Archival inksets for inkjet printers.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Conway Yee, Dec 27, 2003.

  1. Conway Yee

    Conway Yee Guest

    I have been looking at getting back into darkroom work but with
    advances in technology, it would seem that my Beseler 23CII will
    likely never see another negative.

    I have decided to go digita. From the point of view of archival
    prints, it would appear that the way to go is inkjet. I am interested
    in purchasing aftermarket inks that are archival. It would appear
    that actual DATA on the archival qualities is rather limited. I only
    get marketing claims that the products are archival. I have looked on
    the Wilhelm Research website and only found VERY outdated information.

    I went as far as to talk to one of the "reputable" aftermarket
    venders: Mediastreet, the manufacturers of Generations 4. They flat
    out REFUSED to provide ANY data on the Generations 4 inkset or the
    later ones.

    Where can I find this data?

    Conway Yee
    Conway Yee, Dec 27, 2003
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  2. Conway Yee

    Bill Hilton Guest

    From: Conway Yee
    The vast majority of people using so-called "archival" inks are using Epson,
    not third party. I put "archival" in quotes because it means different things
    to different people, and 50-90 years (the generally accepted range of the Epson
    Ultrachrome inks) isn't considered "archival" to most people. But then again
    it's a lot longer than any color print you would produce with your Beseler
    23CII ...
    Wilhelm has updated estimates for Epson inks, here's an example ...

    He charges a fee to test longevity (I've heard $5,000) so companies that don't
    sell much ink or paper (or who feel Wilhelm's tests are too stringent, like
    Kodak) don't get tested by him.
    This site says Wilhelm has tested Gen 4 out to 100 years. It's surprising that
    Mediastreet didn't make this info available to you ...

    You may find it interesting to compare actual prints using this ink vs the
    Ultrachromes ... Epson made a 140+ year ink for the 2000p but had problems with
    metamerism and a more subdued gamut, so traded off some of the print life for
    brighter colors with the Ultrachrome inks. In other words, the absolute
    longest lasting inks may not produce prints that look as good as others with
    what many consider acceptable longevity. Check both and decide for yourself.

    Bill Hilton, Dec 27, 2003
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  3. Conway Yee

    Tom Phillips Guest

    There are no archival inkjets. (1) the inks are not ph neutral since the
    electrostatic technology requires ionizing agent (usually salt) so the
    ink can be sprayed. This make inkjets oxidize faster. (2) Inkjets have
    no real binder, as do other traditional forms of "archival" visual art
    (paintings, photographs, etc. Photographs use gelatin as a binder.)
    Inkjets simply are a very thin layer of sprayed ink. The layer of ink on
    the paper is far thinner than any photographic emulsion and again
    oxidizes far quicker.

    In comparison to an toned b&w silver photograph, which is *impervious*
    to oxidation and can last hundreds of years, calling an inkjet archival
    is laughable.
    That should tell you something...
    Wilhelm is a paid industry consultant, not an objective researcher
    (i.e., he is paid to produce results his commercial clients expect.)
    He's made some erroneous claims about inkjets in the past on their
    behalf and also spouted revisionist photographic history to please those
    same clients.
    Wherever you find digital propaganda.
    Tom Phillips, Dec 27, 2003
  4. Conway Yee

    Rafe B. Guest

    This is utter bunk.

    There are no electrostatics involved in
    projecting the ink. None, whatsoever.

    Current inkjets literally squirt the ink onto the
    paper. Thermal inkjet does this literally by
    boiling the ink and creating a vapor which
    displaces the ink out of the nozzle; piezo inkjets
    do this by changing the shape (ie. reducing the
    volume) of the cavity behind the nozzle.

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Dec 27, 2003
  5. Conway Yee

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    I would suggest you wait a while and then buy an Epson inkjet with Epson
    archival inks. THat way you know the archival inks will not clog and destroy
    the printer and they will be at least as archival as others. I've been
    watching this for several years now and have come to the conclusion that the
    archival third party ink game is 50% the emperor's new clothes, 50% hype and
    horseshite, and 50% dreaming. Nothing is archival if you spend most of yoru
    time and efforts trying to get it to work in the first place.

    home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
    The Improved Links Pages are at
    A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
    Tony Spadaro, Dec 27, 2003
  6. Conway Yee

    Tom Phillips Guest

    The only "bunk" is believing the marketing hype that inkjets are
    "archival" art.
    Whether electrostatic or bubblejet, no inkjet reproduction is "archival."
    Wrong. Thermal inkjets do not "boil" the ink. If you don't even know
    that, it shows how little you likely know about anything having to do
    with inkjets.

