View Full Version : What are your print preferences? Metalic vs. Esurface etc.

02-20-2012, 08:33 PM
I am about to order my state competition prints from Millers, but I can't decide if I should use metalic or esurface paper. If I use esurface, should I use the luster coat or glossy? And what should I mount them on?

02-20-2012, 09:33 PM
Hi Tracy, from what I've heard, the metallic papers reflect a weird color in comp lights. I haven't seen that, but that's what I've heard. Bay Photo has this super high gloss paper, I think it's Fuji Crystal, that is really good. I didn't need to put anything on top of them. With E-surface, laminating the prints are the way to go. Write to Michael Timmons. He laminates prints for a lot of other photographers for print comp and they look terrific.

02-21-2012, 01:55 AM
Michael have you heard of any problems with Fuji Pearl? It is not as metallic as the Kodak.

02-21-2012, 02:33 AM
Tracy, it all depends on the image. Many portrait images tend to look better with conventional papers while some illustrative papers look better with metallic - BUT - the opposite is also true - some portraits on metallic really pop and some illustrative images benefit from the more accurate color reproduction of conventional papers - it's difficult to tell which one to use until you actually see the image printed on the paper - sorry there's no easy answer.

Michael have you heard of any problems with Fuji Pearl? It is not as metallic as the Kodak.

Tim, I've had some portraits printed on Pearl, it's OK for people, but for dog and cat portraits it's really nice - it gives a bit more pop without going really metallic looking - in fact, for pets, I prefer the pearl over the conventional.

02-21-2012, 12:45 PM
Tracy- forget the E surface paper and go with F surface paper (glossy). E surface paper (aka luster paper) is fine for client work, but you really want glossy paper for comp.

02-21-2012, 02:23 PM
Thanks for posting this question Tracy. I was in a debate about it too. Good information from everyone! Thanks all!

02-21-2012, 05:49 PM
my lab only uses E-surface so I have them do a laminate on it. I know some have said they don't like the way laminate looks, but I love it.

02-21-2012, 08:57 PM
my lab only uses E-surface so I have them do a laminate on it. I know some have said they don't like the way laminate looks, but I love it.
Have you called your lab to verify this? I thought my lab didn't offer the F surface glossy either until I asked. I found out it was something they had but it wasn't on their site.

02-21-2012, 09:09 PM
yep, I've asked :)

02-21-2012, 10:13 PM

There is no definitive answer to your question. Some images look better on metallic papers and others don't. It becomes a matter of personal taste as much as anything. As an International Juror, I have seen images that the metallic paper did not enhance the final presentation, while it did for others. For my personal entries I have stayed away from the metallic paper.

Gloss surface for final presentation is best. Whether your subprint is "e" surface or gloss surface doesn't really matter that much. There are other paper factors that come into play. I print on an e surface paper, specifically Lexjet E Sunset Satin paper. It is a 300 gram paper that is really durable and easier to handle than thinner papers. I also laminate using a "hot roll" laminator, specifically the Seal Ultra 44. Cold roll laminates are not ideal for competition prints as the glue does not melt between the laminate and the print, often leaving a milky appearance in the low key or black areas of the print. Many labs use "hot roll" laminators, but it is always good to ask first. There are some people who enter "raw" (no surface spray or laminate), glossy paper prints for competition. While I frown on this presentation, it is done. The main issue with this presentation is the damage that can occour during the handling of the image during judging. Making it often a one time entry that needs to be reprinted after only one judging. Hope this helps you some.

02-22-2012, 05:48 PM
what labs carry F surface? if you dont mind sharing...

02-22-2012, 06:00 PM
H&H does not, BWC does. I don't know about anyone else. I do know H&H does a hot laminate process and has good success with competition prints.

02-22-2012, 06:06 PM
what labs carry F surface? if you dont mind sharing...

WHCC, ACI do, for sure. I think Millers does as well.

02-22-2012, 07:15 PM
Like Mark said, ACI(American Color Imaging) does carry the F surface glossy. This is something you have to ask for in the notes section when you upload your order though. It's not on the order menu.

02-24-2012, 12:53 PM
This is all great information, but has also left me so very confused. I entered the IPC digitally last year, but would really like to enter prints this year, but am running out of time.

I typically use WHCC and planned to use them for competition prints as well - in looking at ROES, assuming I want regular paper (not metallic), I can just order the glossy competition print right within ROES and add the competition mounting, correct?

Would this already be laminated? Is there something additional I would need to do?

Sorry for all of the questions - I am just finding this print process somewhat confusing! Thank you!

02-28-2012, 04:02 AM
If you use f surface you do not need laminate. Laminate has caused a milky look to low key images. F surface IS hi gloss. I suggest mounting on black sintra also. If you choose to use art board or gatorfoam please blacken the edges on any lowkey prints. Again it is a small touch to "finish" you image.

02-28-2012, 07:01 AM
I can vouch for what Sarah has said above. Two years ago, two of my low key prints that I entered at SouthWest did not receive seals. After the judging was over, before we pulled down the judging room, I put the two prints up on the turntable and took a look at them under the lights - I could see the milkiness in the print that I hadn't seen in the studio - they were laminated. I reprinted the prints on F surface paper with no laminate and sent them to the IPC - both of them were accepted.

I believe that it may have been moisture trapped in the laminate that caused the milkiness since the prints were printed on F surface before they were laminated. I laminated them for a little extra protection. I live in New Orleans where it is always 100% humidity - maybe if you live in Arizona where it is very dry you may not have a problem, but I now send in only F surface non laminated prints.

Just for clarification - the reason I couldn't see them when they were actually being judged was because I was in charge of running one of the two print rooms that year at Southwest. To make it possible for the entrants to have a chance to see their images being judged, they had the entries split into two rooms with all of the entrants with last names beginning with A-L in one room and M-Z in the other room, so entrants could know in which room their images would be judged so they could be there. I had to pick a room to run, and the person who was going to be in charge of running the other room's last name began with S - so I picked the A-L room since both of us could not be in the same room. Since I was running the A-L room and my prints were being judged in the M-Z room, I couldn't see them being judged. I looked at them during the dinner break after we had finished the judging and before we started the trophy selection process.