MMG Notes is a page where I can discuss ideas while they are just ideas, respond occasionally to some feedback from members, and let you know what I'm thinking about before it reaches news-worthy status or gets consolidated into a formal paper or report. I will also reach out to my members when I need their advice, and give an opinion from time to time without feeling the need to dot every "i" and cross every "t".
Director, Aardenburg Imaging & Archives
AaI&A went from a subscription model to a "Free/donate" model last week. I'm confident this change will help us to reach a much wider audience. Today, I added a specific page for our Sponsors. Our sponsors have played a critical role already in the development of the AaI&A digital print research program to date, and I am truly grateful to them. Their financial support is not obvious from the "Testing Goals and Progress" bar on the AaI&A homepage because our current sponsors generously provided their financial support in calendar year 2010. They have pledged additional financial support for the upcoming year, and those funds will be reflected in the information provided on the AaI&A home page when the time comes. Nonetheless, please know that our sponsors contributed critical funding in 2010 and encouraged me not to give up. AaI&A is a true underdog attempting to build a a world class digital print research program on a shoe string budget. This reality makes it an exciting challenge, the kind the keeps me motivated. With your help and with the help of our existing sponsors and new sponsors to come, we will succeed. That said, to get new sponsors, we need more members and more individual donations. Please spread the word. These events will enable AaI&A to attract new sponsors because they show the prospective sponsor that the AaI&A digital print research program is a real venture with serious printmakers participating in the overall mission. I envision a day when we have funding not only for light fastness testing, but also for physical properties testing, gas fading, thermal aging, humidity fastness, etc. It's not an impossible goal, but it does need the direct support of the photography and printmaking community.
I will be attending the Photo Plus East Show in New York on Thursday. The show runs October 28-30, but I will only be attending on Thursday and Friday. If you happen to be there, shoot me an email, and perhaps we will get a chance to meet at the show. I'm a little behind on updates to the AaI&A website once again, and my travel to NY isn't helping, but I need to crawl out of my cave every now and then!
I haven't been adding new posts lately to the AaI&A website because I'm swamped with many projects right now. All good, so I'm not complaining. In mid November many new test samples will be added to the database. They've been in test and are accumulating the first 10 megalux hours of exposure. The database will grow by another three dozen samples or thereabouts. More samples are being added to the pipeline this month as well. It's very labor intensive and time consuming to conduct this research, but the results are worth it, IMHO.
I'm also consulting on an R&D project with a high quality paper manufacturer. The project is quite fascinating, and as it comes to fruition, I hope to be able to discuss it on this website in more detail. Suffice to say, fine art printmakers may be seeing a new category of inkjet papers hitting the market soon. The new category will combine the superior imaging properties of coated media with more of the "look and feel" of uncoated traditional high quality papers by incorporating ink enhancing chemistry directly into the paper rather than having a special ink receptor layer coated on top of a premade paper base. Stay tuned. It's really cool stuff.
Back on track. Today's latest round of updates can be found by sorting on "Status" = 50 Mlux hr and looking for the 50Mlux hour samples.
You may have noticed that some of the light fade test reports are substantially behind schedule on updating. I'm slowly getting things back on track. No excuse really other than the fact that I was away for about a week at the end of May to attend my third son's graduation from Grinnell College in Iowa, and I've also had to take on some other work to make ends meet.
Knowing that I'd be away and that test report updating would be temporarily on hold, I had factored into the update schedule what I thought were reasonable factors for the down time, but I simply didn't calculate it all quite right. The tests have not been compromised in any way (we got that right), only the time required to update the reports. Anyway, I'm slowly getting things sorted, and I should be caught up by the middle of this week. Then the attention turns once again to new test materials and further research. Thank you for your patience.
The 10 megalux-hour results are collected now for the latest batch of test samples, but I still have to put some finishing touches on the reports. I listed the new samples in a recent news item. Somewhat surprisingly, a couple of the monochrome print samples have triggered both their lower and the upper Conservation Display rating limits at less than 10 megalux hours of exposure. Both ink and paper performance may be playing a roll in their very low scores for pigmented ink sets.
Creating the new reports is always a slugfest. Lots of cut and paste and lots of fact checking, commenting, and filling out the description page based on all the submitted documentation, etc. Once the reports are in play, updating is much much easier! I'm still working on this documentation, and I also have a busy week ahead with other work, so it looks like posting to the database will occur next week. Hang in there. I think it will be worth the wait.
Regrettably, one sample had to be withdrawn. It was item 15 in the news article:
15) Epson Stylus Pro 4880 / Epson UltraChrome K3™ with Vivid Magenta / Breathing Color Elegant Velvet
I had noted a very poor initial maximum black level in the sample that was received after taking the reference measurements, but I went ahead with the test anyway. After further thought, I conclude that the initial L* value for the max black patch is simply too high to be trusted. Perhaps the member submitting this had printed on the incorrect side because the L* value was approximately 27, too high to be correct for this kind of coated fine art paper and Epson K3 MK black ink. We will have to reprint this sample and start this printer/ink/paper combination another time.
You may have noticed that the "home" button and the "News" button on the AaI&A website header take you to the same page. It was appropriate for the content of the AaI&A website in the early stages of development, but I had always intended to separate these menu items in due time. That time has arrived. By the end of the week, the home page will be distinct from the News page. I haven't completely decided how the home page will function, but it is probably going to serve as a simple announcement page. Essentially, I see it as a way of letting visitors and AaI&A members know where to find "what's new" on the site. So the home page will function, dare I say it, like a Twitter "tweet"...short and sweet messages to give everyone some guidance on new items getting posted to the site. The home page will also have some items of a general nature. It's a work in progress... Stay tuned.
Another batch managed to complete early, so I was able to post the results a little ahead of schedule. Easiest way to find them is to sort the list on "Next Update" and then look for the samples in the list with next update = 2010-04-06.
For AaI&A members interested in B&W print performance check out sample # AaI_20090803_SN001. Very impressive result so far!
And for a "traditional baryta" inkjet print process printed in color, check out sample# AaI_20090131_SN003. It is also off to an impressive start.
Because…. this little tablet gismo and other tablet devices like it may soon become a constant companion for millions and millions of people.
For many of us the laptop computer has already become our constant traveling companion, but we generally don't reach for it on the sofa, bed, or kitchen table at home. For others, the smart phone is practically welded to their hands these days. Yet a well designed electronic tablet, with a big enough screen for us baby boomers to read, and a sophisticated electronic universe of "cloud computing" applications may just be the final bridge to the "paperless" society we've all been hearing about for thirty years.
All that said, I can't sign a digital file with my hands nor have any certainty that my digital images will be readable on my great grandchildrens' futuristic electronic displays. And if they are, will they look the way they looked to me given the fact that electronic viewing standards change frequently?
