Printers & printing - Paper types & quality

With more than 12 leading inkjet paper manufacturers and more than 40 different papers available, ranging from standard glossy to photo quality to canvas effect and vinyl, the choice is enormous. Some printers even let you print postcards or greeting cards or even T-shirt transfers.

Ink jet papers need to be specially coated and should have excellent ink adherence, because ink jet inks are more absorbent than toners or solid inks.

They should be scratch and kink resistant and have high densities for vibrant colors.

For making test prints however any paper stock will do, but for real photo quality these are unsuitable, since ink tends to bleed into their rough surfaces, resulting in flat, muddy colors.

If you want your prints to feel and look like real photos, you should buy paper that has adequate thickness and a glossy surface. This coated surface “holds” the ink in place, creating bright, vivid colors with lots of image detail. It should have a pure white base for improved contrast and saturation, rather than gray such as used by office papers.

You will find that special photo quality papers are quite expensive and taking into account the cost of the ink used it might be cheaper to consider having your pictures printed by the many digital print services on offer.