You might have the best inkjet or laser printer by your side, but without the best photo paper to print the photos on, things won’t be up to the mark. At least, not for me. That’s why I always look for the top dogs when I buy papers to print images on.
When it comes to images or photos, the generation is more into selfies these days. But if you’re like me and think that your photographs are like memorabilia or deserve to be treated as such, this article is for you. Here I’ll go over some of the best in the business as I’ve got my own list prepared for you guys.
Feel free to choose one (or more) products from this list. If these products aren’t your cup of tea and you need more options, feel free to consult my buying guide and do your own research in your spare time. With that said, let’s get on with the topic.
10 Best Photo Papers for Image Printing
I understand the fact that you’re looking for ideal image printing papers for your laser/inkjet printers. This little section features the top 10 photo papers that will serve your purpose no matter which type of printers you use and at what quantities you need your photos printed. Let’s get to it then.
There is a reason I wanted the fresh start to be made with Canon’s Luster Photo Paper. This is one of the finest ones out there because this paper is crafted with professionals and enthusiasts in mind. These photo papers provide gallery-quality outputs each time!
Not to mention, you get three particular paper types to choose from. Selecting from the glossy, luster and matte finishes you can get the exact result that you desire. You can choose the right paper for your right job and portray your creativity to the fullest.
We are talking about the Luster variation here, so let’s see how far it can take us.
This paper is targeted towards professionals who want to achieve vivid color output that is brought by alluring monochrome printing. The luster texture offers a fine and elegant yet photo-lab look which can be produced in your very own homestead.
Consistency, as we all know is a rare quality indeed and the Canon Luster Photo Paper. Whether it be printing colors that are bright and vivid or simple black and whites with rich black along with smooth tonality that is bound to impress.
Let’s explain why I am calling it a professional photo paper.
You might have heard of the classic resin-coated photo papers used in dark rooms. This is a particular photo paper that can be called the very descendant of the old ones. But the best part about this one is that it can create similar effects without sending your work to the photo lab.
We all want our photographs to last a long… long… time. Breathtaking images are not always meant to be short-lived. The Canon Luster papers offer longevity and quality that surpass all expectations.
It should be noted that these photo papers are manufactured to deliver the optimum quality with the Canon PIXMA pro photo printers, or so it claims.
Canon boasts on its product by ensuring the best color output through the LUCIA or the CromaLife 100+ inks. It protects photos from degeneration which is quite eminent when exposed to gas and light.
Protecting priceless memories is now very much possible with the premium quality offered by the finely crafted product.
The Luster finish even guarantees resistance against fingerprints. Plus, the elegant surface is made of the anti-glare entity that provides some extra protection. This is great for portraits, wedding, and fine art photography.
Canon promises that their Photo Paper Platinum is the ultimate in quality. Words aside, this product does an amazing job where it has to nevertheless. This photopaper is supposed to offer everything the artwork of a professional can possibly demand from it.
Now let’s get into the flagship of Canon that was intended to surpass the photo paper pro and redefine the concept of “premium.”
Following the footsteps of the Photopaper Plus Glossy II the paper structure of the Pro Platinum consists of six layers that are to ensure the “Alumina” color reproduction that is capable of high-speed ink absorption. This ultimately results not only in higher quality printing but also in rapid production as well.
Canon’s new glossy photo paper uses a chromogenic enhancer method that amplifies light, and it is added within the resin-coat layer. The neutral white is not the everyday whiteness you go around normally, a higher or rather a more superior quality of whiteness is adopted for the paper’s color.
All these features play a vital role in offering far better quality in the field of color and vividness.
This photo paper can actually turn printouts into artworks with the capacity of expanding red areas and achieving a far richer darker black. This also results in better image durability.
The ink absorbing layers are highly capable of absorbing and processing solid-liquid separation of solvents and fixes the dye at a higher position. Thus, magnanimously increasing color reproduction quality.
Even the feeding performance is enhanced with the back-coating layer for the usage in printing. Last but not least, the resin coat grants a thick and premium feel to the whole paper in general.
You also get color variants to choose from. The whites don’t always have to be all the same and that’s why there is bluish-white, yellowish-white, dark white, and bright white at your disposal.
