The Importance of Printer Paper


About a year and a half ago I bought my first color printer. It was an Epson PM−770C which is I believe the Japanese model of the Epson 750. The Epson 750 is the "photo" model that uses 6 inks. 5 colors + black.

Like most people I saw the demos at the store and it looked great so I bought one.

After playing around with it a little the first thing I found out was that inkjet printers need special paper in order to look good. I promptly went back to the store I purchased the printer from and bought some paper. At the time Konica glossy photo paper caught my eye so I gave it a try. Probably in a 20 sheet pack. As I don't actually do much printing so that lasted me for about 9 months. My printouts looked great. I was very happy and amazed at how good inkjet technology had become.

Then, last year around September as we were finishing up Crash Team Racing somebody on the team wanted a music CD of the music in the game. The person in charge of the music burnt about 20 CDs and I took it upon myself to make covers and back−liners for the cases. About 2/3rd of the way through printing them I ran out of paper. It was then that I found out how different the various photo papers actually are. I went to the local Staples which is just down the street from my apartment. First I looked for Konica. That's what I was using so I figured why rock the boat. But, they didn't sell Konica paper. Thinking that another photo company would probably have an interest in making great paper I bought some Kodak photo paper.

Boy was I disappointed. The ink seemed to glob up and the printouts didn't look so good anymore. I was very disappointed. I bought some IBM paper.

Still bad. I bought some HP paper.

Better but still not as good as before.

I bought some Epson paper but the Epson paper, unlike all the others, was about 1/2 the weight. In other words the non Epson photo papers were thick like a real photograph but the Epson paper was thin like a regular piece of paper. Not quite that thin but still it felt like paper instead of thick like a photo. That's not useful for most of my projects.

I stuck with the HP paper but I still wanted to try to Konica paper again.

Finally this summer I decided to ask a friend in Japan to get me some but just before I pressed "send" on that e−mail I decided I should search the net and see if Konica paper was available here in the states. It was and I promptly ordered some.

Well again I was disappointed. Maybe something has changed in the printer. Maybe the ink has changed. Maybe the paper has changed. Maybe some law in the US prevents Konica from selling the same paper as in Japan. I'm not sure what's different but it's results are not the same.

I thought I'd share my results here on the net. I'm really hoping that some magazine like PC Magazine will start testing papers. It only took me a few minutes to stick six sheets of different paper in the printer and print a small test. Is it that some papers are better then others or is it a combination of certain ink with a certain paper? I don't know but the results were pretty dramatic.

I printed each test twice just to verify that the results were actually consistent and not a fluke of each print job. They are. Here are the results. Click on any image for the full print test.

Konica Photo Glossy
This is the one I thought was good originally. It's not very good. I makes me wonder if something is different about the Japanese paper.

Konica Photo Silky
This one I brought just for fun. This one comes in second. If you look at the color bands on the larger image you can see where the Epson comes in first.

Kodak Inkjet Photo Paper
CAT 800 6298
Yuck! Look at that gloppy mess. What is Kodak thinking? Maybe this is intentional to get you to use film instead of printers

IBM Digital Photo Ink Jet Paper
Yes the IBM paper does have duller colors. I think the effect is a little exaggerated here but it is visible on paper too

HP Premium Plus Photo Paper Glossy
Ugh! Again what a globby mess. Does this also happen on HP printers with HP paper or just Epson printers with HP paper.

Epson Photo Quality Glossy Paper
Surprisingly this is the best one. I suppose it makes sense that Epson would make the best paper for their own printers. Unfortunately it's lightweight which IMO is unusable.

The actual printouts are only 1 inch wide. What you see here are semi extreme closeups from my scanner. They are accurate representations of the printouts themselves but regardless they all look better at actual size then close up.

Here's the original image

It would be a great service if some group like PC Magazine could test each printer with each type of paper available. I'd really like to know if there is a heavy weight photo paper that works well with this printer or any printer for that matter. It's kind of costly to test them out as photo paper is fairly expensive.

You'd think this would be a priority for the paper manufactures too. At least that ones that turn out best.

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