Thursday, January 19, 2012

Metallic Paper Comparison: Red River Polar Pearl vs LexJet Sunset Photo (Coupon Code Included)

A Distorted View of New York (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Red River Polar Pearl Metallic
is my preferred paper for my popular Manhattan Nightscape print
Copyright Ron Martinsen – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

When I did my printing series the first third party paper I tested was LexJet’s Sunset Photo Metallic which I learned about from Eddie Tapp. It is a great paper that I raved about in my review, but it’s pretty expensive. What’s more, the discount that I negotiated for you only lasted a short time and LexJet never renewed it. I get lots of requests to bring the discount back or offer a comparable paper for a better price, so I’m here to share some exciting news about that happening.

I’ve been using LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic for over a year and Red River Polar Pearl for over four months. During my testing I’ve found the papers to be identical in performance, so I’ve been able to use the same printer profile for both papers from a given printer and get identical results! If you like Metallic paper, both will serve you well but Red River Polar Pearl Metallic will just cost you a lot less.

Red River Polar Pearl Metallic Specifications

Here are the key facts that I have gathered about this paper:

Basis Weight 255 g/m²

Thickness

10.4 mil
ISO Brightness 78 (est)
Base Material Resin-coated (RC) photo paper
Surface Finish High-gloss, metallic

Click here to learn more about this paper. For Canon printers, I disagree with their recommendations and suggest that you go to LexJet’s site to get the Sunset Metallic Media Type file (AM1 file) for your printer and use it instead of the the Photo Paper Glossy (I & II) media type.

Paper Profiles

You can get Red River Paper Profiles here, but I’ve done a quick link to printers covered on this blog:

  • Canon ipf6300/ipf6350 & ipf8300 – I tested this profile and it more accurate than the Lexjet profile, but I personally prefer the additional warmth found in Lexjet’s profile. Precise color matching work should use this profile with the Relative Colormetric rendering intent.
  • Epson 3880 – This profile appears to perform better than what Lexjet offers since they only offer a 3800 profile. I prefer Canon printers over Epson for this paper, but you can get accurate results with this profile. On Epson my preference is still to use ColorByte ImagePrint (my review of version 9 is coming soon).
  • Epson 4900 – Currently Red River Paper is using the profile they generated for the 7900 and 9900 which is incorrect. While the 4900 uses the same ink and print head technology, I’ve discovered (and verified with printer driver experts) that the 4900 differs just enough that it requires its own paper profile for the best result.
  • Colorbyte ImagePrint – I am now testing version 9.0.0.1 and it had profiles for both my 3880 and 4900. I printed using both the Red River Polar Pearl Metallic and Lexjet Sunset Photo Metallic profiles and the results were identical.

How To Walkthrough

My Sunset Photo Metallic article had a walkthrough which showed how to use this paper with PC’s and Mac’s in Photoshop and Lightroom. Everything in that article applies to this paper – you can even use the Lexjet profiles and settings OR you can just substitute the Red River profile. As a result, I won’t redo all of that discussion for this article, but I have included some screen shots using the Red River profiles to point you in the right direction.  

Canon imagePrograf Print Plug-In for Photoshop


Canon iPF6300 Print Plug-In for Photoshop
Lexjet Sunset Metallic Media Type and Red River Polar Pearl Paper Profile

Colorbyte ImagePrint 9.0.0.1

image
Colorbyte ImagePrint 9 settings for an Epson 4900
(change display lighting and speed to suit your needs)

Epson 4900 in Photoshop CS4 Printer Dialogs

image

Change Printable Area to center print to the paper
Do this to center your image to the paper

image

image

image
Photoshop CS4 Settings*

I continue to advice those who care about color matching to use Photoshop CS4 instead of CS5 for printing. Unfortunately CS5 appears to add its own saturation enhancements to your photos which makes soft proofing and accurate color matching impossible.

Conclusion

In all of my testing, I found the performance of Red River Polar Pearl Metallic to be identical to LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic. You can use either profile with either paper, but my preference is for the Lexjet profiles which are a bit warmer. The Red River paper costs less and that is BEFORE the special offer (see below) on this blog which makes it even more affordable. With 12 sheet sizes offered by Red River versus only 3 by Lexjet, the odds are that you’ll find the size you need and can save some money.

UPDATE: Red River Paper now sells metallic in rolls! Now there’s no excuse not to get this paper as its cheaper than the competition PLUS I have a special offer below to make it even more affordable!

Special Offer

Red River Paper Coupon Code
Example for coupon entry only – the offer and code here have expired

Visit http://www.redrivercatalog.com/landing/ronmart/ to learn what the latest offer details are as well

Offer subject to change. See my discount coupon code page for the latest terms, and the printing series page for more Red River Paper articles.

Disclaimer

I may get a commission if you make a purchase using links in this article. I also was provided with sample paper to test for this review.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

9 comments:

Jim said...

Perfect timing! I'm in the market for some paper and I wanted to try out one of the metallic papers.

Laurent said...

Have you had outgassing issues with the Red River paper. Any framing suggestions? How long do you let it dry?

Ron Martinsen said...

I haven't but I know Mpix won't put them under glass anymore. However my 2 year old framed metallic print from Mpix has been fine under glass.

Laurent said...

Was your Mpix pic printed on Red River Polar Pearl?

Ron Martinsen said...

Don't know the brand but the origin of all metallic ink jet paper is the same

Laurent said...

Do you know of any good framing tips for this paper? How do I protect it and preserve it’s metallic aspect? Would lamination be an option?
By the way your blog about the Canon ipf 6300 printer was an important factor in my decision. I recently went from an Epson 7800 to a ipf8300. Love it so far..

Ron Martinsen said...

The best framing for metallic is no glass, but not because of outgassing issues. It's best because it's super durable and looks best when seen directly. If you do put glass on it, then don't get a UV protectant as that just takes away from the pop. matte glass is bad because it reduces the pop and reflective glass is bad because it's so reflective. I have one in glass and after that I just mount them to foamcore and leave them exposed like a canvas

Yeah, the 8300 is the same as the 6350 but wider so everything i say for the 6300 applies. Fantastic printer for sure, but Canon's built in profiles are a bit mediocre. Third party support for new profiles isn't as good as I would hope (although ImagePrint will address that in an update later this year).

Ron

Laurent said...

I do build my own profiles and it makes a huge difference.
On a different note, I was wondering, do you know of a paper or media that I could print on for wall murals. I have been asked to print for a 8 foot x 12 foot wall mural. I was wondering if you'd have any suggestion? Is there a pre-pasted paper that I could print on using the ipf8300?

Ron Martinsen said...

Laurent - that's a good question for JVH as I don't do prints that size.