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Inkjet Photo Print Longevity Lacking

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the ghosts-of-digital-photos-past dept.

Printer 202

Yet another Anonymous Coward writes to tell us about a piece up at the NYTimes on the (lack of) longevity of photos printed on inkjet printers. As the article's title says, somewhat alarmingly, "It isn't that images fade, it's that they can vanish." The problem is actually more nuanced than this; it's that no-one has a reliable and standardized way of testing inkjet prints for longevity. From the article: "The life of color inkjet prints has also been hindered by the origins of the technology, which was mainly intended for printing things like pie charts, said Nils Miller, a scientist at Hewlett-Packard. 'The initial emphasis was, how do we get bright colors on plain paper," Dr. Miller said. "Permanence was not really on the radar screen yet.'"

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Old School (1, Interesting)

barista (587936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407693)

Sounds like a good reason to keep my film cameras (a Pentax 645 and a Pentax MX)

Re:Old School (5, Informative)

hexed_2050 (841538) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407731)

There is no good reason to keep your old film camera unless you can take a better picture on it personally.

If you have a high quality digital camera that takes great quality pictures, you can send your digital files in to many online digital development stores. They will then develop your digital pictures using traditional methods, instead of just printing them using an inkjet printer like Joe Public.
The key here is to buy quality cameras. Most cell phone based digital cameras will not take the quality of pictures that most people would be proud to actually get professionally developed; they may be cute and fit in your pocket/purse, but that's about the extent of it unless you're just taking pictures of your buddies in college while out drinking.

h

Re:Old School (2, Interesting)

tezbobobo (879983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407815)

I doesn't matter how good your photograph is if the paper it's printed on degrades, the ink fades or the DVD corrupts. I find that knowing the cost of photos with a film SLR causes one to tend to be a little more careful and lends itself more aptly to good photograph composition - that is good pictures are inherently more in the nature of film than digital.

And as a production manager of a newspaper (http://thecatholicrecord.org) I have never heard of a photoshop printing digital using 'traditional methods.' It would require photographing a print which is just stupid - especially when ink developers claim 100yrs+ on their inks.

Re:Old School (5, Informative)

hexed_2050 (841538) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407835)

I have never heard of a photoshop printing digital using 'traditional methods.'

I guess the word 'traditional' was a bit too generalized. By using the word 'traditional' I meant that they will print your picture out on proper paper that has a gelatin coating on the surface that protects the ink just like normal photographs when they are developed. The current inkjet photo paper does not offer this type of protection.

h

Re:Old School (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19408417)

I was under the impression that they used an enlarger just like with film development, but rather than have a negative in there, they have an extremely high resolution LCD (like in a data projector) with the negative image of your picture on it which is then projected onto regular photographic paper. And where I have them done, in the volume that I have them done, it costs 5p a print, which is substantially cheaper than printing it yourself with any inkjet.

Photographic paper is completely different from any type of ink-on-paper print.

Re:Old School (2, Interesting)

Idaho (12907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409315)

I have never heard of a photoshop printing digital using 'traditional methods.'


"traditional" as in: using chemically processed paper and using chemicals to fixate the image. As opposed to squirting ink on a piece of glossy paper (dye-sub or inkjet printers).

The difference being that machines that do the former will typically cost between $50,000 - $500,000, which is why nobody has them at home (well, that, and they're big...and use some rather nasty chemicals). But they produce superior and longer-lasting output.

Re:Old School (2, Interesting)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409923)

"Silver-halide" prints are superior, only in certain terms. All ink jet prints use more colors than the three found in "Silver-halide" paper, and so have a larger color gamut. They can print much more deeply saturated colors. violets, yellows, and reds, in particular.

True, ink jet print tend to be more easily damaged.

I prefer Silver Halide for increasingly subjective reasons. For example, the fact that the colors are buried in the emulsions makes it harder for the Brain to have that "ah-ha" moment where it figures out its being tricked by a flat representations and raises the "Its just a piece of paper stupid" alert. Halide prints preserve the "suspension of reality" a bit better than ink jet, but Ink jet can print more colors, so It's a trade off best informed by purpose.

AIK

Re:Old School (1)

aca_broj_1 (1034904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409799)

The traditional methods refer to using light-sensitive paper, not ink and a printer. The same process is used as when printing from negatives except that instead of shining light through them, a projector is used to develop the paper.

If Mr. is Mister, how is it Mrs.? Perhaps, Mr's ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19408105)

If Mr. is Mister, how is it Mrs.? Perhaps Mr's is the origin and the ' was removed over time, to make it Mrs. Now it all makes sense. The wife is mister's woman, hence, Mrs. That is the news that matters, nerds !!

Re:Old School (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407739)

So you're keeping your photos and negs in acid free paper in a nitrogen environment?

This story kind of reminds my of reading about how the platinum & silver emulsion-on-glass negatives of photographers like Mathew Brady ended up as panes in greenhouses. <GACK!!>

professional ink jets? (3, Informative)

yurigoul (658468) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407837)

There are professional ink jet printers that promise your pictures will last 100 years or more provided you use the right ink and the right paper. It is used for photo archiving - wich isn't such a bad idea because some paper snippets have have been around longer than the western civilization so a paper printout at the right quality certainly will last longer as any of my computers and harddisks - not to mention the brief lifespan of cds and dvds.

The Epson Photo R1800 comes to mind (but there are no doubt others) - I can use one from a company I work for. It is mainly used to do colour testing for professional print jobs. It can do A3 and also panorama printing on long stretches of paper.

Does anyone have any experience with one of those professional printers? Do they live up to their promise or is it just bogus because you need to keep them in dark storage below 0 degrees celcius or so?

Re:professional ink jets? (2, Informative)

stuktongue (140376) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408283)

I suggest you check out this site: http://www.westcoastimaging.com/ [westcoastimaging.com]

These guys seem to know their stuff, work with top-quality equipment, and provide a lot of information relevant to producing high-quality prints.

Take it easy.

Re:professional ink jets? (2, Informative)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408447)

I suggest you check out this site: http://www.westcoastimaging.com/ [westcoastimaging.com]

Unfortunately, the owner and most of the staff are radical Christians with a massive persecution complex. Where they once hired good photographers to work for them, they now recruit from their local church - and the owner has threatened former clients and employees, in addition to "cost cutting techniques" like dumping used fixer into the town sewer system. He is not a nice person.

The same information and expertise is out there at other businesses. I suggest you patronize them, rather than WCI.

[OT] Re:professional ink jets? (1)

stuktongue (140376) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408483)

Okay, we're definitely getting off topic here, but you've piqued my curiosity with your statements. Do you have any pointers to information that substantiates your claims? I'd be interested in that, and it's probably only fair you post that if you're going to put such claims out there on a public forum. (Please note, I am not disputing what you're saying.)

