Thursday, June 21, 2012

REVIEW: Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl Photo Paper

Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl (buy at Adorama) is a new version of Ilford’s popular Smooth Pearl photo paper. What makes this version different is the thicker weight (310gsm up from 290gsm) which makes a big difference in your hand. That last point is very relevant because when you are charging a premium price for your work, the customer expects to hold a paper that feels substantial. This product accomplishes that fine art paper feel which helps it to really earn the name Prestige.

I like this paper and felt it was a nice alternative to some more expensive papers in this class, but it has a very professional feel that clients are sure to appreciate.


Here are the key facts about this paper:

Basis Weight 310 g/m²
Thickness 12 mil
Gloss (60°) 24%
Surface Finish Pearl
Opacity 99%
Tint (CIE L*a*b*) 95.1, 0.6, –4.6

Ilford’s full web page on this paper can be found here.

ColorThink Pro Color Gamut Analysis

In comparing Epson’s 4900 profile for Exhibition Fiber against Ilford’s Prestige Smooth Pearl 310gsm’s 4900 profile, the Ilford profile had the slight advantage. Realistically though this means they’d perform about the same. Here’s some analysis done with ColorThink Pro 3.03 to illustrate the profile differences:

ColorThink Pro 3.03 2D Comparison of Epson 4900 Profiles
Exhibition Fiber (interior) and Prestige Smoot Pearl 310gsm (exterior)

Smooth areas indicate Epson Exhibition Fiber advantage
Tile areas indicate Ilford Prestige Smooth Pearl advantage

How I tested this paper

I printed a color image first, then a grayscale (in color rather than Epson's ABW). I considered both to be frame worthy. The grayscale tones were so outstanding that I didn’t need to conduct any further tests because I had comparison prints on other papers that proved this was a first class print. I then printed a selection of color images of various types with people and objects and compared those against my printing series reference images. 

After I was satisfied with the results on my Epson 4900, I repeated my testing on the Canon iPF6300. It performed equally very well on both platforms.

I like the heavier weight of this paper as flimsiness is something I hate about nearly all other RC papers I’ve used. I was especially pleased that it was thick but not so stiff and thick that it would probably curl really bad with rolls. I wasn’t able to test the roll paper, so don’t quote me on this, but I felt like this thickness was a good compromise of quality vs performance.

Epson Stylus® Pro 4900 Print Settings (Photoshop CS6)

You can download profiles here.

I used n_GPSPP12_EPSpro4900_PSPP250n.icc for the 4900 (and GPSPP12_EPSpro3880_PSPPn.icc for my 3880) with the Premium Semigloss Photo Paper (250) Media Type.

I found the color accuracy of the profile to be excellent and the results a perfect match for what I see on my NEC PA Series display with the print in a GTI PDV-2020EX light box.

Here’s my settings:

Photoshop CS6 Print Settings - Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl Paper 310gsm
Be sure to use the printer correct printer profile and check Black Point Compensation

Epson 4900 Driver Settings - Main - Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl Paper 310gsm
Be sure to use the Premium Semigloss Photo Paper (250) Media Type

Current Settings
Max Quality works well

I’m not a big fan of printing from Photoshop CS5, but CS6 has improved so that I feel I can get used to it. I use CS4 or CS6 when printing, and for Epson I use the typical File | Print driver.

Lightroom 4.x

Lightroom performs the same way, so just make sure you use the correct profile and you are good to go:

Lightroom 4 Print Settings - Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl Paper 310gsm
Make sure you use the correct paper profile here

You might also find these articles handy when printing on Epson printers:

Canon iPF6300 Print Settings (Canon Print Plug-In for Photoshop)

You can download profiles here.

I used the GPSPP12_CANipf6300_PSGP280n.icc profile and the Premium Semi-Gloss Paper 280 media type as shown here:

Print Plug-in settings for a Canon iPF6300, iPF6350, or iPF8300

This paper works very well with Lucia EX inks from Canon. When printing, be sure to use the Premium Semi-Glossy Paper 280 Media Type, and I found the Relative Colormetric rendering intent (aka, matching method) to be my preference in my test prints.

The Canon profile prints a little warmer than the Epson, which I like, but color purists might wish to adjust the Color Settings or modify their file to compensate for this.

Overall this is a very good printer profile, so I advise against building their own with the ColorMunki Photo. I think you’ll find that Ilford’s profiles are superior.


If you are doing prints for galleries or clients, I think they will appreciate the substantial feel of this paper over its thinner sibling ILFORD GALERIE Smooth Pearl which is only 280 gsm and 11 mil. The Prestige edition commands about a 20% premium based on pricing at the time of this article, but those reselling their prints should easily be able recoup the difference. However, those who are just printing for themselves and/or will be putting the prints behind a frame quickly, I think you’ll find

I like this paper and have been enjoying the chance to use it lately. My only complaint is that I don’t have more of it in letter size sheets, and 17 & 24” rolls because those sizes are just being released today!

Learn more at and

Where to buy

If you enjoyed this article, please support this blog by using these links when ordering.

Click here to purchase Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl at B&H, or click here to purchase from Adorama.

You may also be interested in my Fine Art Printing book:

NOW AVAILABLE - Click Here to learn more


If you make a purchase using select links in this article, I may make a commission. I was also provided with a 11x17” sheet pack this paper weeks in advanced so that I may test it for a review.

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