by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2011
We look at three canvas options from Breathing Color, media that is now imported and distributed by the Imaging Warehouse. The three are different in terms of cost, construction and intended use. At the top of the tree stands Lyve Canvas with its enhanced chromata coating for a high-gamut performance without the use of OBAs. Next comes Crystalline Gloss with a self-glossy finish and finally the budget Economy 800, a brightened product intended for 'decor use only' rather than fine art, limited-edition printing.
We had to decide which type of ink to employ from our Epson 4900. The media are compatible with both, but for optimum performance we choose Matt Black with Lyve and Economy 800 and Photo Black for the glossy Crystalline canvas.
For profiling we continued testing the X-Rite i1 Publish and used a 727-patch scrambled target for Lyve and Economy 800 but ran into trouble with Crystalline - more on that later. We chose Auto for platen gap (against the advice on the Breathing Color website) but got away with it most of the time. The 4900 with its back-tensioning holds canvas nice and flat. In all instances we employed the new HiGAM audit target but measured the effect of the BC varnishes, the newer Timeless product and the older Glamour Gloss II.
This is the premium product, intended for fine art reproduction, limited-edition and exhibition printing of the highest quality. The Breathing Color website is as bullish as ever over the performance and we mentioned this a year ago when we first reviewed the media. However, we continue to be impressed; there is a richness to the prints even before they are varnished and with the more stringent numerical auditing we carry out today, it still held up well.
As with all canvas the Dmax registered low, reaching 1.48, good for a matt canvas but not outstanding. The value is very similar to that we measured previously using the Epson 4800 and 3800 machines. To meet the website claims of having a 15% improvement over other products this would have to reach 1.73 - unlikely on this evidence. The claims of 15% more gamut could not be checked, however, the gamut volume measured was much higher due to the Epson HDR ink set.
The audit testing produced an average error of 3.46ΔE00 compared with a value of 4.9 found previously on the Epson 4800. This significant improvement could be due to other factors such as the change of printer, the change of profiling protocol or luck. Regardless of the reason we'll take it! The high gamut testing has not been used on canvas before so we were in new territory. As expected for a matt material, the main errors in the colours were in the luminance and saturation channels. A reason why the prints look good is that there is an underlying neutrality to the colour.
Varnishing the canvas had the anticipated effect. The print deepened, became more saturated and generally 'brighter in appearance' usually described as having more 'pop'. The Dmax rose as indicated in the table.
All of these basic parameters are reflected in the average data before and after varnishing. The overall luminance error has gone from too light by 0.9 units through to too dark by 2.3 units. Saturation error has gone from -1.5 to -0.6 ie still desaturated, but by a smaller margin.
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