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best photo paper

The Best Photo Paper in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

Welcome to our big photo paper test. Here we present you all of the photo papers we have tested. We have put together detailed background information for you and also added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We want to make the purchase decision easier for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. You will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy photo paper.

  • In addition to a good printer, a particularly high print quality can be achieved with the right photo paper and photos for a photo album can also be printed with it.
  • For the best results, it is important that the paper is compatible with your type of printer. The photo paper and the printer do not have to be from the same manufacturer.
  • When purchasing, you should check the size, thickness, finish, printer compatibility, and package contents of the photo paper.

Best Photo Paper

HP CR759A Everyday Photo Paper

 Our Pick
HP CR759A Everyday Photo Paper
6,277 Reviews
HP CR759A Everyday Photo Paper
  • Glossy 4×6 inch
  • Photo paper for inkjet printers
  • Affordable photo projects with bright glossy photo paper
  • Thick, quick-drying photo paper*
  • Crisp, colorful results

This photo paper set in A4 format has a thickness of 200g / m² and consists of a total of 25 individual sheets. The surface of the photo paper is glossy and universally compatible with all inkjet printers.

The paper is quick drying, so you can use and touch the paper directly. The paper is also recyclable.

Zink Polaroid 2x3ʺ Premium Zink Zero Photo Paper

Zink Polaroid 2x3ʺ Premium Zink Zero Photo Paper
24,283 Reviews
Zink Polaroid 2×3ʺ Premium Zink Zero Photo Paper
  • Stunningly Vibrant Detail : Premium quality photo paper…
  • Earth Friendly Photos : Zink paper eliminates the need for…
  • Memories that last a LifeTime : Zink paper is Treated with a…
  • Print & Post : Share or frame your mini 2×3 inches photo…
  • Multi Camera Compatibility : Compatible with Polaroid Snap…

This photo paper is suitable for instant cameras and consists of a total of 50 sheets. This paper is compatible with most instant cameras, which the manufacturer lists individually in the description.

It is a 2 × 3 inch photo paper, which is glossy and also water-repellent and tear-resistant. The surface is smooth.

HP Premium Plus Photo Paper | Soft Gloss

 Our Pick
HP Premium Plus Photo Paper | Soft Gloss
3,040 Reviews
HP Premium Plus Photo Paper | Soft Gloss
  • Soft Gloss 8.5×11 inch
  • Photo paper for inkjet printers
  • Exceptional photo projects with birght, soft-gloss photo…
  • Thick, quick-drying photo paper*
  • Rich, vivid colors

CanonInk Photo Paper Plus Glossy II 4" x 6" 400 Sheets

 Our Pick
CanonInk Photo Paper Plus Glossy II 4
9,214 Reviews
CanonInk Photo Paper Plus Glossy II 4
  • Photo paper plus glossy II yields a glossy finish with…

HP Glossy Advanced Photo Paper for Inkjet, 8.5 x 11

 Our Pick
HP Glossy Advanced Photo Paper for Inkjet, 8.5 x 11
2,872 Reviews
HP Glossy Advanced Photo Paper for Inkjet, 8.5 x 11
  • Glossy 8.5×11 inch
  • Photo paper for inkjet printers
  • Enhanced photo projects with bright glossy photo paper
  • Thick, quick-drying photo paper*
  • Maximized color intensity

Epson S041727 Premium Photo Paper

 Our Pick
Epson S041727 Premium Photo Paper
4,584 Reviews
Epson S041727 Premium Photo Paper
  • High-gloss resin coating for the look and feel of a…
  • Quick-dry surface means no waiting for photos to dry.
  • Water-resistant–ink doesn’t bleed with incidental water…
  • Pack of 100 Sheets

HP Advanced Photo Paper | Glossy | 4x6 | 100 Sheets

 Our Pick
HP Advanced Photo Paper | Glossy | 4x6 | 100 Sheets
2,331 Reviews
HP Advanced Photo Paper | Glossy | 4×6 | 100 Sheets
  • Glossy 4×6 inch
  • Photo paper for inkjet printers
  • Enhanced photo projects with bright glossy photo paper
  • Thick, quick-drying photo paper*
  • Maximized color intensity

Printerry Glossy Photo Paper 8.5 x 11 Inches (200 Sheets)

Frequently Asked Questions: Photo Paper

Are you considering buying photo paper, but are a little overwhelmed with the selection and the various offers? Then you have come to the right place, because we will explain to you what to look out for when buying photo paper.