You also need to be cautious about the crispy white which enhances the gamut volume and the neutral white which contributes to the vividness of the image.
The new and innovative inkjet technology has been introduced by the Photo Paper Pro Platinum. The ink-receptive layer is split into two which makes the color reproduction and absorption beyond comparison. New additives are also put into play to minimize discoloration.
I mean how premium can a photo paper get?
If you are really serious about printing your work and are willing to get the best outcome there is, I highly recommend the Pro Platinum as it excels in all the printing criteria.
Whether you are a wedding, portrait or fine art photographer, the Epson Ultra-Premium Photo paper will serve as a worthy printing partner and more. Using this paper, I got accurate colors with bold and rich blacks which resulted in vivid images that brought my work to life.
And it dries instantly! So, there’s no need to worry about the print being jeopardized.
This photo paper ensures long-lasting prints that are capable of providing a pro-level luster finish that is bound to satisfy. It was engineered to provide its user with the very best color saturation and resolution possible.
This heavyweight paper can certainly bring out jaw-dropping photos if paired with the suggested Epson inks.
Epson guarantees that this product of theirs is capable of giving maximum ink coverage and a color gamut that simply can’t be matched to produce cockle free images.
The base of this paper is resin-coated and this is why I got the feeling of the classic traditionally processed photos along with dimensional stability. Meaning, there will be absolutely no curls upon drying.
Sounds sweet, doesn’t it? It just gets better from here!
I have seen this paper being used with Dye, EPSON Archival, UltraChrome, and UltraChrome K3 inks and I was surprised to see that it dries up instantly without any unwanted effect whatsoever. But such is expected from premium photo papers in the end.
I found the gloss in this paper to be rather moderate. Certainly not as much as tour typical glossy paper. Some might prefer a matte paper for black and white print but that results in a rather drained look. That’s why the Luster paper comes in and gives the overall quality of print an optimized output.
Even if the prints made in the Epson Ultra-Premium photo paper are used for gallery purposes there are absolutely no chances of glare as the light does not detract from the photo itself.
I must remind you to pre-install the printer profiles before you get busy with the printing. Otherwise, the overall brightness might be a bit off, which we obviously don’t want.
I got consistent results from these papers box to box and I am personally quite impressed. We often find it challenging to find the best photo paper for our work.
You can trust this one to fulfill your needs and even go beyond. I had no issues regarding quality with it till now and I am without a doubt a happy customer.
Even on the packaging of this photo paper suggest that this paper will provide “Long Lasting Prints.” Which I found to be the best part of this photo paper. We print our photos because we want our memories to last a long time. This is a quality we do not usually find in the nanoporous paper.
The product claimed itself to be smudge and water-resistant. This means external contamination won’t do much harm to the paper once it has been printed out.
The Epson Ultra-Premium Photo paper is popular among many due to its fast-drying capacity that does not ruin the smoothness and ideal framing of the overall photo.
Epson doesn’t leave you high and dry after you buy this thing. There is an instruction manual for you to follow to get through every step of the printing and even when it’s done.
If the drying process is followed properly then great and vibrant outputs are to be expected from this photo paper all in all. The package ensures overall protection for the papers themselves.
The papers are provided with a protective plastic bag and a cleaning sheet for the printer. This helped me keep the papers intact the entire time.
There’s a compatibility list in tow with this thing. Meaning, it gives you a complete idea about which types of printers will be supported by it to get the best results.
I found this image printing paper ideal for family photos. Some photo paper reviews claim that it lasts for years without any sort of fading in color or unwanted smudges whatsoever. The images appear smooth and don’t catch on to fingerprints.
I used it for printing hundreds of photographs I captured during my travels and printed them with ease. They are still looking awesome and just as vivid as in digital form. I have printed some old family photos I had been storing on my computer and this amazing photo paper has done them justice.
The detail and color preservation on the Epson Ultra-Premium Glossy Photo paper is beyond any comparison. Other glossy photo papers take a long time to dry up and have poor performance.
But Epson has indeed exceeded expectations by providing a type of photo paper that is truly worth calling “Premium.”
The Canon Photo Paper Glossy II has brought a whole new standard in photo printing. It is its magnificent luster and brilliant color production that makes it stand out from the rest.