So, I still make my own prints, and I choose durable materials to the best of my abilities keeping in mind that the aesthetic beauty of my chosen printing process and print permanence are sometimes a careful balancing act. I also sign the prints I'm proud to have made, because, for psychological reasons I don't entirely understand, a hand-crafted object and a human signature connects people together spiritually.
I love making photographs, and I love making prints. I know that members of Aardenburg Imaging and Archives also love making prints and photographs. These efforts bind us together in a common cause.
I just posted updates to 23 samples that were scheduled to be updated on February 5, 2010. My estimated times to reach the next exposure interval were a little conservative, so the samples reached accumulated dose a bit early. This early arrival allowed me to measure and revise the reports early.
You can locate these most current updates by sorting on the "Next Update" column of the light fade database. Next update = 2010-04-01.
The paired comparison tests between the Epson 7900/Epson HDR inks and the Epson 4800/K3 inks printed on two different paper types (but same batch in each case) are beginning to get interesting. Also, some of the monochrome samples in this group are continuing trends that began to emerge earlier in testing.
The AaI&A digital print research program is not for manufacturers' marketing purposes. It's for you, the end-user or collector of digital print media, to help you make informed choices about making, purchasing, and caring for digital prints. Digitally produced photographs and fine art prints may be modern prints today, but in years to come they will be coveted collector's prints and an historic testament to the digital era of photography at the turn of the 21st century.
I need your financial support to keep the research going. At current subscription rates, it takes the pooled funds of approximately 25 members just to break even on the cost of one 100 megalux hour light fade test. This testing is by its nature very labor and equipment intensive, but it's the most comprehensive light fade test in the field of imaging science today.
Here are some of the most common opinions I hear about print longevity on various internet forums and in emails I receive from non-members. Collectively, these sentiments underscore why print permanence research in the digital age is hard to fund and requires much evangelization.
1) "My prints don't need to last. I can always reprint new ones from my digital files."
2) "Accelerated aging tests are all bogus. I don't believe any of the results."
3). "Good information is easy to find free on the internet. I don't need to pay for it."
4) "I use a pigmented inkjet printer, OEM ink, and high-quality digital fine art papers. I label and sell my prints as Archival Pigment prints. Many other artists do the same, so I'm working to accepted best practice."
5). "I use third party inks from a reputable vendor. I"m told they are as good or even better than the OEM ink. The colors are great, and I've had some prints framed and hanging on my wall now for xx years with no signs of fading yet. They must be as good."
6). "The manufacturers' independent lab tests say my prints will last well over xx years. Even if they only last half that time, I won't live that long. That's good enough for me."
7). "I don't make prints. I view my digital photos on my computer, wide-screen TV, or iPod, and I share them easily with friends on the internet. Who needs prints, anyway?"
8). "A Pro Lab makes my prints. Pro Labs use the best stuff and process to higher standards, so my print longevity is as good as it gets."
9). "I use UV-blockers and acid-free papers, conservation matting, and mounting materials. Fading is caused by exposure to UV, and papers only discolor from too much acid content. My prints are therefore guaranteed to last a long time."
... And my personal favorite:
10). "How long will my prints last? It won't take much of your time to answer since I see that you've already tested the products I use. All I'm asking for is a little free advice about just one product. Thanks in advance for your answer."
A new batch of samples has been in test for some time now. In fact, I'm simply behind on getting these new sample reports ready for the AaI&A light fade testing database, as they have already been measured at the 10 Megalux hour mark and are closing in on the 20 megalux hour exposure interval within the next few days. Updating reports is a fairly straight-forward operation, but creating the original report is time-consuming, and the more complex the documentation the longer it takes me. I seem to bog down a bit when my members serve up some very creative process examples, but I'm slowly getting the documentation sorted. Please bear with me for another week or so.
In the meantime, the batch with the first examples of Epson HDR ink and the first examples of monochrome printed targets has now reached the 40 megalux hour mark a few days ahead of schedule, so I was able to post the updates today. Sort the list on Next update = "2010-02-05" to find these updates. As I look over these results to date, I'm seeing some interesting trends, but I will reserve judgement until the tests have gone further and we get some additional samples posted as well. Enjoy!
I'm starting to ease off posting notices of updates simply because they are now coming with regularity. The best way for AaI&A members to follow updates from this point going forward is to make a note on your calendar based on the dates contained in the field entitled "next update", particularly if you are interested in tracking specific samples as the tests proceed.
Today's updates include all of the Hp Z3100 print samples. These samples use the HP Vivera pigmented inks, reputed to be more stable than either the Canon Lucia or Epson K series pigmented ink sets. However, as I've noted before paper choice really does matter, too. With 70 megalux hours exposure completed, the HP Z3100 inks are indeed showing pretty robust overall performance on a variety of papers as we would expect, yet two of the samples have already triggered the lower conservation display rating limit. Recall that the lower conservation display limit tracks the performance of the the weakest 10% of the color and tone relationships. In the case of sample # AaI_20080805_SN003 the optical brightener agents (OBAs) in the paper rather than the inks are the primary contributing factor, whereas with sample # AaI_20080805_SN005 an ink/paper chemistry interaction is occurring. It is comprehensive print permanence information about specific printer/ink/paper combinations that is the true value proposition of the AaI&A light fastness database. Even very stable ink sets like the HP Vivera pigmented inks are not totally immune to interactions with the paper. Serious print makers will want to be aware of printer/ink/paper lightfastness response when making informed choices about the papers they elect to use.
23 test reports have been updated today. I had estimated August 10 for these samples to be ready, but the exposure interval took slightly longer than expected to reach the 20 Megalux hour mark. Sort on Next Update = "2009-10-07" to locate today's updated samples.
This batch has several monochrome test samples including examples of Epson ABW printing mode and Cone Piezography samples. Also, in this batch are some Epson K3 inks running side-by-side some new Epson HDR inks printed on the same batch of paper. Look for the sample pairs printed on Hahnemühle FineArt Bamboo 290 gsm and Canson Infinity Arches Velin Museum Rag 315gsm
Still early in the test cycle with only 20 megalux hours accumulated exposure so far (equivalent to 10 WIR display years or approximately 40 Kodak display years). Changes are by and large very small, often just slightly greater than instrument detection limits, yet some subtle trends are also slowly beginning to emerge.
I uploaded 18 more updated reports to the AaI&A website this morning. This is the oldest batch of samples in test and all of these samples have public links. We are now past the 100 megalux hour exposure mark (110 Mlux hrs to be exact). Sort on Next Update = "2009-10-01" to locate them. Note that the Canon iPF5000/OEM Lucia ink/Hahnemuhle Photo Rag sample is the "high mileage champ" in this group and has not triggered any Conservation Display limits yet. The Canon iPF5000/OEM Lucia ink/Canon Heavyweight Satin Photographic Paper 300gsm sample is also turning in an impressive performance.
