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Lustre vs. gloss: What's the best finish for photo prints?

Words by MyFUJIFILM

March 20, 2024

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Lustre vs. gloss: What's the best finish for photo prints?
Taking a wonderful picture is one thing, but choosing the finish of your photograph is another. Many photographers often overlook the effect of gloss finish and lustre finish photo prints. The thing is, the subtle final presentation of your image makes a huge difference in how your photography is perceived by others. So, no pressure - right?

Let’s zoom into the dazzling world of photo finishes — gloss or lustre is a decision that many photographers struggle with. So, we at MyFUJIFILM are here to give you the low-down on what sets these two finishes apart and, more importantly, which one might be perfect for the next time you choose to print your photos.
What are gloss and lustre photo finishes?
As a photographer or someone interested in the art of displaying photography, it’s likely that you already know the difference between these two finishes. However, it’s never a bad idea to freshen up on a few definitions.
Gloss finish
A glossy photo has a shiny surface, and they often display images in rich, vibrant colours. Glossy photos are extremely popular as they give photos an undeniable clear, crisp, and high-quality appearance.
Lustre finish
On the other hand, a lustre photo lacks shine — but not in a bad way. A lustre photo print is very similar to a photo print with a matte finish but it has a more subtle gloss. The lustre  finish provides a texture-free surface for subtle and minimal reflection, giving an image a classy, muted appearance.

Both are equally stunning in their own right. But, as we will go on to see, some photographs tend to suit a certain type of finish.
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Photo print finishes: is lustre or gloss better?
image
If you like to print photos to showcase as wall art, you may be wondering which finish is better for your photo prints: glossy or lustre? First, let’s go through the main features of each finish so we can imagine how your photographs will look once they’ve been developed. Glossy photo prints are bright, bold, and dynamic. Due to their shininess, the colours from your image will undeniably pop, making them lively and vibrant. Alternatively, lustre photo prints have an air of elegance. They handle light differently, absorbing it rather than reflecting it, resulting in a softer and more muted appearance.  Essentially, the choice depends on the kind of photography you’d like to print and display. Let’s go through the different genres of photography, and take a look at whether any have a specific preference for finishes.
Which genre of photography suits lustre or gloss finishes?
When discussing genres of photography and which finishes tend to suit the genre, it’s important to note that the decision is completely yours. After all, it’s a creative decision that should be made with your final vision in mind. So, always go with what you feel is right. 

If you’re not entirely certain, why not print a glossy photo and a lustre photo print to compare the two? Feel free to stick them in your desired location and let yourself get used to their presence. 

Ask yourself — which one is your eye more drawn to? Which one encapsulates the purpose of your image accurately? 
Lustre photo prints
There’s no denying that photo prints with a lustre finish have a unique aesthetic. There’s something about the subtle tonalities and the classy finish that make certain photographs pop.

- Portrait photography: Lustre finishes work well for portrait photographs as it can reduce pesky glares and reflections, making your work look natural and timeless.

- Fine art photography: With the absence of a glossy shine, a lustre photo print enhances the subtle details of fine art photography, elevating the level of sophistication and artistry.

- Black and white photography: Lustre finishes paired with a black and white photo just works. It can enhance the tonal range, adding extra depth and richness to the overall image.

- Vintage/retro photography: A lustre print can give vintage/retro images a nostalgic and aged appearance, adding to their timelessness. 

-  Images with text or graphics: We always recommend a lustre finish for images with text or graphics as this can aid readability thanks to its lack of glare and reflection. 
Glossy photo prints
Glossy prints have an undeniably distinct appearance, perfect for making a flashy statement in any setting.

- Fashion photography: If you’d like to display or print some fashion photography, print pictures with a gloss finish to enhance the vibrancy of colours, clothing textures, and accessories.
- Commercial photography: Gloss finishes are commonly used for advertising and commercial photography due to the final, polished appearance. It’s also said that the reflective surface - can make products appear shinier, and therefore more enticing!
- Architectural photography: If you’re showcasing modern and sleek buildings, a glossy photo print can enhance the sharpness and clarity of satisfying architectural lines. It also makes           surfaces such as glass and metal appear life-like.

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How to choose between lustre or gloss
While the choice is completely up to you, you may feel conflicted about your choice of photo finish. Don’t worry - that’s natural. After all, you want to display your work in the most aesthetic way possible.

To combat this, take a look at the pointers below to help you choose between gloss photo prints and lustre photo prints.
Recommended photo finish for a photo album
Photo albums often have plastic sleeves, and the reflection can affect glossy photos. We’d suggest a lustre finish if you plan on displaying your photo prints in a photo album.
Recommended photo finish for wall art
If you're placing the photo where it might catch direct light, a lustre finish can reduce glare, meaning you can view your print in all its glory. For well-lit rooms with controlled lighting, glossy can add that touch of vivacity, but it’s integral that the lighting is perfected to reduce reflections.

As we’ve mentioned, one finish is not better than the other. Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference and the creative purpose of your print. 

If you’d like your prints to have an artistic or vintage feel, lustre will always offer an ageless charm. However, gloss finishes have the potential to shine like no other in controlled light settings. 

On another note, It’s also important to consider how often you’ll be handling your prints. For instance, if you plan on handling them a lot, lustre is less prone to showing any sticky fingerprints.
Glossy and lustre photos from MyFUJIFILM
Whether you're opting for a glossy glam or the classy elegance of lustre, take advantage of our high-quality photo printing service and get your work displayed in no time. Our photo prints are printed on high-quality Fujifilm 100% Original Photographic Paper, available in the following sizes: 6”x4”, 5”x7”, 8”x6”, 4”x4”, 4”x5”, 5”x5”, and 6”x6”. 

Need a grand statement to add to your decor? Perhaps a majestic sunset or a monochrome masterpiece? Head over to our wall art prints to transform your treasured shots into decorative pieces of wall art.

Remember, whether you're team gloss or team lustre, there's no wrong choice – just a picture-perfect moment waiting to be framed.