    FACT: less than about .3% of the ink is ever heated at all. Don't
    believe me? ask Hewlett-Packard. They invented thermal and have a whole
    series of technical reports explaining what the technology is and does.
    Piezo inkjets employ a form of electrostatic. Piezo, Thermal,
    Continuous, makes no difference. Desktop printer, Iris, or the fancy
    "Giclee" -- makes even less difference. Neither the ink nor the papers
    are "archival" and certainly not works of art; they're nothing more than
    sprayed ink reproductions. Oh sure, you can call 50 years, or even 10
    years, archival if you want based on Wilhelm's industry-sponsored tests.
    Heck, compared to Wilhelm's miscalculations about Epson papers a while
    back 10 years for an inkjet is archival. Inkjets have only been around
    for 20 years so anyone can claim anything for the future, so long as
    they sell lots of the paper and ink *now*. The whole point of industry
    sponsored accelerated testing is marketing to sell the fallacy of
    "archivalness." But it's not going to outlast a real photograph, which
    we know will last since they've been around for nearly two centuries
    already and counting, both color and black and white.

    Get back to me when you're "boiled" electrohydrodynamic thermal inkjets
    have been around 180 years. We'll see how they compare to 400 year old
    silver prints.
    Tom Phillips, Dec 27, 2003
  7. Conway Yee

    Rafe B. Guest

    Epson's original pigment formulation was rated for
    200 years. The current is rated at 80 years. I'll
    trust Henry Wilhem before I trust a film partisan
    citing bogus facts, with a chip on his shoulder --
    as you appear to be.

    See above. Your objections notwithstanding.
    How long do color photo prints last? Are they
    "archival"? Please define the term, and the
    means by which it may be tested.
    Boiling, by most definitions, means to turn a liquid
    into a gas. That is in fact what needs to happen
    in a thermal inkjet printer. Nobody claimed that
    such-and-such a percentage of the ink needs to
    be turned to vapor.

    Yes, indeed, that one fact may well be correct. The vapor
    from that 0.3% is what forces out the rest of it through the
    nozzle. From

    "boil" :
    To change from a liquid to a vapor by the application of heat
    Makes all the difference in the world. You claimed
    that inks required an "ionizing agent" in order to be
    sprayed, and that was what made them non-archival.

    That is PURE BUNK if you mean to apply it to either
    thermal or piezo inkjet printing. It was (or may have
    been) true for the original IRIS print process, which
    has mostly gone the way of the dodo, in case you
    hadn't noticed.

    In your very biased opinion, that may be so.
    Others disagree. But until you define "archival"
    and the means by which it may be tested, there's
    nothing to argue about, except the bogus facts
    you've cited about ink and inkjet technology.

    So do your own testing. Wilhelm's not the only
    authority on the subject; there's RIT for example.
    Harald Johnson's book has a whole chapter
    explaining how to set up and conduct your own
    print longevity tests.

    May not outlast silver and gelatin, but with care can
    eaisily outlast most conventional color photogrraphic
    prints. So where are the 200 year old color photograhic
    prints and where can I see them?

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Dec 27, 2003
  8. Conway Yee

    Tom Monego Guest

    OK you folks are doing and apple and orange thing. Sure silver B&W prints
    should last a couple of hundred years BUT that is not what inkjet is competing
    against, this is color photoprints. Color Cprints up until a year or two ago
    would last maybe 20years in excellent storage conditions. In the last couple of
    years new papers have come on the market that have extended this to 50-70
    years, providing that the prints have been processed correctly, which drops out
    any of the accelerated processors used in mini labs. There is also Ciba Chrome
    (Ilfochrome) which maxes out at about 30 years. Now inkjets don't look so bad.
    If we take B$W carbon based pigment inksets the life goes up to a couple of
    hundred years. Silver based photography is still probably better. But I just
    pulled three prints out of a closet, an Iris I had done in the mid 90's was
    fine as was a color print, a B&W print had fungus. All processed with, double
    wt paper, washed in an Oriental "archival" washer - go figure. Right now we
    only have Wilhelm and some industry data to go on for inkjet life. But his
    results are repeatable.

    I don't know where you got the real negative BS about inkjet printing, but
    really sounds like a disgruntaled photographer who really enjoyed the darkroom.
    Would like to read the articles do you have references?