Re:professional ink jets? (1)

stuktongue (140376) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408489)

While I'm suggesting places to look for info on this, I'll also suggest A&I: http://www.aandi.com/ [aandi.com]

Take it easy.

Or just keep your bits. (5, Insightful)

*weasel (174362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409169)

Or, and this is a crazy thought: don't rely on printed copies of digital photos.
Just pass around the bits themselves, and back those bits up.

I don't understand people's fascination with printing photos.
And supposing you did really want a printed copy, who cares if it disappears?
It costs almost nothing to make another.

I've inherited stacks and stacks of family photos and slides - and I can't get them through the film scanner nearly fast enough. I worry far more about those physical boxes and their handling, than I value their ability to hold up over time compared to inkjet printing.

Re:Old School (5, Insightful)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409339)

No, not really. You see, unlike film, images digital images have the potential to last forever. It's a myth that film photographs will out last digital images. Who cares how long digital prints from a printer last? Ten years, a hundred years, the life time of a print is irrelevant. What matters is the life span of the original media; that be film or digital image. As long as you have that you can make prints.

Now here is the kick in the balls. Film degrades. Sooner or later the physical film media will decay into dust. Be it a 100 years or a 1000 years, soon or later that negative will cease to exist. The chemical process of developing the image also speeds that up. You see when you expose a negative the developing solution you start a chemical reaction that starts the process. When you put the negative in the stop bath it is suppose to "stop" the developing process. Well it doesn't. What it does is slows it to a crawl. The image on the negative may last forever to a human but the development process is still going on. One day that image will fade from then negative. The same thing applies to physical prints made from film images.

This is not true for digital images. They have the potential to last forever. As long as we have computers and networks we will always have the potential to view that image. That digital image has the potential to be as good 10 years, 100 years, even a billion years from now. Yeah, I know dvd degrade, harddrives go bad, and file formats will change. That maybe but physical digital media can be backed up and file formats can be converted. Film images can't. Once that image fades front the negative its gone.

What I don't understand... (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409469)

Is why there aren't any photo printers out there that just use the Polaroid style of image development. Polaroids last nearly as long as traditionally developed photos, and loading a pack of polaroids into a small printer seems like it would be a whole lot easier than dealing with separate printer paper and ink. Of course, then you lose the "multifunction" portion of the printer, but you end up with much higher quality prints anyway, so who cares?

Who expects them to last forever? (5, Insightful)

kevlarcoared (1079907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407699)

Who ctually expects something they print on a inkjet to last forever? Most people keep a digital copy as it and can just print off another copy if needed.

Re:Who expects them to last forever? (1)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407811)

TFA implies some desire to produce ~forever lasting photos for the historical benefit of future generations/civilizations:

"Those images should last thousands of years," he said from his office in Grinnell, Iowa. "Imagine seeing photos of the building of the pyramids."
Digital information may be totally useless to a future civilization. Still doesn't seem like paper is the way to achieve this goal. Some kind of solid-state, solar-powered, physically rugged yet-to-be-invented store and display media would be perfect.

Sadly, even a marvel such as that will be useless when the machines force us to blot out the sun with nuclear weapons...

Re:Who expects them to last forever? (1)

tezbobobo (879983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407861)

Actually, processed paper degrades very slowly and badly. The plus side - it is a solid state physically rugged display media which has already been invented and doesn't suffer loss due to being translated into digital information.

And as a history major in Uni, while I don't think anything last too long (library of Alexandria - built to last, almost completely destroyed)I know we can only try. It would be a shame to assume future generations wouldn't want this stuff if it turned out they did.

PRINTER longevity (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409051)

Actually, the photos seem to last longer than the printers. I've seen quite a few pack up just because they weren't used for a while. Granted, this could probably be solved with nozzle cleaning (not the push-button-gui kind), etc., but given the difficulty in doing this, vs. buying a new printer...

Next time, I'm going laser.

Who expects digital to last forever? (5, Interesting)

skoda (211470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409125)

Everyone here with digital data from 30 years ago raise your hand.

Everyone here with photographs from 30+ years ago raise your hand.

We need photographs to last "forever" because they are more easily kept, more permanent, more durable than the digital originals.

Re:Who expects digital to last forever? (1)

MonoSynth (323007) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409281)

...and there's absolutely no chance of being obsoleted by a rivaling format. Where's jpeg in 30 years? Where's human sight in 30 years?

Re:Who expects digital to last forever? (1)

dotgain (630123) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409419)

Pretty interesting analasys.
I wonder how many people had cameras thirty years ago versus how many had some means of a digital retrieval system aside from the light-switches in their house.

Last for ever : Digital and print (2, Interesting)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409499)

Who expects digital to last forever?

Effectively there's a small problem here :

- The digital files have to be usable in the future. As said on specialised page, the current situation is rather strange with consumers having much more luck than professionals.
Currently, most consumer camera use standart and open format (JPEG) for which there are supported by a wide number of code, some of which is open source (libJPEG). Even if the format is phased out in the future, you can still be sure that in 30 years you may find some specialised "archivist imaging software" that has JPEG import filters, recompiled to whatever platform we will use then (128bits x86 descendant, running CoyoteOS, Hurd unstable alpha or Microsoft Linux).
The situation is not so good for professional-grade equipment which very often use proprietary format to store hi quality pictures (each different series from each different manufacturer use their own home-made format for "RAW" pictures). Very often those format are poorly documented, kept secret or protected from reverse-engineering by DCMA. They are near to no tool to handle them (appart from the software that came with the device). In 30 years, the knoledge about one peculiar format may very well be lost, and no more software could be found that can open it (and pretty much sure that, had that software be excavated from somewhere, the deprecated OS and hardware running it will be missing too).

- The digital files have to be kept in shape. You can't just leave them on a medium and wait. Optical media may rot. Magnetic removable media such as floppy or tape is almost gone and you're not sure to find consumer readers in the future. HD may get bad track over time and data format may shift (how long will Windows keep FAT16 compatibility ?). Removable solid state is either subject to electromechanical incompatibility (still have SmartMedia reader ? Sure there will be arount in 30 years ?) or may malfunction (USB stick not responding after a lifetime of abuses).
What one needs is to transfer the files to newer medium regularily and the check them for errors. Keeping files on the family's RAID server (which will get newer drivers over time as technology and capacity change) is a solution. Or uploading them on a website (whose technical staff will take care of the hardware refresh), if you can trust it enough.

We need photographs to last "forever" because they are more easily kept, more permanent, more durable than the digital originals.