It has brought in quite some amazing improvements in both cost performance and image quality when compared with its predecessor.
The blacks are deep and rich when you print it on this photo paper and the colors are more vibrant than ever before. The photos printed on this paper look ever so lively and the vividness is bound to impress the user. “Photo Paper Plus Glossy II” guarantees a quantum leap in the whole photo printing experience.
The secret behind the superb quality that it ensures is the six-layer structure that it is made of. Ink deposit layers have their own function are intuitively separated by Canon while using the inkjet coating technology. The current inkjet technology used in this paper utilizes two distinct layers.
One for color reproduction and the other for color absorption. This results in an amazing output of detailed images.
There is a thing about the thickness of the ink-receiving layer. If it is too thick or too thin, the color distribution on the surface won’t be just right.
But with this photo paper, Canon focused on accuracy above all and provided a certain amount of thickness. This ensured better beading and bleeding of color which gave me vivid images that wowed the audience.
I got a fuller and more vibrant reproduction of color overall from the Photo Paper Plus Glossy II as the gamut was wide enough and relays the complete expressive range of PIXMA to deliver consistent results each time.
On your typical day to day glossy photo paper, you have to wait a few minutes to ensure whether the photo paper got the colors accurately or not. You’ll be glad to know that Canon prioritizes color, contrast and important features that matter over other trivial things.
One of the fascinating features of this photo paper is that the optical density is high right from the very start. Immediately after printing, the colors offered by the original photos are reproduced. The instant output is a must if you value your time and want to save a lot of extra effort.
A photo paper is very essential for someone who wants a physical representation of his or her work. This one won’t do you wrong as it is manufactured in a way to provide superior quality and overall satisfactory experience.
We don’t always require premium photo paper for day to day use. Some of our daily photographs are meant to be hung on the fridge or take place in our holiday albums.
The Epson Value Photo Paper (Glossy Version) is just what you need for these purposes. Casual usage requires good quality if not the best and all of it in a limited budget!
Epson has always tried to provide the right kind of paper for the right purpose. The Value Photo Paper Glossy is originally made for entry-level work. Even though this does not boast of being good enough to be used in galleries but it does keep the consistency of quality that it delivers.
This whole new 123gsm photo paper is considered to be a three-star grade. It has so far provided me with archival quality that has a tinge of a professional feel.
How so? Let’s find out.
This photo paper has a resin-coated layer that gave me a feeling of the old classic darkroom photo production. This is not usually seen in your everyday value photo paper. This one is good enough for versatile use also.
You can find both A4 size and 10x15cm as well. You can choose yours depending on your printing needs.
No need to worry about the protection of the papers too much. This paper pack comes with a resealable bag that comes in quite handy and reduces the hassle of finding a new container.
Moisture and unwanted rays of light can harm glossy papers and that’s exactly why Epson has got your back.
Epson apparently believes in a sort of partnership when it comes to printing and guarantees that Epson printers will deliver the best quality with this particular value photo paper. It does work with any reliable brand that has rear feed inkjets.
It was really fun for me to use this photo paper because I own a wireless photo printer and I got instant hard copies of my photos instantly. So, at the end of the day, every kind of non-professional and fun-loving person who loves photography will find this photo paper to one of the best choices.
HP is well renowned for its quality products along with the efficiency that it offers. HP recognizes the global condition when it comes to the preservation of nature.
That is why HP sources materials only from responsibly managed forests. So, you get professional quality photos that come with an eco-friendly nature.
So, let’s get down to business and see what this photo paper is made of. The photo paper is coated with a glossy finish that grants the whole thing a premium feel just as the name suggests.
Whether you are looking to print valuable moments of your life with a superb quality or to gift your family with prints that need to be carefully framed, this photo paper will definitely serve you well.
The best part about it all is that this premium photo paper never fails to deliver exceptionally superb print quality at a value that cannot be beat. Not only that, this photo paper is quite consistent in its delivery of remarkable prints each time.
The HP Photo Paper Premium Plus comes within my list of recommendations of the best photo paper there is because, putting performance aside, it also promises to be eco-friendly. It is crafted with a very sustainable and easily recyclable fiber. Not to mention that the fiber itself is FSC certified.
