Lustre vs Glossy (Which is The Best One?)

When printing photos, it’s important to understand the difference between lustre vs glossy finishes. Whether you’re an experienced photographer or a beginner, choosing the right finish can be a difficult decision.

The main options for finishing photo paper are glossy paper and glossy paper. Determining the ideal option can be difficult. The purpose of this article is to examine both versions and highlight their differences. Additionally, the unique properties of mother-of-pearl, satin finishes and metallic prints are highlighted.

What’s a Lustre Photo Finish?

Glossy photo paper balances the characteristics of glossy and matte prints, offering the best of both styles. This finish combines vibrant colors with a less noticeable shine than glossy paper.

Glossy paper features a semi-gloss surface that minimizes light reflection and tends to have a more matte finish than glossy paper. Its ability to reproduce vivid colors, crisp detail, and rich saturation makes it a favorite choice among photographers.

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Lustre Photo Finish (Source:

Noteworthy is its affinity with black and white images, with its glossy surface highlighting deep blacks and soft tones. Like matte photos, it is also resistant to fingerprints, so you can use it with confidence.

In addition to its practical properties, glossy paper also has a light texture that gives your photos a professional aesthetic. This makes them perfect for photo portfolios and gallery prints. It is widely used in photography, especially favored for wedding and school photos, but its versatility extends to a variety of photography styles.

For those looking to buy online, notable options include Canon’s Glossy Photo Paper in 8.5×11-inch and 13×19-inch sizes and Kodak’s Professional Inkjet Glossy Photo Paper in 8.5×11-inch sizes.

Are There Any Photo Finishes Like Lustre?

In addition to gloss, there are several photo paper options including pearl, satin, and matte finishes.

  • Pearl finishes are very similar to gloss, but tend to have a slight sheen to them. The gloss of the paper increases the vibrancy of colors without creating excessive reflections, making it ideal for landscape printing. For this type of photo paper, our most recommended choice is Promaster Pearl Inkjet Photo Paper, which comes in 4×6 inch and 8.5×11 inch sizes.
  • Satin finishes are often referred to as semi-gloss and are less common than pearl finishes. Balances shine and reflectance, delivering high color brilliance, especially in orange and red tones. If you’re looking to shop online, we recommend premium River Stone Satin Fabric Paper in 13 x 19 inch and 17 x 22 inch sizes. Known for its durability and non-reflective finish, the matte finish has a soft, textured appearance.
  • Unlike glossy photo paper, it has a Matte finish that resists fingerprints and smudges, making it ideal for frequent handling. A notable example of a matte photo paper is Kodak’s Matte Photo Paper in 8.5 x 11 inch size.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Lustre Photo Paper


  • Softer texture than glossy paper
  • Lower reflection of light for the viewer
  • Easier to see from various angles
  • It has both a semi-gloss and matte look
  • Shows accurate skin tones
  • It is not prone to fingerprints or stains
  • Great for printing portfolio or gallery photos
  • Looks good under glass
  • Great for displaying large prints on the walls

  • It doesn’t reflect the most amount of light
  • It is not as neutral and natural as the matte finish
  • The texture does not allow you to print photograph details sharply





What Does Glossy Print Mean?

Glossy prints are photos printed on matte paper with an added layer of gloss to add a natural shine and maximize light reflection.

Among the most common print finishes, glossy photos are popular for family photos. The glossy paper used for this surface enhances the brilliance of the colors, enhances the contrast of the image, and emphasizes the white and black tones.

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Glossy Photo Finish (Source:

The reflective properties of this photo finish make it especially suitable for photo albums, as it clearly shows image details. However, because glossy prints have a natural sheen, they are usually not framed under glass.

For those looking to purchase glossy printing paper online, a notable example is HP Premium Photo Plus Glossy, available in 4×6 inch, 5×7 inch, and 8.5×11 inch sizes. These include photo paper and the Pro Platinum (Canon Photo) offered. Paper sizes are 4 x 6 inches and 8.5 x 11 inches.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Glossy Photo Paper


  • Provides vibrant, saturated colors
  • The details are sharper on glossy paper
  • High contrast with deep blacks and bright highlights

  • Extremely prone to fingerprints and smudges
  • Difficult to see in sunlight or bright places because of the intense glare
  • Not suitable for framing as they can stick to the glass

What’s the Difference Between Lustre and Glossy?

The main difference between lustre vs glossy photographs is their level of reflectivity. Glossy paper has a strong shine, whereas a lustre finish is only partially shiny. Glossy prints are known for their vibrant colors, while a lustre finish is preferred for its ability to accurately showcase skin tones.

Moreover, a lustre finish is more resistant to fingerprints, smudges, and scratches. On the other hand, glossy photos are more susceptible to getting dirty quickly.

Lustre vs Matte – Which is Better?

Both lustre vs glossy finishes enhance the visual appeal of photographs. When deciding between these two options, it is important to consider the nature of the image you are printing.

Glossy finishes are perfect for images that require vibrant colors, like landscapes or children’s portraits. They also excel at preserving sharpness and fine details in the printed image. However, it is crucial to take into account the placement of the prints, as glossy photos may be difficult to view in bright rooms. In such cases, it is recommended to use lustre or matte papers.

On the other hand, lustre prints are an excellent choice when a softer aesthetic is desired. This finish works well for artistic photos or portraits, providing a balance between the qualities of matte and glossy finishes.

For images that will be frequently handled, such as wedding photos or postcards, lustre finishes are particularly suitable. They combine the positive aspects of matte and glossy finishes while minimizing their respective drawbacks. Ultimately, the choice between lustre and glossy depends on the specific characteristics of the image and the intended use of the printed photographs.


The decision of whether to choose lustre or glossy photo finishes depends on the intended use or display of your photos. Lustre is recommended for artistic, black and white, or landscape images, while glossy prints are perfect for photos that require vibrant colors and texture. If visibility is a top priority when framing, consider a matte finish, or for a contemporary and minimalist style, go for a metallic finish. Although partly subjective, certain finishes are more suitable for specific types of photos or situations. For more glossy printing options, take a look at our list of the top acrylic photo print services.


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