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How to choose photo paper?

posted on 2018-04-09 15:54:39

Not all photo paper is the same. Using the right kind of photo paper can make all the difference in printing, displaying, and preserving your photos.

What hasn’t changed in the transition from chemical to digital, though, is the need for a print medium specifically suited for photo output. (For a look at how to buy standard inkjet and laser paper, check out this guide.) Today, though, instead of being light-sensitive, photo paper must be formulated and matched both for the user’s purpose and the specific printer technology.

Since there are no universally accepted, industry-standard ratings or gradings that you can reference and compare, the best way to tell if a certain photo paper is what you want is to read the package label or Web-site description carefully. For instance, Epson’s normal consumer-grade paper is called Photo Paper Glossy, its midrange paper is Premium Photo Paper Glossy (or semi-gloss), and its top-of-the-line emulsion is called Ultra Premium Photo Paper Glossy (which is also available in luster). Epson also manufactures a professional grade of paper, but it’s designed to be used in its professional photo printers, not consumer PictureMate or Stylus Photo printers. Similarly, HP’s consumer photo paper lineup consists of Everyday, Advanced, Premium, and Premium Plus paper. Canon offers only two grades of nonprofessional photo paper: Photo Paper Pro, and Photo Paper Pro Platinum. And Lexmark’s lineup, from standard to best, is its Photo Paper, Premium Photo Paper, and PerfectFinish Photo Paper.

 

Here’s a general rule of thumb of when to use what kind of photo paper. Standard-quality photo paper is economical, easy to handle, and most suited for everyday photos and snapshots. The next bump up in quality (whatever the manufacturer’s nomenclature happens to be) is heavier and brighter, and is designed for purposes such as scrapbooking and picture albums. Top-of-the-line photo paper is made of archival, heavyweight stock whose formulary helps produce whiter whites, blacker blacks, and more accurate colors. It’s the best paper to use for displays, exhibitions, framed prints, and other purposes that demand the highest print quality possible.

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