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Photo Paper

When selecting what proofing paper is ideal for your photo printing project, the reflective surface properties (sheen) of the final printed image are a chief consideration. Through our relationships with major manufacturers, Canvas and Paper Warehouse is able to offer all of the top paper choices covering the range of reflective surfaces. In graduated order of reflective surface, these choices run Satin, Semi-Matte, Semi-Gloss and Glossy. One way to look at evaluating that scale for your needs is whether you or your customer would prefer a softer, less edgy image or one with more vibrant colors and contrast. A second consideration is the personal preference of the individual(s) receiving the print, would they expect or prefer one sheen or another? While these go hand-in-hand, they are separate considerations.

Satin proofing paper has some sheen to it, making it more reflective than Matte but less reflective than Semimatte. As less ink is absorbed, color definition becomes sharper though the image may be less rich as it is less saturated.

Semi-Matte, the most popular proofing paper has a higher reflective surface than Satin, moving closer to the high color and contrast images of Gloss. Calling this surface, Semi-Matte was an unfortunate mistake, because it's so close to Semi-Gloss, it can easily be mistaken.

Semi-gloss proofing paper sits between Semi-Matte and Gloss finish. What more can we say?

Glossy proofing paper has the highest reflective qualities and is excellent for color definition and high contrast photographic printing.

In addition to the glossy surface, or lack thereof, manufacturers also grade their paper offerings according to brightness, whiteness, thickness, weight, and opacity. Each of these conditions are rated or measured according to industry standards.

Within the manufacturer specifications given for each of the Proofing Papers, referring to certain standards also helps you determine your ideal photo printing solution.

ISO 2471 (International Organization for Standardization) specifies the method used to determine the opacity of white paper, containing fluorescent whitening agents.

Brightness can be determined by TAPPI 452 (Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry) and ISO 2470. The brightness of white, near white, and naturally colored paper is measured by the method contained in these standards.

GRACol Certified (General Requirements and Applications for Commercial Offset Lithography) IDEAlliance, provides the stamp of approval from an organization that has created general guidelines and recommendations for quality color printing across the industry.

SWOP (Specifications for Web Offset Publications) is a set of specifications for publication printing that ensures measurable, consistent results at each step in the printing process. SWOP guidelines address quality-of-material issues in pre-press and proofing as well as on-press challenges of color matching, dot gain and different paper stocks.

ASTM D523 (ASTM International, formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) is a standard that measures the Gloss rating found on paper.

The initial choice between Matte, Satin, Semi-Matte, Semi-Gloss and Glossy will be the main factor in selecting the right photo paper for your prints, but the other specifications referenced can help further guide you to the perfect printing solution for your project needs.