Then you don't need some crappy made-for-home cheap technology. If you want to keep your prints forever, you should use some method known to withstand time. You should "burn" them on actual film (laser optical printer like used for film recording [wikipedia.org] ) using chemically stable negative, and then keep the results in a temperature controlled safe.

Polaroids (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407727)

Remember when they used to supply a "sealer" to spread over the old black and whites? Then they put it in a pouch on the paper to be squeezed out as you pulled it out of the camera. Might work?

Re:Polaroids (1)

macs4all (973270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409449)

I don't think that was a sealer. I remember it as a wick that came in a plastic tube, sort of like a lipstick or chap-stick tube, but with a slit down the side that exposed the wick. The chemical smelled of Acetic acid (think of the smell of Vinegar), and wasn't "sticky" at all, like you'd expect a "sealer" to be.

I was always under the impression that it was a "fixative" or "stop bath" type chemical, who's job was to halt the self-development process, NOT a "sealant" to seal out the elements... Here's a reference [pcpics.net] that also calls it a "fixative"

Having said that, I have many old family photo albums taken with our bellows-type Polaroid Model 95 camera [rwhirled.com] that used the above technology, and in fact I still have the camera (although there is no way to get film for it). Those photos were taken in the 1950s and early 60s, and are as fresh and crisp-looking today as the day they were taken.

No big deal (4, Insightful)

Diomidis Spinellis (661697) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407785)

The article starts by presenting the preservation of photo negatives in a storehouse at 0 degrees Celsius and 25% RH, and then moves on discussing the problems of preserving inkjet photos. Photos printed on inkjets come from digital images. It is the bits of these images we want to preserve, not the printed photos. The nice thing with digital photos, is that if the printed photo fades, you can print it again. I was scanning some 20-year old negatives over the weekend, and I realized that they were irreparably scratched and darkened. (And don't get me started on the color distortions of printed 30-year old photos). With my digital photos I am reasonably sure that in 20 years I'll be able to print them in the same, or probably better quality.

The two real problems are:

  • Digital preservation [wikipedia.org] . Will my files survive 50 years of moving between storage media? Will I be able to view JPEG files in 50 years time?
  • People who print their photos on inkjet printers and then delete (or loose) the digital version of the image. This is happening more often as digital cameras are increasingly bought by less IT-savvy people.
These are important problems. However, on balance I think that the benefits of digital preservation are more than the risks [spinellis.gr] .

Re:No big deal (2, Interesting)

rabblerabble (884373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407823)

In 20 years, I would hope that I can print more than 20-30 high quality images without spending $40-50 on ink cartridges. Maybe the R&D departments should spend some time there... Of course, that would be in opposition to the corporate business plan (make as much money with as little effort as possible). Parent is on target though; I would add that cost effectiveness of prints is/should be a priority for most end users rather than the longevity of said prints. If it costs pennies to reprint an image, it will be trivial for someone to try to transpose images to a new format (if possible). But enough with my ramblings :)

Re:No big deal (4, Insightful)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407871)

"It is the bits of these images we want to preserve, not the printed photos."

Agreed, but I have recorded CDRs that can no longer be read. Same for Iomega ZIP and JAZ disks (no drives). I have Apple DOS 5.25 floppies and 3.5 inch ProDos discs. Heck, I even have some tapes and an 8" floppy from a PDP-11. All containing "bits" that can no longer be retrieved by the average person.

Will your grandson stumble one day on a DVD-R in your attic labeled "family photos", but have no way to retrieve them?

Re:No big deal (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408091)

Agreed, but I have recorded CDRs that can no longer be read. Same for Iomega ZIP and JAZ disks (no drives).

So do I, but the data that was on them now occupies a tiny portion of the hard drives in my current computers. It's been copied onto half a dozen different backup formats, and I expect it'll migrate across a multitude more in the course of my life.

Preserving digital information takes less effort than storing paper prints.

Re:No big deal (2)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409181)

So do I, but the data that was on them now occupies a tiny portion of the hard drives in my current computers. It's been copied onto half a dozen different backup formats, and I expect it'll migrate across a multitude more in the course of my life.

It's obvious to us techies, but sadly "normal people" just burns their photos to CD-R and put in on the shelf, expecting it to still work when they next want to use it. Yes, it's stupid, but they don't realise that.

I wrote an article [nexusuk.org] on the subject a few years ago - really the best method is to take regular backups *and* keep the data on a running hard drive.

Re:No big deal (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409717)

"Preserving digital information takes less effort than storing paper prints."
Not really. The good old fashioned mk.1 shoe box works for at least 30 years. One of the benifits of traditonal prints is that they degrade and don't just fail. An old picture of your great grand father that is less then perfect is still of some use to you. A scan in IFF HAM stored on an AmigaOS 3.5" disk is probably a lot less useful to the average users.

Re:No big deal (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408913)

Heck, I even have some tapes and an 8" floppy from a PDP-11.

If it's an RX02 floppy, bring it round [kicks-ass.net] ...

Re:No big deal (1)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407905)

Digital preservation still doesn't solve the problem of preserving images on the 1000 year scale. In a previous post I mused about the possibility of a solid-state, solar powered, physically rugged media that has the ability to store and display images. Now that would rock. Think Superman's crystals...

Re:No big deal (1)

tomknight (190939) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408249)

"Digital preservation still doesn't solve the problem of preserving images on the 1000 year scale"

Well, it's certainly looking at it....
"Reliability modelling for long term digital preservation" : http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl/publications/paperlink /Reliability%20modelling.pdf [forth.gr] .
In case you're too lazy to read the document it specifically talks about keeping a digital archive intact (in terms of hardware failure) over more than 1000 years. I'll grant you that this doesn't look at the format used to store information but use of well documented (open) formats makes life easier.

Re:No big deal (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409195)

use of well documented (open) formats makes life easier.

It certainly makes life easier in the short to medium term (maybe up to 150 years), but I'm not convinced it's going to help a lot 1000 years after the format became obsolete - you still have to find the specification for the format and write software to decode it.

Re:No big deal (2, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408925)

Digital preservation still doesn't solve the problem of preserving images on the 1000 year scale.

A CNC mill, a few slabs of slate, and a bit of Perl. Drill your data into metamorphic rock.

Re:No big deal (2, Informative)

VE3OGG (1034632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407977)

Will my files survive 50 years of moving between storage media? Will I be able to view JPEG files in 50 years time?
If you are worried about lossy compression and the uncertain nature of JPEG-licensing and popularity, might I suggest the open source alternative?

PNG [wikipedia.org] -- a lossless (or lossy, if you prefer to skimp on space) image format that is open source, and can handle a variety of effects (the big one that I can think of is transparency, but then that has little berring on photography).

