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Thread: RC vs. Fiber based papers

  1. #1

    RC vs. Fiber based papers

    Are resin-coated papers really less permanent and effective than fiber based pap ers? I am trying to make a set of prints to give as a present and want them to last? What are the pros and cons of each paper?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 1999

    RC vs. Fiber based papers

    Clare, Once again the can of worms is opened!! Which paper do you currently use? IMHO the best advice is to try printing with both and see what paper you get on best with. As far as archival permanence is concerned, many will rant on about the longevity of a fibre print, but they do need to be processed with a high degree of attention to detail with regards washing etc. Personally, I feel that a well processed and selenium or gold toned RC print is every bit as good!! RC is certainly easier and quicker to use than fibre papers and dries flat without having to dry mount. As long as the matting materials are archivally stable then I would use RC. I agree that fibre has a better tactile quality, but once behind glass this advantage is lost. Approximately 95% of my printing is done with RC paper simply because I prefer the final print on this type as opposed to fibre based paper. Try both and see for yourself. Regards Paul

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    San Clemente, California

    RC vs. Fiber based papers

    I don't know what you mean by "effective," but there can no longer be any doubt that resin-coated papers are less permanent than fiber based papers. Your specific question, however, does not contain sufficient information to formulate an answer. You "...want them [the set of prints] to last..." For how long and under what exact storage and/or display conditions? Given proper processing of each paper type, one or both might meet your print life expectancy needs.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2006

    RC vs. Fiber based papers

    To find out about RC paper search GOOGLE for information. You'll find writings by Ctein and others on the problems. Here are two messageboard links.


  5. #5

    RC vs. Fiber based papers

    there really isnt any contest between the archival life of RC vs fiber-base papers. rc is viable for 60 years or so, whereas a properly processed fiber-base print is archival for over 500 years. the primary difference is that the emulsion is embedded in the grain of a fiber base paper, while the emulsion sits on top of a plastic coating on an rc paper. this not only affects archival qualities, but also the tonality of the finished print. a fiber-base print typically will yeild a much deeper tone than an rc print. good rc papers do exhibit a nice range of gray tones, however, and because of that, they make very good proof prints. no art museum or archival collections that i know of will accept RC prints. one last little item is the quality of the paper itself - a good DW fiber-base paper simply feels more substantial and has a much more loveable surface characteristic than RC papers.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    RC vs. Fiber based papers

    Lovable? What are you doing, using it as a blanket at night??? (just a joke here...)but I agree with you on the longevity issue...however, no museum or archive would allow you to handle an "artifact", whether textual or 3-dimensional, without gloves on to keep your skin oils off the item...that would be the #1 killer for anything. The other thing about institutions is, that although none would consider an RC print to be a longterm file print, just about every museum, archive and research library in this country at least, uses RC paper for their work prints, access prints, patron requests etc. . Usually an institution will have the capability to make a fiber print, but the majority of the work is done on RC. In alot of places, the film files are treated as the master file, but in an art museum (where the print becomes the artifact) this is not the case...nor in a project like the HABS/HAER stuff Mr. Norman does...but then it's a dual thing there, film & fiber based prints. The film is all polyseter based sheet film, which in itself is LE rated (the base) at 500+ yrs. (like microfilm)...everything's tested for residual fix etc, so when they say "archival", they mean it...

    I think the answer to your question, Clare is to define how long you need them to last. A FB print will last longer if processed & stored properly, in most cases it's also much more durable under adverse display conditions, because untoned RC prints are more susceptible to atmospheric pollutants than FB prints seem to be. If they are going to be handled alot, and if you are going to assemble them & mount them in unsafe albums, drymounting etc...then it's kind of a tossup really. If you do wind up using RC, you might want to go with a non-developer incorporated paper from a major manufacturer, not some old-style rc paper. Using strong dilutions of selenium toner, or sulfide toners like brown, Viradon, Polytoner, sepia etc. will help protect the print from pollutants.

    Another thing is to remember that nothing lasts forever, the approach a museum or archive would have would be in putting the photo/negatives away in a safe spot, and using duplicate copies for everything. If you want it to last, you can't use it. So my approach is sorta to look beyond the tactile qualities of a paper, focus (no pun) on keeping the film safe and choose the most durable paper for your needs....since I'm talking theory here let me say: Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency. Good luck.

  7. #7

    RC vs. Fiber based papers


    I gather from your question and the stated intent of the portfolio of prints as a gift that you might be looking for a simple approach with existing materials and equipment (no archival print washer, no dry-mount press, etc.).

    In this case I would suggest that RC paper will process and wash easliy and with proper after-treatment will probably endure the ravages of time in your friend's hands without causing you embarrassment.

    I suggest that after develop, stop bath and brief fixing in Rapid Fix diluted to film strength (usually 1+4) that you rinse each print for 2 minutes and then place it in a washing-aid or fixer remover. After the washaid give the prints a good wash individually so that they don't bind together in a clump and then place each print into a solution of Agfa Sistan for a minute or two.

    Agfa Sistan will prevent deterioration of the image by curtailing migration into the titanium-oxide that brightens the RC print base.

    If, on the other hand, you are equipped to handle FB prints then that should be the chosen path for the aesthetics of the artefact itself as much as anything. FB can also benefit from Sistan although I prefer to achieve similar ends with selenium toning.


  8. #8

    RC vs. Fiber based papers

    Simply put, fiber based prints have been around 2 to 3 times as long as RC, and fiber based prints have proven that, properly processed, they can last a very long time.

    RC hasn't been around long enough to prove, empirically, that they'll last as long as fiber.

    200 years from now we'll know the answer, if anybody then cares.

    Yet our very negatives are on plastic!

    For serious gift photos, FB is my personal preference, properly dry mounted. Yet I don't object to RC for work or personal prints.

  9. #9

    RC vs. Fiber based papers

    If there is a question about which paper is better, then print on both. Then you will learn why printing on fb is so much better. The main objection some people have about fb is that you have to wash them for so long. Baloney. 2 minutes in a film strength rapid fixer, 2 mins in a wash aid such as kodak hypo clear, and let sit in a tray of water with some agitation, and then dry by hanging by the corners and you will have beautiful prints worthy of giving as a gift. RC sucks. That's why most printers print on fb. It is definately the better material. James

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 1999

    RC vs. Fiber based papers

    James, How long have you been printing on fibre? Sounds to me like your prints are not being archivally processed!! May look good now......but for how long?? RC sucks? Maybe my correctly processed RCs will outlast your fibre?? Only time will tell!!

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