Photo paper for printing. What to look for?

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We have decided on a printer, bought the right ink, it’s time to choose a paper for special tasks. Photo printing paper – how to choose it and what to pay special attention to in order to print good quality photos on your own?

The professional choice

The starting point for choosing the right photo paper is to analyse the technology of your printer. The best effect will be achieved by using a thermosublimation printer. The second group in terms of quality is inkjet printers: here we distinguish pigment and dye printers. For each type of equipment we can find dedicated photographic paper

As far as printing photos with a laser printer is concerned, it is possible. We can also find appropriate photographic paper for this type of printer. However, we have to take into consideration that the quality of print will be definitely worse in comparison with the above mentioned printers.

Parameters of photographic paper

Dłoń trzymająca zdjęcie
(Photo by Markus Spiske, source: unsplash.com)

Whether choosing a regular printing paper or a specialized one, paper parameterization and understanding it is a crucial knowledge. Knowing what each indicator means, we can choose the perfect photo paper for our needs:

  • Weight – for photo paper, this is the most important indicator. A durable, sturdy and rigid paper that will make our photos last for many years is one whose density is not less than 200 g/m2. Very good quality papers are even 30-50 g/m2 heavier. If the parameters of your printer allow it, it is worth choosing thicker paper.
  • Format – in the case of this parameter, we are limited by the functionality of our printer. There is a full spectrum of sizes of photographic papers available on the market – from more standard, associated with photos developed at a photographer’s, to larger formats such as A3.
  • Thetype of coating – so-called matte, semi-matte or glossy. Coating refers to the degree of glossiness of the paper. In addition to the basic types, you can also find more non-standard finishes, such as paper with a satin, pearl, silk or even linen coating
  • PH – affects the durability of the paper. Acid-free paper is more durable and definitely better than acidic paper.
  • Gradation – this parameter is reserved for professionals, or at least for people who already have some experience with photo printing. Gradation is simply contrast. You can choose between mono-graded papers – with a pre-set contrast (the best choice for beginners) and variable-graded papers – where you set the contrast yourself (the paper itself is more expensive, and its handling requires some practice).

On the way to printing perfect photos

Wydrukowane zdjęcia analogowe
(Photo by Soragrit Wongsa, source: unsplash.com)

When deciding to buy photo paper for printing photos yourself, there are a few more things to consider. First, the compatibility of the entire printing kit. Many manufacturers recommend using the same brand of printer, ink and photo paper for best results. This is not necessarily a marketing ploy to stretch the customer into a large purchase. Keep in mind that it is, after all, using its brand of products that the manufacturer tests and refines its photo printing technology to achieve the best result

Secondly, let’s consider what purpose we are printing the photos for. If we only need a photo for a short while, e.g. as an aid to a presentation at work or for an exam, it does not make sense to invest in high quality paper with the best parameters. On the other hand, if you are making a family album, want to give someone a present or print photos for a vernissage – it is worth investing in high-quality photographic paper with unusual dimensions, structure or color. Properly selected paper can raise your photos to a higher level, give them character and uniqueness.

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