I uploaded 19 updated reports to the AaI&A website this morning. Sort on Next Update = "2009-09-20" to locate them. This batch contains several HP Z3100 print samples. They have now reached 60 Megalux hours, and we are beginning to see subtle but relevant fade patterns emerging. Also included in this update are several samples using Lyson Cave Paint inks. They have reached enough total light exposure to have complete AaI&A Conservation Display Ratings. The samples made with Cave Paint inks will now continue in test in order to reach more easily noticeable levels of fade, levels that may or may not be acceptable depending on application and viewer discretion.
I was interviewed yesterday by Thomas Hubbard who edits the Portland Metro Photographic News, a new online photo magazine. Tom has written a very thoughtful piece on what is meant (and not meant) by the often cited term "Archival Photographic Print". Here's the link:
I uploaded 20 updated reports to the AaI&A website this morning. Sort on Next Update = "2009-09-10"to locate them.
All tests are now up to date and most are still ongoing. I'm now working on a batch of twenty-five new samples to commence testing by the end of this month.
Sort the test results list on "Next Update". Those samples with dates = 2009-09-01 and 2009-09-05 have just been updated. One batch has reached 20 megalux hours in test. The other has reached 60 megalux hours in test. All of these reports have been converted to the new report style as well, so I believe the database is now completely converted to the new report style.
There is also one additional group of test samples with a "next update" day scheduled for July 14, 2009. I'm a little behind schedule with these updates due to many behind-the-scenes changes to the website now in progress, but you should see these sample report updates on or before July 17.
Although yesterday's News post highlights the new test samples of the Piezography process, I'm pleased to say that the AaI&A light fade test database also now includes examples of prints made with a new Epson Stylus Pro 7900 printer. The Stylus Pro 7900/9900 printers use the latest Epson OEM UltraChrome HDR™ inks which add new orange and green colorants in addition to the latest K3 vivid magenta (K3VM) into the mix.
Although Epson-sponsored tests of its latest K3VM and HDR ink sets indicate print longevity to be identical to the original K3 ink set across its tested line of Epson brand papers, it will be interesting to see if the new vivid magenta, orange, and green inks produce any fading differences in the AaI&A testing protocol. In particular, the AaI&A standard 30 patch color target contains skin tone colors that will likely cause the 7900/9900 series driver to replace some component of magenta and yellow inks with orange ink. The standard target also contains green colors and blue-green colors that should exercise some of the new green ink in the mix. Whether these new blends are differentiated by the I* metric analyses on various papers from the original K3 ink fading performance on the same papers may take several months in test to occur (or not), but it should be an exciting aspect of the AaI&A research for members to follow.
Additionally, the first Canson Infinity digital fine art papers have now entered the AaI&A database. The Canson line of digital fine art papers is of exceptional quality and includes papers of the famous "Arches" brand so well known to artists. I hope AaI&A members will help me to add many more samples from the Canson Infinity line of digital fine art papers in the near future.
The first 20 samples started in test in February, 2008 reached a big mile marker this past week. They have reached the 100 Megalux hour exposure dose. This achievement is probably worthy of an official news post on the home page of the AaI&A website. However, I still want to leave the current news item up on the home page a little while longer, and yet I don't want to delay posting the latest results. Decisions, decisions.
Sort on Next Update and look for "2009-08-05 or sort on Status and locate the "100 Mlux hr" samples. These are the oldest samples in test and all are print samples made with pigmented inks. Interestingly, out of these 20 samples just two have reached 100 megalux hours exposure level without triggering any Conservation Display rating limits. These are the only two samples that would conservatively qualify for the United Kingdom Fine Art Trade Guild's fine art print light fastness standard. The UK Fine Art trade Guild's standard is tied to the ISO Blue Wool #6 standard, and museum conservation literature estimates the BW#6 patch at 100 megalux hours to reach just noticeable fading (UV excluded). The AaI&A light fastness tests do include some UV in the illumination, hence any sample passing AaI&A Conservation Display rating limits (ie., little or no noticeable fade) at 100 megalux or greater exposure dose should easily meet the UK FATG standard as well. I will let you find the two winners!
Sort on Next Update and look for "2009-08-01" to find this batch of updated light fade test results. The samples have reached the 50 megalux hour interval in test. These reports have also been converted to the new report format.
Sort on Status = "70 Mluxhr" or Next Update = "2009-07-14" to get to these updates. I am now phasing in a new report style as new samples and new updates get added. The new style does away with the "multi layer view" page, but adds a "Before/After" layer for all side-by-side view pages that accomplishes pretty much the same thing. Also, If you go to the "full screen mode" in Acrobat Reader and cycle through the pages starting at page number 5 you will see an "animation" of fading because the pages are all in perfect register. The right-hand image will appear to fade as you sequence through the pages. Try this feature out first on a sample that shows obvious fade, for example, report# AaI_20080422_SN001LF.pdf. I think you will quickly grasp the concept!
Search on "Status" = 50 Megalux hours or "Next Update" = 2009-07-10.
OK, I've got a new batch, 18 samples, that are very nearly ready to post. All the measurements have been made and added to the report. However, because these are new samples, the reports also need to have all the unique metadata added, ie., date printed, media settings, profiles, UV included/UV excluded media white data, etc., added to each report. Also, a few of the samples need some special notes added. A couple of samples, for example, exhibit signs of ink pooling, and I have made some scans of the print surface to show the phenomenon. There really is no automated way to put this kind of information content into a report other than to slug through the information by hand.
I was almost finished and feeling quite satisfied with myself by Monday evening, but then I started having one of those weeks where everything that can go wrong will. Notable among the unfolding events was a catastrophic hard drive crash on Monday evening of my main drive. My second hard drive failure this year after over a decade of computer work without a single hard drive failure. How weird is that? I do back up my work daily, even by the hour most times, but with all the intense editing I was doing, I forgot to initiate backup of that drive for several hours (why not use auto backup? Long story). So, several hours of intense report editing went up in electronic smoke. Not a major loss really, as it is all current work that I can easily redo. It could have been far worse if I was even more cavalier about backing up all my data. I actually make two cloned backup drives every time. The only problem is that I've been having trouble fitting those unexpected extra hours of work into my subsequent schedule because so many other unexpected things have been happening as well. So, the reports still aren't ready. But, I really am working on it. The new tests should be posted soon.
In the next couple of months you are going to see the light fade test results list grow. Trust me! There are some very cool new samples started in test or about to begin. In the meantime, here's another update. Sort the list on "Next update" and look for the samples with the value 2009-06-25. You will find 19 samples with new data. Several of the updated samples have now reached at least one of their CDR limits, so check out the Conservation Display ratings column as well.