    Tom Monego, Dec 27, 2003
  9. Conway Yee

    Tom Monego Guest

    There are a couple of sources of long lasting ink sets, MediaStreet is one of
    them (the most used alternative brand). sells several sets and
    their own dye set, mostly for Epson printers. They would be a good place to
    start exploring. One problem with using pigemnt based inks in a dye based
    printer is that the pigment particles are much larger that dye molecules and
    there can be head clogging if you just use the printer every once in a while.

    Tom Monego, Dec 27, 2003
  10. In your very biased opinion, that may be so.
    Others disagree. But until you define "archival"
    and the means by which it may be tested, there's
    nothing to argue about, except the bogus facts
    you've cited about ink and inkjet technology. >>


    Tom Phillips may be biased but he has a point.

    And you worry about "bogus facts" when that is about all we have to rely on -
    extremely biased hyperbole generated by the printer manufacturers!

    I ran a test with prints from three printers including the Epson Photo 2000P
    and two inexpensive inkjets. I placed the prints in the rear window of my car
    and left them there for one year in the Florida sun. Although the two other
    inkjet prints were clearly ruined after a few weeks, you can still see evidence
    of fading of the 2000P print when compared to a control print kept in the dark.
    Clearly it isn't archival from an idealist's point of view, although it held
    up reasonably well.

    Now, compare that with my thirty year old photo album that has been stored in
    darkness. Of five or six sets of photos that had been processed at local
    camera shops, I consider half to be unacceptable with respect to color shift
    and image fading. This is what I would choose to measure a printer against,
    not the four hundred year old silver print.

    Epson may claim their ink to be good for 80 (or 200) years, but read the fine
    print. That means it must be printed on archival paper (made by Epson, of
    course), and must be protected by a layer of glass and NOT be exposed to direct
    sunlight. Wouldn't you place the same restrictions on the silver print?

    I believe that the printer manufacturer's claims are exagerated. While I
    didn't have an Epson Ultrachrome print to test, I suspect it would
    approximately compare with a chemical print processed with good chemicals and
    printed on good paper. The 80 year claim may turn out to be accurate, but only
    if stored in the dark photo album, not displayed in real-world lighting.

    So the claims of 80 or 200 years are not to be trusted? Perhaps they can be
    relied upon for comparison purposes, but only if a legitimate standardized test
    is performed to arrive at a comparable figure for each ink. I wonder if we
    could interest Consumer Reports in undertaking the project?

    Fred McKenzie, Dec 27, 2003
  11. Conway Yee

    Rafe B. Guest

    And what was your control for that test?
    Did you put one or two conventional color
    prints up there with the Epson prints?

    How many "real" years of photo viewing
    do you think that test is worth? How do you
    begin to make that calculation?
    I would indeed. I recommend that for anyone
    who wants a print to last, regardless of the ink
    or paper or if it's a C print or a Ciba. It's just plain
    common sense. And it's also what caused Mr.
    Wilhelm his greatest embarassment -- ie.,
    failure to account for a particular airborne oxidant.
    You might be right, or you might be wrong. I do
    believe that there are fundamental benefits to
    pigment inks vs. dyes as far as longevity goes,
    and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand
    them. OTOH, there are some fundamental
    disadvantages to pigment inks with regard to
    gamut, Dmax, metamerism, differential gloss,
    and so on.
    I believe that is what Henry Wilhelm purports to do.
    There are one or two other agencies (eg. RIT) who
    also conduct longevity tests, albeit to different

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Dec 27, 2003
  12. laser printers electrostatic not inkjet

    Sheldon Strauss, Dec 27, 2003
  13. I don't true either I have an Epson C-84 with a three picoliter droplet
    size. The smallest dye based printers are 2 picoliters not much diffrence.

    Sheldon Strauss, Dec 27, 2003
  14. Conway Yee

    Rafe B. Guest

    The original IRIS printers used electrostatics
    to accelerate and project the ink.

    But nobody uses IRIS any more, you can
    pick them up on eBay for about 5% of their
    original selling price.

    Current inkjets use either thermal or piezo.

    (Canon, HP, Lexmark use thermal,
    Epson and their OEMs piezo.)

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Dec 27, 2003
  15. Conway Yee

    Tom Phillips Guest

    Well, the only "B.S." is from people who market inkjet dyes (already
    prone to oxidation) sprayed onto an acidic paper surface as somehow
    being "archival." It's not. They fade. For one reason, there is no real
    BINDER. The presence of a binder (like linseed oil for paintings and
    gelatin for color photos) is what helps preserve the dyes and pigments.
    Not a fact the typical digital consumer is made aware of with, as it
    doesn't fit with the marketing propaganda. The fact is, color
    photographic gelatin dye layers are far more stable, and far more
    abundantly dense on the paper -- which also helps make them more
    resistent to oxidation. Any expert worth his degree would tell you the
    best way to preserve a digital image is to have it printed
    photochemically on a Light Jet or other photochemical output. I say
    whether you print photochemically or digitally, the best way to preserve
    your images is to shoot on film, then scan if you want to.

