Finish difference between photo papersThere are predominantly three main paper finishes

Gloss – A shiny glossy finish which is highly reflective

Satin – (Also referred to as Lustre, Semi Gloss or Pearl) – A soft sheen paper which is half way between Gloss and Matt in varying degrees.

Matt – A totally flat finish with no sheen or reflective properties

Glossy finish photo papers produce deep vibrant colours. They are capable of producing a much higher D-max (depth of black) than other papers and have a wider colour gamut too (when using optimum print and ink technology). Gloss papers have a highly reflective coating and are a great choice when printing bold and colourful images with lots of detail. Gloss papers also reflect more light than other papers, which is known as glare. Glare can be very distracting to viewers especially if it is put behind glass, which can make the image barely visible. The reflective coating on the gloss paper is plastic based and it will protect the paper somewhat from minor damages, however this coating also shows fingerprints and attracts dust particles. When you want to make the biggest visual impact gloss paper is more popular.

Satin finish photo papers are the most popular photo paper that we sell. They are a particular favourite amongst people looking for a bit of sparkle to their finished image, without the high reflective shine. They have a very fine texture to them to help reduce the problems associated with glare. Satin papers have a wide range of glossiness and these differences are often referred to with different terminology such as pearl, which is a slightly glossier satin, or lustre which has a slightly lower gloss level and is closer to matt. Satin finishes provide the full rich colour capability of the gloss with a wide colour gamut and high resolution. They resist fingerprints and are durable enough to withstand careful handling. Images printed on satin can be seen clearly from a wider angle and are less affected by glare when viewing.  When displaying images behind glass, Satin paper is better suited than gloss. Satin papers have been the default media used by photo labs for decades and offer a more traditional look. They are a good trade off by reducing the glare, but still retaining as much D-max as possible.

Hahnemuhle photo paper swatchMatt paper has no sheen or finish on the surface, with no reflective properties. They have a lower colour gamut, although high resolution printing is possible. The nature of the surface of matt paper, which diffuses reflected light, means that a black as deep as one found on gloss paper, cannot be obtained. It is not an issue of quality, but an aesthetic one. Matt paper ranges from cold-pressed to hot pressed, which gives a very distinctive difference in surface texture. Matt papers are ideal for framing behind glass and are easiest to view in all lighting conditions. Matt paper does not attract fingerprints or dust, but is easy to damage. It has a beautiful subtlety about it and is definitely the paper to go to if you are heavily into producing monochrome prints.

The choice between papers is often a matter of taste. Satin paper will provide the most flexible image on a piece of paper, allowing it to be displayed in differing environments. Gloss papers are liked by many, but require precise conditions in order to be viewed at its full potential. They also have the greatest D-max when compared to other media and produce a rich vibrancy and great contrast.  Matt papers produce softer but deep colours which give a distinguished ‘old’ look about the results, especially when printing in monochrome. Blacks print richer on matt paper and therefore matt is usually the media of choice when printing monochrome images.

Here at GDS we stock a Superior Matt Barrier Coated Photo paper, which has a beautiful smooth, non-reflective matt finish with a special barrier coating, which allows for a heavier ink load. This allows for greater colour definition and depth- without any cockling associated with heavy ink loads.

If you need help in deciding which paper is right for you, the team at GDS is always here to help on 01625 613548 or email the Sales Team.

Items that may interest you

Gloss photo paperSatin photo paper  Matt photo paperGDS Superior Matt Barrier Coated Photo Paper