View Full Version : Archival inkjet *papers* (not ink). Do they exist?
While the whole inkjet industry runs around claiming centuries of archivability, I've found that every non-matte surface I've tested has yellowed, some quite significantly. Most matte surfaces have yellowed as well. Most of my prints are in a very dark corner of the room and the air quality here is fine. I'm sure acid-free/cold/low humidity storage will help but really, what good is a 200 year archival ink on 3 month non-archival paper? Other than common sense (acid-free etc.) specs, does anyone know of a reliable website that has any info regarding archival papers and not inks? I prefer to print on semi-matte/luster type papers but have yet to find any that last.
That little lot should keep you busy for a while.
The problem you will have is that the manufacturers change the formulation of the coating they put on the papers so todays best papers may not be tomorrows. In 50 years time who will know what inks were used and which paper/coating was used. Who will care since if the digital file has been archived then it can just be reprinted since the skill was in the production of the digital file and not in the printing of the file. I shouldn't worry about it if I were you. I know lots of people like to claim their work is archival but I think its of little importance unless you are trying to get someone to part with mega bucks. The obvious answer is to provide the buyer with a digital backup of the file so that in the event the print doesn't stand the test of time, they can just reprint it. Its foolproof insurance for your buyers.
For starters you might try doing some reading on Wilhelm's web site http://www.wilhelm-research.com. His tests are the basis for some of the industry claims to which you refer. If you go into "Articles from PC World" and look at the article titled "The Fade Factor" you'll find information about papers. There's probably other stuff on his site about papers as well, that just happens to be one article I've seen before.
I use only matte paper so I can't comment on glossy or semi-gloss papers. However, I haven't found any yellowing on my ink jet prints made on a variety of matte papers but mostly Hahnemuhle Rag and Moab Entrada. What papers have you been using and with which inks?Epson Enahnced Matte is an inexpensive paper that is known to yellow a little in a short period of time so if that's what you've been using it's not surprising that you'd get some yellowing. However, if you've been using better quality matte papers and are still getting yellowing I think you're doing something wrong somewhere, maybe how they're displayed, maybe how they're stored, maybe something else. I'm no expert but I know that a lot of different factors affect the life of a print..
livick.com also has some interesting aging tests, done in full sun, and also in autoclaves to accelerate chemical deterioration.
some long-held assumptions don't always hold up: sometimes coated papers do better than uncoated, and sometimes papers with optical brighteners resist yellowing more than papers without. photorag (which has brighteners) seems to do particularly well in his tests.
inidentally, most of these papers are higher quality than the bases of gelatin silver papers. i love fortezo, but i'm pretty sure the base is not 100% cotton. is it acid and lignin free? who knows? no one seems to publish that information. nor do they publish what's in their coatings or their OBAs, so it's not like these questions are new to the photo world.
Thanks for all of the responses. I am familiar with Wilhelm Research. Much of his tests revolve around ink archivability and paper fading.
At any rate, perhaps I just missed it, but I could not find any info on non-matte surfaces anywhere which is my main concern (his website is a PITA to say the least). As for the surfaces I've used, I have printed primarily on Enhanced Matte but have also seen some very slight yellowing on Archival matte, hahnemuhle photo rag 188 (very slight) and all of the Pictorico non-matte surfaces. I was wondering if the Canon and HP surfaces are a bit better in this regard ( I doubt it but who knows). Prints have been stored out in the open but in a dark, non-humid environment. Most of my RC silver prints are fine with just a couple discolored but all of my fiber prints are as good as new. Regarding the inkjet papers, remember I'm not talking years here but months!
" I have printed primarily on Enhanced Matte but have also seen some very slight yellowing on Archival matte"
Two papers very well known for significant yellowing! Willhelm talks about these specific papers.
I think most papers that contain 'optical brighteners' will yellow over time - even 'art' papers not intended for 'inkjet use'. I did an informal test by cutting prints in half and, over a six month period, left one half unprotected sitting in the back of my car's window, the other half stored in a 'box' at home. Enhanced Matte and Velvet Fine Art yellowed considerably, Moab Entrada and Ultrasmooth Fine Art showed no change. The one interesting thing - while the EM and VFA papers yellowed the image itself (ie. pigment ink) showed no change (visually) in density or colour.
Thanks for all of the responses...
