One of the main considerations for many users when choosing photo paper is the weight of the paper. Weight of paper is measured in GSM and correlates to the density of paper in one square meter of area. Heavier weight photo papers feel heavier to touch, but high weights will not affect the quality of the print itself as much as ink type and receiving layers will. Elements such as true colour representation, image sharpness and even archival properties are unaffected by weight.
Options for photographic paper’s weight vary from 120g to 300g but before opting for the heaviest weight you can get, check that your printer can accommodate this weight or you could face jamming problems.
The benefits of printing on heavier weights lie in the perception when the print is given to someone else. Thicker prints are often perceived as more luxurious and in certain occasions such as when creating greetings cards, invitation cards and other special occasions, thicker print feels more invested and celebratory. Such prints are often saved and even displayed for a period of time. The paper industry refers to that as the ‘keepsake value’ of the print.
Use the key below as your guide to choosing the most suitable weight:
120gsm to 150gsm – When you require printing high quality images in large quantities, choosing lighter weights makes financial sense. The most common examples are brochures, which often include a high quality image requiring photo paper capabilities in lighter weight, due to little long-term keepsake value. Additionally, charts and presentations, which are often discarded after their use, are also printed on the 120gsm to 150gsm options to bring down the cost of printing.
150gsm to 200gsm – Such weights are the most common for image reproduction. Prints that have some keepsake value such as those that are due to be framed, displayed or mounted are generally printed on 180gsm to 200gsm options. It makes particular sense when you have many images to print as lower GSM often mean the paper is cheaper to buy.
200gsm to 300gsm – Such weights are ideal for printing images when the keepsake element is clearly strong. The most common examples are greetings cards, invitation cards, gallery images and so on. Before opting for the heaviest option you found, ensure that your printer can accommodate the weight. Up to 280gsm most printers we come across seem to feed photo paper just fine, beyond this you should check the printer’s manual. If your printer was made in recent years, you should be able to print up to 300gsm at ease.
300gsm and over – Yes, there are plenty of examples that exceed the 300gsm mark. These are traditionally fine and photo art papers such as printable canvas sheets, textured art papers and others. If you haven’t come across these, it means you have no specific use for them.