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Lustre vs Glossy: What's the Difference?

Lustre vs Glossy: What's the Difference?

April 24

12 min. to read

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Both beginners and experienced photographers want to take beautiful pictures. Let's imagine that you manage to catch a good moment and capture the landscape you are interested in. After that, however, the next problem arises: how to print photos so that they are beautiful?

Some users like glossy and others — matte photos. Every day there is more and more controversy, and the most common contenders are lustre vs glossy. The choice will depend on many factors ranging from your preference for the type of photo to how it will be stored. In today's article, we'll talk in detail about each type, as well as analyze their pros and cons. We hope that after reading it you will be able to put the final point in the argument lustre print vs glossy!

What Is Luster Photo Finish?

The first thing worth mentioning is that the paper is made of different materials. It also has a different level of gloss, which changes the appearance of the photo. For example, matte type of paper causes colors to fade, and glossy can make them too bright. Some photographers claim that lustre photo prints look like glass that's why they don't look natural. The choice will depend on what kind of image you need. We will need to study all of their features before determining the winner of the nomination glossy vs lustre.

What Is Luster Photo Finish?

Glossy Finish

Talk about gloss we immediately think of something shiny and smooth. This is one of the most popular photo paper types. We're sure you've definitely seen it in glossy magazines.

It's also often used to make eye-catching family portraits that can be found hanging on the wall of every home. If you want to hang such a picture under glass on a frame you shouldn't do that. The glass is already shiny so you get too much shine. Leave such pictures for the photo album and you will not regret it: they will look just incredible! Remember, that care must be taken when handling photos. Even a delicate touch can leave ugly fingerprints.

This type of paper allows you to provide not only a high brightness of colors but also to convey well the black and white tones. For this reason, it is excellent for creating images in high contrast. It has no textures that can degrade the quality of the image, which provides great depth and sharpness

Glossy Finish

Matte Finish

In the confrontation of lustre vs glossy photos we should not forget about matte pictures. Their main advantage is the absence of glare. Images look softer, there are no sharp edges. The reason is that it has no additional reflective surface that can affect shine. This option is ideal for black and white images as well as for photos that can be put in a purse. It will also be optimal for vintage portraits.

Matte Finish

Lustre finish

It's time to get to the question of what is a lustre photo finish. When we talk about him, we are referring to vibrant, vivid photos. It is something between lustre and matte finishes. We mean that this paper has the properties of both of the previous ones. Lustre has a unique texture. You can't see it with the naked eye, but if you take a magnifying glass and look closely, you can see tiny bubbles. It is due to them that the unusual structure is achieved, combining gloss and matte.

Lustre finish

It is important to note that lustre pictures will not be as bright and saturated as glossy ones. However, if necessary, it can be placed under glass due to the lack of excessive sheen. Photographs printed on this paper will be the most durable. In addition, the problem of fingerprints is not as critical for them as it is for glossy. In general, if you want to design a wedding or graduation album, lustre print is your best choice!

Usage of the Photo Papers

Theory is good, but let's try to decide which type of paper is best suited to your needs. Now that we know what luster means in photos, it will be much easier.

Glossy Paper

If you want to hang a bright and beautiful photo in a prominent place, a glossy is perfect for you. The main thing to remember is that it is better not to touch it with your fingers, otherwise, the image will quickly degrade. Also do not hang the photo in direct sunlight: because of the bright reflective surface, the image will be badly visible.

Glossy Paper


Photographers appreciate glossy photo paper for such reasons:

  • Thanks to the smooth reflective coating, all details are imprinted as clearly as possible, so they are perfectly visible.
  • The high brightness ensures maximum color rendering, so pictures look bright and vivid.
  • Perfectly shows the shades of black and white due to the high contrast.


One of the biggest drawbacks is the difficulty of placement. If you put such a photo in the sunlight, you can't even make out the general picture, let alone the tones. Also, the glossy paper constantly smudges, so remember that every touch can ruin a perfect photo. Be as careful as possible with these images, otherwise, you will soon have to make a new print.

Lustre Paper

Now we know what is a lustre print. Let's find out what its advantages and disadvantages are so that we don't have to regret our choice.

Lustre Paper


This type of photo paper has many positive features:

  • It has great versatility, as it is suitable for many types of photos.
  • More resistant to scratches and fingerprints than the previous type.
  • Perfect for portraits that you want to hang in a gallery or near your desk. Even if you hang such a picture in sunlight, you can see all the tones without any problems.


Although the unique texture allows you to place the lustre photo almost anywhere, it also has its disadvantages. The main one concerns the fact that the photographer will not be able to achieve such a bright and contrasting image. Clarity will also suffer a little: the picture may be a little less clear than with glossy photo paper.

What is the Difference Between Lustre and Glossy?

We have already dealt with the fact that glossy and luster are not the same things. However, many users ask a seemingly reasonable question: why make something up when both types of paper have a reflective surface? Let's set the record straight and figure out the main differences between lustre and glossy.


Glossy has a highly reflective surface. This provides a stronger luminosity than lustre. 

Color Accuracy

As we have already found out, lustre combines the positive qualities of glossy and matte. Accordingly, its color rendering will be lower than the first, but higher than the second. Lustre is more suitable for artistic images when you want to make, for example, a portrait with soft facial features. Glossi, on the other hand, is better when the maximum accuracy of the colors captured is important.

Color Accuracy

Choice Between Glossy and Luster Paper: Which is Better?

After we thoroughly understand the difference, let's try to determine which type of photo paper is better. Unfortunately, it is simply impossible to objectively choose a winner in the luster prints vs glossy contest. It will all depend on what the photographer needs, as different types of paper are needed for different purposes.

Choice Between Glossy and Luster Paper: Which is Better?Many professionals prefer to use lustre, as it allows you to take softer pictures in which you can see all the details. However, if you want to impress viewers and show them maximum contrast and color reproduction, then glossy comes into play.

If you are not sure of your choice, do not be afraid to experiment! There are other types of photo paper besides these two. For example, matte is great for small images that you will often process. Metallic would be great if you want to capture a water reflection.


Today we had a little lustre photo vs glossy competition. The winner could not be determined. This is not surprising, because they are used for different purposes. We are sure that understanding comes with experience, so don't be afraid to make a mistake. We hope that this article was useful for you and wish you always have incredible photos!


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Written by

Team Skylum


Our team of passionate photography enthusiasts at Skylum has been committed to assisting you in discovering the world through your lens for over a decade. We're dedicated to providing photographers like you with easy-to-use tools and valuable resources to help you capture your vision and produce beautiful photos. Our articles are filled with friendly tips, industry insights, and inspiring stories from other creative individuals in photography. Together, we can help you grow your photography skills to new heights. Join us on this exciting journey of exploration, creativity, and growth.

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