photo paper printing  Photo by Khomulo Anna on shutterstock

Ultimate Guide to Photo Paper: 4 Main Types | How to Choose | 8 Best Recommendations

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Even thought digital photography taking over the world,photo paper prints still ramain a perfect way to showcase sweet moments. While you might have a clue as to what kind of photo paper is best, it can take time to find the right type and manufacturer.

That's why this post teaches you everything you need to know about photo paper types, how to choose the right one for your needs, and which brands produce the best in class.

5 Types of Photo Paper

1. Glossy Papers

glossy photo papers

Photo by foxie on shutterstock

It's what most of us think of when we hear the words "photo paper." It's glossy, smooth, and has a lot of contrast. The glossy paper is ideal for photo prints that need to be viewed from a distance.

Glossy papers should not be used where there's a lot of light, especially direct sunlight, as they tend to reflect light. At the same time, they are great at minimizing color casts which means if you want a neutral picture, this is the kind to use.

2. Metallic Papers

Metallic photo paper under printing

Photo by FUN FUN PHOTO on shutterstock

Unlike glossy photo paper, metallic photo paper has a metallic sheen. They are durable, have a high D'Max value, and work best with images that need to fade into the background. If you want to show off the texture of your photography, this is the type of paper to use.

3. Luster Papers

canon Luster photo paper

Image Credit:  

Luster papers have a glossy surface but are heavier and thicker than typical glossy papers. They are also more durable and have an archival life of 100 years, making them perfect for photo prints that will last generations.

They are also ideal for glossing up low-resolution photos and should be used in relatively dry areas. Luster paper is the best kind to use if you want your photographs to look like art prints.

4. Matte Papers

printed photos with Matte photo paper

Photo by Valentina Perfilyeva on shutterstock

Matte photo paper is a great option for prints that need to last. It does not react to light as much as glossy photo papers, making them ideal for framing without glare.

The only drawback is that they have a lesser Dmax value and are not as bright or contrasty.

Matte photo papers have a longer lifespan than other glossy papers and can be placed in most areas, even humid ones.

5. Satin Papers

printed photo with Satin photo paper

Image Credit:  

Satin photo paper is a cross between glossy and matte papers. It has the smoothness of glossy paper but with a toned down luster. They are also great for framing because they are not as reflective as glossies.

Luster vs. Glossy

One key difference between luster papers and glossy papers is the finish. Luster papers have a subtle, semi-gloss finish, while glossy papers have a shiny, high-gloss finish. The glossy paper also has a smooth surface compared to the slightly frosted texture of luster paper.

In terms of advantages, luster papers tend to be more fingerprint resistant and better for photographing subjects with imperfections or textures. Glossy papers, on the other hand, provide a richer look and feel and can make colors appear more vibrant, although they are very prone to fingerprint smear and dirt.

Glossy vs. Matte

The main difference between glossy and matte photo papers is the finish. Glossy papers have a shiny, reflective finish, while matte papers have a flat, non-reflective finish.

cat photo under printing

Photo by P.S_2 on shutterstock

In terms of advantages, glossy papers can make colors appear more vibrant and add depth to images. On the other hand, matte papers tend to be better for reading text and reducing glare from light sources.

Overall, the choice between glossy and matte papers often comes down to personal preference and the intended use of the printed material.

How to Choose Photo Printer Paper?

Before you choose a photo paper for your next print, there are a few important points that you should know.

1. Surface of Paper

When choosing photo printer paper, consider the surface of the paper. Glossy surfaces make colors appear more vibrant and bold, while matte surfaces give a softer look. Some papers also have a semi-gloss or satin finish for a balance between the two options.

2. Weight of Paper

a person using phone priting photo

Photo by Daniel Krason on shutterstock

The weight of the paper can also affect the look and feel of your printed photos. Thinner paper may be more affordable, but it could also produce a flimsy final product. Heavier weight papers tend to give a more professional and high-quality appearance.

3. Compatibility with Printer

It's important to ensure that the paper you choose is compatible with your printer. Consult your printer's manual or do some research to find out the recommended paper types and sizes for your specific device. Using incompatible paper can result in poor printing quality or even damage to your printer.

4. Special Features

Some photo printer papers have special features such as water resistance or adhesive backing for easy display options. Consider what you plan to do with your printed photos and choose a paper that suits those needs.

5. Budget

Ultimately, the decision may also come down to budget. Compare prices and consider if the extra cost of a certain paper is worth it for the desired result. You may even want to do some test prints on different papers to see which one you prefer before committing to a larger purchase.

