This article goes through five different aspects of inkjet photo paper that you should be aware of. Please go to our Photo Paper Search if you are interesting in buying new inkjet photo paper!
There are a large variety of inkjet photo paper qualities on the market. However, there are really only five main differences in all these photo papers with four playing a critical role: brightness, weight, caliper, and finish.
Please remember that the paper quality is only one of four factors if you want to have qualitative and long lasting printouts - read more about this in our Printing Quality Guide!
How transparent is the paper? The higher the opacity, the less that printed text and images will be visible through to the other side. For double-sided printing this is especially important. Compared to ordinary inkjet or laser papers, a inkjet photo paper have a relatively high opacity usually around 94-97. This normally makes transparency less of a problem.
How white is white? There are many different levels of brightness or whiteness when you talk papers. Brightness is expressed as a number from 1 to 100. A inkjet photo paper is usually in the high 90s. Since not all papers are labeled with their brightness rating, the best way to determine brightness is simply to compare two or more papers side-by-side.
Paper weight may be expressed in pounds (lb.) or as grams per square meter (g/m2). Different types of paper have their own weight scale. In the 24 to 71 lb. (90 to 270 g/m2) range you will find the bond papers which also include a typical inkjet photo paper. Terms such as heavyweight do not necessarily mean that a paper is heavier than other comparable papers.
A inkjet photo paper is thicker and heavier than typical multi-purpose papers. The caliper, which is the thickness, is necessary to accommodate the greater ink coverage typically found in photos. A inkjet photo paper usually has a caliper of 7 to 10 mils compared to a typical inkjet paper where the caliper may be anywhere from a thin 4.3 mil to a thick 10.4 mil paper.
The look and feel of photographic prints comes from the coating of the inkjet photo paper. The coating keeps the photo paper from readily absorbing the ink and therefore some glossy papers dry slowly. Today, quick-dry gloss finishes are pretty common and the slow drying is no longer a problem. High gloss, gloss, soft gloss, or semi-gloss, are all descriptions of the finish reflecting the amount of shine.
Soft and non-reflective images have been printed on photo matte papers. Matte finish papers are not the same as regular inkjet finish papers. A matte finish inkjet photo paper is specially formulated for photos and are thicker. Many matte finish papers are printable on both sides.
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