Matte vs glossy vs Fine Art papers: Printers and Printing Forum: Digital Photography Review (2022)

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Matte vs glossy vs Fine Art papers

In reply to freddyNZ Aug 5, 2006

Freddy is exactly where I am on the issue. 90% of my printing is for gallery showing, and putting a glossy picture under plexi or glass makes it almost impossible for someone to really appreciate the image, unless the gallery has flawless, extremely controlled lighting. Might as well have shot the image into the sun - it's flare at the end of the photo production process instead of the beginning.

I think my subject line tells my other bias. Fine art papers are distinctly different from matte papers in gamut and dmax. I absolutely agree that you can't get the same gamut on matte papers, because I've tried every trick I know and haven't been able to get any matte paper up to the level of the cheapest fine art paper in gamut or in dynamic range. Fine art papers respond very differently to inks than matte papers, maybe it's because they use a watercolor paper stock instead of resin coated stock, or because the ink-receptive coating is thicker. (I say that because I print a lot on alternative surfaces - plexiglass, aluminum, wood veneer - using InkAid, and two layers of Ink Aid coating gives you a lot better gamut and dynamic range than one; three gives you somewhat better than two; four gives you a teeny edge over three; etc, declining in effect.) Something makes them work better.

I gave away all my matte papers. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get them to match up with what I see when I photograph. I'm a saturation junkie. The increases in ink load capacity that make Arches Infinity work only make ink puddles on matte papers.

I keep glossy papers (luster, actually) around for when a juried show requires prints instead of files, for exactly the reason Freddy says - the image pops nicely when it's not under glass and you can fiddle around tilting it until there's no reflection. And it's cheaper than my favorite fine art papers, for juried shows it's cheaper to say "don't send them back just destroy them", since they always come back looking battered anyhow.

Fine art papers like Epson UltraSmooth and Arches Infinity smooth are in a class of their own. When I look at my profiles for them, the ink loads are significantly increased over what you'd normally get in a fine art paper profile from the manufacturer. When I do a crafts or arts show, I always have a "sacrificial print". When people see my prints on these papers, they always want to touch them - they look deep and invitingly soft. ("Like rose petals" I hear a lot.) I keep one print that I invite people to touch so that they don't ruin all the others! I've found that letting people feel what a 325gsm paper feels like helps make the sale.

Hahnemuhle smooth papers are wonderful too, maybe even better, but the surfaces are so delicate. (I knew the product manager for Arches Infinity, and he told me about their giving up a bit of dmax to get a tougher, more flake and rub resistant surface, back when they were testing coatings.) My prints need to survive trips to galleries, being carried around in a box, being looked at many times.

Everything's a tradeoff of some sort; pick your poison and learn to do the most with it. (My profiles and prints got SOOOOOO much better when I restricted down to three or four papers...)

freddyNZwrote:

Same photo on different papers, pinned side by side to the wall
where the framed print is hung. So, deeper blacks on the sg photo
paper are lost in practice. A print on gloss or semi-gloss may be
nicer to pass around - but for display perhaps only in galleries or
otehrwise where lighting can be controlled would any advantage be
seen. For display in a home or other environmenment with multiple
light sources and viewing positions, matte is very much superior.

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FAQs

Do professional photographers use matte or glossy? ›

In general, though it's not always the case, professional photographers tend to choose matte over glossy because of the lower likelihood of glare and fingerprinting. While matte tends to play up texture, the image may look bit grainer because of that enhanced texture, however.

Is matte or glossy better for art prints? ›

If your photos will be handled often, a matte finish would be a better option since they will not absorb the fingerprints of users. Because matte finishes are designed to refract as much light as possible, this comes at the cost of colors not appearing as vibrant as they do in glossy photos.

What type of paper do professional photographers use? ›

Pearl Finish – Often used by professional photographers and graphic designers, it includes slightly higher glossiness compared to satin finish. It benefits from vibrant deep color results, but yet still has a lower reflection than the gloss paper. Available in micro/nano pores coating.

What is better quality glossy or matte photos? ›

I recommend using matte paper if you're planning on framing (to cut down on reflections), or if your images don't include much intense color. Glossy paper, on the other hand, is highly reflective and prone to fingerprints, but it's also very vibrant. So glossy paper is ideal if you want to enhance colors.

