When it comes to professionally printing your photographs there are numerous options to choose from, often turning what should be a rewarding process into a challenging one. Selecting the correct paper stock and print process can have a spectacular effect on the finished artwork. However, printing with papers that aren’t attuned to your style of work can often leave you disappointed and not mention out of pocket! Like any art, the results are subjective, but there are certain guidelines you can follow to get you on your way!
Unlike other Labs that only offer Inkjet printing, Pixel Perfect also gives you the choice of the more traditional C-Type or Silver Halide printing. Its an expensive process to maintain and colour manage, but we think its important to continue to offer this service as its where photography and printing started. Think of it as Analog printing and Inkjet as Digital printing. Below are some handy tips to help you navigate these two printing techniques.
Digital C-type printing is where a printing machine exposes light-sensitive photographic paper using a digitally controlled light source. At Pixel Perfect we use the Durst Lambda printer, the latest generation and universally accepted as the highest quality digital C-type printer. This produces a true photographic print from a digital file.
Giclée is ink-jet printing, a dry process whereby ink is sprayed directly onto a paper in a series of dots.
The most commonly used process by photographers is C-type, with illustrators and graphic artists tending to favour Giclée prints.
C-type prints are continuous tone, meaning they can produce subtle colour gradients, shadow detail and a 3-dimensional photographic feel that a Giclée would find hard to match. However, Giclée photographic prints can surpass what can be achieved with C-type in terms of colour gamut, which really helps if the image has strong saturated colours. There is also a much wider range of papers from highly textured to uncoated, that are not available for the C-type process.
C Type or Silver Halide Papers
In terms of C-types, we offer 5 quality archival papers.
Kodak Lustre: Our most our popular paper finishes and the best all-rounder, Fuji Lustre has a semi-gloss satin finish, which is more forgiving of fingerprints. Rich colour reproduction, great skin tones and deep blacks make this the natural choice for many photographers.
Kodak Matt: Great versatile paper that works well with all photographic images. It is coated with a slightly stippled texture to give a very natural photographic finish with subtle colour. Our most popular choice.
KodakGloss: The gloss finish accentuates the colour to give a punchy rich feel. Compared to the Matt, it gives the image more contrast, glossiness and pronounced colour, whilst maintaining accurate reproduction.
Fuji Flex: This ultra-high gloss paper has a plastic feel with a warm base colour, producing luxurious rich colours as well as deep blacks and high visual contrast.
Fuji Pearl Metallic: Has a rich metallic base giving the colours a reflective 3-dimensional feel. High mid-tones and highlights add luminosity and iridescence.
Fine Art or Giclee Papers
With Giclée printing there is a much greater range of paperweight, surface texture and paperwhites. Papers range from bright white to a creamy yellow tone, and there are those that are very smooth matt papers to ones that are highly textured. This allows the photographer or artist a greater choice in what paper suits their image.
As a general rule for C-type prints, choose matt or semi-matt for black & white and gloss for colour. For those wishing to recreate rich black and whites or saturated colour, go for a Giclée. Our insider tip for photographers looking to print on Giclée is the Hahnemühle Pearl for colour images and Hahnemühle Photo Rag for black and white.
If colour is critical, download the colour profiles for the printer from our website support section, and use them in photoshop to soft-proof your print.
Test strips are a great way to see how your final print will turn out and to test colour and lighting adjustments. Our next day service allows test strips to be made swiftly and for the learnings to be fed back into the production process.
The best way to really see the differences in photo and art paper options is to order one of our great value paper sample packs. Priced at $10, each pack contains the full range of 18 professional Fine Art Giclée and C-type papers.
C-Type’s last up to 40 years in daylight and 80 years in correct dark storage conditions. Giclée’s last up to 40 years in daylight and 200 years in the dark.
When it comes to the archival quality of the two print types, both stand the test of time and will outlast our lifetime and well beyond.