As the costs of inkjet printers and inks have come down, the use of A3 photographic paper has increased, not only in business and commerce, but also by photographic enthusiasts and the question of best often comes up.
The A3 size is exactly twice the size of A4 (which is twice the size of A5). To be able to print on A3 paper (297mm x 420mm) you must have an A3-size inkjet printer to be able to use it. Note also that A3+ (or also known as A3 Plus / A3 Oversized) is somewhat larger still, most commonly 330mm x 483mm, or 13” x 19”, and cannot be used in a normal A3 printer. A3 Plus is mainly used by digital printing businesses, so that they are able to proof a full-size A3 page with white space around it for notes or amendments.
When choosing the best A3 photo paper you need to consider the following properties of Inkjet photographic papers and match these to your specific needs:
– Weight of the A3 paper (in GSM)
– Finish of the A3 paper (Matt, Satin or Glossy)
– Type of coating (determines how ink is spread on the paper)
Inkjet A3 coated papers start from 90 gsm and end around 300gsm. Please note that the weight of the papers doesn’t necessarily represent the quality of the paper. With the exception of entry-level and many all-in-one A3 desktop printers, most printers can easily tackle paper stocks up to 260gsm weight, which vary from 260 micron to 300 microns thick (ordinary bond paper is about 100 microns thick), but verify the media limitations of your printer before purchasing heavier paper stocks the likes of the 300gsm options for example.
The weight of paper is expressed in grams per square meter (gsm) and it is generally true that the greater the weight is the thicker and less flexible the paper is. Photographs that have keepsake value are almost always printed on heavier paper from 200g onwards (feels heavier to touch basically).
Inkjet A3 photo papers come in 3 types of finish; matt, gloss, satin/luster and ‘best’ is often based on your desired use for the print.
Matt Finish – Is usually used for presentations, proofing, business hand outs, and in some cases a coating for art papers such as the photo art rag papers that is used for photo black & white printing or wedding albums. Matt coated paper can print high resolution images, but it isn’t used regularly for photographic one due to the lack of sheen.
Gloss & Satin Finishes – Are used normally for photographic prints when despite the popularity of the gloss option, professional photographers tend to use more of the satin/pearl/lustre finish. Satin, Pearl and Lustre are all a semi gloss options with a soft sheen that inject vibrancy to the image together with a low glare property so that the image shows better in direct light conditions.
A3 inkjet photographic paper uses various coating technologies what are the main factor in the paper quality (unlike weight / GSM that most people tend to believe equals quality). These are the following coatings currently used for paper manufactures:
Matt – A chalky coating that is used for the cheap matt coated high resolution, basic inkjet papers and in some cases higher variations of matt as a coating for inkjet art papers which is one of the top end papers used for reproduction of artwork to fancy black & white images.
Gloss – The gloss coating uses one of two types of technologies.
Cast Coating: The basic one is the cast coated which provides an excellent solution for the standard photo printing, yet in the eye of the professional photographer it may not be good enough. This type of coating is an instant dry option, but may struggle with some inks which are pigment base, such as the Epson DuraBrite. In some cheap cast coated made papers it may smudge and provide poor results. This coating is used with basic base papers so it brings the cost of the paper down and considered to be on the cheap end of the gloss finish inkjet papers.
Microporous Coating: The suprior coating is the microporous coating. This coating uses a special base paper called PE paper and handles perfectly all types of inks used in inkjet printers. The results have a better colour resolution and a spread of sub tones.
Satin, Peral, Lustre – This coating is normally a microporous coated paper and provide the quality of the above mentioned microporous glossy papers, just with a lower sheen. When evaluating your options, the microporous coating is hands down the best coating.
… and finally, there is also the double-sided A3 option with which you can print on both sides for the creation of calendars. All these A3 photographic inkjet papers in all the popular sizes are available at photopaperdirect.com.
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