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Photographic Media for Inkjet Printers and Photographic Quality Inkjet Printers

A lot of people are interested in getting great prints from inkjet printers. One of the most important factors is the media used (or what surface you decide to print on). There are three basic choices: glossy, semi-gloss (similar surfaces are pearl or luster) or matt. Glossy surfaces offer the most contrast while matt surfaces give the least contrast. Some glossy surfaces such as the metallic offerings even give a sense of depth in the photograph. Inkjet printers, proper printing profiles and consistent workflow also play a major roles in producing quality prints.

I personally prefer a semi-gloss or matte surface printing paper for most of my work. What it really boils down to for me is that there is no annoying glare on the image (especially from overhead lighting), the feel of the paper (I love the texture, weight and overall feel of the paper as I turn the prints) and the ability to capture the essence of the photograph. I have also noted that there is generally less metamarism (color shifts when viewed in different light sources) on matte papers. We all have to make up our own minds by printing our images on several different media to see what works best for us. I am giving several recommendations on media and printers as starting points. Remember that every paper and printer combination will yield a slightly different result, partly because printer manufacturers have substantially different ink formulations and ink sets. To learn more about printing please see the Digital Darkroom class in the Courses section and read some of the handouts. I’d also like to put in a plug for Dry Creek Photo for their great digital photographic resources.

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White 310

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Satin 310

William Turner 310

Bergger PN32 Smooth Photo Rag

Bergger PN32 Fine Art Smooth

Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper

Epson Smooth Fine Art

Epson Velvet Fine Art

Epson Enhanced Matte or Heavyweight Matte

Epson Semi-Gloss

Epson Luster

Ilford Smooth Pearl – 50% cheaper than the Epson Luster or Epson Semi-Gloss, but beware of metamarism (color shifts in different lighting conditions)

Oriental Graphica Fiber Double Weight 320

Moab Entrada Fine Art Bright 300

Moab Kayenta Bright White 205

Innova Photo Smooth Cotton 215 or 315

Innova Photo FibaPrint Ultra Smooth


For printing photographs the lead is currently held by Epson, closely followed by Canon and HP. I highly suggest that if you plan to print a lot then you strongly consider a 17-inch wide printer (considered a large format printer) that has larger ink vessels. The printer manufacturers make their money on ink refills and the price of the printer is quickly recovered by not having to continually feed the printer ink. Larger format printers are also made better (tighter manufacturer tolerance on quality control) and have more professional features for print head alignment, print head cleaning, paper feeds, etc.

Photographic Printers (InkJet)

Epson 1400 – up to 13-inches

Epson 2880 – up to 13-inches

Epson R1900 – up to 13-inches

Epson 3800 – up to 17-inches

Epson 4880 – up to 17-inches

Epson 7900 – up to 24-inches

Canon PIXMA 9500 – up to 13-inches

Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5100 – up to 17-inches

Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6200 – up to 24-inches

HP DesignJet 90 – up to 18-inches

HP DesignJet 130 – up to 24-inches

HP PhotoSmart Pro B9180 – up to 13-inches


Recommended places for buying photographic supplies, photographic printers and/or inkjet papers are:

Calumet Photographic – several stores around the U.S. and starting to catch on in Europe

LexJet

InkJet Mall

Freestyle

B&H — low prices, but the service is debatable, great store in New York City

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