What kind of paper should I use for art prints? ›

As a rule, art print papers are matte, cotton rag, or canvas. Red River Paper offers you the best quality products available today. We source from the top paper mills on Earth - the same mills that make Epson, Canon, and other top big name brands.

What finish do professional photographers use? ›

Many professional photographers prefer a matte finish for their business. The subtle tone effects of matte photo prints can bring out rich details in an image. And matte paper is the top choice for black-and-white photo printing.

What printer do photographers use? ›

Listed below (in no particular order) are some of the best printers for photographers: Canon PIXMA Pro 200 Professional Wireless Inkjet Photo Printer. Epson PictureMate PM-400 Wireless Compact Color Personal Photo Lab Inkjet Photo Printer. Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wireless Wide-Format Inkjet Printer.

What is the best material to print photos on? ›

If you have money to invest in your photo print are seeking a bold and distinctive printing material and display solution, acrylic and metal prints are two of the best materials to consider. Both materials are long-lasting, durable, modern in appearance, and suited to frameless, floating display.

Why is matte more expensive than glossy? ›

Which One is More Costly? Printing images with a matte finish are more expensive than printing photos with a glossy finish. Matte has a better-textured surface to absorb more light and the materials used are way more expensive.

Which is better matte finish or glossy? ›

A glossy finish will come with an ultra-smooth, shiny appearance. It's also very colour rich and vibrant. Whereas matte paper gives off a duller, more subtle finish. Therefore, the content and images on a glossy finish will strike the audience more effectively.

Which paper is best for photo album? ›

Luster Paper

It's the recommended selection for traditional photo books to showcase every memory. It has a soft reflective sheen and subtle texture.

Is matte good for art prints? ›

Matte finishes are also useful for preserving darker colors, as they don't allow light to glint off areas of the piece that you intentionally made dark. Many artists like to use a matte finish for prints that will be displayed in galleries where the lighting is rather intense.

Do glossy or matte photos last longer? ›

Glossy photos last the same amount of time as matte photos. The lifespan of glossy or matte finish prints depends on the paper quality and how you look after them. However, glossy photos attract fingerprints and are more likely to get scratched – especially if they're unframed.

Can you write on matte photo paper? ›

Matte Coated Paper

Matte sheets are good for enhancing visual designs with a more subdued layout and color set without having a lot of glare which glossy coatings suffer from. Pen ink will not smear on matte coating, which makes it the ideal choice for journals and calendars.

What is the best thickness for photo paper? ›

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. Paper that is over 160 GSM is classified as card. Ideally for photography we'd recommend choosing a paper weight around 150-200 GSM.

What is the best paper to print photos on laser printer? ›

When you want to print photo books, we recommend a thin 120 or 130 gsm paper. If you want a higher quality print, use a thicker paper like the 200 gsm. But, not all printers can print this thick kind of paper.

What kind of paper does Shutterfly use? ›

Make your photos come alive with Prints from Shutterfly. We use Fuji Crystal Archive paper to produce the highest quality, crystal clear prints in a variety of sizes and finishes.

How do I print high-quality art prints? ›

An important point to keep in mind is the DPI (dots per image) size of your scan. Higher DPIs create a better, higher resolution in the final prints. Artist Cori Jaye Elston recommends setting the DPI to no less than 300 for a standard print. Anything lower and you'll end up with a visibly pixelated print.

What is the difference between photo paper and fine art paper? ›

Normal photo paper meet the needs of some users when it comes to printing photos to be viewed on an occasional basis, whereas fine art paper will ensure that images are shown off in their best light and provides good performance when exhibiting prints.

What can I print digital art on? ›

There are 2 important things you should know about printing your digital art so it looks the best it can be: Print on Fine Art Paper – also called Giclee Printing, Rag Paper, Cotton Paper, Etc. Print MATTE. Shiny prints do not look as good, plus they cause glare.

