Lasting Quality of Photo Paper

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

  1. Susan B

    Jeremy Guest


    Have you considered having photo prints made from silver halide paper, from
    online labs such as OFOTO.COM? They are "real" prints, done up on
    doubleweight RC paper. No archival surprises--they last as long as regular
    prints, because they ARE real photo prints.

    I use them exclusively, and I do not even own an inkjet printer, because of
    concerns over fading. And the cost of "real" prints is less than the cost
    of those "do-it-yourself" inkjet prints.
    Jeremy, Nov 8, 2004
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  2. Susan B

    Anoni Moose Guest

    Well, actually there were two. You also could use Tektronix dyesub paper
    but that usually wasn't economical. :)

    Note that the ALPS dye-sub really was a pigment-sub. An ALPS employee
    talked (in chemist lingo) what materials its "ink" was made from quite
    some time ago. Point of all that was that it used pigments rather than
    dyes (which probably also is why it's gamut wasn't the biggest one might
    have seen).


    P.S. - No the ALPS printer wasn't fast, but from times I hear on the 2200,
    it may have been faster that that. :) It actually printed quite
    quickly, only problem is that it'd have to do it four times as it
    did each "ink" only one at a time.
    Anoni Moose, Nov 8, 2004
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  3. Susan B

    Hecate Guest

    LOL! No, it's from an old Latin comedy and means I came, I saw, I went
    away again ;-)


    Hecate - The Real One

    veni, vidi, reliqui
    Hecate, Nov 9, 2004
  4. Susan B

    Hecate Guest

    I disagree. There are plenty of reviews, plus "word of mouth".
    Personally, I'd recommend Permajet to anyone in preference to the
    Epson inks - as long as you can afford the initial outlay for the CIS
    system with the 2200. Their Blax system for B&W is exceptional and
    their colour system excellent.
    Yes, they do. But that's true of any ink/paper combination and doesn't
    make OEM paper a requirement or even the best solution.


    Hecate - The Real One

    veni, vidi, reliqui
    Hecate, Nov 9, 2004
  5. Susan B

    Hecate Guest

    Read the information on the site and you'll see. The problem with
    Wilhelm is the light source amongst other things.


    Hecate - The Real One

    veni, vidi, reliqui
    Hecate, Nov 9, 2004
  6. Susan B

    David Chien Guest

    However, I wondered if anyone could tell me whether there is a home A3
    Any inkjets that'll match a true photographic print for
    waterproofness? Nope, but the closest you'll come for longevity out of
    the box may be the Epson wide-body printers with the encapsulated inks.

    Other than that, the technologies are different enough (and unproven
    since they haven't existed over 15 years) that you won't know until
    you've printed and hanged them for years.

    Home inkjets certainly won't last more than a few years, so don't bother
    with these to start. has 3rd archival inks and papers to consider.

    Also, FujiFilm Pictrography printers, albeit expensive, do produce photo
    prints that will have similar characteristics as regular photo prints,
    so that may be the way to go commerically (either get one cheap off or find a local lab where you can send your print jobs).

    Longevity of home inkjet printers - forget it! (but with a grain of salt since they
    changed all of their testing methods after the orange fading crisis)

    Realistically, these tests occur in 'ideal' environments and
    conditions, and in real life, I would not bet my life or business on any
    inkjet print to last more than 10 years (nor provide a warranty longer
    than that either). Although you can keep inkjet prints perfectly fine
    in cold-storage w/o light (ie. in a folder in a cabnet where some of my
    original HP Paintjet prints from 10+ years ago still look fine), once
    the prints are out under light and environmental display conditions, you
    can toss the longevity thing out the door.

    (which is why even Epson offered a 100% full price buyback of the
    Epson 870 during the orange fading crisis just a few years ago; which is
    why every year, every inkjet printer maker from Epson to Canon to HP
    toots 'even longer print life' than the printer they released just 1
    year before. Everyone knows that unless it's pigmented or solid-dye,
    most of these non-pigmented dyes will fade fast over time.)

