Lasting Quality of Photo Paper

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Susan B, Nov 7, 2004.

  1. Susan B

    Susan B Guest

    I have been framing and selling some digital prints, up to a size of about
    15 inches x 10 inches. To date, I have used a commercial photoprinter
    company to do the printing for me. This is because I have been told that the
    paper used on expensive commercial photo printing machines has far better
    lasting qualities than any of the photo papers produced for the home market,
    and will last for up to 50 years without noticeable fading. This is a really
    important issue when you are selling photographs to the public.

    However, I wondered if anyone could tell me whether there is a home A3
    printer produced by say, Epson, HP, or Canon, that uses photographic papers
    that are as good as those used commercially? Are there any A3 sized
    photographic papers that are produced for the home market that are
    relatively waterproof and have lasting qualities equal to the photographic
    paper used by the expensive commercial photoprinting machines?

    Thanks very much for your advice.

    Susan B, Nov 7, 2004
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  2. Susan B

    Bill Hilton Guest

    From: "Susan B"
    The 13" wide Epson 2200 with Ultrachrome pigment inks is probably your best
    bet, with estimated 70-100+ year print life on a wide variety of papers.
    Here's a link to estimated print longevity results with these inks on the 17"
    wide Epson 4000 (same inks and papers, just a more recent printer model):

    There is a ton of info on the Wilhelm site about testing methods and results
    for other printers.

    HP has one model with long print life (~ 80 years) but I think it's a
    letter-sized model and offers this print life on just one or two papers.

    Canon has a 13" wide desktop model with excellent print quality but it uses dye
    inks and the print life is around 30 years.
    This is much better print life than any of the 4 color business model printers
    offer and better than the dye-based inks from Epson and Canon (which are rated
    around 30 years) but not as good as the Epson 7 color pigment inks mentioned
    above. Sounds like they are using Fuji Crystal Archive paper, which was also
    tested by Wilhelm (the results are somewhere on his site linked to above).

    Bill Hilton, Nov 7, 2004
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  3. Susan B

    John Doe Guest

    No one knows how well prints from say the Epson 2200 will last. All of the
    fade tests done have been faked (accelerated) which in my opinion means
    nothing. Also, if you look at the foot notes for such tests most clearly
    state that the life is based on almost museum storage standards, means you
    would have to hang them in a climate controlled room, etc. etc. Again
    meaning less.

    I think you took the best route for what you want to do. To be honest if I
    was interested in purchasing one of your images and I found out that you
    printed them on any thing other than a commercial printer I would not buy

    If you want something that is going to give you good life that you can print
    yourself then look in a dye sub printer. I have about thirty prints from an
    old Alps hanging on my wall that gets bright sun most of the day and they
    are still perfect with no fading what so ever. However, every print I have
    that was done on an inkjet has either turned color or has faded often both
    and that includes a couple from the Epson 2200. Also, the Epson 2200 is the
    slowest printer I have ever seen.

    Just my 4 cents (2 cents adjusted for inflation.)

    John Doe, Nov 7, 2004
  4. No one really knows. Even the commercial products vary greatly. The
    best in any of those three should do a good job. Don't try to cut corners
    by buying third party ink or paper.
    Joseph Meehan, Nov 7, 2004
  5. Susan B

    Bill Guest

    Yes, there are several.
    Again yes, but I think you need to consider costs and quality, since
    this is for personal gain. I've yet to see any photo printer that can
    match or get close to the costs of going to a lab, and still resist
    fading over many years.

    I've made my own prints at home that rivals lab quality and costs. But
    the issue is will they really last?

    Using original ink and photo paper, I can get good results that should
    last for decades, but the cost is prohibitive - it's much cheaper to
    take my digital photos to the lab for development.

    So in order to get my costs down to reasonable levels, I needed to
    refill my ink cartridges and use third-party photo papers. The quality
    is very good, and so far (16 months) the images have not faded or shown
    signs of wear. But in another few years the photos may not look as good,
    and only time will tell.

