I have several different types of paper lying around the house right now, and for the first 12 days of this project, I’ve more or less been reaching for whatever was at hand. This has been one of two papers:
Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Lustre (A3 size, or 11.7 x 16.5)
HP Everyday Photo Paper, Glossy (size 5 x 7)
The Epson is one of the best photo papers that company makes. In contrast, the HP paper is rated three out of five stars. What’s the difference, and should you care?
Well…how do you want to define “quality”? The ultra premium paper is, not surprisingly, a higher quality paper. First off, it is thicker and heavier, and feels much more substantial in the hands. I would say that, at small sizes like 4 x 6 and 5 x 7, this difference in weight doesn’t matter so much, but as the prints get larger, I like the heavier paper.
There’s also the matter of glossy v. luster/satin/semi-gloss/soft gloss v. matte papers. I can definitively say that I have not seen a matte paper that I’m happy with, although I also can’t say I’ve searched too far and wide. As for glossy v. lustre…eh…My preference is for the lustre. the glossy just has too much sheen to it, and lustre paper has a bit of texture to it that I find appealing. I will accept as valid, however, your preference for glossy, if you must be that way. And by the way, the glossier the paper, the less ink your printer uses. So there’s that.
I’m going to have to come back to the topic of color, because (1) it is a complex subject that is of the highest importance, and (2) as I look back through my stack of prints, I realize that I just made my first color print today. For the record, it was on the HP Everyday Glossy. It’s a snowy scene, so there are many types of white on it, plus an orange carrot and some brown leaves. It looks good, maybe a bit too blue. Knowing what I know of my printer and paper, I can say that the Ultra Premium Lustre can makes colors that will just melt your heart. Not colors that are okay, not colors that will do, but colors that have made other photographers remark on the quality of the color. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that on an everyday paper.
Which is fine–there is clearly, in the manufacture of the paper, a different purpose for each. All of the prints I’ve made on the everyday paper have been everyday, lifestyle kind of shots. Candids and domestic scenes and my kid bopping around. The images I’ve chosen for the premium paper have been very much the cream of the crop, images that, as I print them, I say to myself that I want to see how good I can make them look.
By the way: if you are new to making your own inkjet prints, did you know that your printer has different settings to print on different types of paper? Make sure you select the right finish and quality of paper, because your printer does make changes. This is one step in a process called color management that I will be coming back to over and over.
That’s all for now…happy printing!