The best inkjet papers for vibrant photographic images

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To get the best home print images, you’ll need a good printer and ink, but also good paper. The sheets you use can make or break an impression: poor quality papers can result in blurrier images, darker colors and lines that aren’t quite sharp. As well as quality, also consider the color of the sheets, which can come in a range of whites; whether the product is archival or not; and paper weight and finish. Our picks below will help you find the right product to meet your personal and business preferences and needs.

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Best Overall: Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster
Ask fine art photographers what their favorite inkjet photo paper is, and they’ll probably tell you Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster. The reason? It does the best job of simulating the look of traditional silver halide printing while consistently producing vivid, lifelike colors; excellent sharpness; and top-notch image quality. As the “Lustre” in its name suggests, this paper has a glossy, glossy surface but not a very reflective one, so your image will be visible from different angles. With a resin-coated polyethylene base, a weight of 240 gsm and a thickness of 10 mil, this is a paper with some weight, but it’s still thin enough to slip into most frames. . We also liked that it dries instantly so you can handle your photo right out of the printer.
Buy: Epson Ultra Premium Luster Photo Paper, 8.5 x 11″, 50 sheets $33.99 at Amazon

.  - Credit: Amazon

. – Credit: Amazon

Amazon

Best Matte Paper: Canon Photo Paper Premium Matte
If you want a non-reflective paper that will make your photos look great in a variety of lighting conditions, Canon’s Premium Matte Photo Paper should be your choice. With a glossy matte finish that doesn’t reveal any fibrous texture even on closer inspection, it’s one of the smoothest papers of its type we’ve used. The result is photo prints that have the vibrancy of coated papers but a non-reflective finish. Blacks look darker and colors have a wider gamut than other matte papers we’ve tested. This one weighs 210 gsm with a thickness of 12.1 mil, which feels less substantial than other matte photo papers but is easier to mount and hang for gallery display. And it does not pick up fingerprints when handled.
Buy: Canon Photo Paper Premium Matte, 8.5 x 11″, 50 sheets, $14.99 at B&H

.  - Credit: B&H

. – Credit: B&H

B&H

Best darkroom style paper: Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique II
Many companies offer inkjet papers that they claim mimic darkroom-style photo paper, but a print made with Canson Infinity’s Baryta Photographique II really looks like a traditional silver halide print. Baryta papers are coated with barium sulfate, which is a brightener that increases reflectivity. Baryta Photographic II features a layer of 100% barium sulphate, resulting in stunning inkjet photos that harken back to the darkroom days of classic fiber-based gelatin silver prints. We love the satin finish of the paper, and the black-and-white and color images pop off the page. Baryta Photographique II also looks like a heavy darkroom paper, weighing 310 gsm with a thickness of 12 mil. This will not only create prints that feel great in your hand, but will also increase the perceived value of your photos so you can price them accordingly at your next trade show.
Purchase: Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique II, 8.5 x 11″, 25 sheets, $33.50 on Blick

.  - Credit: Blick

. – Credit: Blick

Blick

Best Glossy Paper: Hahnemühle Photo Glossy 260
Glossy photo papers are not always the first choice for artists creating digital images, as a highly reflective surface can make these works difficult to see in bright light, such as when mounted on a wall during an exhibition in the gallery. But if we had to pick one high-gloss inkjet paper to use, it would be Hahnemühle Photo Glossy 260, which produces lab-quality photo prints that look great in a portfolio to show off to potential clients. This bright white resin coated paper has a smooth, untextured surface that will help your images stand out. With portfolios, this paper is well suited for photo books thanks to its relatively light weight and thinness. Its versatility makes it a great option for everyday use, including test prints.
Buy: Hahnemühle Photo Glossy, 8.5 x 11″, 25 sheets, $20.23 on B&H

.  - Credit: B&H

. – Credit: B&H

B&H

Best Cotton Paper: Moab Entrada Rag Bright 300
This beautiful cotton paper will make your images look like works of art. Made from 100% cotton fiber, Entrada Rag handles ink extremely well so photos come out crisp with crisp detail and superior tonality. Colors are vivid and blacks are deep on this bright white paper despite its matte surface. A double-sided fine art paper with multiple receptor layers that absorb ink extremely well, Entrada Rag dries instantly so prints can be handled immediately. We also love that these substantial sheets – 300 gsm and 22.5 mil thick – are acid and lignin free and water resistant, making them archival with impressive longevity. But above all, this thick cotton paper creates prints that are just waiting to be hung on the wall.
Buy: Moab Entrada Rag Bright 300, 8.5 x 11″, 25 sheets, $37.99 at Amazon

.  - Credit: Amazon

. – Credit: Amazon

Amazon

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1. HP Premium Plus Photo Paper

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HP Photo Paper strikes the right balance between economy and quality. It costs less than 50 cents per print, dries quickly and has a good weight: it looks substantial but doesn’t get stuck easily. It also features a clean white surface with a nice slightly glossy finish that isn’t quite reflective but carries a subtle sheen. Whether in black and white or in color, the results are sophisticated and vibrant.

Buy: HP Premium Plus Photo Paper

2. Printworks Matte Photo Paper

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If you want to print double-sided photos, Printworks’ product is an affordable and reliable option. These sheets dry almost immediately after receiving the ink to maintain crisp, beautifully saturated images. Both sides have a smooth matte finish that you can print on. While these papers aren’t as heavy as HP’s, they aren’t flimsy either, and the ink doesn’t bleed through the other side.

Buy: Printworks Matte Photo Paper

3. Epson Glossy Metallic Photo Paper

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Endowed with a subtle pearly and resin base, these papers from Epson give prints a special metallic finish. Because they cost about a dollar per sheet, you probably won’t use them for every print, but you probably wouldn’t want to either. Unlike general-purpose papers, these are best used with certain subjects and colors, such as black-and-white images or photos with a lot of contrast. The special sheen sharpens images, enhances detail and provides a fresh, professional surface.

Buy: Epson Metallic Photo Paper Glossy

4. CanonInk Glossy Photo Paper

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Canon’s paper is particularly well suited to those who want to print a lot of images and are willing to sacrifice a little quality for economy. These low cost true white sheets cost around 30 cents per print and have a nice, not too shiny sheen. Image-wise, they pick up ink well to display true colors and accurate resolution, and they dry fast enough for smudge-free prints. But they are quite lightweight papers, which doesn’t make for a great display, although they are very easy to cut. Because they’re so inexpensive, they’re also a good option if your printer tends to be quite finicky.

Buy: CanonInk Glossy Photo Paper

5. Epson Premium Presentation Paper

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The weight of this paper is similar to card stock, making it an ideal choice for making cards, brochures, and some prints. With an ultra-fine grain surface, it can handle heavy ink deposits to produce crisp lines and smudge-free clear images. Although it’s not printable on both sides, it’s designed so you can view both sides, with the back featuring a smooth, satisfying finish with no logo. Note that the printing surface is not bright white but a little warm, which will please some and put off others.

Buy: Epson Premium Presentation Paper

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Michael E. Marquez