    Now, if your profit margin is high enough to allow printing at home
    using original supplies, then have at it. They should last as long, if
    not longer, than lab prints.
    Bill, Nov 7, 2004
  6. Susan B

    Safetymom123 Guest

    I would suggest visiting You will find lots of
    good archival information. The Epson papers and pigment inks seem to last a
    very long time. Longer than some traditional prints.
    Safetymom123, Nov 8, 2004
  7. Susan B

    aprestn5 Guest

    Susan B wrote:

    As far as I know, none of the available home printers use photographic
    paper. What home printers use may be called photo paper or photo-quality
    paper, but it's still a non-light-sensitive paper designed to receive
    sprayed ink droplets, sublimated dyes or heated wax/resin. The commercial
    labs often use true photographic paper, i.e. light sensitive papers
    designed to be exposed from a light source such as a lamp, lcd screen, or a
    computer-controlled laser head, then developed with standard colour
    processing chemistry. These materials have very different aging
    characteristics from ink-jet, dye-sublimation or wax-thermal papers
    available for home printers and are much more waterproof than the ink-jet
    papers or dye-sub. I've used all four types of printers (ink-jet, dye-sub,
    and wax-thermal at home, and a laser-head photographic printer at work),
    and I prefer the quality of the last. Mind you the price of that printer is
    about 3 orders of magnitude higher than the average home printer... As far
    as the relative keeping qualities are concerned, none of the currently
    produced papers have been around long enough to really tell.
    I have standard photographic prints from 30+ years ago that look fine and
    more recent ones that have faded or changed colour, which tells me the only
    real way to know is to wait and see......

    Al Preston
    aprestn5, Nov 8, 2004
  8. Susan B

    Susan B Guest

    If you have a noticeable deterioration in print quality ALREADY from a print
    done by an Epson 2200 printer, then have you sent this photo to Epson? Could
    it be that there is a fault in your particular printer? I think that Epson
    should be given a chance to comment before everyone concludes that this
    could happen with UltraChrome pigment inks. This surely would be the
    exception rather than the rule after such a short time?

    Susan B, Nov 8, 2004
  9. Susan B

    Hecate Guest

    On the contrary, good quality third part inks (the ones I use are
    Permajet) may be *better* than the Epson inks. It's only the cheap
    ones that are worse.

    And as for papers, there are a lot of better, and more archival,
    papers around than those Epson produces.


    Hecate - The Real One

    veni, vidi, reliqui
    Hecate, Nov 8, 2004
  10. Susan B

    Hecate Guest

    And I'd suggest you visit
    where you'll get more *accurate* information.


    Hecate - The Real One

    veni, vidi, reliqui
    Hecate, Nov 8, 2004
  11. Susan B

    Bob Headrick Guest

    Bob Headrick, Nov 8, 2004
  12. Hear, hear. There are third-party inks that are marketed to the
    professional market; their raison d'etre is to be at least as good as the
    manufacturer's ink overall, and better in some specific attribute.

    There are other third-party inks whose only purpose is to be cheap.
    Could be; I don't know.
    "I came, I saw, I abandoned something?"

    Do you mean "veni, vidi, abivi"?

    Michael A. Covington, Nov 8, 2004
  13. Susan B

    Tim Guest

    Tim, Nov 8, 2004
  14. The Epson 2200/2100 is an A3 printer using Ultrachrome inks which are
    pigmented and fade and waterproof (they are tested for at least 80
    years). There rae a number of Epson papers that are waterproof, and
    with the pigmented inks, will last for many decades.

    In this sized printer, most of the other companies are using dye inks
    with poorer stability. Epson printers (all inkjet type) can usually
    also use 3rd party inks, including a number of archival pigmented types,
    so even if you were to buy something like an 1280, which is a less
    costly model, it can be fitted with pigmented inks. There are also CIS
    (continuous inking systems) available for these printers.

    Epson is going to be releasing an 8 color A3 printer with Durabrite
    pigmented inks shortly (I believe it is now out in Japan) based upon the
    same system used in the R800 which is an A4 model.

    Arthur Entlich, Nov 8, 2004
  15. You make a good many assumptions, all the way across your response, John.

    Who knows what materials were used by this commercial printing company.
    What inks, what paper? And if it is some other printing method, other
    than inkjet, the odds are even less sure.

    Secondly, you suggest dye sub. In fact, most dye sub prints are known
    to be much more fugitive than pigmented inks. Your ALPS images may be
    an exception, but being that the ALPS are no longer made, and I believe
    they were slower than the 2200, I wouldn't consider it in the running
    (you forgot to mention that only one type of paper could be used in it
    for the dye sub output).

    Lastly, I am sure Epson would be very interested in knowing of rapidly
    fading 2200 prints that were done using OEM inks.

    Pretty much all aging tests are done with accelerated aging models,
    since most of us can't wait 100 years to find out the results. ;-)

    Arthur Entlich, Nov 8, 2004
  16. I totally agree. This type of fading should not be occurring with the
    Ultrachrome inks, regardless of the paper used.

