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When it comes time to print your digital photos, you have the choice between matte or glossy. The difference is simple, glossy photo prints have a shiny finish while matte prints have a softer, more subtle finish. The choice between the two is up to you with both finishes having pros and cons.
What chemicals are used when the digital photos are printed will determine what the resulting finish will look like. Again the difference is easy to tell. Glossy prints reflect light well, are shiny and are very animated in their color. Matte finish however does not reflect much light and colors tend to be more muted than lively.
There are pros and cons to choosing either matter or glossy digital photo prints. Here are some of them:
Glossy photo prints: With their shiny finish, glossy prints draw the eye. They seem to be fancy and have a high quality feel to them with their bright colors. The colors are also deep and rich in glossy prints. But the same features that can attract can also be a disadvantage. The shiny veneer on a glossy print can act as a reflector making viewing difficult when under an intense light source such as an extremely high wattage bulb or in sunlight. Glossy paper seems to attract more dust and gather more fingerprints when people handling photos. Black and white prints work much better in a matte finish than in black and white.
Matte finish: Matte photo prints do not reflect light resulting in them being easier to view in almost any light condition. Matte photo prints are also less likely to attract dust and fingerprints and are less likely to get soiled over time. Black and white matte photo prints look better than black and white glossy photo prints. On the downside matte photo prints do not have the fancy high quality look that glossy photo prints have. Colors in matte photo prints are less effervescent and less rich than on glossy photo prints.
So how should you decide on the matte or glossy finish? The choice is up to you and what you are going to do with your prints. The basic rule of thumb is glossy for color prints and matte for black and white. If a lot of people will be handling your prints when viewing, opt for the matte finish to preserve the cleanliness of your prints unless you are willing to spend some of your time cleaning glossy ones. Another thing to consider is where your photo will be. If you are going to enlarge an image to hang on your wall for example, choose a matte finish as the glossy might reflect too much light and create a glare.
You hold the right of personal preference to the finish on your prints. Experience is the best teacher. Experiment with both finishes if you have not tried to before. Print a few photos in both matte and glossy in both color and black and white. See which ones are most appealing to you and use your experience and opinion to help you make your choices in the future.
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