    Naturally, time will lead to new developments which will lengthen
    print life from inkjets, but don't bet a business on it yet.

    For the time being, dye-sub (solid dye) printers or FujiFilm
    Pictrography printers are the two best alternatives for long-life prints
    that should last a decent amount of time (again, don't bet a business on
    their lifespans since they haven't been out in real-life as long as film
    prints, so who knows the actual stability over 100 years?).

    Here, Fujifilm Pictrography prints are my #1 pick -- feels, looks,
    and acts just like a real photo print, nothing that would make a client
    look otherwise at the paper/medium itself, and superb prints that look
    just like film prints.

    Step down from there, going cheaper, look into printers using
    pigmented/encapsulated dyes such as the Epson Stylus Pro 4000, Epson
    Stylus Photo 2200, Epson PX-G5000 (just released in Japan, coming soon
    to USA), etc.

    If you're doing B&W prints, the B&W Piezography system is the way to
    David Chien, Nov 9, 2004
  7. Susan B

    Hecate Guest

    And real photo prints have the same problems of fading.


    Hecate - The Real One

    veni, vidi, reliqui
    Hecate, Nov 9, 2004
  8. Susan B

    Susan B Guest

    I looked at this page and it says that if the Epson 2200 printer works as
    well as early reports indicate, it may be the current best solution for
    someone who needs a moderately priced photo printer capable of high quality
    AND long life output.
    Although several posters have referred to Fujifilm Pictrography prints, I
    haven't seen any information that says these may have better archival
    properties than Epson's Ultrachrome pigment based archival inks. Does anyone
    have such information? In the Steves Digicams review of the Epson Stylus
    Photo 2200 it says that this is the ideal printer for those wanting the same
    longevity in their digital prints as conventional film prints.

    Do you think that the quality of the printed image of a pictrography print
    is noticeably better than that from the Epson UltraChrome pigment inks?

    On Epson's web site about the Epson Stylus Photo 2200, it claims that Epson
    Premium Glossy Photo Paper is light resistant up to 85 years. Even if this
    was overstated by 15 years, I think that most buyers of a photograph would
    be very happy with a claimed life of 70 years. The archival quality of photo
    paper is a very important issue, so I wouldn't think that a major company
    such as Epson would grossly exaggerate such a claim? The photos I sell are
    professionally framed under glass, so this would be in line with the
    expectations of Epson when making their longevity estimates. I think most
    purchasers realise that photographs should be kept out of direct sunlight,
    but perhaps I could include a notice to this effect with the prints I sell.

    I am impressed with the postings of Bill Hilton and his reference to the
    Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which settled on the Epsons for their fine art
    replications. In addition, I found a review by Michael Reichmann which says
    that inkjet printing has now reached a level of maturity that requires no
    excuses or apologies. When referring to the Stylus Photo 2200 and
    ultrachrome inks, he says that quality archival inkjet printing has truly

    After reading the replies to my questions, I think the main problem with
    selling inkjet prints, rather than commercial lab prints, is the perhaps
    outdated perceptions of the public that inkjet prints are not in the least
    waterproof or fadeproof. It would be mainly for this reason that I would
    continue to use the photo lab to do my prints. However, there is a huge
    convenience factor in doing your own prints, such as being able to reprint
    the photo without losing a lot of time if it is not quite what you wanted.
    You can also print non-standard shapes and sizes, something that some labs
    will not do without a big increase in their normal costs for the standard
    photo sizes. Thanks very much to all who have posted replies to my
    questions, I have learned a great deal, I think I am almost confident enough
    to sell Epson ultrachrome pics!

    Regards, Susan
    Susan B, Nov 9, 2004
  9. Susan B

    Susan B Guest

    Thanks Art for this information, it is very interesting. Can anyone tell me
    what the main differences are between Durabrite pigmented inks, and the
    current UltraChrome inks? Do you think it would be worth waiting for the new
    A3 Durabrite printer, rather than purchasing the Epson 2200/2100 printer?
    Would the Durabrite pigmented inks have better archival / lightfast
    qualities than the present inks used on the Epson 2200/2100? I wonder if the
    picture quality would be as good with the Durabrite pigmented inks as it
    would with the ultra chrome inks?

