What Photo Paper Should I Use?

HP Photosmart A826 photo center

HP Photosmart A826

Have you ever walked into a computer store or a big box store and seen the samples of what you can accomplish with the newest photo-quality inkjet printers? But getting those same results at home can be a daunting task if you don’t feed the right paper into your printer. All those photo-centric papers on display and they all claim to be the best, how is someone to make the right choice?

How to Choose Photo Paper

As you probably know, all of the major printer manufactures nowadays claim you will get the best results when printing your photos if you use their photo paper in their printer. Well guess what.  They’re right. These manufactures spend a lot of time and money designing their photo printers to work with their special photo paper so that you get the best possible results. If you do decide to use a third party “specialty photo paper” you run the risk of the ink spreading too far into the paper before drying, causing inaccurate colors, lower print resolution and possibly a dull finish. Plus you can just about bank on the print fading faster than if you used the recommended photo paper from the manufacturer. So the best and most important advice we can give for choosing your photo paper is stick with the paper the manufacturer recommends, period. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel by thinking you can do better than they did using all of their expertise and R&D that goes into this stuff.

Epson Photo Paper

ink jet photo paperThat being said, you will still have some choices to make, we’ll stick to some of the major printer manufactures here. Epson offers the broadest selection of papers like DuraBrite, Premium Glossy, Photo Glossy, and ColorLife. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know. For pictures you plan to frame or share with family and friends use their Premium Glossy Photo Paper. For less formal photo printing try the less expensive All Purpose Glossy Paper. This would be a good choice for documents that you want to come out looking great, like presentations, reports and flyers.

One other point when using Epson photo printers, match the paper to the kind of ink you’re using. Epson’s Premium glossy Photo Paper would be the choice for most Epson inkjet or photo printers, but if your printer uses DuraBrite ink, then make sure to use the DuraBrite Ink glossy Photo Paper that is recommended for this printer.

HP Photo Paper

ink jet photo paperHP’s photo paper is called Premium Plus and is their top of the line photo paper, this is what you use if you want to frame you’r pictures. For routine photo printing try using their Premium paper which by the way HP claims is slightly better than the kind of paper used by your local photo lab. For documents that combine text and photos try HP’s Photo Paper, this is a lightweight grade that’s slightly higher quality than HP’s Everyday Photo Paper, the latter would be something you would use for sharing drafts of photos.

Canon Photo Paper

Canon photo paper is the easiest to figure out; they opted for a simple color scheme. You will see a colored stripe that runs down the center of all their paper packages; papers with a gold stripe are their premium blends intended for the highest quality prints, bronze identifies the paper as an everyday variety, don’t you wish all the manufactures made it this simple.

OK, so now you know how to choose the best photo paper to get the highest quality photos but what if you just want to make everyday printouts of photos and don’t need to mount them on the wall or hand them out to friends & family. In this case almost any photo paper will do, even if the package doesn’t have your printer company’s name on it. Of course the prints will be somewhat dull and the colors won’t look as accurate, but you’ll pay pennies per page instead of about a dollar per sheet. Just remember, when buying cheap photo paper or your everyday inkjet printing paper, they will lack the protective polymer coating found on the high end photo paper making the pictures degrade rather quickly.

Tips to Follow

To ensure that your prints are the best they can possible be here are a few tips to follow.

>  Make sure your printer is configured for the type of paper you are using. To do that, click the Properties button next to the name of your printer in Print dialog box and choose the paper you’ve loaded into your printer from the drop down menu. This is another reason to use the paper that is recommended for your printer, you will only see on this list the paper that the manufactures makes for this printer. Some printers have a sensor that detects the paper type so you won’t have to do this.ink jet photo paper

>  Another point to keep in mind is don’t handle your finished photo for at least 12 hours to prevent finger smudges, with 24 hours not being out of the question. Many of the companies will tout “fast drying times” for their ink and tell you that you can handle them after just an hour, this is not recommended. Why take the chance of having a perfect photo messed up because you’re impatient, let it sit and dry. And never try to print on both sides unless the paper is specifically marked for two -sided printing. Each manufacturer sells at least one kind of two sided paper but I can’t for the life of me understand why someone would want to print on two sides of a photo.

>  Once the print is totally dry, put the print under glass or plastic, it has been proven that exposure to common gasses and particles in the air can dull or fade your photo quickly. Finally for the longest life keep the picture out of direct sunlight and in a cool and dry environment. So in the end photos that are stored in an album will last longer than one that is hung on the wall or just left out on a table.

One last tip, make sure to keep your original digital photo files around even after you print, you never know when you may want to reprint them due to fading or other mishaps that may occur.

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