Last updated: August 15, 2021

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Welcome to our big photo paper test 2021. Here we present all the photo papers we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best photo paper for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of when buying photo paper.




Summary

  • In addition to a good printer, the right photo paper can be used to achieve a particularly high print quality and can also be used to print photos for a photo album.
  • For best results, the paper must be compatible with your printer type. The photo paper and the printer do not have to be from the same manufacturer.
  • When buying photo paper, check the size, thickness, surface, printer compatibility and package contents.

The Best Photo Paper in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Guide: Questions to ask yourself before buying photo paper

Are you thinking about buying photo paper, but are overwhelmed by the choice and the different offers? Then you've come to the right place, because we explain what you should look out for when buying photo paper.

What is photo paper?

The photo paper we are describing is usually picture printing paper. This paper is refined with a binder coating, which consists of kaolin, chalk, casein or plastic dispersion.

The treatment of the surface makes it more supple, smoother and more stable than normal paper, so the ink is not immediately absorbed and allows a very high print quality. A photo printer further enhances the quality of the photo. As the ink is not absorbed and does not run, the images are sharp and the colours very rich.

Paper that resembles a real photo is PE paper. This paper is coated on both sides with a layer of polyethylene that creates a barrier between the paper and the ink.

In the past, this barrier was necessary for protection during analogue photo development. Since the paper no longer needs to be developed with chemicals and water, this double-sided coating is actually no longer necessary.

However, it gives the paper the familiar "touch and feel" of a photo and therefore remains unchanged.

What types of photo paper are there?

Photo paper is available in matt, satin and glossy. After treatment, the paper is always matt at first; to obtain a glossy surface, the paper is smoothed by rolling.

Photo paper is available in different finishes, such as matt, silk matt and glossy, and in different thicknesses. When buying photo paper, it is also important to make sure that it is the right size for the photo printer. (Image source: pixabay.com / rawpixel.com)

Furthermore, such paper is available in different thicknesses, which is always measured by the weight per square metre and indicated with g/m2. The higher the number, the thicker the paper.

What sizes of photo paper are available?

Photo paper is available in many sizes, the most popular sizes being:

  • DIN A4
  • DIN A5
  • 10 x 15 cm
  • 13 x 18 cm

When choosing a paper size, consider whether you can use the format you want with your printer and the quality of your images. Poor quality or low resolution images will only produce mediocre results on large paper sizes.

In most cases, the desired format can still be set on the printer, which ensures that the paper is fed and printed optimally. Here is a brief overview of the different DIN-A formats in the aspect ratio of approx. 5:7 and their effective size in cm:

DIN-A format size in cm
A0 84.1 x 118.9
A1 59.4 x 84.1
A2 42.0 x 59.4
A3 29.7 x 42.0
A4 21,0 x 29,7
A5 14,8 x 21,0
A6 10,5 x 14,8
A7 7,4 x 10,5
A8 5,2 x 7,4
A9 3,7 x 5,2
A10 2,6 x 3,7

Which photo paper for which printer type?

You must use the correct photo paper for each printer, otherwise you will not achieve the best possible result. The printer compatibility is indicated on the photo paper package. For inkjet printers, there is a very wide range of photo paper that you can use. This paper is usually sold under the name inkjet paper. Dye-sublimation printers only work with special photo paper with a polyester coating. Since thermal printers use high temperatures to vaporise the ink and apply it to the paper, inkjet paper cannot be used.

The polyester coating makes it possible to burn the ink particles into the photo paper. The result is a very sharp and long-lasting print. Always make sure you get the right paper before you buy.The photo paper does not necessarily have to be from the same manufacturer as your printer! Especially with inkjet printers, inkjet paper from all manufacturers can be used.

Decision: What types of photo paper are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between three types of photo paper:

  • Glossy
  • Silk matt
  • Matt

These three types differ mainly in their surface structure. Depending on how you want to present your pictures and how large you want them to be, a different photo paper comes into question.