I made the switch to PNG about two years ago, and really haven't looked back. I just find working with them to be a lot simpler than JPEG. It doesn't hurt that it is open source either...

Re:No big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19408117)

Will my files survive 50 years of moving between storage media? Will I be able to view JPEG files in 50 years time?
If you are worried about lossy compression and the uncertain nature of JPEG-licensing and popularity, might I suggest the open source alternative? [PNG]

He's concerned about the integrity of the media he's saved the file to, and most cameras save in JPEG format. JPEGs don't just lose quality while sitting around, only when you open and resave, (which is what you seem to have in mind.)

Re:No big deal (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408271)

JPEG and PNG are complementary to each other, they do not compete with each other. JPEG is a lossy format meant for photos, PNG is a lossless format for drawings with a limited number of colours. PNG was developed to replace GIF, which was once problematic with regards to a Unisys patent.

Re:No big deal (2, Informative)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408373)

PNG was developed to replace GIF

Which phrase I think does it no justice. It has much improved functionality over GIF, not least being 24 bit colour with a variable alpha channel. This means it actually can *replace* JPEG (yeah I know its file sizes are bigger), whereas GIF can't (even with a big filesize) because of its puny 256 colours.

Re:No big deal (1)

demon driver (1046738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408003)

Will my files survive 50 years of moving between storage media? Will I be able to view JPEG files in 50 years time?
And, maybe even more critical: Will I be able to view/convert today's RAW files in 50 years time?

Re:No big deal (1)

Diomidis Spinellis (661697) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408131)

Will my files survive 50 years of moving between storage media? Will I be able to view JPEG files in 50 years time?
And, maybe even more critical: Will I be able to view/convert today's RAW files in 50 years time?
No way, and I'd be willing to place a bet on this. The best you can do is to store them to a lossless format. I know, you will loose information through this process, but usefully processing RAW images requires much out-of-band bespoke knowledge that is unlikely to survive 50 years.

Re:No big deal (1)

demon driver (1046738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408203)

Will I be able to view/convert today's RAW files in 50 years time?
No way, and I'd be willing to place a bet on this. The best you can do is to store them to a lossless format. I know, you will loose information through this process, but usefully processing RAW images requires much out-of-band bespoke knowledge that is unlikely to survive 50 years.
That's what I'm suspecting as well. Even if I was going to convert all my manufacturer-specific RAWs to Adobe DNG (and thereby already losing some manufacturer-specific EXIF data) and even if DNG would be around 50 years from now, I'd still be in need of a converter with a proper camera profile for the specific camera the RAW was made with. Which is why the "Open RAW" initiative, too, seems to be addressing only half of the problem...

Re:No big deal (2, Interesting)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408207)

And, maybe even more critical: Will I be able to view/convert today's RAW files in 50 years time?

Absolutely.

Since Dave Coffin's dcraw [cybercom.net] utility is open-source (in fact, I think it's public domain) there is no reason why it would vanish in such a short time. You will be able to find a compiler somewhere since it's written in C.

Now, if you were relying on the propriety closed-source software that came with the cameras you'd be in trouble, but Dave's software is generally better quality than that half-arsed crap anyway.

Re:No big deal (1)

demon driver (1046738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408261)

Unfortunately, for a specific camera, dcraw and dcraw-based converters are only as good as the camera profile that exists for that specific camera. Which are not too good at all for Olympus DSLRs, for example. And, in contrast to the manufacturer's solutions and to some of the better commercial converters, results may look completely different when coming from two different camera models even of the same manufacturer. Which is no fun when you tend to do shootings with those two cameras side by side. In other words, for me, the 'camera profile' part of the problem is already there for some converters, including dcraw and derivates.

Re:No big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19409749)

Put a copy of dcraw on your media, you will be able to convert as long as there are ANSI C compilers.

Re:No big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19409061)

lose is the opposite of find
loose is the opposite of tight

Re:No big deal (1)

bjackson1 (953136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409293)

Will I be able to view JPEG files in 50 years time?
There is waaay too much porn on the internet in JPEG form for us to give up on the format that easily.

Seriously though, if we can find a way to play wax cylinders that the first sounds were recorded on, I think that viewing JPEGs is a moot point. No mechanical device needs to be procured to open bits.

It's possible the problem would be finding a CD drive, however I'm sure some rich audiophiles somewhere will have a CD player somewhere saying "Man, the lack of bits and bandwidth really lets these Oldies from Brittney Spears come through."

What about the longevity of printers themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19407791)

They break every damn month.

Re:What about the longevity of printers themselves (2, Funny)

rabblerabble (884373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407853)

Quit smacking them every time you see "PC LOAD LETTER"!

Re:What about the longevity of printers themselves (1)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409129)

What the fsck does that mean?

inks crap anyway (3, Interesting)

tezbobobo (879983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407827)

further to what I said before I wonder why anyone serious about photography would use ink except for drafts. I've developed onto some very nonstandard surface which I can imaging completely destoying my printer (even if they did fit in thickness wise). There are also beautiful emulsions which will print with metals rather than normal cololours. Iamgie a black and white sunset where the highlights are rendered in gold. Ink doesn't need to last 150 years +, because it is for home and amatuer use.

Re:inks crap anyway (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409613)

There are pro photo printers by Epson and other companies that have very long life. Epson claims 108 years for color, 200 years for B&W. Their printers are pretty expensive, starting from $500 and I've seen a model going for $1500.

Re:inks crap anyway (1)

mattkime (8466) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409913)

Photography troll?

The vast majority of commercial photography has gone digital. Printing digitally has many speed and cost advantages over darkroom prints. The longevity of digital prints frequently exceeds that of darkroom prints.

At these prices (4, Informative)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407831)

The prints should be archival at the prices they charge. Ink is the biggest scam in computers today. The excuse that we never considered longevity is total BS the issue was how cheap can we make the ink and much can we charge for it to maximize the profits. The real point is they don't care. You can buy archival ink but it's even more expensive.

Re:At these prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19408809)

But...but...but...That's just the invisible hand of the market dictating the lowest reasonable cost that people will pay...

Other types of prints? (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407855)

First thought: So does this affect the prints I get from Walgreens?

I know persistent digital storage is the recommended solution, but it's not simple - CDs degrade given enough time, and my 3.5" floppy backups, if they're not all bad, aren't exactly accessible on Macs nowadays. And what comes after CDs? If I continue on the portable hard drive route, will that be a $300 investment in new HD technology every decade? Every 5 years? Just upload it all to Gmail?

Second thought: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_scream [wikipedia.org]

The name of the guy they took most of the quotes in the article from. Or, the sound most people make upon discovering their backups are bad.

