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Whether you favour landscape, portrait, macro or fine art photography, Hahnemühle’s award-winning Digital FineArt paper collection is recognised the world over for its performance and archival storage quality. The brand has recently added four new surfaces giving discerning image makers even more choice – Will Cheung tries them out

Regular home printers will know the name Hahnemühle and could already be regular users of its Digital FineArt range, which includes a multitude of impressive baryta, textured and matt finish papers.

To photographers just getting into printing, whether at home or through a digital printing lab, Hahnemühle is a leading German brand with a very long paper-making history. Founded in 1584, the brand is considered to be the inventor of fine art papers for digital photographers and celebrated its 25th anniversary in this sector in 2022.

The Hahnemühle story

Hahnemühle has been working sustainably from the beginning, producing papers in a tightly controlled closed water system. Its current production process conforms to its own 12-point Environment Manifesto which includes using 100% renewable energy and it is certified to ISO 14001 for environmental management.

Delivering on its own Green Rooster initiative, Hahnemühle introduced its Natural Line collection in 2019. Agave, Bamboo and Hemp came first with and Sugar Cane following a little later and these papers are made using plants that grow quickly, use less water and don’t need pesticides.

With the latest launches, the Digital Fine Art collection now offers the Photo Rag Matt Baryta and Bamboo Gloss Baryta. The Photo Paper range, meanwhile, now features Sustainable Photo Satin and Photo Silk Baryta X.

For this article, we used an M2 Mac Studio computer system, calibrated BenQ SW2700 27-inch monitors and an Epson SureColor SC-P800 printer loaded with Epson inks and custom ICC printing profiles created with a Calibrite i1 Studio.

Hahnemühle offers free generic downloadable ICC profiles for Canon, Epson and Hewlett Packard printers from its website, and also offers a free app with tips, technical support and features available via the App Store and Google Play. Extra features are offered by a paid PRO subscription at £1.99 a month or £17.99 a year.

Hahnemuehle Bamboo Gloss Baryta product shot

Hahnemühle Bamboo Gloss Baryta

Bamboo Gloss Baryta is the first glossy finish in the Hahnemühle’s Natural Line range which comprises the textured Agave, Bamboo, Hemp and Sugar Cane. It’s also the world’s first premium high-gloss baryta paper made from 90% bamboo fibres and 10% cotton.

With its 305gsm weight, this paper has a lovely heft and texture, and lies flat out of the box to make printing and mounting as painless as possible. Bamboo Gloss Baryta is OBA-free giving the base a natural off-white look and its baryta coating gives deeper blacks and smoother, more detailed mid-tones. The paper is also acid- and lignin-free for museum-level longevity.

Hahnemuehle Bamboo Gloss Baryta test shot 1

Bamboo Gloss Baryta performed well with my test image giving rich colours that mirrored the image on the calibrated screen. Image credit: Will Cheung

I was delighted with this paper and my test images looked very impressive. The blacks and shadows had plenty of depth and shadow detail was recorded well too. At the other tonal extreme, highlights were smooth and delicately detailed.

My test portrait of model Carla Monaco was deliberately left cool and Bamboo Gloss Baryta added some warmth which wasn’t unpleasant. Image credit: Will Cheung

If you like your colours punchy, you won’t be disappointed: my prints showed plenty of vibrancy with good saturation levels, and this came without losing out on more delicate hues. To conclude, Bamboo Gloss Baryta is an excellent paper. If you’re printing for exhibitions, clients, your portfolio or fine art sales, it is a great investment.

Hahnemuele Gloss Baryta colour test shot

If you want rich, intense colours, Bamboo Gloss Baryta could be just the ticket; its high D-Max gives good contrast and solid blacks. Image credit: Will Cheung

Key features (correct at time of publication)

  • Guide prices:
    25 sheets A4 £56.70, £2.27p a sheet
    A3 £111.40, £4.45p
    A3+ £141.30, £5.65
    A2 £215.90 £8.63
  • Size availability:
    A4, A3, A3+, A2, 17in, 24in, 36in, 44in, 50in
  • Key features:
    Made from 90% bamboo fibres, baryta coating, acid and lignin-free, OBA-free
  • Weight: 305gsm
  • Available from Hahnemuhle UK Digital Fine Art Resellers.
Hahnemuele Gloss Baryta building shot

