Looking at prints from HP Z3200PS wide format printerWhen looking for Media for your large format printer it can be very easy to get bamboozled with the terms used when describing the features of the media? Here we aim to try to explain some of the more well used terms in the easiest to understand way- hopefully!

Paper weight – GSM

Paper weight is measured in GSM or grams per square meter. So for instance a square meter of an 80gsm paper will weight 80gram. This measurement allows you to understand the weight of the paper and the applications it will be used successfully for.

Paper thickness - microns

Paper is also measured in microns, which refers to the thickness of the paper, rather than the weight. A micron is 1000th of a millimetre. There is no direct correlation between paper weight and paper thickness.


The term gamut refers to the range of colours that can be reproduced or displayed. The better (or larger) the gamut, the more rich saturation of colours will be available. When colour gamut becomes smaller, it is generally these rich saturated colours that are lost, a phenomenon known as ‘clipping’.

Your choice of printer and print media will have an effect on the range of colour gamut and what you see on your RGB monitor will not necessarily be printable on your CMYK printer.

Manufacturers of high-end photo printers such as Canon have tried to combat the gamut problem by increasing the palette of colours available in the device itself. Now, in addition to the standard CMYK colour you can find red, photo cyan and photo magenta for example. These widen the colour range of the printer, which allows for better colour reproduction. Some printers also use multiple black or grey inks, which do not affect the range of colours a printer can produce; however, they do affect the quality of black shades that the printer can achieve, enabling a more gradual blend of shades whilst maintaining resolution.


D-max is the maximum optical density of the deepest black a paper and ink combination can produce, which can be measured after printing. Think of MAXimum Density - D-max. In general the higher the D-max value the better. The D-max on a given product can vary with different circumstances, such as the type of printer and the ink technology. You should be aiming to exceed a D-max of 1.6 for matt / art papers and 2.0 for glossy / satin papers in order to ensure a good all-round quality under different display conditions. A D-max of  2.0 and above is considered excellent, although many newer inkjet printers can achieve a D-max of 2.5 or higher when using good quality papers. A high D-max makes for amazing results, which is especially noticeable on Monochrome prints. Generally speaking gloss and satin papers have the best D-max potential, although display conditions can affect the perceived depth of blacks.

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