Photographic paper has come a long way in the last decade. When digital imaging was young the range of printing processes and materials for digital photography was extremely limited. Now, there is an immense choice of inkjet and laser printing papers with an impressive range of surfaces, weights and performance characteristics, all available at Photo Paper Direct.
So, how do you actually choose the paper that is right for the purpose of use and that will do your creativity the greatest justice? You need to think about:
The purpose of the print:
– For casual family and trip shots for your album
– Artistic or high quality shots to be enlarged for wall display or Special event album such as wedding etc.
– Reproduction of artwork and paintings
The character and style of the images: are they fine art colour images needing a great depth of colour, rich blacks and a subtle range of tones, or pictures of places and events needing realistically colourful presentation for a family or club record?
The print surface needed: gloss, satin, matt, textured, smooth, all to do with the way it is displays, i.e. gloss reflects light, textured for artistic artwork etc
The base material: weight and thickness, this doesn’t necessary indicate the print quality, but just the feel while holding it
The longevity of the image: do you need archival quality that will outlive you and everybody in the photograph, or a long-lived print that will still be good to enjoy in thirty or forty years time?
Assuming that you are using an inkjet printer and taking the Canon range of photo papers as an example, Canon papers extend from the Pro Platinum (PT) and PR types, at the higher end of the price scale, and primarily for professionals, fine art photographers and exhibiting photographic enthusiasts, via many others to the Photo Paper Plus Glossy II (PP) and Photo Paper Plus semi-gloss (SG) satin surface top-quality general purpose papers.
Pro Platinum (PT) papers provide the ultimate high gloss finish, long-term fade resistance and outstanding colour reproduction on a durable 300 gsm weight paper with a high brightness surface and a thickness of 300 microns. PT papers are an excellent match for Canon Lucia and ChromaLife100+ inks.
Canon’s claim that Photo Paper Pro Platinum is able to recreate faithfully the complex blend of gradations in a sunrise, the transparency of glass, or the texture of metal is thoroughly justified. But nothing looks more stunning or more realistic on Photo Paper Pro Platinum paper than human skin, which is notoriously difficult to render properly.
The vividness of printed colours is determined by the degree of contrast between absorbed light at the ink dye’s specific wavelength and unabsorbed light at other wavelengths – the greater the contrast, the more brilliant the colours. Canon successfully heightened this contrast in Photo Paper Pro Platinum, giving much better rendition of colours than earlier photo papers.
However, to achieve that, any paper must optimise ink absorption, and Photo Pro Platinum does that by incorporating alumina particles like tiny flat plates into the ink-receiving layer. This is distinctly different from the spherical shape of the silica particles that are found in most of today’s inkjet photo papers. Both alumina and silica use binders, which act as the ‘’glue’’ joining particles together, but the plate-shaped alumina particles require fewer binders. And fewer binders mean that an alumina-based ink-receiving layer can absorb ink faster than a silica-based layer.
Photo Paper Pro Platinum’s ink-receiving layer is divided into a top layer and a bottom layer. By using fewer binders in the top layer and more in the bottom layer, Canon has successfully decoupled the coloration and absorption functions. The advantage of this dual-layer structure is that it accelerates the process of separating the color component of the ink from the solvent component. This results in more vivid colour and higher definition prints than is possible with Photo Paper Pro, (PP) which has a single ink-receiving layer.
Then there is the issue of exactly where in the paper’s structure the colour dye is fixed. With Photo Paper Pro Platinum, Canon has achieved deep, rich blacks by taking a new approach of fixing the dye just below the paper’s surface.
The ink-receiving layer at the surface of the paper is where the ink dye is trapped and the colors rendered. If this layer is too thick, the dye will diffuse too deeply into the material, reducing colour density.
But if the layer is simply made thinner, the water solvent contained in the ink will wash across the paper’s surface. Faster dye-solvent separation allows for shallower dye-fixing. Canon solved this problem for Photo Paper Pro Platinum with a special inkjet coating technique, which is a photosensitive material technology application.
This allowed the development team to separate the ink-receiving layer into two separate layers, a color-reproduction layer, which fixes the dye, and an absorption layer, which holds the excess water solvent. Thus, because the dye can be fixed closer to the paper’s surface, Photo Paper Pro Platinum can achieve sharper photos with richer, deeper blacks than the earlier Photo Paper Pro. In addition, greater image clarity is possible because the absorption layer traps the water solvent more quickly.
As you would expect, the research and development that gave Canon Photo Pro Platinum (PT) these and many other unique qualities did not come cheaply. As a result, this brilliantly innovative paper costs rather more than the hugely successful Photo Photo Pro (PR) or the world-renowned Paper Plus Glossy II (PP) range, yet PP continues to provide a briliantly glossy finish and exceptionally rich colours that give your images the look and feel of a traditional photograph.
The latest Photo Paper Plus Glossy II (PP-201) has improved on Photo Paper Plus Glossy (PP-101) to create a new standard in image quality and cost performance. Rich, deep blacks and vivid colours are achieved, with the thickness and crisp, luxurious feel of high-quality photo paper fresh from the printer. And yet this outstanding quality is now available at low, affordable prices.
If you prefer a less glossy surface, try Canon Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss (SG). The velvety texture of this semi-gloss paper gives your pictures an amazingly rich quality. With Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss you will produce vibrant images with low glare and a soft glossy finish – photo lab quality prints right there at home. You will not be disappointed.
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