Paper and ink-flow manufacturer Fotospeed is well known for the quality of its papers, with a huge range of finishes and sizes on offer.
The company’s latest offering bucks the usual paper shape trends, breaking from the rectangular standards of A4 and A3, and instead going square. The new papers are available in either an 8 x 8-inch or 12 x 12-inch in the following finishes; Fotospeed PF Lustre 275, Fotospeed Platinum Etching 285 and Fotospeed Platinum Baryta 300.
With 35mm film making a comeback from the brink, it could be possible that square prints that we’re so popular with Hasselblad film photographers could also make a welcome return, albeit in digital format. It’s certainly a format that has been promoted by Instagram.
Indeed, square format images have additional impact, and as square prints are less common the shape itself draws interest.
Printing square format certainly makes you think creatively about your images, especially when you consider that a digital image is usually captured in the 3:2 aspect ratio.
A little creative cropping is a welcome change and enables you to revisit some images that you may well have retired to the far reaches of your digital archive. Although for the best results, we’d recommend shooting with square format in mind.
As always Fotospeed offers its superb Custom ICC profiles with the purchase of the paper. Using these profiles takes a little time as they require you to download and print a test card from the Fotospeed website. All the details can be found in the support section of the Fotospeed site.
Once you’ve downloaded and printed the test file you need to post the print to Fotospeed, along with the booking form. A few days later a custom ICC profile will be emailed through to you, along with instructions on how to install it.
The ICC profile process makes you think about your printer and monitor colour. Something we should always do, but what with one thing and another, it can get forgotten. It highlights the importance of regular profile checks to ensure that the colour you see on screen always matches the print that emerges from your printer.
Alongside the profiling that the company offers, Fotospeed also recommends you calibrate your monitor. A device such as the X-rite i1 Display or ColorMunki Photo are ideal options.
Fotospeed Square Inkjet Paper review: Print quality
The papers themselves are high quality and the Fotospeed PF Lustre 275 is a firm favourite of mine for general prints. Testing on a Canon Pro 9500 Mark II shows that the paper retains deep rich colours and the colours displayed on (properly calibrated) screen are well reproduced on paper.
The paper is able to take the ink and reproduce subtle tonal graduation in both bright colour and darker shadows with plenty of crisp detail.
Fotospeed Platinum Etching 285 demonstrates a touch of paper luxury, this is reflected in the price of £20 for 25 sheets of the 8 x 8-inch. The paper is a heavy weight textured art paper resemblant of watercolour paper with a sturdy 285 gsm weight.
Its texture make it more sympathetic and the paper smooths out some detail and subtle tone to give a more artistic reproduction of the image. Ink is held by the surface well and contrast is reproduced well, defining edges and holding onto clarity which can be lost with this paper type.
Finally, the high end Fotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 comes in at £25 for 25 sheets of the 8 x 8, but for that money you get one of the best printing surfaces available. Tone and colour is reproduced well and tricky digital black and white prints show depth of tone and detail.
The surface is finish isn’t the only property that makes the Fotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 excel, it’s also approved by the Art Trade Guild. What’s more, if it’s used with pigment inks the prints should have a life of 85 years.
Fotospeed Square Inkjet Paper review: Verdict
The 8 x 8-inch and 12 x 12-inch papers in the the three different finishes offer a good variety of options for your prints. Gloss, Luster or Art, each paper is exceptionally high quality and the inclusion of a free ICC profile with every pack makes a real difference to the quality of your prints.
Of the three, the Fotospeed PF Lustre 275 is my favourite. It’s also the cheapest but at just under £20 for 50 sheets it’s still relatively expensive. However, it’s a solid performer with a good finish that shows off the quality of your prints in high detail.
The Fotospeed Platinum Etching 285 and Fotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 are also exceptional. The Fotospeed Platinum Etching 285 enables you to show off your creative prints on a complimentary art paper.
Fotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 comes at a relatively high price, but is worth it if you’re looking to keep your prints beyond an exhibition or you want to sell prints commercially.