What is photo paper?

The photo paper we describe is usually picture printing paper. This paper is refined with a binding agent application, this application (coating color) consists of kaolin, chalk, casein or plastic dispersion.

The treatment of the surface makes it smoother, smoother and more stable than normal paper, so the printing ink is not immediately absorbed and allows a very high print quality. A photo printer also increases the quality of the photo. Since the ink is neither absorbed nor run, the images are sharp and the colors are very rich.

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

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

But it gives the paper the usual “touch and feel” of a photo and therefore remains unchanged.

What types of photo paper are there?

Photo paper is available in matte, semi-gloss and glossy. The paper is always matt after the treatment, in order to obtain a glossy surface the paper is smoothed by rollers.

Furthermore, such paper is available in different thicknesses, this is always measured by the weight per square meter, and given as g / m2. The higher the number, the stronger, i.e. thicker, the paper.

What sizes of photo paper are there?

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 the paper format, you should consider whether you can use the format you want with your printer and what the quality of your images is. Pictures with poor quality or low resolution will only achieve mediocre results on large paper formats.

Most of the time, the desired format can still be set on the printer, this ensures that the paper is optimally fed in and printed.

Here is a small overview of the different DIN-A formats with an aspect ratio of approx. 5: 7 and their effective 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?

The right photo paper must be used for every printer, otherwise you will not achieve the best possible result. Printer compatibility can be found on the packaging of the photo paper.

There is a very large selection of photo paper that you can use for inkjet printers. This paper is mostly sold under the name of inkjet paper.

Thermal sublimation printers only work with special photo paper with a polyester coating. Since thermal printers evaporate the ink with the help of high temperatures and thus transfer it to the paper, inkjet paper cannot be used.

The polyester coating allows the ink particles to burn into the photo paper. The result is a very sharp and long-lasting print. Always make sure you have the right paper before buying.

The photo paper does not necessarily have to be from the same manufacturer as your printer! Inkjet paper from all manufacturers can be used, especially for inkjet printers.

Types of Photo Paper

There are basically three types of photo paper:

  • Glossy
  • Semi-gloss
  • Matte

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

In the following section we would like to help you find out which paper goes best with your photos. In doing so, we will go into more detail about their special features and present the advantages and disadvantages clearly.

Glossy Photo Paper: Advantages & Disadvantages

Glossy paper is characterized by its very smooth and reflective surface. This makes your pictures appear more contrasting and shine more brightly.

With the paper type Glossy you can work out even the smallest image details in order to reproduce the sharpness of your photo optimally. For example, high-gloss photo papers are well suited for high-quality images where color and details are in the foreground.

Advantages

  • Very detailed photos
  • Good color contrast and luminosity

Disadvantages

  • Vulnerable to fingerprints
  • Prone to scratches
  • Strong reflections

The downside is that this makes artifacts easier to detect. For example, a slight blurring can be more noticeable than with other types of paper. In addition, this type of paper is more prone to scratches and other environmental influences.

If you plan to print your photos in larger formats, such as A3 +, then you should use a different paper material. You will find out why this is so in the next paragraph.

Semi-Gloss Photo Paper: Advantages & Disadvantages

Semi-gloss is the middle ground between matt and glossy. The surface structure is not quite as smooth as with the high-gloss version and not quite as rough as with the matt photo paper. This will reduce reflections in your picture, but it will also lose a bit of sharpness.

