The best experiences for printing really come when you do it yourself. It’s really convenient to have CostCo, Adorama, or other services print for you. But they offer a very sort of standard type of paper. In fact, if you looked at what the company sells the most paper in America, it would be Fujifilm. Fujifilm? Really, you say? Yes. Go to any pharmacy and get your images printed, they’ll be done on a Fujifilm glossy paper. Fujifilm for sure gives the absolute standard for what you get from most kiosks of some sort. But if you’re looking for a different look, it can be a bit confusing. So here are some of our favorite papers.
Red River Palo Duro Etching
Red River’s Palo Duro Etching paper is really unlike anything else out there. It’s a matte paper with a very coarse texture that feels nice in the hand. As crazy as that sounds, you are supposed to touch the print and it doesn’t get dirty really easily. Part of what makes it so unique is the way that it renders photos. It’s designed to simulate darkroom prints. I’ve made a number of prints with this paper and personally I tend to really enjoy what gets made using black and white photos. The reason for this is because it has a very matte look that tends to flatten the colors and tones of a scene. So if you’re one of those photographers that goes for the Polaroid inspired matte looks and applies the presets to your color images, you may want to crank up the saturation beforehand unless you’ve got the ICC profiles for the paper built into your software and printer.
Of course, this being a black and white focused publication, we’re going to recommend that you go for this paper ASAP.
Canon Pro Luster
Canon’s Pro Luster paper has really become my favorite type of glossy paper. For some odd reason, I just can’t get into Epson’s and at the same time, this is really the only Canon paper that I really thoroughly enjoy consistently. As the name implies, it is Luster paper–not really glossy. Luster paper is like a soft gloss and still designed to be lit the same way–with the light above the paper. So what’s so nice about this paper? Well, it really just looks the way that glossy paper should be: it’s not too strong and overwhelming, and simply makes all sorts of colors pop. Photographers that use this paper need to be very cognisant of how you display and light it. Lots of clients of mine tend to love this paper but it isn’t the best for every household. It’s instead designed to be under gallery lighting.
The fact that it’s also the only sort of glossy paper on this list also says something!
Epson Legacy Series: Fibre
Epson’s Legacy paper of everything on this list is my absolute, hands down, favorite paper. However, it’s incredibly expensive and not at all designed to print every single photo you have. Instead, the Epson Legacy series of paper is designed for the professional photographer (as dictated by the pricing) to only print their absolute best images. Epson claims that the paper lasts at least 200 years before it starts to fade and often talks up the unique manufacturing of the paper. They’re made in paper mills in Europe and the Fibre series are made from a cotton blend that randomly intertwines the fibres to create a pattern that feels unlike anything else. Like all other matte paper, you really need to blast it with light to get a great viewing experience.
MOAB Moenkopi Unryu
MOAB Moenkopi Unryu paper is a really special type of paper vs all the others on here. While Canon Pro Luster and Epson Legacy papers are designed for the major professional photographer, the MOAB Moenkopi Unryu paper is designed for the photographer that wants a really unique look. It’s affectionately called Rice paper. Why? I’m honestly not sure as I can’t find any sort of reasoning behind that and my Legion MOAB reps don’t know either. But what you should know is that this paper looks like that of an old book. Beyond that though, it also looks like there are veins in there. If you didn’t know any better you may think that they’re crinkles. They’re not. Instead, they’re texturing that’s added to the paper. It’s also a very delicate paper, so you’re probably not going to use it often but it surely stands out amongst the number of papers that I’ve tried.