Which photo papers for printers are best?

Make your memories last a lifetime with the right photo paper for at-home printers. Whether it’s for your own personal scrapbook collection, signage and craft projects or a framed gift for a loved one, the right photo paper is going to make all the difference. There are plenty of options to choose from, and if you are thinking that they’re all created equally, you could be denying yourself the sharpest image quality possible. 

For a quality print with long-lasting, vivid and vibrant colors, Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II is most definitely the top choice.

What to know before you buy photo paper for printers


Many brands of printers have their own line of photo papers that are oftentimes designed for the utmost compatibility with their own inks and printers. Although the photo paper is still printable if the manufacturers aren’t the same, it may be best to purchase the same brand as your printer to achieve maximum quality and detail. 


Photo paper comes in a variety of different sizes, the most common including 4’x6’, 5’x5’, 5’x7’, and 8.5’x11’. It’s best to make sure that the printer you intend on using can handle these sizes. Also, it’s best to consider which sizes you’re aiming for, whether it be larger framed photos, or smaller, more scrapbooking style photos.

Paper finish 

Most photo paper has a slightly reflective, high gloss or semi-gloss finish. However, some brands offer matte finishes that absorb more light. Matte finishing could be better for signage or if you’re looking to place the printed photo in a glass picture frame to reduce reflection. It’s best to consider the desired look you want when deciding on the right finish. 

What to look for in quality photo paper for printers

Brightness rating

In simple terms, Lumens are a measure of the total amount of visible light to the human eye. This means that the higher the Lumens rating, the brighter the photo will be. It’s best to look for a high lumens rating when purchasing photo paper in order to get a colorful, high definition, lifelike picture without any unintended dark spots or shadows.

Material type

Most often, photo paper is constructed of either paper or plastic. Although plastic isn’t as eco-friendly as paper, it can be more durable and long-lasting while also having a heavier feel. In general, the majority of photo paper on the market today is constructed of traditional paper, much like the name implies. 

Drying time 

While most brands claim to be quick-drying, others claim that their photo paper dries instantaneously. When looking for the right photo paper, the quicker drying process is always the better option. This is to ensure that there is no smudging or flaws inflicted during the process of printing your photos, and they’re ready to go right off the press.  


An important thing to look for when making your decision on which photo paper to buy is the number of sheets that are included. Lower and higher prices can be potentially misleading when not factoring this in. 

How much you can expect to spend on photo paper for printers

The price range for photo paper will vary significantly on the number of sheets and size of the sheets themselves but in general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10-$25. 

Photo paper for printers FAQ

Are photo paper brands compatible with different brands of printers?

A. Much like traditional printer paper, they should all be compatible no matter the printer manufacturer or the photo paper’s brand.

Is photo paper eco-friendly?

A. The majority of brands today claim a heavy focus on eco-friendly products. It’s best to look at how each brand manufactures its product to reduce environmental waste and carbon footprint.

What are the best photo papers for printers to buy?

Top photo paper for printers

Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II

Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II

What you need to know: The utmost quality from one of the most reputable brands, this photo paper is great for anyone looking to print lab quality photos from their printer at home.

What you’ll love: Photo paper plus glossy II yields a glossy finish with exceptionally rich colors, giving your images the look and feel of a lab quality print. It has a brightness rating of 92 Lumen and an instant-dry finish that lasts a lifetime.

What you should consider: Designed to work best for Canon Lucia and ChromaLife 100+ inks so it may not achieve the same level of quality if using a different manufacturer. 

Where to buy: Sold by Staples and Amazon

Top photo paper for printers for the money

HP Premium Plus Photo Paper

HP Premium Plus Photo Paper

What you need to know: This FSC certified paper is sustainably sourced and ideal for consumers who want to print long-lasting, high-quality photos at home.

What you’ll love: Best for HP inkjet printers, this photo paper is thick and quick drying with rich, vivid colors. Increased thickness, premium finish, and instant dry technology deliver a smudge and water resistant photo. 

What you should consider: Although the brand claims a Climate Friendly Pledge, the technical aspects state that it is constructed of plastic material, which may not be as eco-friendly as traditional paper.

Where to buy: Sold by Staples and Amazon

Worth checking out

Epson Premium Presentation Paper Matte

Epson Premium Presentation Paper Matte

What you need to know: This photo paper is double-sided and guaranteed to work with any inkjet printer, making it ideal for anyone looking to take on photo projects at home.

What you’ll love: The matte finish is perfect for non-glare photos, craft projects and signage. The colors are super vibrant and will resist fading for up to 72 years for a long lasting result. 

What you should consider: Some customers claim that when printing photos on either side of a single sheet, the images lose quality.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Alec Welsh writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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