Vibrant, contrasty scenes come out very nicely on Bamboo Gloss Baryta. Image credit: Will Cheung

Hahemuehle Photo Silk Baryta product shot

Hahnemühle Photo Silk Baryta X

Photo Silk Baryta was a popular member of Hahnemühle’s Everyday Photo Range and won multiple awards in its lifetime. Photo Silk Baryta X is a new, enhanced version of this paper made from cellulose and features an optimised inkjet coating for a wide range of photo applications. The baryta coat gives the look of a traditional silver halide paper.

Hahnemuehle Photo Silk Baryta

No problems with the Carla Monaco portrait, and Photo Silk Baryta gave delicately smooth flesh tones. Image credit: Will Cheung.

Its base is a natural white and not quite as creamy as Bamboo Gloss Baryta, while the 310gsm base weight gives the paper a pleasant feel. Handling is first rate and it lies flat straight out the box and surface – unprinted and printed – is quite resistant to fingerprints and day to day handling. The lustrous sheen finish does mean you get reflections when viewing paper surface obliquely, however.

Hahnemuehle Photo Sil Baryta product shot 1

Shot at Didcot Railway Centre at a TimeLines Event, the Raw file was processed to reveal sky detail and the shadows lifted. The result was pretty moody and Photo Silk Baryta X gave a good rendition. Image credit: Will Cheung.

Photo Silk Baryta X performed well in this test and it handled my test images with no problems. Primary colours came out accurately with good saturation and a lifelike quality but without being too aggressive or over the top. More muted hues came out very nicely too If you want accurate reproduction without an over-strident approach, this could be your ideal paper.

Hahnemuehle Photo Silk Baryta test shot 3

Photo Silk Baryta turns in a solid colour performance, not over-rich but accurate, neutral and lifelike. Will Cheung

With an A4 sheet working out at £1.43, Photo Silk Baryta X is nicely priced and appeals as a paper for proofing and everyday prints, with the performance headroom to make it a candidate for exhibitions and print sales too.

Key features

  • Guide prices
    25 sheets A4 £35.60, £1.43 a sheet
    A3 £67.40, £2.70
    A3+ £92.60, £3.70
    A2 £148.20, £5.93
  • Size availability
    A4, A3, A3+, A2, 17in, 24in, 44in, 60in
  • Key features
    Silky gloss finish, baryta coating, cellulose paper
  • Weight
  • Available from Hahnemühle UK Digital FineArt Resellers 
Hahnemuehle Photo Silk Baryta test shot 4

A naturally vibrant subject and Photo Silk Baryta X made a decent fist of reproducing the file accurately. Image credit: Will Cheung

Hahnemuehle Sustainable Photo Satin

Hahnemühle Sustainable Photo Satin

Sustainable Photo Satin is a keenly priced, green alternative to PE-based (polyethene) inkjet photo papers. It’s a white base 220gsm cellulose paper featuring a newly developed bio-coating that is free of plastic composites/film and is 100% recyclable.

Hahnemuehle Sustainable Satin test shot 1

A solid showing from Sustainable Photo Satin here and colour reproduction was accurate although saturation and contrast were just below more expensive papers. Image credit: Will Cheung

With its relatively light base Photo Satin needs careful handling to avoid creasing or adding a kink. It is always advised to handle paper with both hands and that is good practice even with A4 sheets. The satin finish is a super smooth lustre and looks great but it can collect fingerprints so keep your sticky fingers away from the image area.

Hahnemuehle Sustainable Photo Satin test shot 1

Sustainable Photo Satin showed itself good at dealing with skin tones and this print is an accurate depiction of the screen image. Image credit: Will Cheung

Photo Satin showed itself to be a capable performer and dealt well with my selection of images giving good blacks, clean highlights and accurate colours. Tonality and contrast rated highly too.

