Eveything you need to know about paper finishes, size and weight.
Digitally sharing and storing photos is king in today’s photography world.
However, looking at your photo on a screen doesn’t even come close to the feeling of physically holding your favourite snaps.
If you’re looking start your photo printing journey, then this guide will tell you everything you need to know about paper finish types, sizes and weight!
There’s a HUGE range of photo paper finishes; so many that it can be confusing to know what each finish will look like.
It doesn’t help that photo paper manufacturers can create their own terms for their paper finishes.
However, the two main finishes—and so the two you only really need to know—are glossy and matt.
The most common paper finish is glossy, which gives the photo’s surface a shiny effect.
The shine allows you to see more detail in the photo, making the subject clearer and making colours more vibrant; use a glossy paper when you want to see every single detail in the shot.
On the flip-side, the shine that comes with the glossy finish can make viewing the photo difficult in certain angles and under different light sources.
It also makes the surface more sensitive to marks like fingerprints and dirt.
I want to see every colour in my photo = use glossy paper
I want to print a colourful landscape photo = use glossy paper
Matt is the opposite of glossy. Matt paper does not reflect light, eliminating any shine from the photo and giving a more muted effect.
This is perfect for black and white photos or photos where text is the main feature. Matt usually works better for photos going in a frame, since a shiny (glossy) surface can look strange through glass.
It’s not all roses though, the muted effect from the matt finish can diminish the photo’s quality, reducing colour vibrancy and contrast.
I want to put my photo in a photo frame = use matt paper
I want to print a black & white photo = use matt paper
All other paper finishes will lie somewhere between Glossy & Matt. Take Satin for example, this finish is situated right in the middle between Glossy & Matt, offering the best of both worlds.
Satin can also be labelled as Semi-Gloss.
Similarly, Pearl and Luster are usually different forms of the Satin finish.
Bottom Line: When deciding between glossy or matt, just think about how shine will affect the image colour and detail.
It goes against common sense, but the bigger the number then the smaller the paper size.
A1 is bigger than A2. A2 is bigger than A3 etc.
Since it’s the most common paper size, we all know the size of A4. Sizes get a little harder to imagine above and below A4.
Here are the sizes (Length x Width) and examples of paper sizes:
A0 = 1189 x 841 (mm)
Vinyl / PVC Banners
A1 = 841 x 594 (mm)
Vinyl / Wall Planners
A2 = 594 x 420 (mm)
Vinyl / Posters
A3 = 420 x 297 (mm)
Posters / Menus
A4 = 297 x 210 (mm)
Magazines / Flyers / Office Paper
A5 = 210 x 148 (mm)
Flyers / Leaflets
A6 = 148 x 105 (mm)
Postcards / Leaflets
A7 = 105 x 74 (mm)
Tickets / Small Leaflets
Business Cards = 85 x 55 (mm)
Credit to Digital Printing https://www.digitalprinting.co.uk/support/paper-weight-guide/
If you’re likely to be framing your photos, then a paper’s GSM weight won’t have an impact.
However, if you’re likely to be holding your photos from time to time, then you’ll want to pay attention to a paper’s GSM weight.
Gram per Square Metre (GSM) determines the weight and feel of paper. The higher the number, the better feel and quality the paper will have.
On the low end, toiler paper has a gsm of around 20 and a newspaper has 40. On the higher end, magazine covers have a gsm of 250 and business cards can have a gsm of 1000!