6. Brightness and Opacity

paper photo under printing

Photo by DigitalHand Studio on shutterstock

A higher brightness value will result in brighter colors and sharper contrast. Opacity refers to how well a paper prevents the ink from showing through on the other side – choose a paper with high opacity for double-sided printing without bleed-through.

7. Dmax Value

Another important factor to consider is the Dmax value, which measures the maximum density of black ink a paper can hold. A higher Dmax value often results in richer and more detailed dark tones in your photos. Keep in mind that this feature may come at a higher price point.

8. Durability

Lastly, think about how long you want your printed photos to last. Some papers are specially coated for extra durability and waterproofing, while others may be more prone to fading or smudging over time. Decide on the level of longevity that you desire before making a decision.

Best Photo Paper for Printer

1. Canon Photo Paper Pro Platinum PT-101

 Canon Photo Paper Pro Platinum PT-101

Image Credit:


  • Surface Finish: Glossy
  • Surface Coating: Resin
  • Print Side: Single
  • Print life: 200+ years
  • Sheet size: 4 x 6 inches
  • Thickness: 0.3 mm
  • Weight: 250 g


  • Produces crystal clear, quality prints.
  • Available in a variety of sizes.
  • Color prints come out great.


  • It is a bit expensive
  • It is thick and may end up jamming some printers.

2. HP Everyday Photo Paper

HP Everyday Photo Paper

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  • Surface Finish: Glossy
  • Surface Coating: Resin
  • Print Side: Single
  • Sheet size: 4 x 6 inches
  • Thickness: 0.2 mm
  • Weight: 200 grams


  • It is affordable
  • The papers are recyclable
  • Prints dry quickly and are ready for use
  • Results are colorful
  • It is universally compatible. (Can be used by any printer)


  • Very thin and might tear easily.

3. Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte

 Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte

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  • Surface Finish: Matte
  • Print Side: Single
  • Sheet size: 5 x 7 inches
  • Weight: 192 grams


  • Sharp quality output is water resistant
  • Dries quickly after printing


  • Hard to notice the treated side

4. Canson Infinity Rag Photographique Matte 310 gsm

Canson Infinity Rag Photographique Matte 310 gsm

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  • Surface Finish: Matte
  • Print Side: Single
  • Sheet size: 8.5 x 11 grams
  • Thickness: 0.47 mm
  • Weight: 310 grams


  • It is resistant to water
  • Dries instantly after printing
  • It is age resistant
  • Great for printing images in black and white


  • It is expensive

5. Hahnemühle German Etching Paper

Hahnemühle German Etching Paper

Image Credit:


  • Surface Finish: Matte
  • Brightness: 92%
  • Surface Coating: Cellulose
  • Opacity: 99%
  • Print Side: Single
  • Sheet size: 8.5 x 11"
  • Weight: 310 grams


  • Produces images with great depth and saturation
  • It can be used with watercolors
  • It is acid-free
  • It is water resistant


  • Doesn't always produce the best quality prints.

6. Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta

Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta

Image Credit:


  • Surface Finish: Glossy
  • Whiteness: 91%
  • Surface material: Cotton Rag
  • Opacity: 97%
  • Print Side: Single
  • Sheet size: 5.8x8.3 inches
  • Thickness: 0.39 mm
  • Weight: 315 grams


  • It is compatible with dye based ink
  • Top quality
  • Acid free
  • Lets you attain a 3d depth


  • It is expensive

7. Canson Infinity Platine Fibre Rag

Canson Infinity Platine Fibre Rag

Image Credit:


  • Surface Finish: Luster
  • Surface Material: Cotton Rag
  • Whiteness: 89%
  • Print Side: Single
  • Sheet size: 17 x 22
  • Thickness: 0.4 mm
  • Weight: 310 grams


  • It is great for black and white photography
  • It is resistant to aging.


  • Colored images may not turn out great.

8. Amazon Basics Photo Paper

 Amazon Basics Photo Paper

Image Credit:


  • Surface Finish: Glossy
  • Print Side: Single
  • Sheet size: 8.5 x 11
  • Weight: 250 grams


  • They are very affordable
  • The material is long-lasting
  • The paper's surface is smudge resistant.


  • It can only be used on inkjet printers.


It is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each type of paper before adopting a certain paper for your printing needs, especially if you are a professional photographer. In the long run, you will save more money with good quality paper that can last long, even if it is a bit expensive. Thank you for reading.

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