Print Your Landscapes: Red River Palo Duro Baryta Fiber Paper Review

With Red River Palo Duro Baryta Fiber Paper, the details in your photos will pop.

I’ve always admired how Red River created good paper at an affordable price point, but the Red River Palo Duro Baryta Fiber paper had me scratching my head despite the great details it rendered. The best way to describe it involves thinking a bit like watching an old school movie or even a more recent one shot on film. When you watch a beautiful movie shot on 70mm these days, you see specks and grain. That’s how Red River Palo Duro renders despite having a whole lot of detail. Why does it do this? To be honest, it beats the hell out of me. And even now I’m not sure I like it. But I respect the fact that it’s so different than anything else out there. The paper is said to mimic the look and feel of one of Ansel Adams’ favorites.

Tech Specs

Taken from our original news post

  • Archival grade materials
  • Baryta whitener layer (pure barium sulphate)
  • Lightly textured semigloss surface
  • Base stock is acid free, lignin free, and buffered with calcium carbonate
  • FOGRA Certified ISO 9706 (paper aging standards)
  • There are no markings or logos on the back
  • Back of this product is not printable
  • Pleasing warm tone

Technical Specifications:

  • Media: 100% alpha-cellulose base stock
  • Weight: 300 gsm
  • Thickness: 13.8 mil
  • Coated: Microporous with baryta coated one side
  • Color: Slightly neutral white
  • Surface: Semigloss with light texture and medium reflectivity
  • Pigment Ink Users: This media requires Photo Black inks.
  • Archival Characteristics: Acid free, lignin free, buffered with calcium carbonate, FOGRA Certified
  • ISO 9706 (paper aging standards)

Ease of Use

In some ways, I don’t even know how to begin discussing this paper. It’s just that different than anything else on the market. It’s far unlike Washi Rice paper, nothing like the smooth Pro Luster (the current darling of our Canon Prograf 1000 printing tests), nowhere near the league of Epson’s Legacy papers, and can’t begin to compare to the best of MOAB’s offerings. But again, this is because this paper is so incredibly different. Another way to describe it is to imagine a standard piece of paper that you’d put into a home/office printer, make it a bit thicker, dry it out more, and add a thin layer of sheen to it. The result will be something that isn’t as smooth as many other papers, and to that end the resulting prints will convey this expression.

Image Quality

When you think about the way gallery lighting works, you start to understand why Palo Duro Baryta Fiber is designed the way it is. While it’s much more of a matte style paper, the small layer of sheen combined with the texture help alleviate a problem most matte paper has. You lose details with a matte print, but you don’t lose them with the Palo Duro Baryta Fiber. Your colors will pop more than with other matte papers, but personally, I’ve found there to be better options on the market. Below are a few images and macro shots of detailed areas of the prints.

Clearly, you can see that it picks up little bits of light similar to how lighting works in a portrait. In fact, we’re inclined to call them specular highlights.

Conclusions

I’m lukewarm about Palo Duro Baryta Fiber. I’m unsure most photographers would spring for it. But at its price point, you’re going to be a hard-pressed to beat it. MOAB, Epson, and Canon are making very fine paper. Nothing we’ve used is anything like Palo Duro Baryta Fiber. MOAB Entrada comes close, but even then it’s still a fundamentally different option. Further, since this paper is mostly targeted at landscape photographers, I don’t understand who would use it. Most landscape photographers I know tend to go for luster or glossy paper. Palo Duro Baryta Fiber makes matte a more attractive option, but it’s not going give you the smooth look so many are used to. However, if you don’t have gallery-style lighting in your home, this could be a nice option similar to how textured canvas prints work.