longevity: FB, RC, colour, digital

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by frank, Jun 15, 2003.

  1. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    I'm reposting this as a new thread as it was a whole different topic from the cold light question.

    Please forgive my ignorance, but what is the relative expected lifetime of black and white RC, FB, colour papers (there are diferent types) and digital prints (again there are different types)?
    I have B+W prints made on RC paper back when I was at university (almost 30 years ago) that still look good, and have spent much of their lifetime displayed on walls, though not in direct sunlight.

    Frank
     
  2. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Well, I'm not an expert on archival permanence but over the years I have noticed a thing or two. Some years ago I was asked to copy a family photo dating back to around 1917: fibre based and still looking good.

    Forty-year-old colour pics show serious fading and the negs are totally without any image.

    According to Kodak their famous Kodachrome will last at least fifty years.

    For me that's enough to know that B&W rules supreme.

    Hans
     
  3. lee

    lee Member

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    I apologize for not answering sooner but I been off working. RC paper has had problems in the past. Critin (sp?) did some research several years ago with RC paper that was framed and matted and hanging on the wall. The jest of the article was that the RC paper started to show signs of coming apart. I don't remember the exact phrase and wording but it had something to do with "out gassing". Kodak says they have fixed the problem. That may be, but twice bitten is not something I look forward to. Besides the fiber based paper looks so much better to me. The glossy is too shiny and the mat is too mat. I have been using fiber for many years (over 30) and I am used to all the problems using fiber causes. To me, it is worth it. Your mileage may differ.

    As color work goes, I have professionally printed color work that is about 20 years old and it is almost all cyan now. It is fading big time.
    lee\c
     
  4. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    I have some RC prints I made ooohhhh about 25 years ago, and they still look OK. Only one seems to be discolored, and only on one edge (very slight). They are black and white. Color does not seem to be as durable.
     
  5. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I too have 30 year old RC prints that are still in good condition, no fading, stains or cracking. Ctein has made some silly claims about RC materials in one of his many rantings but my experience does not agree with his so called scientific findings. I'm with Lee on my feelings about the look of RC paper, the image appears to sit on the surface, that is the only reason that I don't use it.

    My experience with colour negative is the same as others, serious fading and colour change after 20 to 30 years.

    Digital is in its infancy and we just have to live with what we've got but I'm certain that the manufacturers will crack it given time.

    To answer your question Frank, Properly processed black and white, RC or fibre, will be good for many years 75 to 100 years perhaps. Colour negative is dodgy and digital is in the hands of the scientists.
     
  6. Thilo Schmid

    Thilo Schmid Member

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    The only durable color paper is Ilfochrome. All other materials fade significantly within one year, if displayed. One does usually not recognize it, until the print gets a color cast. But if you compare it to a fresh print, you will notice that the displayed one got lighter and less contrasty over the time. Fuji claims that their Crystal Archive paper lasts 75 years in dark storage. But what is the purpose of a print?
     
  7. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I agree with Les here. I too read the article by Ctein (in the magazine "Darkroom Techniques" ????), and although I usually "hung" on his every word in Camera and Darkroom, this one didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

    There was another "writing" in C&D about "environmental conditions" and RC paper longevity - where a significant cause of image degredaton was attributed to phenols "out-gassing" from surfaces freshly painted with oil-based paints. C&D recommended - strongly - that latex paints should be used in all galleries.

    As for color ... certainly, in the past, color prints *would* fade - but that may not indicate the permanence of modern materials. I have Agfa "Signum" color prints safely tucked away in my portfolio that have yellowed significantly over the years. I also have Ilfocolor prints hanging on the walls of my studio (incidentally, latex painted) for six - seven years with *no* degredation at all.

    I would love to see definintive, really coherent information about all this.
     
  8. Thilo Schmid

    Thilo Schmid Member

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    Ed,
    I wonder about this comment. I didn't find Ilfocolor very stable at least not compared to Signum II/Crystal Archive. If I take a look at the datasheets, Ilfocolor would loose aprox. 0,15 logD in 6 years if exposed to 450 lx/12hr/day. 450 lx is a very low illumination. ~10,000 lx would be a usual daylight illumination (as used in the Fuji Data Sheets where Crystal Archive fades the same amount in 9 Months(!)). I had some Ilfocolor hanging in my staircase (no direct sunlight) besides Signum II and Crystal Archive prints. The Ilfocolor prints did not perform better than the other two. Did you ever compare a print on your office wall to new one from the same neg?
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Storage has a lot to do with it, and I've seen variations in prints produced around the same time on the same paper.