Re:Other types of prints? (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408991)

One of the benefits of digital media is that you can transport the data from one medium to another so rather than just burning off a load of CDs and sticking them in the attic you need to make sure you back up your stuff to the most recent storage medium and keep the main copy on the device you use to make the backups.

Re:Other types of prints? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409439)

Well, I get my prints at Walmart, for $CDN 0.19 a picture. We leave then hanging on the wall, often in direct sunlight, and I've never seen any fading. I've seen some photos that other people have given me placed in the same location and they have experienced major fading. I have yet to ask them whether they are printed at home or elsewhere, but one of them looked like it was a picture from a portrait studio. I don't understand the hype with printing at home. You very rarely have to have a hard copy right now, and with all the problems with clogged heads, printers breaking, and $50 ink cartridges, I don't have any desire to print any of my pictures at home.

and not only ink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19407915)

It seems everything lacks longevity these days. It just doesn't pay off from evolutionary/market perspective.

Obviously. (2, Interesting)

VE3OGG (1034632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407931)

I have never understood people's desire to print their photos at home using current technology.

First-of-all, the price-per-print is absolutely ludricrous. It used to be in the 1-2 CDN per print, and has come down, but not significantly. While gas and time may prove a factor for some, I just walk to the neighbourhood developer and get them developed that way (or keep them digital!).

Secondly, the investment reeks of a fleecing. Upwards of a hundred dollars in ink? A packet of 20 sheets of paper for the better part of 10 dollars? A printer that will definitely break before it becomes obsolete? No thanks.

For a period, I worked in a big-box computer store and any chance someone told me that they wanted to print from home, I tried to politely tell them that the technology was unproven, and that the pictures wouldn't last as long as the conventionally developed ones. That, combined with showing them what a discount setup would produce, and what an investment it would ultimately prove to be, would often turn them away from that direction.

It is not that I object to home printing, nor do I have a vested interest in getting people to go to a developer. I am not a professional developer, or one of those photography buffs who insists on doing it in the "well, back in my day..." way. Rather, I see this whole "home printing" phenomeneon as a potential market that has been tapped using an inefficient tool not made for the task.

Now some may point out those supposed "specialty" printers that Kodak, Canon or Hewlett-Packard manufacture, but these are also no different, other than usually fleecing you on the ink.

And for those that would suggest using "off-brand" supplies, for most printing that is a fine suggestion, but in my experience (which, I will admit has not been considerable), the quality is sorely lacking in many of these products. THe paper is ill-suited to the task, and the ink is often "not quite as clear". ANd the price differential can be drastic, but if the product is noticably inferior, then what purpose does it serve?

Just my 2c CND (which incidentally is rapidily approaching parity with the US dollar.)

Re:Obviously. (2, Informative)

demon driver (1046738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408135)

I have never understood people's desire to print their photos at home using current technology.
Two reasons for me. One, instant availability. This is for the occasional small print, which I usually do on heavy glossy paper. But for larger quantities I do indeed order small prints on proper photographic paper through online services. Unfortunately, there's no developer in my neighborhood whose service would be faster than them.

Reason two, reliable output. This is for larger prints, mostly I do 30x40cm/12x16", which I do on inexpensive 'office photo' type paper. After having tried a couple of online photo services, the last of which came back to me with the same picture looking completely different on a large print than on a small print, I gave up and went back to my old Epson Stylus Photo 1270. The printer sure has its problems, and the colours last only when put behind glass, but that's where they'll be, and, most important, after I've seen the picture on the screen I know what it will look like on paper and that it won't be randomly under- or overexposed, as long as I'm staying with the same brand and type of paper.

Re:Obviously. (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408629)

Do you have any more information on why they last better behind glass and how much longer (any sources)? I ask because we recently printed out a lot of photo's of our wedding and put them behind glass - I'd like to think this will last a reasonable amount of time though of course I have them backed up to DVD and HD...

Re:Obviously. (1)

demon driver (1046738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408821)

Do you have any more information on why they last better behind glass and how much longer (any sources)?
No figures or sources at hand, while I've seen, though not followed, some potentially useful links in other postings; personally, I'd expect around three years or even more based on my own experience, modern dry ink prints possibly a lot longer (my old Epson still uses liquid ink). As to why, I suspect it will be a combination of less UV radiation and less contact with air, making the dyes less vulnerable to degradation (oxidation).

Re:Obviously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19408887)

Epson dye inks in particular suffer very heavily from gas fading (e.g. from ozone). The prints can noticeably change color/fade in weeks depending on the environment. It helps a lot to put them behind glass, but they will still fade from light/UV exposure. Don't expect more than a couple of years without significant color changes/fading.

Re:Obviously. (1)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409265)

For a period, I worked in a big-box computer store and any chance someone told me that they wanted to print from home, I tried to politely tell them that the technology was unproven, and that the pictures wouldn't last as long as the conventionally developed ones. That, combined with showing them what a discount setup would produce, and what an investment it would ultimately prove to be, would often turn them away from that direction.

Did you get fired? Seems like you would try to sell your products in the store, and show customers what a discount setup would produce in order to sell a better setup...

Re:Obviously. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409471)

Maybe he was actually trying to tell the truth to the customer so that they would come back many times and buy many things, instead of buying one thing and being disappointed when they found out they were lied to, and decided never to go to that store again.

Costco Print dept? (2, Informative)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19407991)

Folks, I've heard from a photo pro being interviewed on the Geekspeak radio broadcast, that many pros run into each other at the Costco printing dept. I imagine other similar depts. do a similarly good job. Its outsourcing; but considering the volume and competitive market, who on earth wants to buy into the ink-jet printer/ink mafia if they can avoid it? And apparently with volume, these large depts. manage quality okay.

Also, using clients such as Google's Picasa, its just as easy to 'print' to the photo shop as it is on a mafia controlled printer.

- - - - - --
Have a nice day, if you can manage one.

Re:Costco Print dept? (1)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408031)

What would be killer would be if Costco, or a competitor, published ICC profiles on their websites, with detailed installation instructions ala wiki for their clued-in customers to print towards, and complete a color-managed workflow. Maybe its being done already, I have no idea (I haven't any experience with this U.S. aspect, as I'm over here. I hope to visit a Costco at least once in my life!).

Or maybe ICC profiles are passé now, I wonder what the cool kids are using these days? I haven't been keeping up actually.

Re:Costco Print dept? (3, Informative)

backbyter (896397) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408579)

You have 2 more wishes.

Costco is/was using a company called Dry Creek Photo for "Professional" printing. You can download ICC profiles from Dry Creek.

One of your other wishes might be used on logging into Costco.com as a professional photographer. (I don't remember how.)

