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31.12.2018

How to choose your photopaper

Do you have at home or in the studio inkjet photo printer, Canon, Epson or HP? Would you like to use a premium photo papers, but hinder you their wide offer ("do not know how to choose") or limited chance of have someone to help you with selection of photo paper? We can help you with these problems - do not hesitate to contact us, we will advise you. And for initial orientation in the field of inkjet photo papers we have for you the following article. How to choose your photo paper will help you, our 7-minute article.

Two photographic technology  

The market is dominated by two printer technologies, which are used for the production (printing) of photographs in both the hobby and professional sector: 

  • ink (inkjet) printers
  • thermosublimation (dye-sub, D2T2) printers

For each technology, there is unique (irreplaceable) photo paper. Thermosublimation printers are primarily used for kiosk and event photo printing and every thermosublimation printer has a determined type of photo paper made for the printer model. There are three dominant players on the world’s market - producers of thermosublimation photo printers: DNP, Mitsubishi and Citizen. DNP is the only producer of photo media for all thermosublimation photo printers. 

The inkjet technology prevails in both home and professional minilabs and the paper supply for inkjet media is quite wide. That’s why is the following text dealing with photo papers for inkjet photo printers. Let’s name three well-known producers of inkjet photo printers: Canon, EPSON, HP. It should be added that none of these companies is a producer of photo paper. That is why the photographer has so many options – there is a huge amount of photo papers for inkjet printers on the market.

Photo paper for inkjet printers  

One of the charms of modern inkjet papers is that proven pads, known for decades, are still used nowadays, but instead of the light-sensitive layer there is an ink-receiving layer.

Image 13
The reaction of ink with the surface of the paper; the ink does not stay on the top and at the same time it does not fall down into the base

This layer (emulsion) is not present on common papers – that is why is the print on them unprofessional – blurred and desaturated (faded colours).

Photopapers for inkjet printers - formats 

Most of home inkjet printers are made for A4 format (21 x 29.7 cm), which is the maximal printable format. The A4 is extensively used.

Sheets in classic formats such as 10 x 15 (10.2 x 15.2 cm) a 13 x 18 (12.7 x 17.8 cm) are also enjoying quite the popularity.

A3+ printers (32.9 x 48.3 cm) are increasingly popular in both hobby and professional sector. Thanks to their „exposition“ size are A3+ sheets widely required.

For inkjet minilabs and large format photo printers, there are available rolls of photo papers (from 12.7 up to 152.4 cm width).  

Photopapers for inkjet printers - grammage 

Numbers at the end of photo paper names generally indicate the weight in units of g/m2. To illustrate: 1 m2 (sheet 1 x 1 m) paper XYZ 265 weighs 0.265 kg and then a sheet of A4 1/16, therefore 16.5 g (1 m2 consists of sixteen sheets of A4).

Quality photo paper has a grammage of 200-350 g/m2. There has to be a thinner ink-receiving layer on the lighter papers, therefore they are of poorer quality.

Read carefully the specification of your printers, there you will find out what is the maximum recommended paperweight. Restrictions are often given by the paper feeder system and it is limited usually from 270 up to 300 g / m2.

Many photo printers feature an extra feeder for rigid (FineArt) media and practically takes every photo paper.

Photo papers for inkjet printers - type of pad 

There are five basic types of pads:

barium sulphate (baryta papers)
  • so-called baryta papers, probably best known „photo“ papers
cotton (cotton/watercolour papers)
  • aquarelles, art papers
RC medium
  • resin-coated, both sides coated with polyethene, still primarily known as „minilab“
polyester
  • once world widely known CibaChromeTM process, unusual quality and permanent
matte coated
  • basic matte paper / cardboard, reminds of the sturdy paper from art classes

The imitation of the canvas, inkjet canvas based on cotton and polyester, is largely famous since the beginning of the 21st century.

Image 17 Image 16

Detail of paper Collection Cotton Textured 320 and canvas Collection Canvas Matt 390

Photopapers for inkjet printers - surface treatment

And we are combining. Three basic surfaces are produced on the above-mentioned pads:
  • lustre (gloss)
  • semi (semi-gloss)
  • matt
and to all of them there is an „assigned“ texture:
  • smooth
  • pearl (lustre, velvet)
  • structured (textured)

Thanks to these combinations you have many possibilities of inkjet media.

Examples of inkjet medias (to get to know the terminology):
  • FOMEI Collection Baryta SILK 310 is semigloss baryta paper with lustre texture and 310 g/m2 paperweight.
  • FOMEI Collection Cotton Textured 320 is deeply matte textured paper made from cotton with 320 g/m2 paperweight.
  • FomeiJet PRO Gloss 300 is smooth glossy RC paper with 300 g/m2 paperweight.
  • FOMEI Collection Chrome Film 215 is smooth glossy polyester film, 215 g/m2.
  • FomeiJet Portrait Matt 230 is deeply matte smooth paper (cardboard), 230 g/m2.
  • FOMEI Collection Canvas Matt 390 is a deeply matte cotton canvas with polyester, 390 g/m2.

The first choice

Hobby photographers (and often also professional) are discovering the technology of inkjet printing through RC papers. They know them from minilabs and darkrooms, and they are affordable.

Most common are these two variants: smooth gloss and finely structured semigloss (lustre, pearl or velvet).

The minilab era distorted the terminology when the semigloss was labelled as matte. To be completely accurate we should call it a structured gloss. But let us stay with the compromise terminology RC gloss (gloss, high gloss) and RC semigloss (lustre, pearl, velvet, semigloss).

Deeply matte papers are the favourite option for portrait and FineArt photography, and thanks to the deep black colour are also suitable for black and white reproductions

The favourite RC papers 

  • RC glossy paper 240–270 g/m2 – most popular in hobby photography.
  • RC semi-gloss paper 260–330 g/m2 – most popular in professional photography.

RC papers are mostly used for enlargements of all photo genres. And even after the photographer/printer takes more noble media (barites and watercolours), into his portfolio, the RC papers represent a good option for a fashion and landscape photography.

Image 10 Image 9

Favourite RC papers: glossy FomeiJet PRO Gloss 265 and pearl FomeiJet PRO Pearl 300

The economical choice for FineArt photography

Deeply matte paper, resembling the sturdy paper from the art classes in elementary school, will surprise with its drawing and expression skills in relation to abstract, FineArt and portrait photography. FomeiJet Portrait Matt is bright white, whereas the Warmtone version (preferred by starting artists) has a pleasant warm ivory tone.

Image 11 Image 12

Sought-after deeply matte photo papers: whitened FomeiJet Portrait Matt 230 and „ivory“ FomeiJet Portrait Matt Warmtone 230

We firmly believe that our article helped to make the orientation through the wide offer of photo papers easier. And now start with choosing the right photo paper for you.

YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR PHOTO PAPER HERE

Do not hesitate to contact us

FOMEI photo printing specialists are ready to answer your questions.

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