Advantages

  • Good for large prints
  • Less reflections

Disadvantages

  • Colors shine less
  • Less sharpness impression

Semi-gloss is well suited for larger print formats, such as A3 +. In contrast to the high-gloss alternative, this paper variant lets the colors “shine” less.

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

The losses in the smaller details are therefore only half as bad. Since you have a larger viewing distance for larger prints, your image will generally appear sharper again.

Matte Photo Paper: Advantages & Disadvantages

Matte photo paper has a fine surface structure. In this way, the incident light is scattered and reflection is avoided. This enables you to look at your picture without reflections in all light situations.

In addition, this paper is characterized by its extremely high resistance to scratches and fingerprints. The downside of this peculiarity is that the colors in your picture don’t shine as intensely and have less contrast.

Matte paper works well for photos with slight artifacts, as these are not noticeable to the viewer as quickly. However, that does not mean that this type of photo paper is intended for poorly captured images. Because matte photo paper is also used for fine art printing. It is very suitable for particularly large prints due to the lack of reflections.

Advantages

  • Forgiving against image errors
  • Hardly any reflections

Disadvantages

  • Color saturation is not that intense
  • Less luminosity

In general, the bigger your image prints are, the less reflections can be avoided.

You can also use this paper variant specifically to convey a certain mood in your photos. For example, pictures with desaturated colors or photos with a retro look work well on matte paper.

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

If you are not sure whether to go for glossy, silk matt or matt, a test print with two or three of your favorite photos on the respective paper types can definitely help you.

Photo Paper: Purchase Criteria

In this section, we introduce you to factors that you can use to compare and rate photo paper. With these criteria it will be easier for you to find your way 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:

  • Format
  • Thickness
  • Surface
  • Printer Compatibility
  • Amount of Sheets

You can read how the individual purchase criteria should be interpreted and assessed in the following sections.

Format

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

For most inkjet printers, an A4 format is the most popular, depending on your needs, this can eventually be cut.

The A4 format is also the quickest available, many supermarkets carry photo paper / special paper in this format in their range.

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

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

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

Thickness

Thickness refers to the thickness of the paper, which is always measured in grams per square meter and given as g / m². What counts here: the higher the number, the thicker the paper. Photo paper is available in all possible strengths, from 160 g / m² to 300 g / m² you can find anything.

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

For a classic photo in 10 x 15 cm format, very thick paper is worthwhile; safe to use from 200 g / m². This gives the photo the weight and look of an analog developed image.

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

Surface

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

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

Printer Compatibility

Printer compatibility is the first and most important point to look at when buying photo or specialty paper. If you have an inkjet printer, it’s easy for you.

Almost all conventional photo or specialty papers that are 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, a Canon Selphy for example, you have to look a little better. Photo or special paper that can be used with dye sublimation printers is not that easy to get. In addition, there is only a very limited selection of such paper.

The right paper must be used for zinc printers. So if you have an HP Sprocket, you can really only use the HP ZINK PHOTO PAPER. Here, too, this criterion quickly becomes irrelevant for such printers, without a (selection) choice no agony.

Amount of Sheets

The amount of sheets are definitely 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.

A few are also available with only 10 sheets. If you’re not quite sure which paper you want to use for which pictures, small packs of 10 are very useful.

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

For zinc printers, most refill packs are available with 10 sheets of paper. The Kodak KPM-210B is again the big exception here, this small printer not only requires paper but entire cartridges including the cartridge that are replaced. They are also available in packs of up to 50 pieces.

Facts about Photo Paper

How is photo paper used?

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

It’s best to do a test; take a sheet of plain paper and make a mark on it, for example an arrow in the direction of the paper feed on the top side of the paper. Print something out and see where the mark is and where the phrase is. So you can find out how exactly your printer is pulling the paper in and how you have to put your photo paper in it.

The settings on the PC or printer are important when using photo paper. Make sure the correct paper is selected if possible. In this way the printer can adapt and make any settings. The format of the paper can also usually be set, which also ensures the best possible result.

Last product update on 2021-06-23 | Source: Amazon Affiliate