The photo paper dries almost instantly and without compression of the paper material it delivers vivid and lifelike photos. The paper being water and smudge resistant it can last longer than what you would expect. Some users claim that it has lasted them for years and they were successfully able to sustain their work and memories with satisfaction.
Not only does this paper have a premium glossy finish, but this also has an increased thickness of the right amount that won’t do you wrong. HP claims that this photo paper is highly optimized for HP inkjet systems although it will work on other similar printers as well.
So, you get versatility in using this photo paper and may use it as you see fit.
There are a lot of photo papers of different variations out there and this one comes within my list of recommendations for a particular set of reasons.
HP has manufactured this photo paper to be unmatched in quality, performance, and efficiency within a value that is affordable and reasonable at the same time.
Let’s face it, we don’t want a certain type of photo paper that goes with only a certain type of printers. I prefer versatility when it comes to my purchases. Paper hammermill multipurpose paper provides just that and more!
Basically, all office machines and printers will do you justice when you go on to print with this photo paper. It gives you bright images that pop up in front of your eyes and looks almost alive.
It doesn’t matter whether you are using it as inkjet printer paper, laser printer paper, LaserJet paper or copier paper, the results will be fantastic regardless.
Longevity is and always has been an issue for me. I want my printed photos to last as long as they can. I was more than happy to see that this paper was acid-free. Which meant it could easily deliver photos that would last years without any tinge of yellowish colors whatsoever.
It also includes a special color lock technology. This keeps the blacks bolder and the colors more vibrant and above all ensure fast drying. Not to mention that this photo paper is FSC certified as well. It is dependable and eco-friendly at the same time.
This photo paper which has a century-long brand reputation is crafted in the USA. Hammermill has always focused on the everchanging demands of photo printing and has delivered outstanding quality that makes it ever so special.
Hammermill boasts by saying that they make more than just papers. They ensure reliability and efficiency which builds trust between them and their consumers. It helps them to work smarter, share ideas and in turn, achieve more.
If you are planning to go a bit beyond just photo printing, you might be happy to know that this photo paper is very much capable of dual-sided printing as well. If you want to print brochures, fliers, memos or reports you can rely on it to do the job perfectly.
The paper finish is very smooth and feels quite premium considering the price. I have been using this photo paper for a variety of work that I have been doing lately and I was not disappointed even once.
The quality was overall quite impressive and consistent. No matter how many times I used it the result was exactly the same. It did not falter and that gets a big thumbs up at least from my side.
Here we go again with the Canon 7981A004 Photo Paper Plus, Matte. Canon has a variety of photo papers in their arsenal to meet the needs of every type of consumer. Not only that, they excel in quality with their papers that make them one of the most reliable and well-reputed brands there is.
Like all of the other photo paper makers out there, Canon also suggests that their photo paper works best with their very own PIXMA printers.
The Canon 7981A004 Photo Paper Plus offers an amazing experience of fast printing while you are at home with an astounding level of quality that can be compared to photo labs.
You can choose to make real-life copies of your family photos or your holiday memories with the Matte version of the photo paper. There are other options to choose from as well. Canon has put both Glossy and semi-glossy versions of similar quality at your disposal as well.
The Matte paper is specialized to give amazing outputs of photos, graphic jobs, and texts in an elegant matte finish.
Want to do more than just that?
Well, you are in luck because the photo paper can be used as greeting cards, presented in displays, and can be used in papercraft too! The matte finish that excludes the glossy feeling makes it absolutely perfect for these tasks.
I am a fan of high brightness and vivid color outputs and the Canon 7981A004 Photo Paper Plus has not failed me so far. I got excellent outputs with the Lucia and ChromaLife 100+ inks. This is absolutely the right type of paper if artistry matters to you just like it matters to me.
Canon photo papers use a micro-porous coating that rapidly absorbs ink and keeps it below the surface. This prevents the excess of ink from remaining on the surface.
A bonus benefit of this feature is that it ensures almost instant drying. The photo paper is gas and light-resistant which makes it future proof for generations to come. Printing photos with this one literally saves your memories from fading away.
Canon has brought into the competition a product that actually gives proper value for your money. The features that are inbuilt in the photo paper are semi-premium and it comes at the price of average photopapers. A must buy for those who seek quality above all else in a limited budget.