    I have made Epson prints using their older dye formulations of an older
    Tektronix paper, and although they are not in direct sunlight, some are
    a good 8 years old now and show minimal fading, even when not under
    glass. Under glass they haven't changes enough to even notice. This
    particular paper seems to have very good permanence, but it isn't made

    Arthur Entlich, Nov 8, 2004
  17. Not only the cheap ones, some of the expensive ones are also no good, or
    not as good. I might add that I would not be surprised if some of the cheap
    ones were as good, but without standards and knowledge, the only way for
    most people to be sure is to stick with those that have been tested and that
    are unlikely to have changed formula and that pretty much limits it to the
    original inks.
    But it is not just the paper quality, but rather it is the combined
    quality. The paper and the ink do not stand alone, but rather work together
    and interact.
    Joseph Meehan, Nov 8, 2004
  18. Did they really start testing back in the 1920's? :)
    Joseph Meehan, Nov 8, 2004
  19. Susan B

    Bill Hilton Guest

    From: "John Doe"
    Yes, all the tests are accelerated but the option to that is waiting 50-100
    years for results, an idea which won't fly.

    Wilhelm has been running tests under the same conditions since the 1970's,
    which is long enough for him to compare the accelerated test results on prints
    from the 70's to their actual fade. He found there is indeed a good match, ie
    that the accelerated tests are fairly accurate predictors of actual print life.

    His basic accelerated test originally used 21,500 lux (giving him about a 96x
    speedup over his display condition of 450 lux) and he also sets up a second set
    of prints (one bare, one under glass, one under UV killing glass) that he tests
    for 16x longer at 16x less light. He also simply puts test patches up in his
    home to try to duplicate 'typical' home environments. He's now switched to
    35,000 lux for accelerated tests because of improvements in longevity but the
    idea is the same.

    What he found was that the non-accelerated prints did fade a bit faster than
    anticipated (the 'reciprocity failure') but that the relative print life
    projections between different media held up well (ie, if he had predicted 30
    and 18 years for two different processes based on the accelerated tests he
    might measure say 24 and 16 years for the 16x tests).

    Anyone interested in this can read about it in his book, pg 67-75 and
    especially Table 2.1. Or just go to and download the PDF for Ch. 2,
    which is where this is discussed.

    Bottom line is that accelerated testing is used by everyone and it does indeed
    predict print life with some degree of accuracy, though not with great
    The Wilhelm display conditions were arrived at by measuring light levels in
    several hundred places, from museums to private homes. They don't seem too
    tough to me, 450 lux (about EV 8 or so, meaning just keep it out of direct
    sunlight), moderate temperature and humidity ranges, and displayed under glass.
    Anyone buying a fine art print from someone like Susan would have no problem
    meeting this so long as the print wasn't hit by direct sun.
    Why not? The 50 year print life prediction she's hearing from the mini-lab
    operator is based on the EXACT SAME TESTS by Wilhelm as the 100 year
    predictions for the Ultrachrome inks. Same test pattern, same lights, same
    everything except it fades about twice as fast. It seems illogical to believe
    the 50 year number for Fuji Crystal Archive paper and to discount the Epson 100
    year numbers when they are tested the exact same way.
    You're the second person to report Epson 2200 fading ... the other guy (who
    used at least four different aliases as he got laughed off different
    newsgroups) turned out to own a small printing shop and loses business
    everytime someone buys an inkjet instead of going to him for prints. You use
    the same arguments and, in some cases, the same phrases, and also have an
    alias. What a coincidence!
    Bill Hilton, Nov 8, 2004
  20. Susan B

    Bill Hilton Guest

    Susan, if you photograph nature you might be familar with some of these names
    .... Jack Dykinga, Art Wolfe, George Lepp, Linde Waidhofer, John Paul Caponigro,
    John Shaw (and 10,000 others) ... all of these well-known photographers are
    selling or exhibiting fine-art prints made with Epson inkjets and the
    Ultrachrome inks.

    Here's an interesting link to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which recently
    evaluated numerous print techniques before settling on the Epsons for their
    fine art replications ... ... the Epson
    2200 uses the same inks. Try the Velvet Fine Art paper, which Wolfe and Lepp
    use, or Ultrasmooth Fine Art, preferred by Caponigro and the Boston Museum, or
    one of the rich 3rd party papers like Arches Infinity or Hahnemuehle Photo Rag,
    which is what Dykinga is using in two exhibits opening in the next few weeks.

    Who you gonna believe, "John Doe" or John Shaw? :)
    Bill Hilton, Nov 8, 2004
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