What about non-inkjets? (2, Interesting)

prockcore (543967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408001)

My kodak easyshare photo printer uses thermal dye transfer. I'd think those would last longer.. hell they're even waterproof.

Real Permanence? (5, Insightful)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408019)

The old silver-based processes last a pretty long time. Same for the copper-based before that. There is a shop nearby that resurrected some very old metal plates used by a photographer in the early 1800s I think to document Indian life - and they are beautiful. But what lasts is that the images are either etched metal or metal deposited on glass or imbedded in the gelatin coating on paper.

But even conventional color film and photographs are just dyes and are subject to eventual fading. With black and white, you actually reduce silver halide to silver metal. It won't fade. But dyes are organic and will lose color as the dye molecules decompose.

One way to make inkjet images last longer is to protect them from UV light. A guy I know printed two identical images and hung them in his office. One had no protective cover and the other had a glass cover. The glass protected the dyes from UV degredation and that print still looks great. The one with no cover glass has very much faded.

People strive for some kind of lasting mark on society or evidence they existed and their lives mattered. The fact is that most evidence of any of us will eventually fade just the way it has for generations before us. Old fil got brittle, cracked, or was water damaged and stuck together. Old prints suffer similar fates. It's just by luck a that a lot of the old images have lasted.

Digital images have an advantage in that they are lossless and the data can be copied from media to media to keep them current and readable. But it is a maintenance that if you don't do, you will eventually lose the image. You can use a film printer to output images to actual film just like you had taken the image with a regular camera but are limited by the film printer's resolution and now you are back to having a format that can't be copied losslessly.

For lots of people, the only record they ever existed is either a headstone, or more commonly, just their skeletons. Might as well get used to the idea.

Surprised? (1)

fluch (126140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408049)

Is anybody really surprised?! Honestly? It was never intended for making long lasting stuff but just a cheap way to avoid making real photo prints from digital photos.

This has been known for years (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408087)

I read about this in a magazine in about 1999, and I tested it by taking a sample print, stapling a sheet of black paper to one half of it then leaving it in a window for a few months.

Three months later, the red component of the uncovered part had faded to almost nothing. I know red isn't used in inkjets, but nevertheless that was what it looked like.

It's not so bad these days - I have many inkjet prints at home which are behind glass in the form of a photo frame, and I've had them for a few years now. I've even got test prints which I ran off comparing OEM to cheap third-party inks and papers, and it's still practically impossible to tell any of the prints apart. But I do wonder if the prints will look as good in 5 or 10 years.

Re:This has been known for years (4, Informative)

OS24Ever (245667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408311)

I switched to a Kodak 1400 Dye-Sublimation printer and their tiny 4x6 dye sub printer about two years ago now. Before that sunk a lot of money into ink/paper for a Canon S9000.

I do a non-scientific Fridge Test. That is, I do what most families do with their prints. The put a magnet, stick em to the fridge, and leave them.

Within 45 days anything from my S9000 printer would fade, even more annoying if the magnet didn't move you'd get the magnet outline because underneath it was ok, but anything exposed to the air vanishes.

On my Kodak 1400, and my Kodak Printer Dock 3 the same 'fridge test' has them still looking like new (i'll print a new one every six months and compare in regular light) and I've had several on my fridge for two years. To the best of my knoweldge Kodak (and other) DyeSub printers stand up just like silver halide based on what I've read on the web - take that FWIW. Silver Halide printing would last about 20 years exposed to the air.

That being said, on the Canon S9000 if your print is under glass in a frame - it does not fade. I printed six 4x6s, three dyesub, and three Canon S9000. I put them in a 6 4x6 frame and they've been on my desk at the office now for 18 months. No fading on any of the images.

I'm now all DyeSub. I have the Kodak 4x6 printer, a Mitsubishi 9550DW that I use for printing 4x6, 5x7, and 6x8 for my Photography business and my Kodak 1400 for printing 8x10s. I know the cost per page exactly, and don't have to guess. That's the other thing I hated about inkjets, you never really now when/why you run out of ink.

I've not seen an inkjet that can 'out do' the printer at a lower cost. I'm very happy with the dyesubs.

archival inks (2, Interesting)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408211)

Don't some manufacturers sell/market archival ink, specifically meant to last 100+ years? What do the pros use? I've never owned a photo printer, because I don't print that much, and when I do I'd rather use an online service that (I assume, rightly or wrongly) has a much more expensive printer than I could buy in my price range. But the prints I've ordered were indistinguishable (by me) from "real" photos.

Other than instant gratification, does home printing offer any advantages over commercial printing services? Is the quality of prints/paper reasonably comparable?

Re:archival inks (3, Informative)

sunspot55 (305580) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408585)

The article does a pretty good job of summing this up, but the quick version is this. There are two main types of inkjet colorants, pigments and dyes. Pigments are more costly, and have a slightly smaller gamut, but they can last longer than traditional film prints. Becuase of the cost, inkjet manufacturers have not been targeting the average consumer with these pigment based printer/ink combination. If you are willing to spend some money, you can get a pigment based printer that will last 100+ years. Also, because the ink sits on top of the paper, the paper you use to print also contributes or detracts from the longevity of the print. Willhelm research, the company mentioned in the article that does longevity testing has some very interesting results; I highly recommend checking out the website. Here is an article [wilhelm-research.com] from the reserch firm from the article that compares a couple different different printer/paper combinations.

If you take a look at a particular printer such as the HP Photosmart 8450 [wilhelm-research.com] you can see that depending on what paper you use the lifetime of the print can last from 9 to 108 years. The method that you keep the printed photo will affect its longevity as well. Most printer manufacturers quote the Wilhelm lifetime when the photo is framed under glass. As you can imagine, when kept under glass the prints last longer.

Who you get the ink from also affects the lifetime of the print. The first article I linked examines some refiller cartridges. This is where ink refillers are really weak.; their lifetimes are much shorter.

Re:archival inks (1)

KenSeymour (81018) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409995)

I am not a pro, but I researched this a little before buying my photo printer. I think
I would be considered in the "Pro-Am" category.

Epson Ultrachrome pigment-based inks are fairly long lasting. I bought an Epson R800 [wilhelm-research.com]
printer, which works with these inks, and I use it a lot. According to Welhelm, the prints should last 100+ if
framed under glass. These are the photos I care about as I hope to sell prints someday soon. I don't want to take someone's money
and have them disappointed when 3 years later, the color has faded.

I started taking 35mm photos in the late '70s and the colors have definitely faded since then in
both the prints and the negatives. The black and white photos look the same as the day
I printed them.

Making your own prints is more expensive than having someone else do it. But if you are
into photography, you might enjoy the control you get and the learning process of how
to produce good digital photos.