The longest running tests to date have now reached the 90 Megalux hour exposure mark in test. Twenty samples were started as a batch in test together, and although these are accelerated aging tests with average illumination levels exceeding 10,000 lux, note that the tests began well over a year ago on January 10, 2008.
Some very interesting trends have emerged. Take a little time to review a few of the samples printed with Canon OEM Lucia pigmented inks and some printed with Epson OEM K3 Ultrachrome inks. Here's a hint. Study the performance of the greens and bluish greens in the Lucia samples (i.e., colors that are likely to use some of the Lucia green ink). Then examine the light skin tone performance (which combines yellow ink with magenta) in the K3 Ultrachrome samples. While both ink sets can yield comparable overall color and tonal accuracy scores on appropriately selected papers, their general fading behavior is different. The AaI&A light fastness testing methodology is able to differentiate between subtle and not so subtle system behaviors.
With respect to Conservation Display Ratings (CDRs), only two samples in this batch of twenty are likely to reach the 100 Megalux hour exposure mark without having triggered one or both of the CDR limits. Withstanding 100 Megalux hours of exposure in excellent condition is a pretty impressive result for color photographic prints. Compare the pigmented inkjet CDRs to those of conventional color photographs (ie., the Fuji Crystal Archive II samples in the AaI&A light fastness database). However, please note the very important role of the inkjet paper in enabling these superior test scores. The choice of an inherently stable ink set dictates general fading trends for sure, but paper choice also influences the final outcome by a 2x-5x factor and more. At the 90 Megalux hour exposure mark, this batch of twenty samples illustrates all of these points very nicely.
Much new work is going on behind the scenes here at AaI&A. Members continue to send in very interesting samples for testing. I'm pleased to say that several samples made on Epson's exciting new Stylus Pro 7900 printer have recently been submitted for test. The 7900 utilizes Epson's latest HDR ink formulation. The HDR ink set expands upon the K3+Vivid Magenta ink set used in Epson's 7880/9880 series printers with the addition of orange and green inks. The densitometric test methods used in industry-sponsored light fade testing to date cannot evaluate the impact of the new orange and green colorants on light fade resistance because those standardized test protocols are currently limited to cyan, magenta, yellow, and neutral gray color patches only. The I* metric and the AaI&A standard color test target do not have this limitation. The new green and orange inks are likely blended to varying degrees by the printer driver into the green, red, orange, and skintone colors, all of which are represented in the AaI&A standard 30 patch color target. If the new green and orange inks have superior light fastness properties compared to the K3 yellow ink (a distinct possibility) then they should contribute positively to the overall light fastness result and consequently to the AaI&A Conservation Display Ratings when comparing the HDR set to its predecessors K3 and K3+VM on corresponding papers. Expect to see the results at the 10 megalux hour exposure mark for the new HDR samples posted to the AaI&A lightfade database by the end of June, 2008. It may take up to 100 megalux hours exposure and over a year in test before any differences in the HDR, K3, and K3+VM ink sets become statistically significant.
Additionally, monochrome print samples made with the new "AaI_Blackandwhite_Print_Page(V2).tif" image target have been received. AaI&A now has samples of the innovative Piezography process to test. Printmakers seeking the highest quality monochrome inkjet printing technology prize the subtle gradations of tone that can be achieved by the piezography process. The high carbon pigment content of the process should enable the piezography print samples to turn in some very impressive results in AaI&A lightfastness testing, but one must always DO THE EXPERIMENT to know for sure! The richness and depth to the AaI&A light fade test database I have envisioned for some time is finally beginning to occur.
Another time-consuming project in the works has been the analysis of environmental data collected in the AaI&A real-world print monitoring studies. I am putting the finishing touches on a paper about the first environment-monitoring picture frame that was deployed in October of 2007 and has remained on display here at the Hyde House for about a year and a half. That any intriguing results could have happened to pigmented inkjet print samples in just 18 months on display and in dark storage were hard for me to imagine. I was simply expecting this ongoing study would yield a "no changes observed" finding so far, but upon closer inspection under UV blacklight I discovered some surprising facts about the optical brighteners. The results may surprise you, too. I hope to have this new case study posted by the end of the week.
"Every great idea in history has the fat red stamp of rejection on its face. It's hard to see because once ideas gain acceptance, we gloss over the hard paths they took to get there. If you scratch any innovation's surface, you'll find the scars: they've been roughed up and thrashed around by both the masses and the leading minds before they made it in to your life". -Paul C. Lauterbur, co-winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The I* metric undoubtedly doesn't qualify as one of those great ideas in history, but it's a good idea, and it has served me well so far to rebuild the engine and transmission of light fade testing. It should be able to do the same for other aspects of imaging science. All that remains now is to put some wheels on the bus which is why the AaI&A digital print research program was started.
Thanks to my son, Mark, for sending me this quote and reminding me that if it was easy, someone else would have done it already.
Sort on the "Next Update" column and you will find the latest updates. They will group on two new dates, 2009-05-17 and 2009-05-20. Those in the 2009-05-20 group have reached the 60 megalux hour test interval. Three have now received completed Conservation Display ratings. All three systems use pigmented inks. With the commonly cited industry-specified illumination condition of 450 lux for 12 hours per day, the 50-60 megalux hour upper limit in the Conservation Display ratings for these three samples means that they can remain in very good to excellent condition on display for up to nearly 30 years. However, one sample had a lower boundary of just 14 megalux hours which means that for this system we might begin to notice subtle change depending on image content in as little as 7 years (again, assuming the industry specified exposure condition). Interestingly enough, this particular system got an industry "display life" rating over 150 years when framed under glass. That rating assumes "easily noticeable fading" at the endpoint, so comparing to its AaI&A conservation display rating, we can conclude that the first 7-25 years is the actual period of excellent image quality retention for displayed prints made on this system. Lower illumination levels or intermittent display can, of course, allow prints to last even longer without noticeable light-induced damage.
... is that you can publish to the entire world and dynamically update the contents of your website at any time!
Visitors to the AaI&A website might have noticed that the MMG notes item for March 6, 2009 was first posted to the AaI&A News page on March 6. It has been "AaI&A News" for a couple of days. In the fresh light of day (we are finally beginning to see some Spring sunlight here in Lee, MA) I conclude it's just not a typical AaI&A News page post. I should keep AaI&A news about, well, AaI&A news. My post about internet search engines really belongs here on my MMG Notes page. So, that's where you can find it now!
My post for today is a little bit off topic for news about Aardenburg Imaging & Archives. However, I think the topic has profound implications for modern society, and it has had little discussion in the formal media channels. It is therefore worthy of discussion here on the AaI&A website. What I'm talking about is internet search engines.
