Epson Hot Press Paper review
Before we start the Epson Hot press paper review here are the technical specs that Epson give for both the Hot Press Bright and Hot Press Natural papers:
Hot press bright paper
This paper has an acid free base, PH Buffered, 100% cotton rag on 330 gsm weight. It has a bright white surface and an ultra smooth finish for excellent colour and black & white reproduction. With extreme high D-Max for high contrast, it dries instantly and has a wide colour gamut.
Hot press natural paper
This paper has an acid free base, PH Buffered, 100% cotton rag on 330 gsm weight. It has a white surface, without OBA’s and an ultra smooth finish for excellent colour and black & white reproduction. With extreme high D-Max for high contrast, it dries instantly and has a wide colour gamut
My first impression when I received a couple of boxes of the Epson Hot Press papers was how well packaged they are compared to all other papers I have used (and I’ve used a lot).
The papers come in oversized boxes which help to protect the paper from bumps during transit. I have to say Epson have done a great job with their packaging and even if the boxes were thrown around I reckon the paper would still arrive in perfect condition.
Once you open up the boxes and handle the paper for the first time the thickness ( 330GSM) of the sheets exudes quality and it feels like a luxurious paper in hand. I would feel very confident handing this paper to clients knowing the luxury feel will just add to the value of my images.
The Hot Press papers have a very smooth surface as denoted by the name Hot Press, if you’re after a more textured surface then you should give Epson’s Cold Press papers a try.
The Proof is in the Print
The first print that I printed out was a black and white image of Asygarth falls in the Yorkshire Dales which has very deep blacks and bright whites so it is a great test to compare this paper to the other matte papers which I’m currently using, Canson Rag Photographique 310 and Hahnemuhle German Etching as well as to glossy surface papers like Canson Baryta and Epson’s own Premium Luster.
I initially printed out all the prints using Epson’s ABW driver on my Stylus Pro 7900. The Hot Press Bright actually came out a little warmer than I had expected with it actually being only marginally brighter than the Canson Rag Photographique which was surprising considering the Epson Hot Press Bright uses OBA’s and the Canson paper doesn’t.
I had a play around with the tone settings in the ABW driver but the print was still a little on the warm side compared with the display on my calibrated monitor so I decided I would create a custom profile using my Spyder 3 Print SR and see if I could get a better match for what I was seeing on my monitor.
Before doing this I printed out the same image to both the Hot Press Natural paper (which I simply found too warm and creamy for my taste on this image although I could see it suiting some) and Hahnemuhle’s German Etching paper which actually printed out very well using Epson’s ABW driver with the media setting of Velvet Fine Art paper.
Hahnemuhle German Etching uses moderate amounts of OBA’s just like Epson Hot Press Bright so I would expect them to be producing an image with a similar warmth and tone but the German Etching was noticeably cooler and almost an exact match for the image on my monitor. I’d also say that for this particular image I liked the added tooth that the texture on German Etching gave and I would be interested to see what it was like in comparison to Epson Cold Press Bright.
However once I created a profile for the Hot Press Bright using the extended grays target in Spyder 3 Print SR the paper printed perfectly.
What impressed me most was just how dark the blacks on the Epson Hot Press Bright are, I’m used to using baryta papers which print exceptionally dark blacks and yet I was amazed that this paper could produce a satisfying black, the dmax is nothing short of incredible for a matte paper but don’t expect it to match that of glossy papers becasue it’s just not going to happen. It’s very hard to show just how nice this black and white print looks in person but I’ll try and show you anyway.It has a depth and feel to the print that I couldnt get with a glossy surface. It’s very hard to quantify but it is a thing of beauty in reality.
Now on top of feeling like a beautiful paper it is also performing like one. The blacks are darker than the Canson Rag Photographique 310 although there is really hardly anything in it and the highlights are fractionally in favour of the Epson too with them being very slightly brighter but both are exceptional matte papers. This is a great performance by the Hot press Bright as the Canson Rag photographique has up until now been by far my favourite smooth matte paper but I would say that the Epson Hot Press Bright certainly performs equally well for black and white prints.
I printed out a still life image of mine which particularly suits matte papers on the Epson Hot Press Bright and the Canson Rag Photographique which are very evenly matched.
Whats’s particularly interesting is that Epson Hot Press Bright actually performs better than baryta papers when printing blues and yellows, it’s colour gamut is larger in these areas.
If you select your images carefully then there is no doubt that Epson Hot Press bright can outperform even fibre based and gloss surfaced papers in certain areas and the paper surface is a thing of beauty. Where this paper loses out to baryta papers is in the reds and greens and it wont produce as dark a black but it does produce a beautiful black with a different character and charm to baryta papers.
In the end I would recommend choosing Epson Hot Press Bright if you want the widest possible gamut, bright whites and dmax on a matte paper, you will love the images that this paper can create!
If you need an OBA free paper then you could give the Epson Hot Press Natural a try, especially for portraits as the natural paper white will suit skin tones and you get that beautiful surface but for my landscapes it was a little too warm.
I will definitely be using Epson Hot Press Bright in my repertoire of papers as combined with Epson’s HDR inks in my 7900 it’s capable of blowing you away with the quality you can achieve.
In fact I have really enjoyed printing on matte papers thanks to the Epson Hot Press Bright and it has inspired me to get out and create a series of prints that will be printed only on matte papers rather than my usual tendancy to print on fibre papers.
These papers are not cheap but if you want to create prints that can really wow your clients/friends/family or even just for the aethetically pleasing results for yourself then I would highly recommend trying them out.