    The RC papers of today are quite different from the papers of the 1980s, so they may last longer than those earlier papers, but this is as much "in the hands of the scientists," I think, as what to expect from digital output materials.

    Fiber we know is good. Kodachrome seems to have held up well. I have Cibachromes that are at least 15 years old that show no fading or shift.
     
  10. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    I knew about cibachromes (now Ilfochrome) . They use azo dyes and as long as the glossy polyester base is used, they are supposed to last more than 100 years.

    About the surface quality of RC, I use the pearl surface, and when I showed it to an old-time FB printer who hadn't bothered to look at RC since it first came out, was impressed with the look.

    Frank
     
  11. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    My comments too, are anecdotal.

    As a professional portrait photographer, I shot weddings and portraits and printed in color since 1976. When I sold the studio in 1986 I had already encountered problems with print deterioration. Even today I still believe color is not very stable.

    In 1993 I started doing black and white portraits exclusively. I started using RC because I believed that the information from Ilford that RC was stable. Initially I was not what you'd call very anal about some of my printing methods and soon I had prints that were yellowing in as little as 6 months. Not all just a few. I tightened up my proceedures( two bath fix, print washer, etc) and I still would get the same problems. I contacted Ilford on a number of occasions but nobody seemed to have the answers. Every print had been archivally framed as well.

    Finally I just switched to fiber and the problems have gone away. I follow the threads on this and other photography sites and the RC vs FB debate rages on. For me I can't risk the 10% of the prints that were yellowing and I am very happy with the posibilities that FB gives even though it is a little more work.

    My prints are displayed on walls. They are not put in the freezer, in portfolio books or tucked away. I admit that I have still got a lot of RC prints that are fine, it's just that it's not worth it to me to take the chance.

    Just an opinion.

    Michael McBlane
     
  12. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I've just waded through Ilford's and Agfa's web sites .... I have a head ache.

    I found "fading" information on Ilford's site, but not on Agfa's (other than, "Our paper is awful good when it comes to fading") - and I couldn't navigate to anything worthwhile on Fuji's. Could you help with a few specific addresses here?

    I have a few questions - Ilford decribes their paper as "Ilfocolor E" ... and I'm not sure that is the same stuff that I have cached in my refrigerator. Agfa lists "Signum II", which, again, is not the same as what I had used.

    Probably, there have been, over time, advances in "permanence" qualities.

    I can only say that the Ilfocolor prints I have hanging appear to be "fresh". I really cannot duplicate processing - those in question were processed with Photocolor (early) and JOBO/ Russell, JOBO/Trebla - and JOBO (Tetenal) chemicals - and I have no doubt that the chemical process has a significant effect on color balance and longevity.

    The "Fading" information I was able to glean specified testing by an independant lab" and environmental light exposure of "450 and 500 lux - intermittently - for twelve hours" - as an arbitrary value - more or less equivalent to "hanging on the average wall".
    I just checked my studio walls with my Gossen Ultra Pro - set on "lux" and (10:00 AM - sunny day otuside) I have observed values ranging from 45 (shadier places) to 18,000 lux (sunlight streaming through window) - with an average of 450-500 - so the testing parameters seem to be somewhere near to reality - but -- there is no indication of the spectral composition of the interior light. Interior lighting has little UV - filtered out by "ordinary" glass.

    Interesting to note that Ilford has a number of protecting laminates for applying over the emulsion to increase resistance to fading.
     
  13. Thilo Schmid

    Thilo Schmid Member

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    Ed, you can find the Fuji Crystal Archive Data Sheet here: http://www.fujifilm.com/JSP/fuji/epartners/bin/AF3-992E.pdf

    Information from Kodak:
    http://www.kodak.com/cluster/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/cis240/cis240.pdf



    IMO, it is not necessary to have an exact duplicate to judge fading. Any fresh print will be a comparison (if the current material is much better, it is a reason to replace the old one anyway). The problem is that if one looks at a print every day, he may not notice the aging. It is the same with people you see often.
     