Actually, it is only when you look at prints side-by-side with, say, Bamboo Gloss Baryta, that it’s noticeable that Photo Satin doesn’t quite have the richness and depth of much more expensive papers. Of course, making direct comparisons like this is not something most people will do, so with that in mind, Photo Satin is remarkable value with an A4 sheet working out at a fraction under £1.

Hahnemuehle Sustainable Photo Sation test shot 3

Nature is a subject area where Sustainable Photo Satin with its calm approach to colours could work in its favour. Image credit: Will Cheung

To sum up, Sustainable Photo Satin is a very good paper with a printing performance that is only very slightly below that of premium papers. At this price, it’s a great paper for proofing, family snapshots, camera club competitions and much more.

Key features

  • Guide prices
    25 sheets A4 £24.90, £1 a sheet
    A3 £49.10, £1.96
    A3+ £63, £2.52
    A2 £96.70, £3.87
  • Size availability
    A4, A3, A3+, A2, 17in, 24in, 44in, 60in
  • Key features
    Bio inkjet coating, bright white base, satin finish, 100% recyclable
  • Weight
  • Available from Hahnemühle UK Digital FineArt Resellers
Hahnemuele Sustainable Satin test shot 4

While it might not have the intense depth of more expensive papers, Sustainable Photo Satin still delivers a solid black & white performance. Image credit: Will Cheung

Hahnemuehle Photo Rag Matt Baryta product shot

Hahnemühle Photo Rag Matt Baryta

Hahnemühle’s Digital FineArt collection features over 10 Photo Rag papers with popular finishes that include Metallic, Pearl, Satin and Ultra Smooth. The missing finish was matt-baryta, but this has been rectified with the arrival of Photo Rag Matt Baryta.

It’s made from 100% cotton and is free of optical brighteners giving a very slightly off-white base. The paper is 308gsm and the baryta coat gives a superior tonal range, high sharpness and better clarity. Being acid- and lignin-free gives museum-level age resistance and it’s compatible with pigment and dye printing systems.

Hahnemuehle Matt Baryta

Photo Rag Matt Baryta gives plenty of contrast for a matt finish paper and blacks are lovely and deep too. Image credit: Will Cheung

The finish is a lovely flat, dead matt and there’s no sheen at all. Traditionally, matt papers can be less capable when it comes to solid blacks and deep colours but in this test Photo Rag Matt Baryta didn’t reveal any such shortcomings.

Hahnemuehle Matt Baryta product shot 2

Photo Rag Matt Baryta is a fine performer when it comes to monochrome and even contrasty scenes work well. Image credit: Will Cheung

I was really pleased with how my test shots turned out. Images had depth, contrast and a good level of colour saturation that wasn’t far behind what you would expect from a high grade lustre or satin paper.

Hahnemuehle Photo Matt Baryta

You wouldn’t normally expect (or want!) strident colours on a matt finish Photo Rag Matt Baryta’s approach is more subtle but the result looks great. Image credit: Will Cheung

Post-printing, the paper needs careful handling but to be fair, that’s the same with any matt paper. Finished prints will survive a gentle brushing with the finger but firmer touches and a scuff mark is the likely result, so handle with care and, ideally, use cotton gloves, which is good advice whenever handling prints.

I reckon Photo Rag Matt Baryta will be warmly received by fine art photographers and big prints will look fabulous. For current Hahnemühle photo rag users waiting for a matt paper, their patience has been richly rewarded with a very fine paper.

It performs impressively, its matt finish looks fabulous and this paper will surely find many admirers among fine art and exhibition photographers.

Key features

  • Guide prices
    25 sheets A4 £53.90, £2.15 a sheet; A3 £107, £4.28; A3+ £136.40, £5.45; A2 £209.60, £8.38
  • Size availability
    A4, A3, A3+, A2, 17in, 24in, 36in, 44in, 50in, 60in, 64in
  • Key features
    Premium matt coating, 100% cotton, acid and lignin-free, OBA-free, conforms to ISO 9706 museum quality
  • Weight
  • Available from Hahnemühle UK Digital FineArt resellers
Hahnemuehle Photo Rag Matt Baryta test shots 4

Photo Rag Matt Baryta definitely delivers on its matt finish with reflections or sheen; you just get a gorgeous smooth surface. Image credit: Will Cheung