I am arguably an expert in my field of photo conservation and digital print media. I hate the word "expert" because even experts have much to learn. For the most part we are all students and never masters of our chosen field of interest. That said, while I may be an "expert" in what I do, I'm a total novice in this fascinating world of the internet and website development. The AaI&A website is the result of a basic desire to communicate with my clients and potential clients. It's a tactical marketing effort to reach a concerned audience of artists and photographers who care about high quality digital printmaking and about the long term preservation of the art that they create. Yet when it comes to the internet and its mysterious inner workings, I'm a total amateur.
As my website has grown in daily visitor volume, I've become fascinated with what my website stats can tell me about those who visit me. Yes, you are being watched by me, and by every other website you visit. However, there are IT professionals for large companies that distill company website traffic statistics for corporate management far better than I can do it. This fact is probably implicit in the visitor-host website relationship. You shouldn't be surprised. I'm not, and again, when I visit various websites I automatically assume the owners of the site can learn something about me. Sometimes, I've given these sites small details that I consider irrelevant. Sometimes, I start getting emails that make me realize I'm now being tracked as a potential customer for whom the website owners think new revenues may be extracted with follow-up marketing campaigns. I'm Ok with all of this. It just goes with the territory, and it is a relatively predictable outcome of internet commerce.
So, here's the new part of the equation I hadn't really expected. To describe it, I first have to remind you of one more thing about the AaI&A website, and by extrapolation, all websites. Internet search engines frequently visit each and every website on the world wide web!
Why do internet search engines visit websites? Well, that seems intuitively obvious. If you go to Google or Yahoo or any other internet search provider, you are looking for information. I use Google every day. I look for companies, products, people for whom I have lost contact information, weather information, "how to" information, maps and directions, stock market data, scientific and history literature, audio and video entertainment, etc., etc.
I thought I fully understood what search engines were doing, ie., providing you and me with a way to find subject matter we are seeking, albeit in the process, serving up some targeted advertising that gives the search engine provider some financial compensation from advertisers for the conducted search. What I didn't realize is that some search engines are out there for an entirely different reason, and unless you maintain a website, you might not know they exist!
Much of the current visiting traffic to the AaI&A website is search engines. As AaI&A's digital print research membership grows the proportion of "real" visitors compared to "search robots" will shift, but in AaI&A's formative stages, the website visitors' list is populated strongly with searchbots. Why so many search engines? Well, it turns out that many of the search engines that visit the AaI&A site aren't visiting to connect you with me. They are visiting to perform specialized corporate intelligence gathering. This makes sense. It's just that I'd never considered that aspect of the search engine function, and I suspect many internet users haven't considered this aspect of internet search engine functionality, either. You don't know these search engines. They aren't Google or Yahoo. They are corporate search engines looking for websites that discuss their products and services and for new business prospects. These "rogue" search engines efficiently execute "data mining" studies as part of a specific company marketing strategy. Companies want to know what information is being discussed about their products and services and undoubtedly many other factors as well. It does make sense in a somewhat perverse way, but I'd never thought about this internet search engine potential before. If you and I use a search engine to look for information, why wouldn't a major company build a custom search engine to crawl the web and look for all related factors, both good and bad, about the company and its products? The internet's electronic nerve system makes it easy. When you think about it, it is rational, but it also suggests that all internet users become aware of the new rules of the road about public and private information. What you may think is a private one-to-one or slightly broader one-to-chosen-group personal exchange and perhaps so obscure as to be untraceable by others, can not possibly be private on the internet. Recall when automobiles were just beginning to appear in the market. The traffic light still had not been invented! The internet has little or no traffic lights at this point in time and by its fundamental nature may never or should never have them. Understand this basic fact, and we can use our newly acquired automobile with an informed sense of risk versus reward.
In conclusion, all of us amateur internet users need to realize what the advanced users are doing with this sophisticated communication network called the world wide web that we have so whole heartedly embraced.
Director, Aardenburg Imaging & Archives
I updated 20 samples today, and some of the results allowed conservation display ratings to be computed. Look for the updated samples with "Status" equal to 50 Mlux-hr or "Next Update" equal to 2009-03-25. Sorting the list on either status or next update will group them together in the list.
One of the strong headwinds that I have been facing in convincing photographers and printmakers to join the AaI&A digital print research program is a general perception that pigmented inkjet printers have largely solved the image permanence issues. The OEM pigmented ink sets used in the major professional and prosumer printers today all provide a level of overall light fade resistance unheard of in the era of silver halide color photography. I think that many photographers and perhaps even the major manufacturers themselves think "Game over... the problem is solved". Painting with a broad brush, this argument has a lot of truth to it, but significant room for improvement, especially in paper compatibility, does exist.
One can try out any paper of one's liking and often achieve very respectable light fastness performance on an inkjet printer equipped with high quality pigmented inks. That said, many of the most appealing papers suitable for inkjet printing are very expensive. If one paper provides more than twice the light fade resistance when compared to another using the same printer and inks, wouldn't you want to factor this into your buying decision? This hard-to-obtain knowledge is the value proposition of the AaI&A digital print research program. Not only does comprehensive light fade testing help the printmaker to choose papers wisely, it also helps the printmaker to provide wise counsel about safe light exposure limits on display.
The AaI&A light fade testing program is still very young, and many more tests are needed to flesh out my argument being presented today, but one of today's updated test samples clearly reveals what I'm talking about. Last year Epson introduced a premium "fiber base" inkjet photo paper called Epson Exhibition Paper (also known as "Traditional Fiber Paper" in Europe). It is formulated specifically for the Epson pro line of printers which use the K3 and K3 with vivid magenta ink sets. I don't personally own a printer that uses the K3 ink sets, but I do own an Epson R1800 prosumer model that uses a seven- cartridge pigmented ink system, and I was interested in trying the Exhibition Fiber paper. The R1800 was also the first inkjet printer on the market to incorporate a "Gloss optimizer" clear coat ink. Armed with fresh sample pack of Exhibition Fiber paper, I printed a test target, made a custom ICC profile, and then made some sample prints. The gloss optimizer worked with the Exhibition Fiber paper very nicely and Initial image quality was very impressive. One of the printed samples was a light fade test target, and after 50 megalux hours in test, the R1800/OEM ink/Exhibition Fiber Paper combination has been awarded its completed Conservation Display rating. The rating is 22-48 Megalux hours. Compared to many photo systems, this is a respectable lightfastness rating, especially considering that the Conservation Display ratings indicate the allowable exposure dose where prints remain in excellent condition and are not noticeably faded. Yet compare this result to the R1800/OEM ink/Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper also in test. The sample printed on the premium luster paper has now reached a 70 Megalux hour exposure mark and no Conservation Display limits have been reached. This is already more than a 3x factor on the lower exposure limit and likely to become at least a 2x factor on the upper exposure range limit. Note that both papers make use of optical brighteners, so the result is not entirely an OBA versus OBA-free paper issue although location and concentration of the OBAs in these respective papers is making a difference. Note also, the Epson Premium Luster Photo paper has an RC base rather than fiber base and is much less expensive than the Exhibition Fiber Paper.