    Regards, Susan
    Susan B, Nov 9, 2004

  10. Give or take a year or two ;-)

    Obviously, all inkjet inks are tested with accelerated aging testing.
    It's hardly a perfect science. It's a bit like saying if a piece of
    paper bursts into flames and becomes ashes in 2 minutes at 452 degrees
    F, that it will do the same thing in 40 years if it is kept at 70
    degrees F. The variables aren't equal. Subjecting an ink and paper
    combination to very high intensity lighting and equating that to years
    of low intensity lighting may not really tell us what we need to know.
    However, as a study of comparative qualities of different ink/paper
    combinations, it may give us some valuable information.

    However, there are issues like oxidation, other radiation, volatiles and
    gases, humidity, air movement, and combinations of factors which are
    very difficult to measure for.

    There are a few knowns. Pigments, in general, tend to be less fugitive
    because they are often compounds which have a known history and are
    physically larger than dye molecules. Certain mordants in paper
    coatings tend to lock dye molecules into the paper surface better than
    others. Protection from UV radiation tends to reduce energizing of dye
    molecules or pigments which otherwise causes them to fly off the paper
    more easily, so glass or UV screening helps. Brighter light sources
    accelerate fading. Keeping any type of colored image out of direct
    sunlight, and away from ozone tends to lessen fading. Even pigments
    will fade over time if exposed to direct unfiltered sunlight.

    Mid-day sun is considerably brighter than the light used in most
    accelerated fade testing, and also considerably brighter than most
    indoor settings. Fluorescent bulbs give off a fair amount of UV.
    Arthur Entlich, Nov 9, 2004
  11. Yes, I believe the ALPS printing process was really more of a thermal
    transfer process than anything (either wax or pigment). Dye-sub is
    short for dye sublimation.

    Sublimation is the process of something going from a solid to a gaseous
    state without having a liquid state. (Dry ice to CO2 is an example).
    True dye sub printing involves the heating of a dye coated mylar sheet
    with different levels of heat (usually 128 or 256). The dye is
    sublimated into a gas, and that gaseous form reformulates into a solid
    on a receptor sheet that is in near contact with the dye sheet.

    The process also involves using 3 or 4 different sheets (CMY or CMYK)
    and sometimes an additional UV filtering layer to protect the print from
    rapid fading. Keep in mind the whole process is using dyes which
    sublimate with heat, and they tend to be a bit fugitive.

    Dye sub is a costly process overall, because usually, regardless of the
    size print you make or how much of the print has color on it, the whole
    set of dye sheets is used (each set are one time use only). Also, you
    must use the paper designed to receive the dye, and they aren't cheap

    In general, inkjet will be more economical and offer more options, and
    with pigmented inks, probably provides pretty good permanence, as well.

    Arthur Entlich, Nov 9, 2004
  12. Hi Susan,

    I believe I have mis"spoke" somewhat, as the new R800 wide-carriage
    product, like the R800 will be using the Ultrachrome inks, not the
    Durabrite inks.

    The Ultrachrome inks, as I recall, use a finer pigment particle and they
    also changed the ink formulas using different yellows. The problem with
    the Durabrite inks were that they suffered from metamorism (where the
    color relationships changes under different light sources). To provide
    more accurate color and reduced metamorism, Epson developed a new yellow
    ink, which, it would appear, is less stable. The original Durabrite ink
    set was rated at an anticipated 200 years, while the Ultrachromes are
    about 80. The Ultrachrome inks are supposed to be brighter and provide
    a broader gamut by not penetrating as deeply into the paper surface, but
    this led to a slight surface texture on glossy papers.

    The R800 ink set has two main features. One, they added a blue ink, so
    it has 8 colors, CcMmYBKk. Secondly, they also added a gloss optimizer.
    Due to the nature of pigments, they tend to dull the surface of glossy
    papers. The gloss optimizer coats the inks after they are set down to
    improve their surface reflective characteristics. The Durabrite inks
    have some similar issues, although less so. I imagine all of these
    cartridges add to the print costs.