What finish is best for photos? ›

Matte. A matte finish means that the photo doesn't have any shine, making it a great option for photos you want to display in a glass frame or in brighter areas. Because light doesn't bounce off this finish, there isn't as much of a glare, which can be beneficial in calmer areas like living rooms or doctors' offices.

Should I print Lustre or glossy? ›

Glossy paper is very shiny, while a lustre finish is semi-shiny. Colors are more vibrant in glossy prints. But a lustre finish shows more accurate skin tones. Also, a lustre finish is more resistant to fingerprints, smudges, and scratches.

What finish is best for senior pictures? ›

Matte (Lustre) finish photo paper.

Our standard studio portrait paper, and also our most popular paper for wallet size photos, studio portraits, wedding photos, and senior pictures. This paper features a subtle satin finish, and is a very long lasting, traditional photo paper.

Which printer brand is best for photo printing? ›

The best photo printers of 2022 in full
  1. Epson EcoTank ET-8550. ...
  2. Canon PIXMA iX6850 photo printer. ...
  3. Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000. ...
  4. Canon Pixma Pro-100S. ...
  5. Epson Expression Photo XP-970 photo printer. ...
  6. HP Envy 6055 photo printer. ...
  7. Canon PIXMA G620 (G650 in UK) ...
  8. Canon Pixma G4510 photo printer.
5 Oct 2022

Is it worth buying a printer for photos? ›

Photo printers can let you go portable

The downside is you're limited to two by three inch photos and the ink and paper aren't cheap. That said, for the novelty factor of taking a photo and printing it right out from a printer that fits in your pocket, it can be well worth the extra few bucks.

How do I choose a good photo printer? ›

The best photo printer will let you print medium to large images at home without investing in lots of ink or expensive equipment. A maximum paper width of 13 to 15 inches will allow for small, different-sized frameable prints at home. Many printers will also accept rolls of paper so you can print long panoramas.

What is the best medium to print photos on? ›

We are here to help you choose the best option for your photos.
  • Paper. One digital-to-print solution is printing photos on paper. ...
  • Canvas. If you want a more artistic look than traditional paper printing, canvas is a good option. ...
  • Aluminum. Printing on aluminum gives your photos a modern, sleek, and vibrant look. ...
  • Acrylic.
30 Sept 2020

How do photographers print their pictures? ›

Some professional digital printers will use a laser printing method for producing photographic prints. Digital versions of the images are exposed onto light-sensitive photographic paper with lasers and processed using photographic developers and fixers.

Are matte or glossy photos better for framing? ›

Be Aware of Glare

Choose matte for less light reflection and for framing photos. For vibrant color and visual appeal, choose a gloss finish. This is especially important if you will be exhibiting your images professionally.

Does printing on glossy paper use more ink? ›

No. Any coated paper (gloss, silk or matt) will use very slightly less ink than printing on an uncoated paper. Uncoated paper, such as photocopy paper, will absorb a very small amount of ink.

Is glossy or matte better for business cards? ›

Glossy business cards tend to be better quality and more protective than matte ones. Durability is definitely a pro when it comes to glossy vs. matte. Additionally, glossy business cards are great if you want to make colors pop.

Does matte or glossy paper use more ink? ›

Gloss ink dries on the paper, whereas with Matte some is absorbed in, therefore needing slightly more ink.

Why are glossy screens better? ›

Monitors with bright and shiny glossy screens use reflective glass or polymers. Their high degree of transparency allows almost all of the display's light output to show through, resulting in a very vivid image. Glossy screens showcase deeper darks, brighter whites, and richer colors than their matte counterparts.

What is glossy paper used for? ›

Glossy Paper refers to any coated papers designed to present an ultra-smooth to shiny appearance. Applications include brochures, advertising, flyers, one sheets, photographic printing and other presentation documents.

What is the difference between matte photo paper and glossy? ›

The main difference between a glossy and matté finish is that glossy photos have a shiny finish, and matté photos are muted. An extra layer of gloss is added to the photo paper to reflect light, creating a shiny finish. A matte finish offers a more neutral and natural look.

Are black and white photos better glossy or matte? ›

Matte photo prints do not reflect light and are thus easier to view at almost any light condition. Matte photo prints are also less likely to attract dust and fingerprints and are less likely to get dirty over time. Black and white matte photo prints look better than black and white glossy photo prints.

