Hands-on with Ilford's Gold Silk inkjet paper

A hands-on review of Ilford's Gold Fiber Silk inkjet photo paper.

Ilford Gold Fiber Silk

Those who enjoy the beauty of a high-quality black-and-white print will appreciate Ilford's newest member of its Galerie line of inkjet photo papers, the Galerie Gold Fibre Silk. It's a professional-grade inkjet photo paper, with characteristics resembling a traditional fiber-based black-and-white print. Designed for use only with photo inkjet printers that utilize pigment-based inks, such as Epson's UltraChrome or Canon's Lucia inks. Professional photographers and anyone passionate about black-and-white printing, especially all those familiar with fiber prints from a darkroom, will enjoy the look and feel of it.

Ilford Gold Fiber Silk inkjet paper is a traditional baryta (barium sulphate) paper for pigment-based inkjet printers. The baryta is used as a whitener and to hold the emulsion. The baryta-coated layer underneath the ink-receiving layer is equivalent to the structure of traditional fiber photographic base. Gold Fiber Silk is available in sheets and rolls, with sheet sizes ranging from 8.5 by 11 inches up to 17 by 22 inches, and rolls are all 40 feet in length with widths ranging from 17 inches to 50 inches. The paper is 12.5 mil in thickness with a brightness of >95 percent with a 20 percent gloss. I.C.C. profiles are available from Ilford.

Baryta-coated fiber papers have a unique look and feel to them, capable of silky blacks and creamy whites, and have been a standard among the art photography community for years. Gold Fiber Silk offers enhanced definition and extended tonal range, coupled with excellent archival properties. Things that are important to those who are dedicated to black-and-white inkjet printing. Although it excels at black-and-white printing, it has the ability to display a full color range. This allows for various creative techniques such as digital toning or coloring, achieving a sepia- or selenium-toned look, or even a vintage hand-colored look.

Sample prints were made on an Epson R2400 printer. Viewed under a 10x loupe, the sets of prints were extremely sharp, with the Gold Fiber Silk showing excellent overall sharpness. The Gold Fiber Silk had nice dense blacks, as well as seeming to keep a highlight detail very well. These things, along with its warm tone, made it have a rich appearance overall. The Gold Fiber Silk feels good in your hands due to it being fairly thick and the fiber base being less flexible. It has less of a sheen than something like the Epson Premium Luster does, very similar to a traditional fiber-based print.

With it being a professional-grade paper and only working with pigment inks, it is not compatible with all printers. It has the beautiful look and feel of a traditional fiber-based black-and-white paper. It ranges in price from about $40 for 50 8.5- by 11-inch sheets to about $160 for 50 sheets of 17 by 22 inch. It is an excellent paper with a beautiful look and feel that people who love black & white prints will appreciate, a professional quality product, not for everyone due to its price and compatibility.