    Personally, I don't like mirror gloss prints these days. Although I
    used to product Ciba/Ilfo/Chromes I have moved toward more tactile
    papers, and I even prefer photo prints with a nice velvety surface.
    But, you have a look you are going for and know your market.

    The reports I have seen on the R800 prints are pretty gushing. The extra
    blue ink helps to tame some of the inherent problems in CMYK printing
    with controlling blue/purple color balance, which has always been a bit
    tricky on Epson printers.

    I would suggest you contact Epson and ask them to send you some sample
    prints from both the 2200 and R800. If possible, ask them for similar
    subject matter to your own, and on the type of paper surface you plan to
    use. They will give you some idea of the differences between the two

    The 2200 has an interchangeable black ink. One is designed for glossy
    applications and the other for other paper types (it has more density,
    but it is fairly matte).

    Arthur Entlich, Nov 9, 2004
  13. Susan B

    Clyde Guest

    You need to check your facts out better. I'm not talking about your
    facts on longevity; although they certainly need checking too.

    The Epson R800 adds a red ink as well as the blue ink. The extra black
    isn't a light black or even used at the same time as the other black.
    One black is "Matte Black" for plain paper and matte papers. The other
    is "Gloss Black" for glossy papers. It seems to be used on semi-gloss too.

    The "Gloss Optimizer" only kicks in on glossy papers. It is an option in
    the driver to turn off on glossy papers. You can't turn it on for matte
    papers though. BTW, this really doesn't add to the glossiness of the
    print. What it does is make the glossiness even. If you print without it
    you will see that the different amounts of ink makes an uneven
    glossiness in the right light. "Gloss Optimizer" makes it all the same.

    BTW, the R800 is NOT wide-carriage either. It will only print 8.5" wide

    OK, on your longevity facts... Do you have any better science for
    testing the longevity of prints? If so, kindly share it. Don't tell me
    that I have to wait 30-100 years either. That isn't practical. None of
    the paper formulations will last for years, let alone decades. I need to
    know what to print on today.

    BTW, do you have any color "C" type prints from the 1970s? Have any of
    those faded? If you do, they have. Heck I have lots of faded Ektachrome
    slides from the 70s too. (Plenty of unfaded Kodachrome from the 40s and
    50s though.) Photographic (light sensitive) color products have NOT had
    a good history of fade resistance. Ilfochrome has been the best, but
    never widely used. The odds are that my R800 prints will last way longer
    than those did. I suppose we could all resurrect true Dye Transfer
    printing and get real longevity, but that died for a reason.

    Clyde, Nov 9, 2004
  14. Susan B

    Bill Hilton Guest

    Longevity of home inkjet printers - forget it!
    The site above is about 5 years old now ... when Epson brought out the 1270/780
    printer with dye inks a few people found that their prints faded quickly and
    this was tracked to a lack of "gas fastness". Wilhelm added a test for it,
    Epson changed the dye inks and added a new paper to ease the problem, and the
    issue sort of went away.

    This has nothing to do with the pigment inks used in the 2200 though.
    Used with the best available paper (Fuji Crystal Archive) they are rated by
    Wilhelm at 50 years, using the exact same accelerated tests that give 80-100
    years for the Ultrachrome inks. Used with other lesser papers they have an
    even briefer print life estimate.
    You should check this for yourself since tastes vary ... just get a print from
    one or more of your files from a local lab which uses this printer and then get
    a print of the same file(s) from someone like West Coast Imaging (one of the
    best labs in the USA), where a 8.5x11" print on their Epson 9600 goes for $15
    if you pre-flight it ...
    file.htm ... the 2200 uses the same inks and paper.

    For the slick glossy look most people seem to prefer the Pictography prints,
    for fine art images on coated watercolor the Epson looks much better ... tastes
    vary so it's best to run a couple of test prints.

