What's in a name? Matte finish options from various labs?

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Posted 2/19/2013 by aj*smile in General Photography
 

aj*smile
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Posted: 2/19/2013 3:13:51 PM
Okay, so I'm a fan of H&H Color Lab's matte finish. It's a true, non-glare, flat matte. Adore it. It works beautifully paired with non-reflective glass for big prints which will be hung on the wall near windows. No glare, no glare, no glare. Unfortunately, I've never been thrilled with their customer support, and their turnaround time is relatively slow compared to other labs.

I'm on the lookout for a new provider. Has anyone else happened upon a finish which would rival their matte?

Here's what I've found based on the samples in front of me:

- The H&H Matte is dull (in a good way) ... but still feels like a traditional photo paper. Colors are vivid. H&H does a great job with color correction. I would describe it as having a rich feeling.

- WHCC Lustre is close, but just enough more reflective to seem too shiny. Every order I've had with them has come out too dark for my taste. Even their sample packs err on the darker side.

- Miller's E-surface coated with Matte Lamination, Bay Photo's Smooth Matte "Green", and Bay Photo's Semi Gloss are all *too* flat. They feel more like cardstock catalogs and less like a real photo. Good for quick cards; not for fine art framing. Colors end up muted.

- Miller's Fine Art paper, Bay Photo's Art Stipple, and Bay Photo's Art Watercolor all have a wonderful, non-reflective finish, but the paper is too textured. As a a result, colors end up darker than intended and skin looks wrinkly even when it isn't. Babies don't need wrinkles!

Basically, if I could get H&H prints with Miller's customer service and turnaround time, my processing life would be perfect . Does such a thing exist?



Andrea

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aj*smile
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Posted: 2/19/2013 4:40:07 PM
I think I just answered my own question.

H&H Matte uses Fujicolor Crystal Archive Matte. Some labs will also use Fuji Crystal Archive Deep Matte. The backprint says "Fujicolor Professional Paper." Fuji also comes in Glossy and Lustre. If you want the look I'm going for, you specifically want them to say the paper itself is MATTE.

Word on the street is that Fuji CA is more contrasty, sharper, and tested to last longer than Kodak Endura, which most labs use. However, Endura renders fleshtones better. This is a generalization, but typically art/landscape photographers prefer Fuji and portrait/wedding photographers like Endura. The choice is so personal. Once you've fallen for one of them, your exacting eye will wince at the other.

I'm off to search for labs utilizing the Fuji Matte options. So far, I've found ProDPI, signed up for an account, and will look forward to seeing the samples in a few days.

Any others to recommend?


Andrea

Photography / Facebook / Twitter

"Don't blow it. Good planets are hard to find." - Time Magazine cover

"The only great camera is the camera that's there with you when the light happens." - Nick Devlin



Jen_Adkins
StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 2/20/2013 8:48:34 PM
I have absolutely no experience here...

but found this link to sites by state that are fuji labs:
Pro labs

Maybe a place to start?


Jen


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coolbeans
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Posted: 2/21/2013 1:13:26 PM
I have sent a couple recent print orders to Diversified Lab. The rich color and mat paper is Devine! 4 16x 20 done and color was spot on for all. Not super fast. Ordered Thursday received Wednesday but Monday might have been a shipping holiday.


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aj*smile
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Posted: 2/24/2013 4:04:44 PM
Thank you so much, Ladies! I appreciate the suggestions.


Andrea

Photography / Facebook / Twitter

"Don't blow it. Good planets are hard to find." - Time Magazine cover

"The only great camera is the camera that's there with you when the light happens." - Nick Devlin



memories5
StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 2/26/2013 10:20:06 AM
I have compared several labs and my favorite is Mpix


Jennifer~
I think a photography class should be a requirement in all educational programs because it makes you see the world rather than just look at it.
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