How to choose the best print paper for photos?

When it comes to printing photos, the variety of paper options can be overwhelming, ranging from different sizes to surface finishes. This article provides an overview of various print paper for photos types.

3 Types of Photo Paper Finishes

A paper’s surface finish is a defining characteristic, and three basic types are commonly used: glossy, matte, and luster.

Glossy Finish:

  • Popular for vibrant colors and striking contrast.
  • Offers high resolution, making it suitable for detailed imagery.
  • Susceptible to glare, making it challenging for viewing without glass frames.
  • Ideal for showcasing details and colors, especially in glare-controlled environments.
Glossy Finish

Matte Finish:

  • Uses fewer coatings, allowing the paper’s texture to come through.
  • Ideal for framing and viewing, as it doesn’t reflect light.
  • Understated with slightly muted tones and lower contrast.
  • Great for emphasizing artistry over color and detail.
Matte Finish

Luster Finish:

  • Also known as satin, semi-matte/gloss, silk, or pearl.
  • Offers a balanced finish between glossy and matte with slight texture and reflectivity.
  • Suitable for photographers looking to avoid the glare of glossy finishes or the flatness of matte finishes.
  • Popular for achieving great color and detail while allowing texture to accentuate the work.
Luster Finish

3 Different Printer Paper Features

print paper for photos features three primary aspects: coating, brightness, and weight.

Coating:

  • Refers to a polymer layer that makes the paper glossy and bright.

Brightness:

  • Measures how white and bright a page is, with a scale from 0-100.
  • Higher brightness (80-100) correlates with better print quality.

Weight:

Weight refers to the thickness and weight of the paper and is usually measured in grams.
All paper is measured in weight using a unit referred to as GSM (grams per square metre). It’s not a case of the higher the GSM the better the paper – it’s simply relating to its thickness.
With that said, lightweight paper (70 GSM) may not hold colours as well as thicker paper. Choosing the correct weight is important for printing photos. print paper for photos that is over 160 GSM is classified as card.
Thicker papers can be too rigid for some printers, so you will want to make sure your printer is rated for your job before purchasing the thickest fine art paper.

Printers

Your choice of printer is going to be one of the most important aspects of printing your own images.

What are the differences between inkjet printers and laser printers, and which one is right for you?
There are obvious, significant differences between inkjet printers and laser printers, and it’s crucial to understand them before you buy so you’re not stuck with a machine that’s not right for your situation.

What is an inkjet printer?

Inkjet printers are small, often cheaper machines that spray liquid ink onto paper and dry it naturally. Inkjet printer ink usually consists of carbon pigments and desiccants, as well as other ingredients that help the ink adhere to the printing paper.This is the opposite of how laser printers work. Laser printers use heat to melt toner on paper to print.

inkjet printer
Two advantages of inkjet printers:
  • More affordable in the short term: The obvious advantage of inkjet printers over laser printers is that they are a more affordable upfront option for consumers.
  • Ease of movement: This means that inkjet printers can be more fully adapted to compact workspaces, which is in line with their use as home or personal printers.
Two disadvantages of inkjet printers:
  • Maintenance costs can be high: inkjet printers generally run out of toner faster than laser printers. If your inkjet printer needs repairs and you don’t have a maintenance contract, you’ll have to outsource the repair of the machine, which can be difficult to find because many technicians don’t work on inkjet printers. If your printer is experiencing any type of service issues, you may have to replace the machine completely.
  • Shorter life: Another significant disadvantage of inkjet printers is that they typically don’t last more than three years if used in normal amounts.

What is a laser printer?

Laser printers are larger, more durable machines that you can think of as “traditional office printers.”
The laser printer uses an electric current to attract toner “dust” to a piece of paper, which is then fused to the paper by heat. When it comes to the consumables required for each machine, you can think of laser printers and inkjet printers like this:

Laser printer = toner

Inkjet printer = ink.

Because laser printers are made for office environments, they typically print larger volumes and faster than inkjet printers.
So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying a laser printer? Let’s break them down in more detail:

laser printer
Two advantages of laser printers:
  • Build as a permanent printing solution: The main advantage of purchasing laser printers is that they can serve your office for a long time, usually five years or more, depending on your number and the type of printer you purchase. That’s why they’re the choice for companies that need to print or copy documents as part of their daily operations; As long as you follow the machine’s recommended monthly printings, they will last a long time.
  • Faster, higher quality printing: Another major advantage of laser printers is that they print faster and with higher print quality than inkjet printers. While inkjet printers are a better choice for printing photos, any type of print that contains text will almost always have better quality on a laser printer. In addition, inkjet printers sometimes smudge ink on the print, and the ink usually takes longer to dry than the print of a laser printer, because the laser printer does not require any drying time.
Two disadvantages of laser printers:
  • The short-term costs are more expensive: Because laser printers print larger volumes and print faster, their upfront costs can be much higher than inkjet printers. Since laser printers can cost as much as $1,000, many businesses choose to lease the machines instead of buying them outright to offset some of the short-term costs of buying a new printer.
  • They are large machines: Another disadvantage of laser printers is that they can be much larger than inkjet printers and require you to have the necessary space needed to accommodate the machine.

Inkjet and Laser printers: Is a laser printer right for you?

Therefore, if you are a company that needs an office printer to print/copy documents efficiently for a long time, then a laser printer will be your best choice.
While this isn’t always the case, think of inkjet and laser printers like this:
Inkjet = Personal printer
Laser = Office printer.

Of course, correspondingly, you can also choose photo paper for inkjet printer and photo paper for laser printer

Choosing the Right print paper for photos:

Selecting the best print paper for photos involves considering your specific needs. Test small sample sizes to see which paper type suits your preferences. Choosing the right paper enhances print quality and avoids issues such as paper jams and wasted money.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a casual enthusiast, understanding the nuances of photo paper types, finishes, and printer features ensures that your prints meet your expectations and artistic vision.



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