Lustre vs Glossy: Which is better?

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When it comes to deciding how to print your pictures, there are many options and factors to consider. The right photo with the right printing preference can alter an image’s feeling, so you must take some time to get your pictures printed. There are various photo finishes available today, making it challenging to settle on the right one.

Depending on the look and feel you want in your images and the features that matter to you most. To best decide on the right photo finish for you, you can order a sample of every photo paper from your print lab to familiarize yourself with the functioning of each. The choice of which finish is best for your images is an issue of personal preference, as each of the finishes has its specific pros and cons.

Luster finish

Luster finish is halfway between matte and glossy finishes, with the matte finish being a little dull and glossy finishes being smooth and very shiny. As such, the texture expected from luster photo paper is of fine particles, as though you’re running your fingers through small pebbles that are clumped together. One of the pros of using luster paper is that there is less glare than that glossy finish, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t glare.

When using luster paper, the color display and color saturation are better, and you can capture more details of the images. As such, most professional photographers prefer using luster paper for a variety of applications.

What is a glossy finish?

Glossy paper finishes are shiny, and they reflect a lot of light. The colors are saturated well, and glossy prints are mainly used in family albums. The smooth finish of glossy papers makes it easy for you to scan photos on a computer. However, the challenge is you can’t scan these images with your smartphone because the phone’s camera reflects a lot of light, affecting your images’ quality. The shiny surface from the reflection leaves fingerprints quickly, so the quality is affected if you have oily skin. Glossy finishes show many bold colors, and it is a good choice for vibrant images and daily snapshots.

Photos printed with this finish have a natural shine and feel because they reflect a lot of light. The gloss is used as an additional layer, which gives photos a certain shimmer not present with other finishes. This gloss layer positively affects the colors in photos, and it is deeper and more vibrant. When using gloss, your images get a particular definition on the borders, so the images look brighter and more precise. However, glossy photos have a stickier feel, which means higher chances of fingerprints are getting embedded on the surfaces when touched.

Which is better?

The better choice between luster and glossy finishes has been an ongoing debate among professionals and photographers. Depending on your personal preference, the type and use of photos you take, whether for commercial, private or business needs, luster and glossy are options to consider. A significant part of delivering quality and a brilliant final product is the finish on the print. The finish determines the image texture, the details, and the color of the final photos.

The motivation behind the final decision you make between luster and glossy depends on your financial situation and artistic preferences. The glossy paper makes colors in images more vibrant, so it’s best suitable for colored photo prints. If you want to emphasize the details and color in your pictures to make them pop, a glossy finish is the most recommended. The photos have a certain shine, which gives them a contemporary element. Thus it’s not recommended for vintage photography like sepia tones and black and white prints. A glossy finish makes your images crisp and is best if you want high-definition photos with a clear effect.

If the photos are printed in large sizes, the shine could be a problem because of more reflection. The observers have to reposition to get a better point of view without being distracted by glare spots. Suppose you decide to display your photo print behind glass frames using a glossy finish; it’s more problematic because the glass surface is more prone to light reflection. Glossy photos cause high reflections when displayed behind glass, and they are naturally sicking, so they cling to the glass surface. Glossy photos are also very susceptible to getting scratches, as they have a smooth finish, which doesn’t offer any protection against accidental scratches and fingerprints.

On the other hand, luster finish paper is a combination of matte and glossy papers while taking the best qualities from each. Glossy photos have a rich color and skin tone, which in addition to the fingerprint resistance and subtle texture of matte finishes, makes luster a common professional choice. Photos with a luster finish will look good when framed up on a wall and even in photo albums. Lustre finish paper is most ideal as a standard option for pro-photo lab prints.

Smooth, highly reflective surfaces characterize glossy papers, and they are most suitable if you prefer most light to be reflected at the viewer. On the other hand, luster surfaces give your photos more resilience to minor scratches resulting from wear and handling. They have a lower direct light reflection, which means there is less glare and shine, so you can see images easier at different angles. Lustre has a semi-gloss finish, and it gives you a better color saturation as it is more protected from damage from scratches and fingerprints.

Luster vs. glossy finish for framing?

Most photographers battle using luster or glossy finishes for framing, but the choice is still a matter of personal preference. However, most prefer luster for framing, but there is a better alternative of glass being used in frames to give photos a special lamination film to cover the whole surface print.

After laminating these photos, the end finish has a luster print look too. However, this isn’t the best choice because when moisture is trapped in between the photo and the glass, it warps and gets damaged from the water. Lack of glass on the frame means your photos will have less glare, and it’ll be easy to clean the lamination as well.

All the different photo finishes have their perfect use, advantages, and disadvantages, vital to know. Depending on the project you are taking and the key success factor you want, you can choose your photo’s best finish. Lustre papers show great color, but the photos don’t appear as bright compared to glossy paper. They are preferred most by event photographers and for portraits, and they are the best quality for handling prints that have been manipulated or touched.

Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

Photography is my life and I have taken it as my profession after my graduation. I am a professional, I almost cover everything from fashion, architecture, editorial topics, and corporate lifestyle. I have worked with clients such as CNN, Alabama State University, Steelcase, LiveStrong, and more. I'm based in Alabama. If you need my service, just feel free to contact me.

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