When I first saw these papers online I was immediately captivated and wanted to print all kinds of photos using them. I read some reviews and noticed most people commented on how these papers were “not for every photo”. I figured that I could make it work though, and that I would soon be printing everything on these papers.
Well, that wasn’t the case, and I’ve come to agree with those reviews that call this a specialty paper. The Unryu is my favorite because the very obvious and unique texture makes up for the lacking of “technical” quality. The Kozo, on the other hand, is not that different at first look from a lightly textured matte paper like Canson BFK Rives or Hahnemuhle German Etching. Yet, it produces much worse results, technically speaking. I’ll start with the Unryu.
Here is the test image:
Here is the initial scan. It was done with my normal scan settings, and it came out pale, because of how translucent this paper is. The scanners light was so bright it blasted away the saturation. This transparent quality gives the paper a nice ethereal look, but it needs a white mat underneath to hold the saturation.
To give you a closer idea to what it looks like in reality, I changed my scanners settings to prevent document see through:
This one better captures how warm this paper is how the saturation came through. Be sure to check the full size images to see the texture, it is very, very unique and very strong. I personally like it a lot if I want the texture to be a feature of the print. I found that upping the ‘color density’ setting on my Epson 3880 by 10% compliments the paper well, although it doesn’t make the image more ‘accurate’ as shown on screen. For such a unique paper, it actually is fairly sharp, but I’ll say that it isn’t anywhere near the sharpness of a smooth rag paper, and definitely not as sharp as a baryta or gloss paper. I actually think this is a great paper if you have one of those ‘dreamy’ photos that is maybe a little out of focus or taken with a softer lens wide open. Overall I’d say this paper is a winner, but definitely not suitable for frequent use unless your typical subject matter is light, warm and dreamy.
Now for the Kozo. This one I haven’t yet found a good image for. I started with this image:
Which got me this print:
The print actually looks better in the scan. It is darker in real life, and it is definitely not sharp. The colors look mushy. Granted, the original shot was not super sharp, so I tested this shot, which is very sharp.
Which got another dull mushy print.
I haven’t gotten a good image on the Kozo yet. I’m not sure what type of shot this paper was meant for, but I sure don’t have one in my library.
By all means, definitely give a sample pack of these a try, there isn’t much else out there like it, but I have found that these papers live up to the term specialty.