Comparison of various paper types

Written by Jiří (neither this one nor this one - another one :-) ), based on personal experience with photo paper. Someone else might have different experience, though.

Test print

  1. Ink print on standard 160 g/m2 paper
    Coloured areas are quite nice. "Quite" means that the area is made of tiny dots, probably caused by inferior quality of normal paper - like after a colour copy. A drop of water leaves a little smudge.
  2. Ink print on 180 g/m2 matte photopaper
    Coloured areas are perfect. The paper doesn't warp at all. Nothing falls off. Water leaves no marks. What surprises me is the smooth, soft feel of the photopaper. It feels more like 80 than 180 g/m2, although a caliper tells us it's really 180. If you hold both papers (ordinary 160 and photo 180) by an edge, the photopaper bends down. Normal paper is stiffer. I'm afraid this flexibility might be a problem - the parts could warp and deform on their own. I still have to test it. Ink consumption is minimal in both cases - a nice surprise.

A model airplane printed on a normal paper looks like old, worn machine. On a photopaper, it looks like brand new.

First cut into 180 g/m2 photopaper

I cut out one fuselage part. The paper is more resistant to scissors than usual. Small parts are not as flexible as the whole page, so my fears of deforming were pointless. The paper is well-foldable, nothing delaminates and glue seems to stick to it well. Yesterday I thought I would have to buy 200 g/m2 paper, now I see it would be way too stiff.

Comparison of weights and thicknesses

Weight [g/m2]Paper typeMeasuredThickness [mm]
24thin paper0.3 mm / 10 layers0.03
80standard office paper0.7 mm / 8 layerscca 0.1
120standard paper1.25 mm / 8 layerscca 0.15
160standard paper1.6 mm / 8 layers0.2
180matte photopaper1.7 mm / 8 layerscca 0.2
200drawing cardstock2.0 mm / 8 layers0.25

Thicknesses were measured by a caliper, several layers at once, then divided by the number of layers - it is more accurate than to measure just one layer. Whenever I didn't know some exact weight, I calculated it by interpolation and rounding.

Photopaper price overview (November 2010)

No weights under 170 are available. On the other hand, there are lots of them over 200.

Tesco had a full shelf of matte 170. Glossy and half-glossy paper was almost sold out. When I asked why (if the matte one is of a worse quality), I was told it's OK, people just buy more of the glossy and thick for their photos.

(Un)stability of the print

Caution, problems ahead. Print on the photopaper (at least the one I had for testing) changed its colour remarkably after a year. Even though it was only exposed to normal diffused light, not a direct sunlight. Colour change is much greater than with normal papers and colour copies.

colour decay comparison

Both samples were printed on the same photopaper a year ago, just in a different scale. The upper one hasn't been exposed to light at all - the sheet was in a folder all the time. The bottom one has been out (not under direct sunlight). It was partially shaded by a PC monitor, so we can see the colour fading is not uniform across the whole area. It may not look so bad on the photo, but in reality the difference is very much visible.

I think this is a severe disadvantage. Maybe varnishing would help; I don't know, haven't tried it. Those who print their photos on this paper probably have more experience. But a photo is in an album while a model is in a display case, bathed in light and dust.

After this experience I would probably choose to print on a normal paper of some decent weight (160). Other than that, the photopaper is very pleasant to work with (cut, fold...). And before they fade out, the colours look very well.

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