for the first time - better deals are most likely available with shopping around. The range of costs is interesting; in 2007 they ranged from 116p to 335p per A3 (equivalent to 157p to 452p for an A3+) and in 2013 they range from 184p to 432p per A3+. Some media we failed to find any prices for, Google returned no hits at all.
Cost, of course, is only part of the deal and its influence depends upon the application. For an enthusiast, making prints to fling about in their local competition, cost can be a sensitive issue. For a fine art printer, making images to sell for thousands of pounds, the cost is negligible. For the majority of those in between these extremes other factors come into play. The name of the mill may be important for the bragging rights: 'This paper comes from the same mill that made paper for Matisse and Picasso' may carry more weight than, 'We have just collected this Scaggyjet paper on a special deal at Staples'!
Our latest colour audit protocols seek to examine the accuracy of reproduction of a full range of colours with subsets pulled out for neutrals, skin tones, high gamut colours as well as swatch sets from GretagMacbeth CC24 and SG and the Fogra V3 (CMYK) patch set. The paper is but a small part of achieving accuracy along with profile-making quality, printer, ink set and ambient air variations. One of the key 'error drivers' is the fluorescence caused by OBAs. These impede measurements, profile making and print auditing as well as having quite an influence on the 'look' of the print.
Arguments are sometimes made for ignoring the reams of data we produce, but if that is your stance then all you can do is buy every variant and make each of your prints on it and then choose your preference (and good luck, speak to your financial controller!).
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