Silver halide photo paper - what life

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Siddhartha Jain, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. Hello,

    I just ordered some prints from Kodak Express (Ofoto). Kodak uses
    something called Digital silver halide printing. How is this different
    from archival quality prints made from slides/negatives? And what life
    can you expect from these prints?


    Siddhartha Jain, Sep 29, 2004
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  2. Siddhartha Jain

    Dave Guest

    Apples and oranges - digital silver halide prints are just prints made
    on photo paper. No different than standard prints made from negatives
    at your local mini lab. Only in this case they use a different enlarger
    head (hence "digital") to expose the image onto the paper.

    Archival quality prints are also made on photo paper in a similar
    manner, but the quality of the paper is better and process is designed
    to make the resulting prints as stable as possible for long-term
    storage or display.

    Dave, Sep 29, 2004
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  3. Don't mini-labs use dye-sublimation printers? I don't know exactly but
    isn't it supposed to be inferior to digital silver halide printing?

    Siddhartha Jain, Sep 29, 2004
  4. Siddhartha Jain

    Dave Guest

    The kiosk-style machines at mini-labs use something else (not sure if
    it's dye-sub or what) that is inferior to silver halide.

    But (at least in the US), if you drop off a CF card or CD for printing
    at a mini lab they do it on the same RA-4 machine that they use to make
    prints from negatives (but not from slides - different process).
    When I doubt, ask if they print using a wet/silver halide/RA-4 process
    or not.
    Dave, Sep 29, 2004

    Kodak's Ofoto site says:
    # We use digital silver halide printing to produce fine-quality
    archival photographic prints.
    # Because our prints are archival quality, they should last as long as
    prints you would receive from a professional analog photo-processing
    # We use high-quality Kodak paper and state-of-the-art printers for all
    Ofoto prints.

    The Indian site (Kodak Express doesn't say
    anything about the process or paper but I believe it should be the

    Can someone point me to a link on how digital silver halide and
    conventional printing work? Couldn't find much by googling.

    Siddhartha Jain, Sep 29, 2004
  6. Siddhartha Jain

    Dave Guest

    I'm sure that they're nice, long-lasting prints (I've used Ofoto
    before), but I think calling them "archival" is stretching the
    definition a bit.

    Try searching for RA-4.

    Dave, Sep 29, 2004
  7. It depends. Some kiosks are connected to dye-subs (typically Kodak in my
    experience), while others connect to the machine in the back that is the same
    machine that prints film (typically Fuji in the places I frequent).
    Though depending on the training of the clerk, you might get the blank deer in
    the headlights stare if you ask the question that way.
    Michael Meissner, Sep 29, 2004
  8. Siddhartha Jain

    Dave Guest

    True enough, sad to say.
    Dave, Sep 29, 2004
  9. Are you talking about color? Silver halide is long term (100s of
    years) if on archival paper, but that is black and white images. Add
    color and you are talking about dyes, all of which fade. All colors,
    no matter what its composition, with the exception of a few minerals,
    fade over time. So don't expect ANY color print to last a normal
    human lifetime.
    George E. Cawthon, Sep 30, 2004
  10. Siddhartha Jain

    Bryan Olson Guest

    Right, and that agrees with what Dave was saying. Ofoto uses
    "digital silver halide printing", where the conventional process
    is optical/analog silver halide printing. The paper and
    chemicals are the same, and that's what determines longevity.
    Try Googling "Digital Minilab". Or maybe "lightjet", "Fuji
    Frontier", or 'Noritsu' + 'digital'.
    Bryan Olson, Sep 30, 2004
  11. Ok, so irrespective of digital or analog:
    Silver halide process + B+W dyes = Archival quality
    Silver halide process + Colour dyes = Fade because colour dyes fade

    Siddhartha Jain, Sep 30, 2004
  12. Siddhartha Jain

    Clyde Guest

    There are no dyes in the B&W silver halide process. What gives the
    black, white, and shades of gray are the density of very tiny clumps of
    silver halide crystals. So, the picture is made of these inert crystals
    that stay there. In 'wet' B&W printing, the two things you need to make
    it really archival are proper Fixing of those crystals and paper that
    will last a long time.