What the test results mean to me is that if I'm interested in venturing into the use of expensive "traditional fiber base" papers on my R1800 printer, more of these types of papers should be tested. There are bound to be some that deliver not only beautiful initial image quality on my printer, but also with higher light fade resistance. This is the inherent value in light fade testing and where AaI&A members contribute. Like all members of the program, I benefit by seeing the samples printed and submitted for testing by other serious amateur and professional printmakers. All of this discussion is merely to point out that paper choice does indeed have a significant impact on light fade resistance, even for printers that use pigmented ink sets. AaI&A members help me to test specific printer/ink/paper combinations to know for sure how well the total system performs. Paper choice does indeed matter!
Look for the updated samples with "Status" equal to 20 Mlux-hr or "Next Update" equal to 2009-03-05. Sorting the list on either status or next update will group them together in the list.
Note the results for Fujifilm Crystal Archive II paper samples. I have added initial Conservation Display Ratings. All samples have exceeded the lower limit, and they have almost but not quite reached the upper limit of the exposure range. Hence, all four samples are marked with "20+" megalux hours for the upper limit. The "+" sign indicates that the final upper limit has not yet been reached. When the 30 Megalux hour results are collected within the next couple of months, these numbers should be finalized. Also, note some variablity in the lower limit figures amongst the four different samples in test. This is natural statistical variability owing partly to the process and testing variability, but also to the fact that the calculated exposure doses are derived from the X-axis coordinate of the "Endpoint Criterion vs exposure" curve. Shallow sloping curves give rise to larger statistical error on the calculation of the X variable. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, it points out that all light fastness predictions have some statistical error, and more samples (in this case 4 samples) help to give us a better understanding of natural process variability.
Look for the updated samples with "Status" equal to 30 Mlux-hr or "Next Update" equal to 2009-03-15. Sorting the list on either status or next update will group them together in the list.
Also, the "Rating Justification" field is going to disappear very soon. After further consideration, I've decided that this information will be better summarized in the actual test reports. Removing it from the list will keep the Test Results Summary page easier to view and navigate. Also, down the road I will probably be adding another type of rating aimed at Consumer "Easily Noticeable Fade" issues, so I want to make room next to the Conservation Display Rating and the Status columns for this future purpose.
Neither the Conservation Display Ratings nor "Consumer Display" Ratings tell the whole story of light fading. As I have noted before in other articles, non linear systems can behave very differently in the early stages of deterioration versus later stages of deterioration. The AaI&A test reports tell the whole story, but two rating schemes, one for early stages, and one for mid-to-late stages also have merit. Collectively, they can do a good job at summarizing critical aspects in the " display life" of the print.
Kirk Gittings is the moderator of the "Digital Hardware" discussion group on the Large Format Photography Forum.
Kirk personally invited me to post a comment about AaI&A's Conservation Display Ratings. I did so yesterday, and as I look over the post I think it might be useful to repost my comments here as well. They were as follows:
Kirk invited me to make a comment in this thread. Not previously a member, I am thus new here ...will have to dust off my Linhof and get some Large format photography going again.
The new AaI&A conservation display ratings are designed to track the very early stages of print deterioration where the prints still appear to be in overall excellent condition, but small yet measurable changes have taken place. The conservation display ratings are therefore "tougher" than the current industry-sponsored longevity ratings which attempt to predict later stages of deterioration where easily noticeable, often objectionable changes have occurred. The conservation display ratings should appeal to curators, conservators, collectors, and printmakers who want to know more about how well their prints will last on display not just how long it takes to reach noticeably faded states.
The conservation display ratings are expressed as an exposure dose rather than extrapolated to "years on display". I have long felt that in an effort to "keep it simple" the industry grossly oversimplified the light fading issue in the minds of consumers. Real world average print illumination levels vary by orders of magnitude. By giving my audience megalux-hour ratings, I am gently urging them to make their own translation to illumination conditions that are more appropriate to their own use. It's not hard to do. Just use the good 'ole reciprocity law where Exposure = Intensity (illumination measured in Lux units) x time. That said, there's a very easy rule of thumb if you elect to use WIR illumination assumptions or even Kodak illumination assumptions. To translate megalux-hours to WIR years on display divide megalux-hours by 2. To calculate Kodak years on display, multiply by two.
So, for example, a print with conservation display rating of 10-20 meglux-hours can withstand 5-10 years on display by WIR standards, and 20-40 years on Display by Kodak standards. Both display time predictions are valid extrapolations to real world conditions, but which condition better matches your own print display environment? And again, the conservation display rated prediction is for prints still remaining in excellent condition, not easily seen as faded.
The fact that the Conservation Display ratings express a range rather than a single value, takes a bit more explanation. I have posted some papers on my website that discuss the I* metric (my colorimetric color and tonal accuracy algorithm published in 2004) and the concepts behind both the I* metric and the new conservation display ratings. Not the easiest bed time reading I admit, but the papers were aimed primarily at my scientific colleagues even though I've attempted as best I can to make the work accessible to everyone.
So what's with the conservation display rating's exposure range rather than just posting a single predicted value? Basically, an exposure range is needed to provide guidance on what exposure dose will fade the weakest colors in the system versus how much is required to fade all colors to a given overall average response. Selective versus global color fading patterns are a rather new attribute of modern digital print media. Traditional silver halide color prints tended to fade rather uniformly meaning pretty much all colors were fading with about the same amount of exposure. If you tracked a few colors in test you could pretty much infer what the overall system's response was going to be. In stark contrast, today we have systems where the weakest colors may be much weaker than the strongest colors. The quoted conservation display range figures reflect this new reality. Given two systems rated with the same lower limit of exposure, the system with the higher upper limit will enable more prints to appear in visually good overall condition longer (i.e., greater exposure doses). It's a statistical game of probability. Which colors do you have in your image and when will those colors form a faded arrangement of colors and tones that you will just begin to notice? Fading is image content dependent! More so with today's digital print media than ever. The Conservation Display ratings are designed to address these new paradigms.
I hope this explanation of the new work helps. It will probably take many more efforts on my part to get all of the science behind this new method into a more concise description for photographers and printmakers. In the meantime, I just hope the rated numbers begin to make their own "apples-to-apples" comparative sense of the light fastness of these fascinating new print processes.
I have been working for several days on a paper about the Conservation Display Ratings. It will soon be added to the documents page. The database has now been updated to include the Conservation Display ratings and new bi-directional sort capability. I just want to complete the paper and post both updates to the website at the same time. So, I'm figuring on a debut next week about midweek. Thanks for stopping by the site. New stuff is on the way!
Look for the samples with "Status" equal to 70 Mlux-hr or "Next Update" equal to 2009-03-01 to find the updated test reports I added today. Sorting the list on either status or next update will group them together in the list.