Let’s get back to HP once again with their 1AH01A Wireless ZINK 2x3 inch Sticky-Backed Photo Paper. This one is specially made to be used for use in the HP Sprocket portable photo printer. This makes this photo paper slightly different from the others that we have discussed so far.
How so? Let’s find out!
I used this photo paper for myself and found it rather easy to use. You practically have to peel it off and the number is limited in the box. You get only 20 pieces with the package. So, it’s best to use them wisely.
However small they might seem; these papers are actually very durable. They are very much resistant to smudge and water. I had difficulty in tearing them which proves that these babies are tear proof as well.
These offer a very much instant output. Peel them off, print them and voila there you have it! Flawless high quality prints just in a matter of moments.
Being portable and compact in size, these can print out fun social media photos anywhere and almost anyhow you like! You can add fancy borders and emojis to them as well.
A special tip just for you! Use the blue calibration paper that comes with your HP Sprocket printer first, it should also work the other way around. Just in case you are using a Polaroid printer, it is best to use the blue calibration paper first.
It is possible to get a far better output through a little bit of editing. As this paper is not exactly the most premium quality that HP has to offer nor is it expensive, you might seem that the color reproduction to be a bit off. As I said, this can be easily fixed with an app from your phone or your very own Instagram filters.
The most fun part about this paper is that it can be used as a sticker. Just paste it anywhere you want to keep in touch with all those fun memories you had with your friends and family. This photo paper leans a lot on the personal usage point rather than the professional.
Plus, the mini-sized paper can even fit in the slots of your wallet, so you can share them with your peers anytime you want.
If you are looking for the thrill of instantly gratified fun, this photo paper is the perfect choice for you. Not to mention, it comes at a price that is very hard to resist.
Advice that You’ll be Needing to Buy the Top Photo Paper
If you want to do the research and buy your own papers to print photos on, you’ll need this guide to make sure you’re paying attention to the right factors. Let’s go over the factors that I paid attention to.
Type of Printer You’re Using It On
There’s no use of quality photo papers if the printer you use is shit. Frankly, people use diverse types of papers to get the job done. But if you ask me, there are only two types of printers that go well with photo papers. Let’s briefly discuss these babies.
The first of the two is the “Inkjet Printer.” This thing prints out photos by spraying the colors onto the paper itself. People can control how much color they want for a photo. This in turn can increase or decrease the quality of your photo.
When choosing a photo paper for these printers, make sure the item can print at least 300X300 DPI photos nicely. Of course, you’ll find products that go beyond the said metrics but the printers themselves cannot go beyond it.
The second type of printers we’re talking about is the Dye-Sub printer. These babies are basically heat transfer printers. Dy-Subs work by heating up and then transferring the heat onto a special ribbon.
The ribbon is coated with paint pigments. Thanks to the heat, the pigments will vaporize and the print will stick to the papers. One can control the heat and colors to a molecular level. Hence, you need special papers that hold the ink and dry out in the nick of time for use.
My advice? Buy a paper that can capture yellow, cyan, and magenta colors to their fullest.
Look at the Types of Paper Available to You
Surely you know about different types of photo papers that you can get, right? Different papers bring different aspects of photo printing to the table. Yet, people choose “Glossy” or “Semi-gloss” papers above all else. I don’t. Of course, I have my reasons.
Glossy or Semi-gloss papers shouldn’t be the first things to come to your mind when choosing the best photo papers from the lot. Yes, they are good but these papers create a reflection on the surface that distorts original colors to a certain degree.
If you want a darker tone in your photos, go for matte photo papers. These things don’t create unwanted glare like their “Glossy” cousins. If you want detailed texture, better contrast, and image depth… get matte papers.
The third kind is “Canvas.” Canvas papers are great when you want to print a large image on paper. The paper will deliver “Matte-Like” finish without compromising the contrast of the photo. Thus, the images will look better when you look at them from a distance.
Canvas papers let some of the properties of the material seep through into the images to enhance quality.
Lastly, there’s “Art Paper.” Buy Art Paper if you want to print out landscapes. Depending on which brand you choose, the texture and color depth will vary, and the contrast of your images may differ.
For example, some photo papers deliver painterly images. Others can be rich in yellowish hue or beige colors. Choose what’s best for your endeavors.