Constanze ClaußSprecherin vom Photoindustrie-Verband (PIV)
After the age of digital photography, analogue photography is now on the rise again. Many are fascinated by the deceleration of this type of photography. With a limit of 36 pictures, the individual photo becomes something special.

Instant cameras also experienced a boom and have now achieved cult status across generations.

(Source: heise.de)

In the following section, we would like to help you find out which paper is best suited to your photos. In doing so, we will take a closer look at their special features and clearly present their advantages and disadvantages.

What are the characteristics of glossy photo paper and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Glossy paper is characterised by its very smooth and reflective surface. This makes your pictures appear more contrasty and radiant.

With glossy paper, you can bring out even the smallest details of the image to optimally reproduce the sharpness of your photo. So glossy photo papers are great for high-quality images where colour and detail are paramount.

Advantages
  • Highly detailed photos
  • Good colour contrast and luminosity
Disadvantages
  • Susceptible to fingerprints
  • Susceptible to scratches
  • Strong reflections

The downside is that this makes image flaws easier to detect. For example, a slight blur may be more noticeable than with other types of paper. This type of paper is also more susceptible to scratches and other environmental influences.

If you are planning to print your photos in larger sizes, such as A3+, then it is better to use a different paper material. Find out why in the next paragraph.

What are the characteristics of semi-gloss photo paper and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Semi-matt is the middle ground between matt and glossy. The surface texture is not quite as smooth as the glossy version and not quite as rough as the matte photo paper. This reduces reflections on your image, but it also loses a little sharpness.

Advantages
  • Good for large prints
  • Less reflections
Disadvantages
  • Colours shine less
  • Less impression of sharpness

Semi-gloss is good for larger print formats, such as A3+. In contrast to the glossy alternative, this paper variant makes the colours "glow" less.

However, annoying reflections are avoided. This makes it possible to admire your favourite photos in larger formats even in poorly incident light.

The loss of smaller details is therefore only half as bad. Since you have a greater viewing distance with larger prints, your image will generally appear sharper again.

What are the characteristics of matt photo paper and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Matte photo paper has a fine surface texture. This diffuses the incident light and prevents reflections. This allows you to view your image without reflections in all light situations.

In addition, this paper is characterised by its extremely high resistance to scratches and fingerprints. The downside of this special feature is that the colours in your picture do not shine as intensively and have less contrast.

Matte paper is good for photos with slight image flaws, as they are less noticeable to the viewer. However, this does not mean that this type of photo paper is intended for poorly photographed images. After all, matt photo paper is also used for fine art printing. Due to the lack of reflections, it is very suitable for particularly large prints.

Advantages
  • Faulty distortion
  • Hardly any reflections
Disadvantages
  • Colour saturation does not appear as intense
  • Less luminosity

In general, the larger your prints are, the less you can avoid reflections.

You can also use this type of paper specifically to convey a certain mood in your photos. For example, pictures with desaturated colours or photos with a retro look are well suited for matt paper.

Ultimately, it is a matter of taste which photo paper you choose. In addition, depending on the motif, a different paper may be more suitable.

If you're not sure whether to go for glossy, satin or matt, a test print with two or three of your favourite photos on each type of paper will definitely help.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate photo papers

In this section, we present factors that you can use to compare and evaluate photo paper. With these criteria, it will be easier for you to navigate through the jungle of photo papers on the market and find the perfect photo paper for you and your needs.

The criteria at a glance:

  • Formats
  • Thickness
  • Surface
  • Printer compatibility
  • Package content

You can read about how the individual buying criteria should be interpreted and evaluated in the following sections.

Formats

The format is of course one of the first criteria when buying photo paper. Often you are looking for a specific format for a particular image or photo.

For most inkjet printers, A4 size is the most popular, and can be trimmed to fit your needs.

The A4 format is also the most readily available, and many supermarkets stock photo paper/speciality paper in this format.

For some printers, such as the Canon Selphy, the choice of format is somewhat limited. Maximum image size here is 10 x 15 cm, and smaller sticker sheets are also available for this printer.

  • Zinc printers have only one fixed format that can be printed, so this criterion is almost eliminated.