Setting up the AaI&A light fastness testing program turned out to be my big project for last year. It took more time than I expected, and other plans have had to take a back seat, but I'm very pleased with the results so far. I'm also very grateful to the early adopters who have signed up as members and submitted samples for test. I have anticipated for some time that more search and sort functionality will be needed as the database grows. It's in the works, and soon a new column is also going to appear in the list. The cells in new column will hold values called the "Conservation Display Rating".
The conservation display rating will serve as an "executive summary" for the tests, and provide very easy "apples-to-apples" comparisons of product performance without having to read through the extensive test reports. The idea of a conservation display rating is to give comparative guidance on the very early stages of deterioration where print quality remains largely undisturbed and changes in image appearance are not easy for the viewer to detect. As applied to lightfastness testing, the conservation display rating is a measure of the maximum light exposure dose that the print can withstand and still appear to be in excellent condition. This is the "youthful" stage of the life cycle of a photograph on display. The image color and tonality remains essentially the way the artist originally intended.
The AaI&A conservation display rating will provide an important alternative measure of product performance compared to consumer-oriented rating criteria that allow for easily noticeable and often objectionable changes in image quality. If you think about it, the objectives of a conservation display rating and a consumer-oriented display rating both have merit. One tracks early stage performance, and the other tracks later stage performance. If all print processes always deteriorated at a visually linear rate, the two ratings would simply be proportional to one another, all other things being equal. However, degradation rates are often non linear and cause the visual appearance of the print to change more quickly or slowly at first. Thus, early stage product performance can be quite different than mid- to-late stage product performance.
The AaI&A conservation display ratings are derived from colorimetric data calculated with the I* metric. My invention of the I* metric, the development of methods for its use, and now the application of that metric to a new Conservation Display Rating system have taken me many years of reflection on numerous problems in the field of image permanence testing. I believe that museum curators, conservators, printmakers, and collectors will be very interested in the conservation display ratings. The rated exposure values combined with reasonable knowledge of incident illumination will provide concise answers for print susceptibility to prolonged light exposure. The conservation display ratings will encourage informed choices about appropriate illumination levels and display times.
Look for the samples with "Status" equal to 40 Mlux-hr or "Next Update" equal to 2009-02-10 to find the updated test reports I added today.
My good friend, Jordan Lewis, has been busy perfecting his craft, in part based on conversations we've had about the workflow necessary to create the "perfect" scan. I think he's got it figured out!
Several samples printed on an Epson Photo Stylus R2400 printer outfitted with an IJF Bigfoot CIS unit and using Lyson Cave Paint R24 pigment ink set were uploaded to the Lightfade database today. I'm still working on some Fuji Crystal Archive II samples I mentioned the other day. They will be added very soon.
Some new HP Designjet Z3100 samples have just been added for Aai&A members. The HP Vivera pigmented inks have received very high industry-rated test scores for lightfade resistance (200+ predicted years on display at 450 lux for 12 hours per day). The seven samples in test at AaI&A are just getting started, and the tests are likely to run for quite a while, but the first results at 10Mlux-hrs are showing very high scores as one would expect. However, there is one noticeably weaker sample in the batch, sample # AaI_200805_SN003. This sample is printed on HP Pro Satin Photo Paper. The relatively high level of optical brighteners in the image receiving layer are showing early signs of significant OBA activity loss. The paper white is becoming measurably more yellow as OBA activity (fluorescence of the OBA) declines even at this early stage of testing. Compare to similar inkjet photo papers such as Epson Premium Luster Photo Pape or Canon Heavyweight Satin Photographic Paper 300gsm where paper white scores are maintaining their initial values much better.
In the next day or two, I will also be posting 10 Mlux-hr test results for some samples made with Lyson R24 Cave Paint pigmented inks and also some test results for a traditional silver halide color paper, Fuji Crystal Archive II.
Look for the samples with "Status" equal to 20 Mlux-hr or "Next Update" equal to 2009-01-20 to find the updated test reports I added today.
There are some interesting trends already beginning to appear in this batch of samples. Check out the samples made with Claria dyes and also the third party pigmented ink sets that are included in this update. Compare the Claria results to the sample made with Claria dyes (20080222_SN001Lf) which has reached the 30 Mlux-hr mark. Also, compare the samples made with Image Specialists Ink and InkjetFly inks to the samples made with MIS inks which are now further along in test (i.e., the 60 megalux-hour mark). Also, note the excellent performance so far for the Ilford Gallerie Gold Fiber Silk paper with both Epson K3 and especially the Canon Lucia pigmented ink sets.
Easy ways to find the new updates are to sort the lightfade test database on "Status" or "Next update" by clicking on the title field text. Look for the samples with "Status" equal to 60 Mlux-hr or "Next Update" equal to 2009-01-05 to find the updated test reports I added today.
I'm working on a News Page item about the MonitorChecker image target I just added to the AaI&A Documents page. The New post should be up by tonight or tomorrow at the latest. In the meantime, if you want to check out the MonitorChecker tool you will need to have a copy of Photoshop available. The target is Lab encoded for Photoshop. You can download the new file here as well.
I added six new test reports today. Three of the samples were made on an obsolete printer, the Hp Photosmart 7960. See test report #s AaI_20080716_SN001LF.pdf, AaI_20080716_SN004LF.pdf, and AaI_20080716_SN007LF.pdf or just sort the printer column and look for Hp photosmart 7960. It is constructive to test these samples as they represent the previous generation of Hp dye-based ink for its photosmart printer series just prior to the introduction of the latest Hp Vivera dyes. Hp did something admirable which rarely occurs in the OEM ink market. It retrofitted this older series of printers to take the newer Vivera magenta dye by releasing a no. "57+" cartridge which one can install in printers that originally took the no. 57 cartridge such as the Hp 7960. AaI&A will be adding some samples of the 57+ configuration soon. The 57+ magenta was engineered to improve upon the fade resistance of the high concentration magenta dye (ie., the magenta found in the 57 cartridge). Deep magenta, red, and blue colors are printed using the high concentration magenta dye.
Also added is another sample of Epson Claria dye technology printed on an Epson Stylus Photo RX680 printer on Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster – test report # AaI_20080722_SN001Lf.pdf. Compare this result to the same paper and dye set printed on an Epson Stylus Photo R1400 printer (report # AaI_20080222_SN001Lf.pdf).
Lastly, a very interesting new paper recently released by Hahnemuhle is in test - Hahnemuhle FineArt Bamboo 290gsm, printed on an Epson 7800 printer using the Epson OEM K3 pigmented ink set – test report # AaI_20080725_SN005Lf.pdf.
Sort the lightfade test database on "Status" or "Next update" by clicking on the title field text. Look for the samples with "Status" equal to 30 Mlux-hr or "Next Update" equal to 2008-12-20 to find the updated test reports I added today.
