Red River Paper Review by ohenry

For those of you that print your own photos at home, there is always the decision as to what paper to use. There are a number of excellent papers available at various prices. With color management tools, you are no longer limited to the papers recommended by your printer manufacturer (usually their own brand).

Red River Paper offers a variety of very good papers to fit just about every project, from fine art papers to greeting cards. They offer a wide variety of surfaces, textures, weights, and sizes. In addition to their great lineup of papers, they offer ICC profiles for a variety of the more popular photo printers at no charge.

I recently was given the opportunity to test out several of Red River Papers best papers and I can only report that Red River is a company to strongly consider as the source for your paper needs.

I will point out that my tests were all done using an Epson R1800 19” printer and I controlled my printing using Adobe Photoshop CS3. Without going into details on how to set up the printer properly, I will point out that I print using the Photoshop engine to control the print output via ICC profiles rather than allowing the printer to control it. Additionally, my monitor is calibrated and profiled using a Monaco XR calibration unit. The printer profiles that I used for the testing were supplied by Red River specifically for the Epson R1800. My preferred source of ICC profiles is to have a custom made profile made for my specific printer for each paper that I use. For more information on color management using Photoshop, visit Computer-Darkroom and read his excellent articles and tutorials.

The 13×19 Sampler Kit included photo feel papers, artistic papers, and matte papers. From the photo feel papers, they included a variety of both gloss and satin papers, ranging from their “good” quality to their “best”. My favorite papers in this class was the Arctic Polar Gloss and Satin papers. In the artistic papers arena, I liked the Aurora Fine Art White paper and found that it worked very nicely for landscape work where you don’t want the glossy look and you like the colors to bleed into the paper to give a richer look. A niche paper that I also like is called River Linen. It’s a semi-gloss paper with a linen feel to it.

All of the papers rendered excellent results from my printer and the supplied profiles gave me very good matches between my monitor and the print. I did have to make some minor saturation and brightness adjustments in some cases after soft-proofing, particularly from the matte papers.

I can highly recommend Red River Papers for Epson printers with Epson UltraChrome inks. I can only assume that similar results can be obtained from other printer and inks. They provide compatibility charts for Canon, Epson, and HP inks, as well as ICC profiles for selected printers from the same companies. They offer paper in sizes of 4×6, 5×7, 8×10, 8.5×11, 8.5×14, 11×14, 11×17, 13×19, 16×20, 24×36, several other large sizes, and roll paper in both 17 inch and 24 inch widths. Additionally, they offer greeting cards, notecards, and envelopes in a variety of papers. And, if you need a custom size, they have a program that will custom cut to suit your needs.

Rather than go into each of the papers individually, I suggest that you visit their site and order a sample kit of their papers specifically suited for your printer. Prices for the kits range from $7.99 and up. You’ll get two papers of each variety as described in the kit. Then download the ICC profile or the detailed printer setup recommendations for your printer. I used a sample image that was rich in vibrant colors and skin tones to test the papers and I suggest you do the same. The print I used can be found here.

Conclusions: Red River Paper makes a quality product at a reasonable price that will rival many of the better known name papers. The website is easy to navigate and filled with helpful information to get the most from your printing experience. Shipping is fast and reasonably priced. I’ll be adding the following papers to my printer drawer: Aurora Fine Art White, Arctic Polar Gloss, and Arctic Polar Satin. I already own Ultra Pro Gloss and Satin, and while the newer versions of the same paper is nicer, I preferred the richer colors that I got from the Arctic Polar line. I will also be looking at stocking up on some of the greeting card papers and envelopes.

Two thumbs up!