Which paper is good for wedding album? ›

For people who want high quality images, that will keep the brilliance of their colors untouched through time, we suggest the album printed on photo paper. We are talking about real photographs, printed in the traditional silver halide media.

Is matte finish better than glossy? ›

A glossy finish will come with an ultra-smooth, shiny appearance. It's also very colour rich and vibrant. Whereas matte paper gives off a duller, more subtle finish. Therefore, the content and images on a glossy finish will strike the audience more effectively.

Do glossy or matte photos last longer? ›

Glossy photos last the same amount of time as matte photos. The lifespan of glossy or matte finish prints depends on the paper quality and how you look after them. However, glossy photos attract fingerprints and are more likely to get scratched – especially if they're unframed.

Is matte or glossy better for business cards? ›

Glossy business cards tend to be better quality and more protective than matte ones. Durability is definitely a pro when it comes to glossy vs. matte. Additionally, glossy business cards are great if you want to make colors pop.

Which paper is best for photo album? ›

Luster Paper

It's the recommended selection for traditional photo books to showcase every memory. It has a soft reflective sheen and subtle texture.

What is the best finish for photos? ›

If you want to print a colorful photo without the major glare effects of glossy paper, a satin or semi-gloss finish is an excellent choice. Satin finish photos also look good behind smooth glass and can be viewed from more angles than glossy photos.

Can you write on matte photo paper? ›

Matte Coated Paper

Matte sheets are good for enhancing visual designs with a more subdued layout and color set without having a lot of glare which glossy coatings suffer from. Pen ink will not smear on matte coating, which makes it the ideal choice for journals and calendars.

Does printing on glossy paper use more ink? ›

No. Any coated paper (gloss, silk or matt) will use very slightly less ink than printing on an uncoated paper. Uncoated paper, such as photocopy paper, will absorb a very small amount of ink.

How long will digital photos last? ›

Print TechnologyDisplay Permanence (Glass Protected)
Digital Silver Halide17-40 years, dependingon brand
Ink Jet100+ years for some branded ink/papers; but less than 5 years for other combinations
Dye Sublimation4-8 years lightfastness (one brand: 26 years)

Why is matte more expensive than glossy? ›

Which One is More Costly? Printing images with a matte finish are more expensive than printing photos with a glossy finish. Matte has a better-textured surface to absorb more light and the materials used are way more expensive.

How long will printed photos last? ›

The good news is that these modern photographic prints will only fade a little over a lifetime, or even in 100 years, if kept in average home conditions. When displayed in moderate light conditions, slight fading might occur in 25 to 50 years.

Which finish is best for business cards? ›

Matte business cards are incredibly popular, and it's one of the most commonly used finishes. It's a timeless finish, and the smooth, clean look will make a statement wherever you go. Additionally, matte cards won't give off glare and or be marked by fingerprints, helping them to stay newer for longer.

Can you write on matte business cards? ›

Are matte cards easy to write on? Yes, both our premium and standard matte business cards are matte on both sides. The non-reflective finish has a smooth feel.

What is the best thickness for business cards? ›

The most common paper weight for business cards is 300 GSM. Paper with a thickness of 14 Pt, or 0.014 inches, is sturdy and hefty, yet has some give and flexibility. Paper with a GSM of 400 to 450 is ideal for business cards.

What is the difference between matte and glossy photo paper? ›

The main difference between a glossy and matté finish is that glossy photos have a shiny finish, and matté photos are muted. An extra layer of gloss is added to the photo paper to reflect light, creating a shiny finish. A matte finish offers a more neutral and natural look.

What is the difference between glossy paper and photo paper? ›

Gloss (left) appears smoother and shinier than matte (right). The main difference between glossy and matte is that glossy photo paper is shinier—this makes the color in your image “pop” on the sheet. The glossy finish enhances the color in the photo, creating a more vibrant image.

What is the best size for a photo album? ›

Popular sizes include 11×8, 16×12 and 14×11. Portrait photographs definitely take a different set of skills and have a different feel in general. When your priority is to showcase your portraits, these sizes are your best options.

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