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Print Finishes

What is matte, glossy, and semi-gloss?


When you get your images printed you may be surprised to find they look very different from a previous batch of images. This may be because your printer used a different finish paper for one set of images. Many low-cost labs do not give the customer a choice on which finish they would like their images printed onto. In general, higher quality labs always ask what finish you prefer.

Glossy finish images tend to look as if they are wet or have been coated in clear lacquer.
    Properties of Glossy Prints
  • High detail images possible
  • Reflections often make it difficult to see image in bright light
  • Most common inkjet paper type
  • Shows fingerprints and smudges

Matte finish images have a flat, non-reflective look to them.
    Properties of Matte Prints
  • Loss of fine image detail
  • Dull look to images
  • Not commonly available
  • Does not show fingerprints

Semi-gloss finish images have a somewhat shiny textured surface similar to tiny pebbles. This finish is often called matte by lower-cost labs. Semi-gloss is called lustre by many labs. Whether labs call this finish "lustre" or "semi-gloss" seems to shift back and forth through the years.
    Properties of Semi-gloss Prints
  • Minor loss of fine image detail
  • Deep look to images
  • Do not show reflections
  • Do not who fingerprints or smudges
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