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Useful Tips - How to Choose Photo Paper


Photo Paper

Looking for the right photo paper can cause you to have more questions than answers. Here are some answers to questions that can make shopping for photo paper a little easier.

  • What is the photo weight mean?  
  • Weight is not measured by how heavy a single sheet of paper is but by the weight of the package. Different manufacturers label weight differently but remember heavier paper will be similar to what is used at professional photo labs. The lighter weight papers work perfect for pictures you will be placing in photo albums. On average, most photo papers are usually 24-71 lbs.

  • What is glossy or matte finish? 
  • There are three basic finishes to photo papers.

    High Gloss/Premium Gloss
    This is the highest finish you can find. The gloss keeps the paper from absorbing the ink, making some glossy paper dry slowly. Printing on high gloss paper will give you rich colorful pictures but these papers are more sensitive to fingerprints, moisture, and dust.
    Semi-Gloss/Satin Finish
    You will not get the same vibrant color prints with this finish but it offers a lower contrast. This is great finish to print people or portraits.
    Matte Finish
    Pictures printed on matte finish appear softer with rich textures. Matte photo papers are thicker making many printable on both sides. If you are printing black and white pictures, matte photo paper is for you.

  • Why is the brightness of the paper so important? 
  • The higher the brightness the more vibrant the colors will print. You will find different levels of brightness that are usually rated form 1-100. If you don't see the brightness level on the package, the simple thing to do is compare different sheets side by side.

  • What does Caliper mean? 
  • Compare photo paper to a sheet of standard inkjet paper. You will see that the photo paper is thicker and heavier. The thickness (caliper) is important because you are using more ink when printing pictures.

  • What does the paper opacity mean?
  • Opacity tells you how "see through" the paper is. Normally the higher the opacity level the less chance of ink bleeding through to the other side of the page. Photo papers have high opacity compared to standard inkjet papers, which decreases the chances of the colors bleeding through.

  • Will I only find 4x6 paper?
  • Just like going to the drugstore photo lab you will have the options of printing 3x5, 4x6, and 8x10 pictures. But the paper choices don't stop there you can print ID size, postcard, and panoramic pictures. The only thing holding you back is what specifications your printer can print.