Thursday, June 01, 2006

How to Choose Your Photo Paper Wisely

By Ann Woods

Choosing the right paper for printing is one of the most important factors in producing great prints. Be it pictures or text, you usually just borrow what's in the copier. But the right paper makes an immense difference in print quality. To make the right choice, we must know the basics of selecting and printing on paper for general use and pictures.

• Paper Basics:
To choose the right paper for the required print keep in mind –the opacity, brightness, weight, caliper and finish. First, it is important to know what you are printing. Black and white documents are very different from full color photos. There are some multipurpose papers which are good for both. But if you want crisp, vibrant photos that will last a long time, then of course you need to use paper which is designed just for photos.

• Opacity:
This means how see-through is the paper? The more the opacity, less of the printed text will bleed through to the other side. This is especially important for double-sided prints. High opacity paper is considered good for documents such as brochures, newsletters and calendars. Photo papers have high opacity of about 94-97 usually.

• Weight:
Paper weight is expressed in pounds (lb.) or as grams per square meter (g/m2).This ranges from light weight newsprint to very heavy cardboard. Mostly quality business paper is 20 to 24 pound bond; the greeting card paper is heavier – usually in the range of 60 – 65 lb.

• Brightness:
Brightness basically means the amount of light reflected from the surface of the paper. Higher brightness will produce crisper text with better contrast and a brighter background for color and images. It is expressed in numbers 1 to 100. Photo papers have brightness number in high 90's. But then not all papers are labeled with their brightness rating. You will simply have to compare two or more papers side by side to compare their brightness.

• Caliper:
This is basically the thickness of the paper. Thickness affects its handling; whether the paper is stiffer and will resist creases and tears etc. Its unit of measure is 'mil'. Photo paper is usually 7 to 10 mils thick.

• Finish:
The finish of the paper can be matte glossy with lessening degrees of glossiness as semi-gloss, soft-gloss or satin-gloss. It is the coating on paper as glossy photo paper gives the printed photos the look and feel of photographs. Glossy papers take time in drying as the coating keeps the paper from readily absorbing the ink. However, quick dry gloss finishes are available nowadays. Mirror-like finish of high-gloss media is preferred for color photographs and smooth matte finishes for black and white photographs and business documents.

Paper has come a long way in the last decade. Choosing the right paper for printing is one of the most important decisions in creating great pictures. It is also important to know that the paper designed for your printer looks and performs better every time. The print depends upon what happens when the ink hits the paper. The wrong amount of ink can lead to jagged images that are too saturated or sometimes too light.

The synergy of ink, paper and printer is important so as to create color photos that are as bright as your memories. The latest coating technology prevents photo jams, curling and printed pages from sticking together.
Lastly, you know how sunlight damages a printed page. Special photo inks and special coating premium photo papers are available that resist the effects of indoor halogen and glowing light. You will be able to frame your photos and display them proudly as they will resist fading longer than most traditionally developed photographs.

Therefore, the right printer paper will not only give better results, it will also be more economical in the long run. There will be fewer paper jams and the output will look great every time.

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1 comment:

beaty said...

wow, that is excellent post regarding selection of photo paper because Getting the best prints on your Inkjet Printer is usually comes determined by selecting the right paper.