The Difference Between Regular & HD Prints
Maybe you’ve been looking around at various print options for your photographs, or perhaps you’re seeking a piece of wall art with some wow factor.
No doubt you’ve discovered acrylic prints & probably even viewed some & are sold on their amazing colour depth & vibrancy.
Acrylic prints really do deliver on the wow factor, but is there a difference between a standard print & a HD photo print?
HD Stands For “High Definition”
This term can be thrown around somewhat loosely when describing acrylic photo prints.
What are HD acrylic prints? Any face mounted acrylic print will be HD, or high definition, due to how light is refracted & interacts upon the image. Extra sharpness & definition can be achieved by printing the photograph on special papers.
Whatever medium you’re printing on, the definition & resolution of the final print will still rely on using a quality photograph to begin with.
This also holds true for acrylic prints, & because they can be more pricey than other print mediums, there's no point spending that bit extra for a less than optimal result.
So that being said, let’s have a look at how these prints are made so you can get a better understanding of what to look for when purchasing one.
How Are HD Acrylic Prints Made?
To answer this, you 1st need to know there’s 2 ways an acrylic print can be produced.
For the purpose of this article I’ll cover it briefly, but here’s an article if you want to explore in more detail.
1. Direct Print
One method of creating an acrylic print is through direct printing where the image is applied in reverse to the back of the acrylic sheet.
So when viewed from the front, the image is the correct way around.
The inks are applied in dots directly to the acrylic just the same as in any inkjet
This method is generally cheaper & still delivers amazing results, but isn’t considered to offer the same sharpness or clarity as printing to photographic paper.
2. Face Mounting
For an acrylic print to be considered HD, the face mounting method needs to be used.
This is where the image is printed directly to photographic paper which is then mounted to the rear of the acrylic sheet.
Just like direct printing, the image is seen the correct way around when viewed from the front.
How High Definition Is Achieved
Printing directly to an acrylic sheet, although still offering a wonderfully unique product, is different in comparison to printing to quality photographic paper.
Different photographic papers can be used, & any decent print lab will use quality papers.
Extra sharpness can be achieved alongside higher resolution & detail.
But to get that extra pop & pizzazz, metallic paper is used.
It’s a unique paper that requires a sharp & high resolution image to do it justice.
It creates a shimmery effect as well as good contrast, deeper blacks & vibrant colours.
But this type of photographic paper may not suit every image.
Because it delivers higher contrast & saturated colours, portraiture or softer style landscape images may represent better on other style papers.
The final & important reason why acrylic prints, direct print or face mount, offer high definition, depth, colour vibrancy & an almost 3D effect, is the acrylic itself.
When light passes through acrylic, it’s refracted & creates the effect of illuminating the photograph.
But unlike simply mounting a photograph in a shop bought acrylic frame, the photographic print is sandwiched & sealed against the acrylic, which is also thicker & of high quality.
Acrylic is also available in various thicknesses.
The thicker the acrylic, the more refraction is created & the more vibrancy is achieved.
Common thicknesses are 1/8th & ¼ inch, but you can get ½ to 1 inch thick sheets.
The cool thing with really thick acrylic, is you can see through the edges to the print.
Are Acrylic Photo Prints Heavy?
Does Your Print Need To Be HD?
Using metallic paper & really thick acrylic is going to give you the most dynamic finished product with amazing depth & vibrancy.
But can something be overdone? I believe so.
As already mentioned, not every image will suit certain print mediums & techniques.
It’s important the print medium represents the feel & mood of the photograph.
As an example, a fine art image of a misty landscape may represent better printed on canvas.
Whereas a super detailed photograph of the Grand Canyon for example would look amazing as a HD acrylic print, almost like you could walk into the scene!
If you have a local print lab, it’s worth paying a visit & viewing some examples of different thickness acrylic & papers to find what best suits your needs.
Even if you’re purchasing online, it’s worth having a look at some physical prints so you have a better idea what your acrylic photo print will look like.
If you want an amazing piece of wall art, or to bring your photograph to life, you really can’t go past acrylic prints.
They also last a very, very long time. Although the initial spend may be more, when correctly taken care of, you’ll be enjoying your print for decades to come.
How Long Do Acrylic Prints Last?
Apart from metal, or aluminium prints, there really isn’t any other print medium that offers the uniqueness of HD acrylic prints.
I hope this article answered any questions you had about HD acrylic prints & please feel free to explore my complete guide to acrylic printing.
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