Photo vs Litho

“So, what’s the big deal?” you may ask. What sets a photograph and a lithograph apart? Why are lithos cheaper? What makes photos better? The answer is in the chemistry and the paper.

Rays Photo Lab prides themselves on delivering the best possible prints with superior quality. Therefore, we only print our reproductions on high quality fuji archival photographic paper for reasons below.

Photographs are actual images exposed onto photographic paper and developed with photo chemicals. This creates a smooth, rich, professional-looking image with beautiful skin tones.  The image is being “developed”, so the quality of a photograph is much greater than that of a “printed” lithograph. Colors are vibrant, rich and smooth with nice contrast and pop.

Lithographs are images printed with ink onto cardstock, very similar to that of a newspaper press. They were once a common industry prescription for the actor’s headshot years ago when headshots were primarily printed in black & white and it was very common to print 300, 500 or 1000 copies at once.  It was much easier to control one color ink (black) and produce a decent black & white image. However, with color photographs dominating the industry now, controlling 4 inks to produce a nice photograph is a bit more challenging. You can often see the graininess or pixels on a lithograph due to the ink on paper process. Also, many actors are printing in smaller quantities, therefore, the price benefit of printing large quantities is no longer a big plus.  Some people like the thickness of a litho, but we have realized the quality of the final image is by far more important than the thicker paper.

While lithos are cheaper in large quantities, you will find that they are very close in price to photos at smaller quantities.  The big price break typically happens at 500 for lithos. 100 8×10 lithos are not much cheaper than 100 photos, but the quality is by far a world of a difference.


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