    In 'wet' color darkroom processes, the image is first created in B&W
    using the same process. Then the silver halide crystals are washed out
    and replaced by little 'clouds' of dye or some other bits of color. This
    is done on 3 layers to give the full range of colors.

    Most of these dyes will fade to a lessor or greater extent. Machine
    prints have a reputation of fading fairly quickly. "C Type" (most
    common) prints using the latest materials will last much longer than
    they used to. "R Type" prints and Ilfochrome are two processes that are
    designed to last for decades - maybe many decades. True "Dye Sub" (that
    is almost impossible to get any more) will probably last as long as good
    B&W prints.

    Well, that's the simplified version. If you are ordering color prints
    through normal commercial sources, you are probably getting machine
    prints or "C Type" prints. Neither of which is likely to last as long as
    an Epson pigment-ink print on the right paper. If they are advertising
    "R Type" or Ilfochrome, they will certainly make that very clear.

    Clyde, Sep 30, 2004
  13. Siddhartha Jain

    bob Guest

    My mom used to get a photo taken of me each year when I was a kid. Some of
    the earliest are B&W, but almost all are color. That's like 35 years ago.
    One of her prints has faded to the extent that it is objectionable, but all
    the rest look just fine.

    Color materials have improved greatly since the 70s.

    bob, Oct 1, 2004
  14. Siddhartha Jain

    Ron Baird Guest

    Greetings Siddhartha,

    The term in question likely relates to the use of a CRT Printer which
    exposes digital images to traditional color (silver based) paper. This can
    be done very fast and very efficiently. The rolls are then chemically
    processed and prints provided. They will last for a very long time. A
    simplified version of the chemical process is a process that includes the
    release of dyes based on chemical reactions in the film that corresponds to
    the silver that was exposed in a camera. When in contact with specific
    chemicals, dyes are released as dye clouds and are obsorbed into the layers
    of the emulsion based on . The silver is washed away leaving variations of
    these dye clouds in various layers of the film to make up the image. It is
    a similar process that occurs later if the film negative is printed.

    The other process that was alluded to here was the Kodak Picturemaker at
    which you can create a copy of a print, or print a digital image. This is
    designed and intended for individual printing and so uses Dye Thermal
    technology. It is equal in longevity to a silver based print. Dye
    sublimation printing starts with a dye bearing film. This will either be a
    single four layered film or four separate films. The primary colors for dyes
    on the film are cyan, magenta, and yellow. Also, the fourth film contains a
    semi-clear coating that is used to improve image stability and longevity.

    During the printing process, the films are placed on the paper and heated up
    by the print head. This will cause the dyes to leave the film and enter into
    the paper where it cools and re-solidifies. This is the "sublimation" part.
    Sublimation is when a solid changes directly to a gas, and than back to a
    solid again. Because the dyes go from solid, to gas, and back to solid,
    there is much less of a mess compared to liquid inks.

    With Inkjet, there are two types of inkjet technology: continuous flow and
    what is called 'drop-on-demand'. Continuous flow inkjet printing uses
    electrostatic movements to select ink drops to form an image. Drop-on-demand
    printing is either piezoelectric or thermal. Piezoelectric inkjet printing
    uses a mechanical means to eject ink.

    This technology uses heat to vaporize a very thin layer of ink that forces a
    small drop through a tiny opening. This process is repeated very rapidly,
    thousands of times per second. The hardware needed to bring all this to bear
    is built right into the inkjet cartridge. No wonder these cartrdiges are
    expensive. :) Since the inks used are basically the same as any other
    inkjet printing system, this has no significant, measurable effect on the
    longevity of the print itself.

    Kodak has introduced new Inkjet paper that when used correctly will yield
    very long lasting prints. See the following URL for details.

    Talk to you soon,

    Ron Baird
    Eastman Kodak Company
    Ron Baird, Oct 6, 2004
  15. Thanks Ron. That was informative. And I received the prints from
    KodakExpress. They've turned out to be really nice. I think I'll order
    more from them :)

    As a sidenote, I wrote to Kodak India asking for more info on the
    printing technology they use (since there was no info on the site). All
    the email from Kodak-India said was that they use Kodak paper and
    chemistry. Maybe you can shoot a mail to your Indian counterparts to
    put more info on the website or send more informative emails to
    inquisitive customers :)


    Siddhartha Jain, Oct 7, 2004
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