Printing On Matte Or Glossy Digital Photo Printing Paper

By: Chris Marshall

Matte or Glossy Photos?

When printing digital photos you have a choice between matte and glossy photo prints. Glossy photo prints have a shiny finish while matte ones have a more subtle neutral one. So which one should you choose? There is no right answer there are pros and cons to both.

Difference between Matte or Glossy Photos
Matte and glossy are two different finishes to the photo paper digital photos are printed on. Using different chemicals and processes photo paper can have a glossy or a matte finish.

  • Glossy finish looks shiny, reflects light very well and looks vibrant and color rich.
  • Matte finish on the other hand does not reflect much light and looks 'darker' and duller. 

Matte or Glossy Photos
Pros and cons between Matte or Glossy digital photo prints. 

  • Glossy photo prints
    Glossy photo prints are shiny and are more appealing to the eye. They look fancy and convey a high quality feeling.Glossy photo prints have vibrant colors. Colors also look rich and deep on glossy photo prints.

    Downside of Glossy Finish
    Glossy photo prints 'shiny' attribute can be a problem when photos are viewed using intense light sources such as daylight sun or strong light bulbs. Light reflected from the photo print can blind the viewer making it hard to see the photo. Glossy paper is also more likely to attract dust and fingerprints and is thus more likely to get dirty over time. Black and white glossy photo prints do not look as good as matte ones.
  • Matte Finish Photos
    Matte photo prints do not reflect light and are thus easier to view at almost any light condition. Matte photo prints are also less likely to attract dust and fingerprints and are less likely to get dirty over time. Black and white matte photo prints look better than black and white glossy photo prints.

    Downside of Matte finish
    Matte photo prints do not have the fancy high quality look that glossy photo prints have. Colors in matte photo prints are less vibrant and less rich than on glossy photo prints.

So Which One to Choose?
Matte or Glossy Photos

It really depends on your needs and what you are going to do with the photo prints. As a general rule;

  • 1) Use glossy photo prints for color prints and matte photo prints for black and white ones.
  • 2) If the photo prints are going to be touched by many people and used a lot matte is a better choice unless you do not mind spending time cleaning your glossy photo prints every now and then.
  • 3) Also if you plan to print large photos (for example to hang on the wall or frame and put on your desk) matte is a better choice since a large glossy print would act as a large glossy and shiny light reflector.

Ideally, you should experience both.
Try choosing a few photos, some color and some black and white. Print them both on matte and on glossy paper and in different sizes. Look at the prints and see what you like and what you dont. This will help you make better choices when choosing matte or glossy photos.

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