    After running this test for myself (including LightJet 5000 prints, which are
    far superior to the Pictography printers, I feel) I'm using the Epson 4000 and
    making excellent 16x20" prints, which we have no problem selling.
    They are using Wilhelm's test numbers ... to put this into perspective, 20
    years ago Kodak Ektacolor was the most popular process used by wedding and
    portrait photographers and the Wilhelm rating was 14-18 years, up to 18-22
    years for later versions. Cibachromes (now Ilfochromes) were the favored
    "archival" print process for fine art landscape photographers using slide film
    and was rated around 30 years. The only color materials with a significantly
    longer rating was the dye transfer process, which has duller colors and are
    very expensive. So we are living in the 'good old days' compared to 20 years
    Not one person in 20 will even ask about this, I've found. And for the few
    that do I keep a copy of Wilhelm's ratings around and pass them out, telling
    them that if you keep the prints from direct sunlight they should last about
    4-5x longer than conventional prints or twice as long as prints from the
    consumer digital print labs.

    Where are you selling your prints? If at an art show or on-line it's not a
    problem, but if you're trying to get a gallery to show them or represent you
    then you may have to do some convincing. There's a Yahoo group
    (Digital-FineArt) where this topic is regularly discussed. Some of the better
    photo galleries, like say Andrew Smith's in Santa Fe, are starting to sell
    LightJet prints along side the Ansel Adams black/whites, Eliot Porter
    dye-transfers and Christopher Burkett Ilfochromes so times are changing.
    Go for it!

    Bill Hilton, Nov 9, 2004
  15. Susan B

    Anoni Moose Guest

    Could be, not sure about that name. The process the ALPS printer
    uses follows your description below other than not being dye-based.
    I'm not sure one can sublimate pigments, but that seems to be what
    was claimed by the ALPS employee.
    The ALPS "head" used a semiconductor "bar" (presumably a trannie array,
    but I don't know the details) for the high placement accuracy of it's
    thermal "spots" and for control of their heat levels.
    In "dye-sub" mode, it used CMY plus glossy overcoat. A friend of mine
    who designs printers at Xerox (former Tek division) noted how good the blacks
    were for a CMY printer. I used to be a design engineer at Tek for about
    fifteen years (but not in the Printer divsion) so I know a good many people
    there who work on Phaser printers (now Xerox).
    In truth, this isn't totally unlike an inkjet in that you only use
    its dyes (in the ink) one time as well. There is more waste in the
    dyesub methods, and some printers were really horrible in their
    waste of "ink". ALPS' methods were actually pretty good. As I've
    mentioned before, it's runtime costs were similar to inkjets at the
    time I bought it (compared to an inkjet using top OEM photo paper).
    It's capital costs were two or three hundred dollars higher. Even
    if the efficiency of "ink-use" by ALPS may have been a lower than
    an inkjet, there are sufficent margins in the selling of the cartridges
    so that the user's cost can be equivalent even if ALPS' margin ended up
    less extremely high as compared to others. I don't think they were
    running in "Gilette" mode, which I think was one of their downfalls in
    the printer market.
    This certainly is true now that inkjets have improved dramatically.
    Back when my ALPS printer was new, it blew away inkjets in terms of
    print quality. Wasn't even close. Now, my Canon i9900 prints
    better than the ALPS printer.

    Anoni Moose, Nov 9, 2004
  16. Susan B

    Hecate Guest

    Try putting a dry Epson 2100/2200 print in a bowl of water. You'll
    find it doesn't run. Leave it in there for a week, It still won't have


    Hecate - The Real One

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

    Safetymom123 Guest

    No guarantee that a printer that is in Japan will come to the US market
    either. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a replacement for the 2200.
    Safetymom123, Nov 10, 2004
  18. Even using some Epson standard dye inks, with the right Epson papers
    will make a waterproof image.

    The photo quality matte, and the heavy weight matte fall into that category.

    This has nothing to do with fading... those papers will fade with dye
    inks over time.

    Arthur Entlich, Nov 11, 2004
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