    Now, you or whatever nonsense you've been reading have no idea what
    you're talking about with regard to color prints. I have C prints older
    than your fabricated expiration dates that show no signs of fading. I
    have Cibachromes already nearly 30 years old that are as brilliant and
    fadeless as the day they were printed. And those are on *display*,
    hanging on a wall, not in "storage" in a closet like your salt-laden
    Iris inkjet reproduction (salt is the main ionizing agent used to spray
    that thin layer of ink, so I wouldn't hold out hope too long for that
    Iris -- not if displayed.) I also have thousands of color snapshots and
    slides dating back to the 1960s that are in mint condition. BTW, as far
    as the stability of C prints, it is the chromogenic dyes which have
    improved. The dyes are more stable than in the past, and Kodak gives a
    display life of about 100 years for such prints.

    Finally, so you have an inkjet you hide in the closet, and it's lasted
    all of maybe 7-8 years? A bit of factual history: There are color
    photographs at least 150 years old and in better condition than that
    Iris of yours, I'll wager. Autochromes have been around since about 1900
    and are also very well preserved. Color photographs have a PROVEN
    longevity track record. Inkjets do not. Inkjets are rather nortorious
    for NOT enduring even a few years under average conditions. So hey, if
    you want to believe your inkjet has the same longevity as a real color
    photo, fine. Get back to me in the year 2154 and we'll compare my
    Cibachromes and Kodachromes to your Iris and digital files -- if those
    1's and 0's can still be read. Until then, here's a few relevant
    passages on inkjet print "longevity" from a recent article where the
    digital geek's favorite expert, Henry Wilhelm, is cited. My suggestion
    is for the OP to take Dr. James Reilly's advice and stick to
    photochemical prints:

    "Are Photos Finished?" U.S.News & World Report. March 24, 2003.

    "Snapshooters tend to become evangelists once they've gone digital.
    Renee Reid, for example, abandoned film a couple of years ago for a
    digital camera and started printing all her pictures at home. But this
    revolution, like most of its kin, has its costs. It has left all too
    many Americans with hard drives stuffed with family memories in digital
    form...locked in the ethereal zeroes and ones of computer code. Maybe 14
    percent of digital pics get printed, compared with virtually all film
    frames, says the Photo Marketing Association. Those that make it to
    paper mostly do so at home, and almost entirely by way of inkjet
    printers. They produce vivid colors that thrill consumers, but the
    delight often proves short lived as tones begin fading or discoloring in
    a few years, or even months. And there's the biggest downside of the
    digital revolution: It threatens the longevity of photos. Taking and
    sharing digital images can be a snap, but keeping them requires some
    know-how. Unless digital's new devotees learn how to organize, preserve,
    and print their images, photography experts worry, a generation's worth
    of memories could be lost."

    "The U.S. Library of Congress is spending $100 million on a search for
    ways to archive, convert, and otherwise safeguard its prized digital
    data against technological glitches and obsolescence. For mere
    consumers, there's one sure answer, and it's a familiar one, says Mark
    Roosa, the library's preservation director. Make a durable print, and
    protect it as you would any prized photograph."

    "With film, that advice is easy to follow--just have your photos
    preserved on good-quality paper. With digital, it takes some expertise,
    especially if you print at home. It was around 1994 that affordable home
    printers were first able to spit out small enough ink drops for
    realistic photos. Problem was, their inks and papers were meant for
    corporate graphs or children's book reports. These days, prints from
    just about any late-model printer can look as good as a traditional
    photo. But their durability is less certain. Inkjet prints "were never
    designed for display, much less for the years that we display our
    photos," says Henry Wilhelm, a folksy Iowa researcher who has
    spearheaded interest in "image permanence."

    "Inkjet print quality has become a new target for Wilhelm, and also the
    Image Permanence Institute in Rochester, N.Y., an independent lab.
    Traditional photographic prints last well partly because their fragile
    color dyes are imbedded in gelatin layers that are plastered to
    good-quality paper, which protects the dyes from sunlight and air. Also,
    the prints are processed with chemicals that are matched to the paper
    type. With inkjets, in contrast, the pigments are often exposed, and
    consumers get to choose their own inks and paper, sometimes mixing
    varieties not designed to work together. Prints from early machines
    faded in months, and the longevity scientists took aim."