Fair enough. I'm not surprised to see cheaper papers such as EEM fade and/or yellow. But what about non-matte surfaces? And how about the Canon and HP surfaces. Wilhelm research states the obvious in their reports. To maximize permanence, keep behind uv glass, store in low humidity environment etc. etc. etc. but why are my papers turning to garbage in six months or so. It's one thing for a print to survive behind glass. I'd like to be able to hold my prints in my hand 4 or 5 years from now and see exactly what I see now! I'd also like to be able to sell prints without any caveats or files attached and know that should their owners not get around to framing them behind uv glass immediately, they will survive for a while unframed. I'm just disappointed to see this issue take a back seat to all of the concerns about ink permanence.
"I'm just disappointed to see this issue take a back seat to all of the concerns about ink permanence."
I don't think it really takes a back seat. Wilhelm looks at the overall stability of a paper/ink combination. yellowing of the paper measurably influences this.
Livick specifically tests paper yellowing. I'm surprised you had photorag yellow; I've never heard of that before. Livick found it to be extremely stable.
He also doesn't find any real correlation between yellowing and optical brighteners (even though this is assumed to be the case by a lot of people). in his tests moab entrada (no brighteners) yellowed a lot while photorag (brighteners) hardly did at all. remember that many gelatin silver papers have optical brighteners too.
one thing crossed my mind ... it's possible for something airborn to be yellowing the papers prematurely. the coatings on the paper are designed to receive ink; they can receive a lot of other things too. i haven't seen much research on this, but i suspect that without at least a couple of coats of a good fixative, these papers could pull things out of the air like flypaper. could there be anything unusual in the environment where your prints are stored?
Paul, I looked at the livick site and it says that the tests have been removed because of threats from various organisations about the its content.
"I'm surprised you had photorag yellow; I've never heard of that before. Livick found it to be extremely stable. "
the main problem with Photorag was not usually yellowing/warming over time, but very bad contact (usually) yellowing from things like adhesives. This usually shows itself as patches of "pee-yellowing". It was happening even with the supposedly "archival" tape Hahnemuller used to tape the paper rolls. It didn't just show on the spot where the tape was affixed, but would effect a few layers below too.
BTW Livick doesn't list the test anymore.
"I have printed primarily on Enhanced Matte but have also seen some very slight yellowing on Archival matte . . . "
As far as I know these are the same paper, Epson just changed the name from Archival to Enhanced but I didn't think there were any changes in the paper itself.
too bad about livick. there was a lot of good info on that site.
The problem with Livick was his methodology was all over the place. He'd run different papers on different printers with different inks and then try and compare the results. He'd try one light intensity but after a while figure it wasn't doing what he wanted, so he'd switch to another - but not really pick up the tests he abandonded. He spray some papers, coat others with varnish, then find the varnish or spray had (what he considered) a deteremental effect so he'd switch to another mid flow. He'd include one set of data from one set of test, but not include it from another. And lots of the time he didn't included real hard figures but opinion. And so on and so on. He wasn't even close to adopting a scientific approach, but neither was he emulating real world conditions. All in all the results were pretty much unreliable and close to useless.
I wouldn't be suprised if certain ink or paper manufacturers threatened justifiable legal action.
I've looked on the Whilhem and Livik (?) web sites for permanence info.
Based on this, I use Moab Entrada Natural and Crane Museo II (my current fav!) and might consider Hahnemuhle PhotoRag in the future. Also, based mostly on info from Livick web site (which he is discontinuing by the way -- says he's tired of getting so much guff for his testing and opinions), I spray all my prints with Lyson Print Guard. Livick claims that spraying with some kind of UV/print protectant is the only way to get long-lasting prints.
Livick also highly recommends ClearShield (I think that's the name), which is used mostly by the sign industry. Livich says he gets the longest lasting prints with this product, but it has to be brushed on (or use an industrial sprayer) so I haven't tried it yet.
I think besides this, its important to store or mat and frame images properly for longevity.
Hope that helps, David.
There are very conflicting reports as always regarding the reliability of spraying prints. One website quotes a curator as saying that all spray coating will yellow at some point. Nontheless, I'm not terribly concerned with the fade-resistance of properly framed prints on natural, acid-free, non-optical brightening papers behind uv glass and place dout of the sun! I just want to be able to print images on a luster-type surface and have the paper base stay white... and for a long time!
Considering what an enormous market the inket printing industry is, I find it remarkable that we can't print out images, put them in an album and expect them to look brand new for a decent period of time. Very disappointing for those of us who prefer non-matte papers for most subjects. HP? Dye-sub? Fuji?
the technology probably just isn't there yet. for a while it was presumed impossible to get pigment inks to work at all with inkjet printers. they finally figured it out. stable glossy prints is one of the next hurdles.