The format of the image is especially important if you want to collect your photos in a photo album, as these sometimes require special formats.

Thickness

Thickness means the thickness of the paper, this is always measured in grams per square metre and indicated with g/m². The higher the number, the thicker the paper. Photo paper is available in all possible thicknesses, from 160 g/m² to 300 g/m² you can find everything.

What exactly you need for your purposes is up to you. If you want to print something for a collage, a portfolio, an application folder or similar, you don't need too thick a paper.

For a photo, classically in 10 x 15 cm format, it is worth using very thick paper; certainly from 200 g/m². This gives the photo the weight and look of an analogue developed image.

Not every printer can feed very thick paper well! Before buying, check briefly what the maximum paper thickness for your printer is; this should be stated in the instructions. This will help you avoid annoying paper jams.

Surface

The surface of photo paper / special paper is available in matt, silk matt and glossy. You will come across different words here; pearl matt, glossy, high gloss etc. but they all belong to these three categories. Matt and silk matt have a slightly more flexible surface and look very classy. Colours also look different when printed on such paper.

A glossy surface is particularly popular for photos. Here again, the aim is to get as close as possible to analogue photos. These were mainly developed with a glossy or satin finish. However, a glossy surface is also very susceptible to fingerprints or scratches.

Printer compatibility

Printer compatibility is the first and most important thing to look at when buying photo or speciality paper. If you have an inkjet printer, you have it easy.

Almost all standard photo or speciality papers available in supermarkets, for example, can be used with an inkjet printer without any problems. Such paper is often called inkjet paper.

If you have a dye-sublimation printer, such as a Canon Selphy, you will have to look a little harder. Photo or special paper that can be used with dye-sublimation printers is not as readily available. Moreover, there is only a very limited choice of such paper.

For zinc printers, it is mandatory to use the appropriate paper. So if you have an HP Sprocket, you can really only use HP ZINK PHOTO PAPER. Again, for such printers this criterion quickly becomes irrelevant, no choice no pain.

Package contents

The contents of the package are certainly not the most important point, but a good price-performance ratio is always an important point. Usually, such paper comes in packs of at least 20 and a maximum of 100 sheets.

There are also a few with only 10 sheets. If you are not quite sure which paper you want to use for which pictures, small packs of 10 are very practical.

This allows you to try out different brands and finishes without having to buy a pack of 20 or even 50. If you want to print a lot of images or photos, large packs of 100 are very practical and save you some money.

For zinc printers, most refill packs are available with 10 sheets of paper. The Kodak KPM-210B is again the big exception, this small printer needs not only paper but whole cartridges including cartridges to be replaced. These are also available in packs of up to 50.

Facts worth knowing about photo paper

Finally, we would like to answer a few important questions about photo paper and its use.

You will find out how photo paper is used and how long this special paper has been around.

How is photo paper used?

Since photo paper is usually only coated on one side, the question often arises as to how exactly the paper has to go into the paper feed. There is no definitive answer here, as this can be different for each printer/manufacturer.

The best thing to do is to take a sheet of plain paper and make a mark on it, for example an arrow pointing in the direction of the paper feed on the top side of the paper. Print something out and look at where the mark is and where the printout is. This way you can see how exactly your printer feeds the paper and how to put your photo paper in.

When using photo paper, the settings on your PC or printer are important. Make sure that, if possible, the correct paper has been selected. This allows the printer to adjust itself and make any necessary settings. The format of the paper can usually also be adjusted, which also ensures the best possible result.

How long has photo paper been available?

Photo paper, or in this case coated paper, was already used in ancient China and Arabia. At that time, starch and minerals were used, which were coated onto the paper by hand.

Did you know that until the 17th century, the image of the camera was not drawn on paper?

In 1685, a mirror was invented to deflect the light beam, which made it possible to draw the image on paper.

In 1866, in Dresden, the coating colour was applied to paper for the first time by machine with rollers and then rubbed and smoothed with brushes. Since then, the technique has been further developed and refined.

(Image source: 123rf.com / ©lenta, 2613395)

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