Online Photo Printing – Guide on Paper Types and Weights

With a wealth of substrate types to choose from, it’s unsurprising that one of our most commonly asked questions from customers is “which paper should I go for?” In today’s PFF blog we have compiled an easy-to-digest guide to paper types and weights when it comes to online photo printing.

Photo Paper Types for online photo printing

At Print For Fun’s online photo printing services, we offer three main paper types across our photography prints and art prints.

Semi-gloss Photo Paper

Our thick, semi-gloss inkjet photo papers (230-270gsm) offer a happy medium between glossy and matte finish. The paper has a resin coating that act as a water-resistant barrier, allowing the paper to maintain vivid, lifelike colors that rival traditional prints. Ideal for your photos, portfolio images and poster prints.

Viewing photos and images printed on semi-gloss paper is made easier by the lower glare and light reflection, so that your photos are still visible even under strong light conditions. Perfect for display behind glass and frames, under bright conditions such as spotlights. Majority of our products utilise this type of paper with the exception of canvases, wood prints, art prints, greeting cards and metal prints.

Semi Gloss Sticker Paper – newmaxstickers

Matte Art Paper

Next is our matte art print papers (230gsm) which are made from a high grade wood pulp unlike our semi-gloss paper. It is often less expensive and has a sturdier feel than cotton rag (more on that later). They come in choices of ultra smooth paper or textured paper. Ideal for art prints, portraiture, studio shoots, wedding photos.

If you’re looking for something that adds great depth and character to photographic prints, then our art prints is the go-to option for you. Since they have a special coating that provides for excellent durability, chances of it yellowing and fading have been significantly reduced. They are able to preserve and emulate the appearance of an original photo better than the average photo paper can.

Archival Matte Fine Art Paper

Last but not least, our matte Fine Art Paper (320gsm). They are made from 100% cotton rag which are usually high grade with fantastic strength and durability. Available in choices of smooth paper or textured paper. Ideal material for artistic photos, exhibition prints, posters, exclusive invitations and interior decorating.

Example of our Fine Art Print

You maybe wondering, what’s the main difference with the paper between Art Prints and Fine Art Prints? Apart from being acid-free, Fine Art Prints have an extremely high archival rating that will last over 100 years without fading or if displayed correctly, much longer and durable as compared to Art Prints. You can be assured that your photography print or works of art will last for a lifetime – possibly even longer than a digital copy.

All in all, Art Prints are great and will display vibrant colours for displaying your photos and art. However, if you are looking for something that lasts decades without fading, you can choose Fine Art Prints instead.

PHOTO PAPER WEIGHTS for online photo printing

Paper weight is measured in gsm which stands for ‘grams per square meter’. The weight of the paper isn’t something you need to worry about too much. All of our photographic papers and fine art papers are of suitable weight for professional online photo printing.

However, some people may favour a heavier paper as it offers rigidity, durability and a more substantial feel. A heavier gsm is also preferable if you are creating a large print for display as it is easier to mount.

A guide to gsm levels:

Paper Weight (gsm)PropertiesProduct Examples
60-100Standard weight for a typical piece of A4 print paper. Commonly found across offices and households. Letterheads, compliments slips
110-140Typical weight of most traditional poster papers and flyers. It’s sturdy enough to withstand a little wear and tear but too thin to be used as photographic paper. Leaflets, flyers, magazine pages
170-200More weighty and sturdy paper. This is the minimum gsm required for printing photographs.Booklet or Magazine covers
210-300General weight for photographic paper. It is a little more like card with a tactile feel but still has a bend to it.Small Prints (2R-8R/S) and Premium Prints (A1-A4)
310-400A much thicker, card-like paper. This is the weight you’d likely feel for greetings cards. This is for a premium, heavyweight paper that offers the look and feel of an original artwork.Art Prints, Fine Art Prints, Greeting Cards & Wedding Photocards

Paper Brightness

Ever noticed that photographic papers come in different tones of white? That’s because most papers don’t naturally occur as the white we are used to seeing. In fact, they are bleached to make them bright white with chemicals known as optical-brightening agents (OBAs). We will be looking at two major shades of paper to consider for online photo printing: Blue White and Warm White.

Blue White

Blue or ‘bright’ white tones reflect blue light and tend to be more vibrant. The whiter the paper, the higher the contrast in colours and therefore you get a richer colour gamut. These papers tend to be favored by most people for their deep colour saturation and great dynamic range. One prime example is our semi-gloss photo paper which contains OBA. However, this component will damage longevity of the print and cause yellowing, which is why they aren’t as durable as our Fine Art Prints.

Warm White

Conversely, warm or ‘natural’ white tones absorb blue light and tend to give off an off-white or cream colour. They work better for lighter toned images since light colours maybe washed out out by a high-brightness paper. One prime example is our Fine Art Papers that do not contain OBAs and its whiteness is natural. As such, do note that this will affect the appearance of your image slightly as the background colour of your image will be off-white.

You will also find that our Art Prints paper looks whiter compared to the Fine Art Prints paper. This is because our Art Print paper contains OBAs to make the paper whiter than usual. Thus, this may cause the paper to yellow faster than Fine Art Prints. But rest assured that both papers have a special coating that provides for excellent durability and high light stability, meaning the colours will not fade so easily.

Final Thoughts

When choosing the right paper, personal preference is paramount. It depends entirely upon the look and feel you want to achieve with your photograph and how long you want it to last. When you get it right, the printed photograph will be good for many years of display!

At Print For Fun, online photo printing is at the heart of everything we do and every product we create. There is no one paper type that is deemed the ”best”. Each paper type is individually profiled for our printers, ensuring accurate and consistent reproduction.

We hope this guide has offered some insight into choosing the best fine art or photography paper for online photo printing. Till next time, cheers!

Note: No matter how good the photo paper is, the quality and resolution of the source image are still the important factors for achieving an excellent print, read our last blog about RGB vs. CMYK printing to find out more!