>>the main problem with Photorag was not usually yellowing/warming over time, but very bad contact (usually) yellowing from things like adhesives. This usually shows itself as patches of "pee-yellowing". It was happening even with the supposedly "archival" tape Hahnemuller used to tape the paper rolls. It didn't just show on the spot where the tape was affixed, but would effect a few layers below too. <<
So don't use adhesives. Nobody advises the use of any adhesive as an "archival" solution anymore, not even wheat paste. Use polyester or mylar photo corners instead.
"So don't use adhesives. Nobody advises the use of any adhesive as an "archival" solution anymore, not even wheat paste. Use polyester or mylar photo corners instead."
It was nothing to do with mounting methods - which haven't been mentioned. Nor was it a question of "not using adhesives" - rather it was a problem with incidental or short term contract with some types of adhesives. As I mentioned, the tape the manufacturer used to fix the end of a roll - which [art of the roll is normally "wastage" effected not just where it was stuck on, but also three or four layers down in the roll, leaving a bright yellow stain gradually fading the deeper the layer. Use of adhesive tape in packaging prints - say masking tape on paper wrapped around mounted prints could have the same effect. I saw it happen from an assistant leaving a roll of tape on top of a pile of unprinted paper overnight. A couple of days later, the circular "pictogram" of the tape roll showed up on 5 consecutive sheets - nice and bright yellow. I've seen reports of the same bright/warm yellow could showing up over a whole sheet. No idea what the sheets came into contact with that caused it.
All that said, the manufacturer seems to have fixed the problem in the paper as I haven't heard of it showing up for a while now.
I am pretty new to the game, as I have abandoned the dark room for the "light". I see many advantages to going the route of the digital darkroom but issues of archivability and yellowing look to be a real problem. I am a fine art photographer, that has sold many prints to clients over the years and have never had these issues because I took the necessary precautions [in the darkroom]. In my quest to change directions, my biggest questions have to do with what all of you are discussing. However, I have found it very difficult to discern what the options are. Is Matte paper the only option? Matte papers are dull and have no snap to them. Please tell me if I am wrong. It seems the industry has been quick to rush us into an era of dull, flat prints that have no archivabilty. Like all manufacturers, products are hiped up and we all rush to them thinking they will provide us with the perfection we seek.
Can anyone tell me what paper (matte, glossy, semi), ink, adhesive, spray or coating combinations will help me make prints that will last a long time without falling apart or yellowing? I don't want to have to go back to the days of underselling my talents. I can only command the prices that I ask for if the images are archival. What do I need to use in production and post production to insure that I will not have these problems? If there is no answer, I might have to open up the darkroom again. However, for now, it is so nice to be back in the "light".
I look to your comments.
Charles, you could start by reading the thread you have just posted in!
As an aside to the topic, my local Art Gallery/Framing shop have told me that they are not going to sell any more "Giclee Prints". The reason given is that they are dragging the business down. Buyers don't want them and they end up being sold off in sales at much reduced prices. Original artwork sells better and for a lot more. Many of their artists have invested in wide format printers so that they can produce their own prints and they are not happy. The gallery doesn't sell photography so I'm talking about giclees of oils, watercolours, pastels etc.
I don't know if this is indicative of the way the market will go as its only one gallery in the sticks in the UK, but if its happening here where people aren' t so clued up on what Giclee Prints are then I guess its happening elsewhere as well.
For Charles Boyer:
Charles, it is unfortunate that there is so much confusion, myth and speculation about inkjet prints and how long they will last. And I agree with many people here, given the cost of printers, ink and paper, and the major investment that HP, Epson and others are making, it really shouldn't be this complicated -- but then again, if pigs could fly . . . .
You can look at my earlier post about what I found in researching this issue and what I'm working with (Moab and Crane matte papers with UV spray). I trust that if displayed and cared for properly my prints should last a long time -- but I'm basing this on "excelerated testing" that others have done, not on the fact that others did the same thing 100 years ago and I now can see the results.
And its unfortuate that most all of this testing is being done by one firm: wilhelm research http://www.wilhelm-research.com/ Not that I'm questioning their methods or results, only that it seems that almost all of what we know about inkjet print longevity is coming from one source.
Having said that, you should take a look on their web site, and see what longevity results they're getting for some of the HP and Epson printers. I use Epson with matte papers by choice, but I've seen good numbers from HP and Epson for gloss-like papers. And I really like the look of the HP premium plus soft gloss paper. Like matte, but with a bit of punch.
Whatever way you go, I suggest:
not skimping on ink and paper--buy manufactures' or reputable third-party,
consider protective spray,
always frame or suggest this to your clients.
Note sure if that's helpful, but . . . .
and read this thread (http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/504573.html)
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