How Durable the Paper Actually Is?
People usually laugh when I talk about durability when it comes to photo papers. But durability is important. For example, durability becomes a factor when you decide to hang the photo in the sun. Photos on normal photo papers will fade very quickly.
You’ll need to find the right paper to go with your ink-based or dye-based printer. Find the right combination (refer to my reviews) and your photos will last for 20 years or more.
If you’re in a fix about which paper to go for (yes, even after all these reviews and this buying guide), go through the manual that came with your printer. 9 out of 10 times, the manual will refer to the photo paper that’s best suited for the printer.
Quality of the Product is IMPORTANT
Quality doesn’t mean how hard or easy it is to tear the paper off. Manufacturers, photographers, and enthusiasts are strict when it comes to checking up with the quality of a brand or a paper.
So much so that they came up with two distinct standards for judging a photo printing paper. They are the TAPPI scale and the ISO Brightness Scale.
Always keep TAPPI ratings in mind when selecting the ideal photo paper for yourselves. In my experience, if you get a paper with a TAPPI rating of around 90, that’s good enough for buying.
Don’t go any lower in terms of ratings. Otherwise, the colors of the images you print will slowly fade away. Pro Tip: Don’t expose the paper to UV light. This quickens the fading of the colors by a significant margin.
Check Out the Whiteness of The Product
Do you think that every image printing paper is the same when it comes to whiteness? Let me correct you my friend, it isn’t the case. There are subtle differences. Some papers are whiter than the others. Makers achieve this by adding whitening agents in different quantities.
Of course, these agents wear off and change color pretty fast. Remember, I told you about TIPPI ratings? Any product in the range of 90 to 92 means that they use artificial whitener like fluorescents. Stay clear of those agents and papers with such high TIPPI ratings.
Judge the Thickness and Weight of Your Photo Paper
Admit it, you’ve overlooked this tiny detail 9 out of 10 times you went shopping for photo papers. Let me tell you, this is NOT a factor to skip. Be mindful of the fact that thicker papers deliver top-notch output when it comes to printing images on them. By top-notch, I mean “Studio Quality.”
To make it simpler to understand, matte papers are thicker than others and provide textured images. Thus, they carry more weight (literally) than others. GSM or Grams Per Square Meter measure the weight of an image printing paper. An average paper accounts for 90 GSM.
Seems alien to you? There’s a popular system of measuring the papers called mil. This is 1/1000th of an inch. In other words, your average A4-size paper.
When buying such a product, you must consider how thick a paper your printer can accommodate. Be sure not to use a printer with “Automatic Feeding” in combination with a thick photo paper. This triggers paper jamming.
Thus, it’s better to use manual feeding when working with thick paper.
Look at the Brands Available
You’ll do well to check with the various photo printing paper brands before zeroing onto one in particular. The interesting thing is that you get to use sample packs in some cases before you try out the actual product. Some brands even offer hand-made products. These papers are fun to work with.
However, I’ll advise you to avoid brands that give off dust. These items often clog up the printer’s chute and prevent them from working correctly. It’s better to buy products from brands like Canon or HP as they test their products before sending them out on the market for sale.
Consider the Price of the Product You’re Buying
One popular misconception is that photo papers don’t cost much. Let me tell you, this is a lie. These products can be good or bad just like any other item. The more you pay, the better printing paper you’ll get. Yes, cheap photo papers will get you average results. Yet, they are better options for everyday images.
I advise people to use expensive papers if you want better images for exhibitions and auctions. Different types of images require different papers and thus you need to pay variable prices for them when buying. Also, take the overall cost of your printer and color cartridges to make the best out of your bucks.
Few Words Before I Leave You Be
No matter how lightly people treat these items, image printing papers have their values. You and I might not figure out the subtle differences between matte or glossy photo papers but believe me, there are some. Not every item will perform ideally when it comes to printing photos.
That’s why I designed this elaborate guide on the best photo papers for my readers. Although you have 10 choices, I’d always tell you to go with Canon photo papers because they are just good. Always look at the brand of printer you’re using. The same brand of paper will complement the printer better.
In this case, you can go out on your own and find brands that suit your needs and printer brand. My buying guide will surely help.