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I have just purchased some credits with Artisan State to create a wedding album. They offer 3 types of printing. With very little experience I don't know which one is best or whether I would benefit from getting the additional pro plan. The web site gives a very cursory explanation on the differences but i'm looking for someone with first hand experience to tell me which one is the highest quality and most durable i.e. is it worth me spending the extra few $ to get the pro plan which comes with Artisan Matte \ rigid pages? What are the actual differences between these ?

Print

  • Lustre Print
  • Metallic print (Fuji Pearl)
  • Artisan Matte (pro plan only)

Pages (I get the difference between page depth - but is 2mm too thick? sounds like it)

  • thin pages 0.8 mm
  • thick pages 1.3 mm
  • rigid pages 2.0 mm (pro plan only)
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What's 'best' is going to be largely a matter of personal preference, and as such I would recommend getting some samples if you're unsure. The site you've linked to offer sample photo books and print colour tests on different papers for a small fee:

http://www.artisanstate.com/sample-photo-book.html

This will be the best way to check you're getting what you want.

As for some general, less objective, advice, I've worked at a commercial printer and have experience with different photo labs for my own prints, so my two cents.

Paper coating/finish

  • I find glossy papers tend to oversaturate colours. Sometimes this is the effect you want to achieve, but for portraiture or skin tones (as in weddings) this tends to go over the top. I think a lustre finish or matte finish offer more natural skin tones, and this is what I prefer. I would suggest the metallic paper might be too glossy for this reason, but you would need to get a sample to be sure!

  • Glossy papers also tend to show fingerprints and smudges more, so I also avoid them for this reason for prints that will be handled, as in a book. A printed photo to frame is another matter...

  • Gloss feels 'tacky' to the touch, whereas matte feels more luxurious and smooth. Lustre is somewhere in between, but more than adequate for handling.

With this in mind, if it were me choosing a book I would opt for lustre, matte as a second choice, and I wouldn't bother with gloss. But that's just my preference!

Paper thickness

As for the paper thickness, this isn't a measure of 'quality' of the paper used, which tends to be measured in gram(me)s per square metre (or 'gsm'), but literally how rigid you want the papers to be.

2mm would be like a child's card book (in terms of rigidity at least!). 0.8mm is closest to A4/legal thickness. 1.3mm is somewhere inbetween.

Although I wansn't able to confirm this from the artisanstate website, I would imagine the 'quality' of the paper, regardless of the thickness ordered, will be the same. The images are being printed on photo quality paper, which is typically around ~200 - 300gsm, which is a good quality paper (A4/legal tends to be ~80-90gsm).

I hope all this helps, but the papers and finishes look very good on the website, so I would imagine you'll be happy with whatever you order! If this answers your question, don't forget to mark your question answered so others know this is closed!

  • A pleasure. Good luck and enjoy! – Phil Dec 1 '14 at 18:18
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I think Phil addressed the fact that it really comes down to personal preference very well. One area that wasn't hit on was your question about durability though. I wouldn't worry too much about the durability of any of the options.

The Fuji Pearl option tells us that they are using a photochemical process with light sensitive papers to do traditional c-type prints. In non-tech speak, this means that they develop it just like a traditional photo is developed, but instead of using film, they use a laser or an led to shine light directly on to the photo paper and develop it. The photosensitive materials are embedded in the paper itself, so they tend to be very colorfast and durable.

It is a slight assumption, but I'm going to assume they aren't running different workflows for the various prints and that all of the printing comes off the same types of c-type printers, so while different photo papers do have slight variations in longevity, they should all be pretty good, particularly for an album.

Page thickness could make a bit more of a difference. A thicker page is going to be more durable to bending, but it is also going to take more room and add more weight. If you plan to be flipping through it a lot, then thicker pages may help prevent damage, but if it is going to mostly sit on the shelf and be pulled out occasionally, it also likely doesn't make much difference.

So, as Phil said, get a sample book and then go with what you like the look and feel of. It will last a long time regardless of which options you pick.

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