This is to follow up on John Brownlow's more B&W-oriented user report for Silver Rag... hopefully those looking into color prints will find the following useful.
I just received two copies each of two color landscape images (print size = 8"x10") from West Coast Imaging. One copy was printed on Crystal Archive gloss from the Chromira, the other on their Epson 9800 using Silver Rag. Both images were drum scanned (Danny Burk) at 3200 dpi from RVP100 (4x5). The Chromira files were set to 300 dpi, the Epson ones to 360 dpi; the two copies of each image were otherwise identical. I plan to print both images at significantly larger sizes and wanted to get a sense of both WCI printing options ahead of time.
Both versions of both files look VERY good. As expected from previous comments on Silver Rag and inkjet printing generally, the SR prints are somewhat (but only very slightly) flat. I doubt I would even notice when viewing one w/o the other. The blacks of the SR are not quite as deep as those from the Chromira, but neither image is particularly dark; the shadows are well rendered in both cases, as are the highlights.
The Silver Rag prints are slightly more saturated and noticeably sharper. Saturation aside (I could easily have prepped the Chromira files to match the others), the sharpness difference between the two copies reminds me of that between two identical images shot with a moderate vs. high quality lens. The greater sharpness of the Silver Rag prints is apparent even when viewing from ~2 feet.
At first glance, I preferred the Chromira print almost entirely due to the gloss surface. After some examination, though, the heavier stock and greater sharpness of the Silver Rag has me leaning in that direction.
What's a digital printing novice to do? I'll have to stare at them some more I guess. Is the apparent sharpness edge for the SR prints due simply to the higher printing resolution (300 vs 360 dpi)? Any comments from others using Silver Rag for color printing?