I somehow have neglected to post much about this relatively new paper from Canson Infinity despite it being my new favorite paper. Paper choice is very subjective, but for me, Platine Fiber Rag (PFR) hits the sweet spot in so many ways. If you haven’t yet tried it out, I certainly highly recommend doing so. There are other reviews of this paper out in the world – I’d recommend this one from the Luminous Landscape for more details and charts than this relatively short review and this one for details about printing B&W with this paper.
So, what is PFR? It is a fiber-based lustre paper with a 100% cotton rag paper base that uses no optical brightening agents (OBAs) to achieve its brightness. According to Canson (you can read the nitty gritty for yourself here), the paper base is from a cotton paper used for platinum printing with a suitable coating to receive inkjet inks applied on top of that base. It naturally has all the archival characteristics (e.g., acid-free, internally buffered, etc.) we have come to expect from modern, high-end inkjet papers. It is in the general class of lustre/luster papers that, on the Epson printers, use the Photo Black ink rather than the Matte Black ink and that also have a somewhat textured or stippled surface.
Okay, those are the basics, so what is like? PFR is one of my favorite papers when held in the hand. It is relatively thick (310 grams) and the cotton rag base gives it a ‘fine art’ feel. The stippled surface has a very nice look – it is just a little more stippled than competitors such as Ilford Gold Fiber Silk and Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique, and for much of my work I find the extra stippling to add a bit of pleasing sparkle to the final print.
One excellent characteristic of PFR is that, when printing off of rolls, it dries relatively flat and does not need additional flattening. There are some lovely papers with more curl than this one, and the last step of trying to flatten takes up valuable time and also introduces an opportunity for the print to be damaged so flat drying is a distinct advantage.
What about color and image quality? Wonderful. There are papers with more range in what they can show (such as its cousin Baryta Photographique), but it has enough range for almost any task. Perhaps the slightly less color range allows the paper to print with a bit more subtlety, but I’ve been happier with prints on this paper than anything else.
The paper is pretty neutral overall but I believe that the highlights are slightly warm. Certainly compared to papers such as Epson Exhibition Fiber with brighteners PFR will feel on the warm side, but its overall neutrality is one of its strengths. For many artists, the slight warmth in the highlights is a feature, not a bug — for my own work that little bit of warmth adds to the overall experience of the paper.
One of the best papers for digital printing. My own subjective feeling is that this paper is the best overall current option for the lustre papers. It is 100% cotton, no OBAs, just a touch warm, great feel in the hand, easy to work with on rolls, has a very nice stippled surface, and great image quality. I definitely recommend trying it out to see if it is suitable for your own work and aesthetic.