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07-20-2012, 04:20 PM   #1
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Let's Talk Paper: Matte, Luster, Glossy

Finally got around to buying a photo printer (not a dedicated, just a good all-in-one). Tested it out with some Canon glossy that I had laying around (from who knows when) and I'd say the results are good enough. Now that I've got a printer, I guess I'll need some paper. That led me to realize that paper is expensive (on the startup, at least) and I should probably get advice on what I'm buying first.

I've personally always enjoyed the way that matte looks and never really liked glossy. I thought those two were the only that existed, then I discovered luster. I'm assuming that's semi-gloss (or in the middle of matte and glossy)? That led me to think about how little I know about paper and it's intended purpose. There must be a specific purpose for each. I'm sure no one uses just one type and not any other.

Hopefully you guys can enlighten me on what each type is recommended for (type of pictures) and I'm also hoping that some people can recommend some specific brands and paper? Thanks.

07-20-2012, 04:42 PM   #2
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Best bang for bucks as far as I'm concerned:

Luster: Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk (best all-around default choice)
Matte: Red River Polar Matte (matte is more forgiving as it gives a slight softer quality and hides tiny flaws)
Metallic Glossy: Red River Polar Pearl Metallic (looks great for the right image)

I don't do glossy except with metallic papers, which gives the right kind of photo a certain pop. Each paper has its own color profile, and for precise results you have to tune the image to the paper, calibrate your monitor, etc etc. Getting pro results is a lot of work. Avoid papers with optical brighteners as they will lose their bright whiteness in a matter of months, unless you don't care about such things. If your printer isn't the greatest, your inks made fade also.

There are lots of decent papers out there -- most are much more expensive than what I've listed, but don't be fooled these are pro-quality archival papers so good bets for the money.
07-20-2012, 06:36 PM   #3
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I have an Epson R2000 printer and have found that Ilford Galerie papers to be the best match. Gold fibre silk gives almost unbeatable quality for the price but the other Ilford papers like Galerie smooth pearl and smooth gloss are the best budget options around, giving results that are anything but budget. The finish of the paper (matt,gloss,pearl) is only personal preference but the print quality comes down to the printer, the paper and getting a good match to what is displayed on your monitor. Calibrate your monitor and get profiles for your papers will give the best possible results.
Ilford have great support for these papers, with full ICC profiles for most printers that are free to download from their web-site.
Glenn
11-12-2013, 08:08 AM   #4
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Staples has some good papers, their Photo Supreme Satin is nice, unless its changed in the last year or so. I've also had good luck in the past with Costco papers. Red River is good stuff. They have sampler packs, and also profiles of most of their papers.

01-07-2014, 12:59 AM   #5
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Best advise: STAY AWAY FROM GLOSS PAPERS!!
Many novice shooters are attracted to glossy papers because the prints appear to have very "rich" colors. It's true that if you are just printing snapshots to pass around, gloss or semigloss papers can be very pretty. However, the gloss creates reflections and shine that can actually obscure your image. If you're planning to frame a print, glossy paper makes even less sense as you'll be getting glare from both the gloss and the glass. As your eye improves, you'll most likely want move away from glossy to other finishes that better show off your photos.
Matte In addition to not creating distracting reflections, a good matte paper will deliver darker blacks than gloss paper, which means better contrast. Also, a quality matte paper will often hold finer detail than a glossy paper, which can be important for images where detail and texture are critical.
If you're serious about printing photos and want to see some of the differences we've talked about here, then the best place to start is with the papers manufactured by your printer vendor. Epson, HP, and Canon each sell a wide assortment of papers. What's more, these papers will already be selectable in your printer driver.
If you want to branch out and try some other options, consider papers from respected vendors such as Hahnemuehle, Red River, Moab, Ilford, Inkpress, Museo, and Innova. Hahnemuhle sells a $20 sample pack that includes two sheets of nine different types of paper. This is a great way to quickly experiment with a bunch of different types of fine-art matte papers.

Handmade and specialty papers can be a lot of fun, though it's best to avoid using a paper that puts off a lot of dust as this can gum up your printer's works. While you can stick any type of paper in your printer, you'll have no idea as to its longevity, or contrast and color capabilities until you try printing on it.

Another thing to keep in mind is Paper whiteness
Some papers are whiter than others, which is usually achieved by adding whitening agents. While there's nothing wrong with a very white paper, those whitening agents can change color—sometimes very quickly. That means that the paper will appear very white when it comes out of the printer, but in a few weeks it may shift to yellow, creating a subtle change in the appearance of your image. If you want to be certain your image looks the same over time, choose a paper without artificial brighteners. If the paper is very white on the printable side but not so much on the other, there's a good chance that it has been brightened.
01-07-2014, 01:00 AM   #6
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Sorry for the double post***
I prefer lustre for colour prints, and matte paper for B&W
01-07-2014, 03:33 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Hi

Apart from the above sound advice there is another way to consider.

For example you would never print that Leonardo da Vinci charcoal sketch you photographed in a museum on anything other than matte paper.
Landscapes look good on matte. Particularly snow pictures or snow landscapes look gorgeous on matte paper where the texture of the paper adds to the texture of freshly fallen snow in the picture. Canvas is suitable for landscapes also.

Some architecture shots would look good on semigloss particularly those of industrial installations like refineries. They also look good on metallic paper and so do promotional shots of cars and motorbikes, machinery or glassware. You can well imagine that they won't be so appealing on canvas for example.

So, consider the motive of your pictures and make a paper choice that you think fits the mood and give it justice.

Also consider that gloss, semigloss and high gloss paper is prone to what is known as chroming or bronzing where dark areas have an unattractive metallic sheen when viewed at a certain angle to the light. With High gloss this is particularly annoying. For this reason alone I never use high gloss.

Greetings
01-07-2014, 11:33 AM   #8
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The semi-gloss metallic papers look nice for certain subjects -- they really pop. We are often surprised. We think a certain image will look best on a certain type of paper, but we often do tests (usually miniature prints or small areas only so as not to burn too much expensive paper) and find out that such-and-such looks great as matte or vice-versa.

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