— Dane Creek

Moab Somerset Museum Rag Paper Review

Moab-Somerset-Museum-Rag-300

Andy Biggs has been after me ever since I started my inkjet paper list to try Somerset Museum Rag. He kept raving about it, and insisted that if I tried it I would like it. Well, now that the paper’s been launched it’s finally possible to get samples. Thanks to the folks at Legion Paper a few sheets arrived last week and I was able to give it a test run.

I like it.

And that’s really saying something, because I really do dislike matte papers. I can count on one hand the number of images I’ve printed on matte paper, and usually it’s just for fun on sample scraps I have kicking around. I much prefer baryta glossy papers for their stunningly deep blacks, especially for black and white work.

But the Moab Somerset Museum Rag is really nice. Why? It has an absolutely awesome feel when you hold it in your hand. For folios, where how the paper feels in your hand is an integral part of the overall folio experience, this paper is a must try. Unlike the baryta papers, all of which have a somewhat plastic feel, the Somerset Museum Rag feels like a true fine art paper.

The prints look great too. I whipped off a copy of my Vine Maple image as a test, and compared it to the same image on the baryta-based Epson Exhibition Fiber. I much prefer it on the Somerset Museum Rag. It wasn’t intentional, but the print on the Somserset Museum Rag comes shockingly close to having the tone and feeling of the darkroom lith prints I occasionally make on (the sadly discontinued) Kentmere Kentona Fineprint VC.

leafsample

Vine Maple printed on Moab Somerset Museum Rag (left) and Epson Exhibition Fiber (right).

From a stats standpoint the paper is a winner as well. It’s 100% cotton which makes it archival and acid free. The paper is made using a cylinder mould machine which gives it a subtle and pleasing texture. It weighs in at 300gsm which is hefty enough to add to the wonderful hand feel. On the tone side of things I would classify it as “just warm enough”. It’s got a tinge of warmth but it doesn’t scream “I AM WARM” like, say, Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk. I measured a dMax of 1.61 on my test print which puts it at the upper end of all the matte papers I’ve tested. For people that care about OBAs I’m told the paper has “minimal” OBAs in it.

IMG_3373

Epson Hot Press Bright, Moab Somerset Museum Rag, and Epson Hot Press Natural.
White balanced using an xRite Colorchecker Passport.

How does it compare to other popular cotton rag papers? Flipping through my stack I’d say the closest competitors are the Epson Hot Press Natural and Epson Hot Press Bright papers. The Epson papers have very similar texture and weight, but feel smoother to the touch than the Museum Rag. From a tone perspective the Museum Rag falls right in between two Epson papers.

The paper will be available in late July with a street price of $37 for a box of 8.5×11” sheets. Rolls all the way up to 60”x50’ will be on the market as well, for those of you with far bigger printers than me!

Moab Somerset Mseum Rag is easily a worthy candidate if you want a lovely matte paper that prints beautifully and feels great in the hand.

Disclaimer: Legion Paper provided me with six sample sheets of Somerset Museum Rag free of charge so I could test it out. Other than that I receive no compensation from them.