Ilford inkjet paper for photographers

I got a phone call today from Harold Schuurman of (a large local paper and ink distributor). He phoned me about my order of Ilford Gold Fiber Silk paper and about a brief e-mail exchange we had about its availability and its alternatives.

IL1154056_ilford_dsp_pk10_galerie_gold_silk_a3_goldThese were the conclusions (based on a few different sources):

  • The familiar Ilford brand (quite famous for B&W film and B&W photographic paper) was established back in 1879.
  • After severe financial problems in 2004, the company was split into essentially a B&W wet photography part (film and light-sensitive paper) anda inkjet paper (the papers used in the digital photography world) part:
    • Ilford Photo in the United Kingdom produces B&W films and still going strong.
    • Ilford Imaging Switzerland GmbH went bankrupt (again) on December 9th, 2013. This meant loss of a supplier of various mid-end and high-end inkjet papers used by photographers worldwide.
  • Two businesses (a Japanese photographic supplies company and an Australian photographic distributor) bought the rights to the Ilford brands (except the Ilford Photo ones) and are starting to sell inkjet paper under the old brand names.
  • The new products have different packaging than the old ones. Except for Gold Fiber Silk paper (an Ilford flagship product) – the new papers are essentially very similar alternatives rather than being the original product: except for GFS, the paper is made in different factories than the originals. That makes a difference because high-end paper is a mix of science and craftsmanship: thus the new Ilford paper products will have somewhat different characteristics and somewhat different color profiles than the original Ilford products. Many photographers will notice, although probably most end-customers won’t.
  • Conclusions:
    • For Gold Fiber Silk, there are multiple identical alternatives (all from the same Swiss factory), including Canson Infinity Baryta and Innova FibaPrint Baryta 310 gram IFA69 and the new Ilford’s Gold Fiber Silk.
    • for Ilford’s other papers you have to switch to a new brand and accept that you need a new ICC profile and may get slightly different results. In my case, I lost the ability to use Ilford Smooth Glossy Paper, and the replacement via is PRO-line Vibrant (Hi-?)Gloss Photopaper 290 gram. This is cheaper, and it is reported that photographers are happy with it.

For me, these conclusions are fine: I used Ilford GFS for exhibition quality and prints that I occasionally sell. I used Ilford Smooth Glossy for less critical printing. I will update this post if there is any news (I am currently waiting for the new paper).

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