    "Alas, even the best advice is no guarantee of a lasting print, because
    both inkjet technology and the science of accelerated tests are young.
    "We can't be sure there won't be a surprising new mechanism of failure,"
    says James Reilly, director of the Image Permanence Institute. Wilhelm,
    for example, was blindsided after Epson, backed by his tests, first
    touted new, "archival" inkjet systems in 2000. Within weeks, buyers
    complained of an unsightly orange tone emerging in prints. The culprit
    turned out to be atmospheric ozone, a problem in some places like Los
    Angeles, which attacked prints left exposed to the air. "It caught the
    entire industry off guard," Wilhelm says. Epson adjusted paper formulas
    to lessen the problem but still recommends that any prints made with
    dye-based inks, typical for consumer printers, be displayed under

    "The safest option by far is the oldest, say Reilly and others: Entrust
    your favorite digital photos to standard silver-halide printing."
    Tom Phillips, Dec 28, 2003
  16. Conway Yee

    Tom Phillips Guest

    Your mistake. Wilhelm is paid to come up with the results he does. He's
    not independent and it's not objective. he's a paid industry consultant.
    It's like my telling a client whose portrait I just shot he looks great,
    despite the wart on his nose. Of course I'm going to tell him that. I
    want and need his business if I'm to continue getting paid.

    But any objective expert worth his salt will tell you the best way to
    preserve a digital photo is to output it using a photochemical process,
    like Light Jet, not an inkjet.
    Oh, about 100 to 150 years -- and counting. I ahve some 40 years old
    that look great.
    The color photos I refer to need no "accelerated testing." They have a
    proven track record.
    Read HP's technical statements on this. They specifically say it is
    impossible to "boil" the ink in their printers. They state clearly
    that's a "myth."
    HP: "TIJ cannot "boil" the ink. Physically, boiling cannot occur when
    the ink is heated at 100 million °C per second for less than 3 microseconds!"

    That's not the only reason they're not archival. I stated at least two
    other factual reasons you ignored -- likely because you simply have no
    clue. You believe the marketing hype. One of those additional reasons is
    the thinness of the layer of ink sprayed onto the paper surface (not
    embeded in a binder -- that's two.) And one of the "advantages" of
    bubble jets is they in fact allow for lower drop volume -- meaning they
    use even less ink than other printers. Oxidize even a little of that
    thin ink layer and you really have a worthless image. It's a main reason
    inkjets fade so quickly.

    Nonsense. neither you nor anyone else has any proof of this whatsoever
    other thasn industry propaganda. Go ahead. Entrust your 1's and 0's to
    inkjet. In 50 years (likely far less) you have no images at all.
    The same place you *won't* find inkjets -- in museums.
    Tom Phillips, Dec 28, 2003
  17. Conway Yee

    Tom Phillips Guest

    Nonsense. Go to any high end lab or "Art" printer and what they sell you
    is Iris (or "Giclee" -- same thing.) It's the preferred "art" inkjet.
    Tom Phillips, Dec 28, 2003
  18. Conway Yee

    Rafe B. Guest

    In that regard, and in fact almost everything else in
    your post, you are dead wrong.

    But not to worry! Having recently rediscovered the
    filttering abilities of my news reader... been nice
    knowing you, Tom. Have a good life.

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Dec 28, 2003
  19. Conway Yee

    Norman Worth Guest

    There are many claims of archival quality for inkjet inks, but I am hesitant
    to believe them. I've only seen a couple of well done, independent tests,
    but both of them showed lives of less than 20 years with considerable color
    shifts even earlier, even for inks rated as "archival" for 60 to 80 years.
    There is no doubt the inks are improving. The early ones faded in a month
    or two. I have some prints that have stood up well (on indoor, residential
    display) for three years now. But true archival qualities, without color
    shifts, are at least difficult and may be impossible to obtain at present.
    Norman Worth, Dec 28, 2003
  20. Conway Yee

    Tom Phillips Guest

    Typical digital geek revisionist history.

    If I'm wrong the first extant photograph was never actually created 180
    years ago by Niepce -- something which is also in a photographic museum
    (in Texas) where you don't find inkjets hanging on the wall. Inkjets are
    not photographs.
    I have a simpler solution. Stop crossposting from digital ngs.
    Tom Phillips, Dec 28, 2003
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