The Difference Between Matt and Semi Gloss Finish Photo Paper

Inkjet Photo Papers come in three main finishes

  1. Gloss – A highly shiny glossy finish which is very reflective
  2. Satin – (Also referred to as lustre, Semi Gloss or Pearl) – A soft sheen paper which is half way between Gloss and Matt.
  3. Matt – A totally flat finish with no sheen or reflective properties

Glossy finish photo papers have a high glare finish.  The higher the gloss level of the finish, the higher the glare.  Photographic images will be highly colourful and deep with a wide colour gamut but If viewed from and angle in strong light conditions, some of the image will not be visible because of reflection off the surface and the viewing angle might need to be adjusted.

Satin finish photo papers provide the full colour capability of the gloss with a wide colour gamut and high resolution.  Viewing images printed on satin paper is made easier by the low glare and light reflection off this paper.  Image can be seen clearly from a wider angle and are less affected by strong light conditions when viewing.  When displaying images behind glass, Satin paper is better suited than gloss.

Satin papers have a wider range of glossiness and this is often referred to with different terminology such as pearl; a slightly glossier satin, or lustre which has a slightly lower satin level and is closer to matt.

Matt paper has no sheen or finish on the surface and has an extremely low reflection property.  They have a lower colour gamut capability although high resolution printing is possible. Images will appear duller on this paper and will not shine in any way.  This paper is mostly used for reports, booklets and presentations where there is no “keepsake” value to the image.

The choice between gloss and satin finish is often a matter of taste.  Satin paper will provide the most flexible image on a piece of paper, allowing it to be displayed in differing environments.  Glossy papers are liked by many but required precise conditions in order to be viewed to its full potential.  Matt papers are used in larger run prints, giveaway presentations and booklets and as a high resolution alternative to  standard print inkjet paper.

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7 Responses to The Difference Between Matt and Semi Gloss Finish Photo Paper

  1. Dave says:

    Is it possible to buy already coloured matte inkjet photo paper?

  2. Dan says:

    Hi I want to print flyers on both sides. Photo paper is too thick but the 80gsm copy paper I use reflects through to the other side will 90gsm solve the problem or is there another paper I should use. I am a student and print for a student society so price is a big factor in what I buy.

    Best regards


  3. Dan says:

    in addition to the above …….. sorry I forgot to mention I am printing both sides of A4 folded to make an A5 4 page flyer.


  4. Liam Good says:


    Can you point me towards the best paper for B&W pics? Tried the Glossy in A3 but was disappointed with results, thinking it’s more my poor choice of using glossy paper for B&W rather than an issue with the paper so would love your recommendation.

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