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Difference between C-type and Giclée prints (Text)

4 handy tips explaining the difference between C-type vs Giclée prints to help you choose which printing process to use.

One of the most common questions we get asked at theprintspace is: What is the difference between C-type vs Giclée Print? 



Digital C-type printing is a LED or Laser light process and the printer is often known as Lightjet or Lambda. At theprintspace we print on a Chromira printer, the latest generation in digital c-type printers, which uses papers that are light sensitive, containing silver crystals overlapped and suspended in emulsion that are exposed, developed and fixed to produce a continuous tone true photographic image. 

Meanwhile Giclée ink jet printing is a dry process whereby ink is sprayed directly onto a paper in a series of dots known as a half-tone pattern.



Digital C-type printing employs traditional photographic C-type papers, which have been modified for digital exposure with a LED or Laser.

At theprintspace you can choose from: Fuji crystal archive C-Type: Matt, Gloss, Flex and Kodak Endura Metallic

C-Type Matt:

C-type Matt example

C-Type Gloss:

Fuji Gloss example

 C-Type Flex:

Fuji flex example

And C-Type Kodak Endura Metallic:

Kodak metallic example


With Giclée printing there is a much greater range of paper weight, surface texture and paper whites.  Papers range from bright white to creamy yellow toned paper and those that are very smooth matt papers to ones that are highly textured. This allows the photographer or artist a greater choice in what paper suits their image. At theprintspace you can choose between: Hahnemühle Photo Rag; Hahnemühle Pearl; Hahnemühle Semi-gloss; Hahnemühle Etching; Harman Warmtone; Canson Baryta Photographique and Cansen Aquarelle Rag.

Hahnemühle Photo Rag:

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag example

Hahnemühle Pearl:

Hahnemuhle pearl example

Hahnemühle Semi-gloss:

Epson semigloss example

Hahnemühle Etching:

Hahnemuhle German etching

Harman Warmtone:

Harman gloss baryta warmtone

Canson Baryta Photographique:

Canson baryta photographique example

Canson Aquarelle Rag:

Canson Aquarelle Rag



C-Type’s have much more subtlety in tone than Giclée prints. This is because printers using silver based photographic papers like theprintspace’s c-type chromira printer are known as continuous tone. They are capable or generating many tonal values for each pixel unit on the paper. Not only can a pixel be either red, green and blue at the same time, but it can also have different intensities of red, green and blue. 

Due to the continuous tone nature, c-type prints have smoother gradients from light to dark and have more subtlety of tone especially in shadow areas and skin tones. 

Whereas Giclée or inkjet printer resolutions are described in dots per inch, which describes the number of locations per inch which the printer can print a dot or not print a dot, we can’t vary the density of the dot we can only specify its location. Therefore inkjet printers use a halftone or dithering process whereby more dots are placed in darker areas and less dots in lighter areas to create the illusion of tone.

Giclée texture papers can be used to give a fine art feel to a print with more choice in terms of paper thickness and texture. The other major advantage for Giclée printing is the ability to reproduce highly saturated colours : something traditional printing methods cannot achieve.

This digital image illustrates that in comparison Giclée prints are able to produce more vivid and saturated colours due to the bright pigments used to make up the inks (see peaks at either end). In contrast c-types prints are better at smooth gradients which you can see from smoother steps from red through to cyan across the image.

Giclée’s are often used by illustrators and artists in art reproduction as they can accurately represent the original medium such as German etching resembling an original watercolour.

ctype vs giclee print



The archival properties of C-Type’s last around 40 years in daylight and 80 years in correct storage conditions in the dark.

Giclée’s, also last for around 40 years in daylight and 200 years in the dark.

Remember for both print formats you must ensure that your file is the exact dimension you wish to print.


If you want to get a first-hand look at the different textures, then order a sample pack from our website or pop into our printing studio in Shoreditch and see them close up. 

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