  14. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    [/quote="Thilo Schmid"]
    IMO, it is not necessary to have an exact duplicate to judge fading. Any fresh print will be a comparison (if the current material is much better, it is a reason to replace the old one anyway). The problem is that if one looks at a print every day, he may not notice the aging. It is the same with people you see often.[/quote]

    Thanks ... I think. The information form Kodak is informative ... but it will take some time for this weary grey matter to digest it all. Interesting to note that my quickie measurements seem to fall into the "office illumination' range.

    Fuji, apparently, bases its longevity on outdoor display, averaging out to 1,000 lux, intermittently.

    Also ... an interesting statemant form Kodak about its "Endura" -- "Will last TWICE as long as *any* other silver - based paper."
     
  15. docholliday

    docholliday Member

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    The most archival I have seen is FB. I recently re-shot and re-printed an old fiber print from the 30s that was cracked. It cracked before it faded!

    RC isn't bad, but it seems to exhibit other weird phenomenon before fading. It seems to separate (yup, about 7 years old) and lose it's dimensionalism after a few years, this was mostly on Kodak RC Polycontrast papers. My Ilford RC Portfolio papers haven't had a single problem.

    I have some Kodak Supra III prints that have already faded from about 2 years ago. Faded because it was hung on a wall in my living room. Hmmm. My living room is blacked out...no sunlight at all, but with a 25 watt picture light above it at all times. And all of my RA-4's are processed on a roller-transport processor and washed for 3-5 minutes before drying, then properly mounted and framed in aluminum frames...

    I've been printing on Supra Endura. Can't wait to test the longevity of this Kodak "claim"...:smile:

    Digital? Junk. I'd rather have a digital file C-printed than inkjet printed, but for some tradeshow displays that I had done on an Epson 10000, the paper has yellowed. Not ink fade, but paper failure??? Epson crap.
     
  16. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I revisited the .pdf file from Kodak. There is enogh here to study for a week.

    There are a great deal of "caveats", especially directed at the *extrapolation* of data and the projections of the future performance of the color papers in question. Three, or, at best, four "data points" observed over a time span of one year are extrapolated to infer perfromance as far as 200 years in the future.

    I would pay particular attention to the discussion of "ambient environmental factors". I know that one museum in the Boston area is now preserving photographs, art, and other documents in gas-tight frames filled with argon gas - and there has been ongoing discussion into the effects of acid-freee, Ph balanced, Lignin-free matting .... and quite possibly, the effect of the local Brujo's spells .... and the position of Jupiter and the Plieades ....

    Anyhow ... I *LIKE* Ilfocolor, especially when processed in JOBO/Tetenal chemicals.
     
  17. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Doc says... "Digital? Junk. I'd rather have a digital file C-printed than inkjet printed, but for some tradeshow displays that I had done on an Epson 10000, the paper has yellowed. Not ink fade, but paper failure??? Epson crap."

    ----

    Gotta disagree with you a bit there Doc. I've been toying with piezo prints on a dedicated Epson 1280 that are nothing short of stunning. The inks are all carbon based and supposed to be comparable to platinum in their longevity. That however remains to be seen. Unfortunately many of the paper bases offered don't stand up though. I personally use a rag, watercolor paper for the piezos which enhances the platinum feel of the prints. I've had a test image out on my deck in the sun and rain for almost a year! Although the paper has some water stains, the image hasn't faded a bit.

    Although I am a dedicated Silver/Platinum kinda guy, IMO the lure of these piezos can't be denied.
     
  18. DKT

    DKT Member

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    The Image Permanence Institute has some good publications, and reference materials like the "Preservation Calculator", "Guide to Acetate based Film Storage", "Guide to Color..." etc. But they have a neat interactive display now called, "stored Alive"--you all might find this interesting:

    http://www.rit.edu/~661www1/sub_pages/8contents.htm

    There are alot of good resources online for preservation and accelerated testing topics, but Wilhelm's book is in parts as pdf files now, and there's a conservator's environmental pollution site that has a good research paper on accelerated aging test variables and inkjets materials, as well as examples of peroxide attacks on RC papers.

    http://iaq.dk/

    http://www.wilhelm-research.com/index.html

    general conservation topics:

    http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/

    Here's the NPS Museum Handbook (also check the Conserve-o-grams), go to Part II, appendix K , deals with recommendations for their site photography , note this would be for the sites without photo staff)

    http://www.cr.nps.gov/museum/publications/handbook.html

    NEDCC's "Preservation 101" lesson 7:

    http://www.nedcc.org/p101cs/lesson7.htm



    I'll leave y'all the links--KT