I have been pleasantly surprised at how many of my new subscribers use continuous ink supply (CIS) systems and are eager to submit samples. Yet it certainly makes sense because little objective information exists on third party pigment ink stability at this time.
Objectivity in testing is very easy. Objectivity in reporting results is much tougher because factors such as equal representation or "lying" by omission can bias even the most genuine of good intentions. The selection process for testing at AaI&A is largely the outcome of samples submitted by AaI&A members. However, it's my job to avoid the perception of unfairness which might be caused by uneven disclosure of the test results in the public versus private areas of the AaI&A website. It is my promise to you that I will weigh these issues of fair and balanced reporting carefully.
In that spirit, today I concluded that the various third party ink sets now entering testing need equal representation in both the public and private areas of the AaI&A website. Unfortunately, I don't have enough samples of third party inks in test to achieve that goal at this time. Because the AaI&A research is funded by subscription fees, the logical choice is to hold all of the third party ink data as private data for my membership, at least for the time being. Thanks for your understanding.
The very first batch of 20 samples that began light fade testing on January 10, 2008 has now reached the 50 Megalux-hour exposure mark in testing. This dosage is equivalent to approximately 25 years on display at the industry standard extrapolation to 450 lux average light intensity for 12 hours per day. I may make a News page post in a few days and discuss my own observations about the data. There is indeed a lot of data to look at.
For your homework assignment, I suggest sitting down with a good glass of 12 year old whiskey (or a six pack of beer if you're a Sarah Palin fan) and taking a close look at the subtle interactions going on between paper (i.e., the image binder layer chemistry) and the various colorant blends of the printed test target colors. As for differences between Canon Lucia ink versus Epson K3 ink or even the R1800 OEM ink, no clearcut winners yet, but there are two or three similar paper sets to compare. Enjoy!
I have added more samples yesterday and today in the Light Fade Test Results list. The quickest way to find them for now is to click on the list header for "Status". This will sort the list on the Status field in descending order. At the bottom you will find several 10 Mlux-hr level samples. These are the new ones I just added.
There are two new third party ink sets in test. One is the Image Specialist pigment set for Epson R800/R1800 printers, and the other is an InkjetFly Pigmented ink set (using Image Specialist black inks) also for the Epson R800/R1800 printers.
Also noteworthy are more Epson Claria dye-based samples and Canon ipf5000 and Epson 4800 printer samples on the new Ilford Galerie Gold Fiber Silk Paper. This paper is one of the latest generation "traditional fiber base photo" papers.
I am working on posting a set of new samples to the light fade testing database. AaI&A members can now view the 10 Megalux-hr test score (AaI_20080617_SN001Lf.pdf) for a glossy print sample of the new Fujifilm DL 400 Dry lab printer. I wrote about the DL 400 photofinishing technology in the recent AaI&A News page article posted on 2008-09-16. Additional new samples will be getting added today and tomorrow including some interesting third party pigment ink sets. Also, the 50 megalux-hour mark has been completed on the first batch of samples in test. The updates will begin to appear a little ahead of their October 10 schedule.
It's almost ready, but the new article needs a little tighter editing. It covers a fair amount of subject matter. The article will have information on the Fujifilm DL 400 "dry" minilab, a Fuji Frontier 390 "wet" minlab, and compares and contrasts retail one-hour photofinishing to home printing options such as the Epson RX680 all-in-one printer shown in the photo above. Some 600 dpi scans from portions of 4x6 inch prints will be included. They will help the viewer compare differences in image macrostructure.
I've been studying current trends in consumer photofinishing. The Fujifilm DL 400 "dry" minilab represents an historically important transition from traditional silver halide wet processing (RA-4 process compatible systems) to modern inkjet technology. Retail stores that offer photofinishing services to their customers are going "green" or at least greener by switching from traditional silver halide photo papers to inkjet prints. I've learned some interesting facts that somewhat surprised me about the new DL 400 prints and will be posting a more extensive article about my findings on the AaI&A News page in a few days. Light fade testing is now underway as are some tests on the widely used traditional RA-4 process compatible materials (i.e., Fuji Crystal Archive II photo paper printed on a Fuji Frontier 390 minilab).
Reports for twenty samples that just reached the 20 Megalux-hour mark have been updated. The three Epson Stylus Photo 1270 printer samples are now public links. Color Accuracy Retention of these Epson 1270 samples is very poor. Tonal Retention is also down substantially, but the tests continue because it will be instructive to let the I* tone numbers fall even more.
Twenty samples that currently show 10 Mlux-hr status and are scheduled for update on September 10, 2008 will actually be ready by the end of this week. To date, all twenty samples have been members-only samples, but I will release the Epson 1270 printer samples to public status on this 20 Megalux-hour update. I initiated these largely obsolete printer/ink/paper tests because the printers, inks, and similar papers are still widely used in home photo printing today. The test results provide a good historical benchmark on the progress in dye-based inkjet technology and lightfastness since year 2000.
The dye set used in the 870/1270 series of Epson Stylus Photo printers and other later Epson desktop models such as the 890/1290 printers is Epson's previous generation of six-color photo inkjet dyes. It was claimed to have greatly improved lightfastness compared to Epson's original six-color set, but it quickly ran into trouble with consumers because its poor gas fade resistance on microporous papers undermined many consumers' chances of obtaining the stated "display life". Care must be taken to soon frame the prints under glazing (i.e., glass or plexiglass) prior to display in order to eliminate the risk of ozone-induced image fading. In 2006, Epson introduced a newer dye set named "Claria". During Epson's transition to its latest Claria dye technology, Hp also introduced a significantly more lightfast inkjet dye technology it calls "Vivera" dyes. AaI&A currently has examples printed with both Claria and Vivera dyes in light fade testing as well.
I was so close to the 10 megalux-hour pull time for the next batch of 20 samples in test, that I decided to hold off posting any 0 Mlux-hr test reports. Although 0 Mlux-hr posts can alert readers to what new items are in test, 10 Mlux-hr results have logged the first round of exposure. So, I'm putting the finishing touches on these new reports over the next couple of days. The new reports will begin to appear on the light fade test results list over the next three days.
Twenty new samples are soon to be added to the accelerated light fade list. They will reach the 10 megalux-hour exposure level on July 2, 2008. I will have all the test reports ready by the 15th of July at the latest. You may see some of new test reports appear on the list even earlier than July 2 with a status of "0 Mlux-hr". Although 0 Mlux-hr reports represent only the very start of the test and no exposure yet, their early posting to the list serves a purpose of letting people know what is coming. Also, if you open any of these 0 Mlux-hour reports you will be able to look at the sample description page including paper white and max black characteristics which is useful in product purchase making decisions.
I plan on making some of these new samples public at a later date, but for now they will have green links for members' download only.