The ink-jet, Epson Ultrachrome inks produce prints that last longer than film based color prints.

Try Hemp !!! (5, Interesting)

ShakaZ (1002825) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408217)

Strange thing we have so much trouble preventing paper & color degrading over time when centuries ago the problem has already been solved. Just look at all those books written on hemp that are still in great shape & with bright colours that give us insight over the knowledge of past human civilization. It's a shame we're in an era now where mindless consumerism and capitalism are so powerful that products we buy don't have to perform anymore as they did in the past and still cost more... examples of this are everywhere, tasteless fruit & vegetables, electronic devices that barely make it past the warranty date, products that cost more because they're better eventhough the new process to produce them costs less, new products that are pushed on the market in order to maintain royalties while not adding anything usefull or even being of lower quality or environmentally more dangerous, etc...

Re:Try Hemp !!! (1)

demon driver (1046738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408617)

Just look at all those books written on hemp that are still in great shape
Well, only as long as nobody smoked them!

Analogue color photography is even worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19408495)

Best fade properties for an analogue color photo system are found in Fuji's Crystal paper that is rated by Wilhelm Research at approx. 35 years, framed behind glass indoors. Negative dye coupler color film has a bad reputation and the same for slide film based on that system. Kodachrome isn't a practical solution anymore but must be considered the best film for archival properties (and more). Ilfochrome/Cibachrome isn't better than Fuji's Crystal paper.

So digital inkjet prints with pigment inks are not bad at all if compared to the old alternatives. Fade numbers see: www.wilhelm-research.com In some cases 2x to 5x better.
It will be hard to keep digital files for that long. And 80% of image files are never printed. Based on that it wouldn't surprise me if inkjet prints actually will represent a better image of today over a 100 years than any other source then.

It is only with silver based B&W photography that inkjet prints can not yet get similar numbers but that's on a >200 years lifespan.

A strange story as HP recently introduced their Vivera pigment inks that rank more or less first place on fade properties in Wilhelm's tests, leaving Canon and Epson behind.

Ernst Dinkla

www.pigment-print.com

A number of points arise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19408561)

firstly,
Why bother doing prints at home?

Well, the same argument could be made about old school photography
  Why bother having a dark room at home?

I can tell you why.
  1) It because I get fleeced at a lab when I want to print anything larger than 10x8
  2) Can you find a lab that uses the type of paper I want it printed on?
  3) Can I be sure that their printer has been setup correctly.?

My A3+ printer is calibrated along with my screen. I also use Fine Art papers for most of my printing. Commercial setups don't use this at all. (please correct me here but I have never found one)
The final part of my setup is that I use continious inking systems. This reduces the cost per print considerably. I use Lyson Small Gamut inks and get great results.

Now back to the fading issue.

In the old days of digital printing, yes the inks used caused the prints to fade quite rapidly.

These days, things are different. The sorts of inks used in many printers are very different and when used with the right papers very resistant to fading.

As I mentioned above, the Lyson inks I use are archival quality.
I have prints hanging on my walls that have been up there since 2004 and there are no noticeable signs of fading.

Ok, I'm not the average digital camera user. I'm a semi pro sports snapper so my requirements are 'not normal' but if you want to, you can produce prints that fade at the same rate (or even slower) than 'old school wet darkroom' prints.

How I lowered my ink costs.... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19408621)

You can use archival ink easily enough - all printer manufacturers produce a printer which uses pigmented inks. But they cost. This is a simple list of how printer manufacturers make their money:

Company...Printer........Ink

Canon.....High cost.......Medium cost
Epson.....Low cost........High cost
HP..........Medium cost...Medium cost
Lexmark.....crap...........crap

So what I did was buy Epson printers - low cost for what you are getting, so the top spec ones are a good bargain. But the Epson ink is very overpriced. So I worked out how to get it cheaper. Here is another table, in GBP:

Epson cartridges........15.0
Cheaper cartridges...... 6.0
Fill your own............. 1.60
Continuous Ink supply.. 0.32

So the answer is simple - buy Epson, get a CIS from e-bay, and fill with decent archival bulk OCP ink from Germany.

Re:How I lowered my ink costs.... (1)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409685)

Lexmark

I almost never print anything any more, but the wife and kids might print a page or two a day. We use a Lexmark multi-function that was given to us by a friend. We've used it for years and it continues to work great -- could you explain why the cost of machine and ink is so bad compared to the others?

Back to the Future photos (5, Funny)

jettawu (1030820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408639)

As the article's title says, somewhat alarmingly, "It isn't that images fade, it's that they can vanish."
Doc: Great Scott. Let me see that photograph again of your brother. Just as I thought, this proves my theory, look at your brother.
Marty: His head's gone, it's like it's been erased.
Doc: Erased from existence.

I couldn't resist

The poor quality of research? (1)

yubyub (173486) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408651)

Quote: "The problem is actually more nuanced than this; it's that no-one has a reliable and standardized way of testing inkjet prints for longevity."

Do some research. See that http://www.wilhelm-research.com/ [wilhelm-research.com] does have such tests, and has for quite a while:

"Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. conducts research on the stability and preservation of traditional and digital color photographs and motion pictures...

"Henry Wilhelm and Carol Brower Wilhelm are the authors of the landmark 744-page book, The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs: Traditional and Digital Color Prints, Color Negatives, Slides, and Motion Pictures, published in 1993."

I don't work for them. I just take a lot of digital photos.

Re:The poor quality of research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19409203)

And according to http://www.wilhelm-research.com/ [wilhelm-research.com] the best of the inkjet prints last longer than the best of the photo prints. This makes sense because with inkjets there is no chemical process to cause problems.

If you want prints to last you need to use acid free paper and good pigment based inks. However the low end of injet prints is pretty bad. This is one of the reasons that Kodak's injet printers are interesting -- they use good inks for about half the price of and HP cartage.

Typical un-researched newspaper article (4, Insightful)

DJoy (1112125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408795)

The article is typical of some hack cranking out an article without understanding the technology or doing a shred of research.

Firstly there are two main types of inkjet ink, there's dye and then pigment. The difference between them is like watercolour vs oil-paint. Dye inks will soak into the fibres of the paper and change the colour of the paper fibres, pigment inks are the colour, they sit atop the paper as little blobs of colour, like oil paint.

The inkjet prints we've all seen fading are dye prints, which are prone to fading both by strong light, and by atmospheric contamination. They are also compounded by people buying third party inks and refills based upon the myth that they're "just as good". They might look bright an punchy when you print it, but two weeks later when it's fading maybe you'll realise why the big companies like HP, Canon and particularly Epson spend millions on ink research, and why their inks cost more.

The Archival inkjet printers we see on sale today pretty much exclusively use pigment inks, which have their own set of problems to overcome ( gloss differential, bronzing & metamerism ). Pigment inks are very stable, and can include other elements like gloss and uv filtering coatings. A lifetime of 75 years can be expected, longer if stored away for archival purposes. B&W prints can last even longer ( it's often the yellow that's the first to fade ).

Dye inks are becoming increasingly better in the longevity department too, the latest efforts from Epson have a much longer lifespan than previous dye inks.

The article suggests there is no standardised testing, this is not entirely true, the slightest bit of research would have yielded the standardised tests developed by Henry Wilhelm at the Wilhelm Institute. Virtually all the major manufacturers ( Epson, HP, Canon, Hahnemuhle etc ), with the exception of Kodak who are a bit naughty here, use these same tests for their quoted longevity claims. It's as close to a "standard" as there will ever be, and is widely accepted in the industry.

The best archival quality in wet-chemistry prints was considered to be Cibachrome, now refered to as Ilfochrome Classic. A good pigment inkjet will last as long or longer than a Cibachrome.

Re:Typical un-researched newspaper article (1)

DJoy (1112125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408849)

OK, I should RTFA, and not rely on the /. synopsis, which is pretty contrary to the actual article itself. Clearly they did know about Wilhem. Thanks a bunch /.

Re:Typical un-researched newspaper article (1)

Analogy Man (601298) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409451)

Right on! From my research the Epson investment in archival ink and paper research was a major consideration in my selection of their products.

not news (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 7 years ago | (#19408993)

inkjets have long been known for fading. You can pay a lot of money for higher grade ink carts for most printers, that are good for supposedly 10 years.

A lot of the photography shops in my area push the issue really hard, how "digital prints can fade over time" of course recommending you bring your memory stick into them so they can print good photography prints instead. (gotta change with the times or die I suppose, chemical photography is going pro-only)

My argument against this is simple... I can pay you $10 to develop a roll of 36 that will last 10 years and then require me to pay you another $10 to reprint them ten years from now, OR I can inkjet them here for about $1 and reprint them again in 2 years if necessary. Assuming I simlply must keep the prints good forever, I can pay $5/10 yrs or $10/10 yrs, and in many cases I don't need hardcopies ever, I can view them on my computer forever for free. Also in many cases you don't need the whole roll reprinted, just one or two, which makes the inkjet a lot more convenient and much cheaper.

I think I'll stick with my inkjet and its cheap ink. Take it ino the camera store if you need a print of the kids blown up to 8x10 for grandma or something.

Spo8ge (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19409079)

Survival Prospects then disappeared Nigger Association questions, then time I'm done here, market. Therefore, ops or any of the everyday...We

Photo labs (1)

emm-tee (23371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409107)

Seeing as most 1-hour photo labs these days seem to use something that looks like inkjet, it would be interesting to know what the expected life of these prints is, compared to the life of traditional prints.

Personally I like the old analogue film printing method, but the shop I used for this has switched to digital equipment now.

Re:Photo labs (3, Informative)

NotQuiteInsane (981960) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409197)

Most of the labs I've seen use the Fuji Frontier machines. Basically a three-laser colour printer (as in 'lasers print straight onto the photo paper') combined with a supply of light-sensitive photo paper and a develop/fix engine on the back end. All the advantages (print longevity, tried-and-tested technology, cheap in quantity) and disadvantages (chemical waste to deal with) of colour print processing, combined with the ability to print from digital.
Feed a Frontier TIFF images (with no EXIF information, unless you want it to run auto colour correction on your images before it prints them - this applies to JPEG too), in the sRGB colour space, with around 300DPI of resolution and you'll get some pretty good prints. If you want to be fussy, get your local lab to run off a couple of colour check prints, then create a colour profile for that printer from the images. Of course, most people aren't that fussy...
I challenge you to find an inkjet printer that can match the quality of a Frontier, and at the same speed. That's why you don't see mini-labs using inkjet printers for anything except the while-you-wait services - they're too slow for the volumes involved, and when they are quick enough, the quality is abysmal.

its the paper not the ink (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409371)

I believe it is the combo of in k used on what type of paper that makes the difference.
I have gone to futureshop where they offer guarantees on their hardware...for a price then a year or 2 later, when something breaks, no problem, just bring back your receipt...
however 80% of all receipts printed from there on that weird waxy paper become invisible.

I have a hard time remembering what had guarantees where, but when the only help i had of remembering
gets erased (on purpose???) then this seems to me a scheme all its own.

I have seen this paper used elsewhere with the same result, even at banks (TDCanadatrust)
It seems the ink does not stay as the waxy residue seems to conflict with carbonation or oxidyzation , but print it on regular school paper (the kind you buy anywhere also usually made from recycled stuff) and no problems years later!

image permanence (3, Informative)

uncommontime (1111655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409457)

Ink jet print CAN last a long time, depending on what you use. Obviously if you're using a home desktop solution to print out your prints, they won't last very long, especially if you want to display them in any light. Supposedly Kodak came out with a solution [gizmodo.com] not too long ago for the personal inkjet printer set, but I really don't think that those prints will last up to 100 years. Epson Ultrachrome K3 pigmented inks will last up to 100 years, depending on what stock you use. Papers with optical brightening agents (OBAs) will not last as long as virgin papers. For example, an Epson Premium Luster contains OBAs in order to make the paper "brighter" (i.e. it reflects more light off of its surface, it's not necessarily "whiter"). OBAs have a tendency to turn yellow over time, and that stock is only rated at about 70 years using the K3 inks. However, Epson's Ultra Smooth Fine Art paper, which has no OBAs, is rated to last 100 or more years using the K3 inks. The truth about it is, as long as you're using the manufacturer's ink (not a refill, because in my opinion, refills are worthless) and a manufacturer's paper, you'll get the desired results. That may not jive with a lot of people, they may not want to believe it, but it's definitely true. At least in this case, Epson has developed an extremely stable product, in the printer, the ink, and the paper. Here at RIT, there's something within my school called the Image Permanence Institute [imageperma...titute.org] where they deal with this stuff day in and day out. I've actually never visited where they're at, but from what I hear, they can simulate putting around 100 years of light on any print to see the effects and rate a paper's or ink's permanence.

UV is the killer (1)

Pigeon451 (958201) | more than 7 years ago | (#19409597)

I've seen some pigments fade *completely* when subjected to a 5-year accelerated UV test. Sometimes we have to choose pigments that aren't as brilliant or ideal as the one we want, because the pigment won't last. Seems like HP took the opposite stance -- make brilliant photos now, that don't last!
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