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Thread: ilfochrome

  1. #1
    DKT
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    ilfochrome

    fwiw--just thought I'd mention that a friend at a local dealer showed me a fax from Ilford a day or two ago--said they were phasing Ilfochrome out by the end of 2005. They claimed it had nothing to do with their current financial woes--and in a way I believe this. I heard a rumor from a tech that sales had really dropped on ilfochrome materials at the bigger labs. This guy said it was "history" and that was like almost a year and a half ago. These were labs that were using the cibatrans materials for backlit graphics in advertising and in slot machines and the like. Apparently they've gone over to RA materials and inkjets.

    Make of it what you will, until an "official" release comes out.

    KT

  2. #2
    L Gebhardt's Avatar
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    I've been waiting for this news ever since I started using the stuff a few months ago. Sorry for ruining it for the rest of you. Does anyone know how long the paper and chemicals last in storage?

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    No one and nothing's going to stop Ilford from making awful decisions are they - it's an irreversible trend isn't it?

    I heard this and thought it was a rumour by a working pro' who thought that ilfochromes will be collectable in calibre - the stuff that hangs in museums....whereas the digitised papers will be as common as toilet paper. At least digitised papers have a second use then!

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    I'm not surpised.

    A pro lab that I use hasn't been able to get P-3 chemicals in the U.S. for the past 8 months. He was ordering them from a source in Europe to keep his Ilfochrome processor working.

    The labs with LightJets have killed Ilfochrome. Between Fuji Crystal Archive and Kodak Metallic paper, there's no sales for Ilfochrome prints. The home darkroom market is so small as to be almost non-existent. It's a product that's way past it's time. There are so many problems with getting good prints from it - from having to make masks to the color crossover - that I have no qualms about seeing it go away. There are far, far better ways to make color prints from transparencies.

    I can understand the company's decision. That's a lot of money to keep tied up in facilities to produce products for a very, very small market.

    As to Ilfochromes being "collectible" just because they're Ilfochromes - I don't mean to puncture your illusion of rarity - but, it hasn't happened with dye transfer prints. It's the artist that matters, and NOT the printing media.

  5. #5
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Obviously the artist matters more than the printing media, but I think there's a grain of truth in the notion that collectors prefer Ciba/Ilfochromes to other media. If the same artist were offering giclee/Ultrachrome/inkjet, C-prints, and Ilfochromes of comparable quality, I'd bet the serious collectors would take the Ilfochromes over the others, in part because it's been around longer and has a more proven track record of archival stability. Fuji claims that Crystal Archive is at least as good, as do the producers of the inkjet pigments, but we all own faded C-prints and have probably seen inkjets that have shown problems such as fading and metamerism.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
    Obviously the artist matters more than the printing media, but I think there's a grain of truth in the notion that collectors prefer Ciba/Ilfochromes to other media. If the same artist were offering giclee/Ultrachrome/inkjet, C-prints, and Ilfochromes of comparable quality, I'd bet the serious collectors would take the Ilfochromes over the others, in part because it's been around longer and has a more proven track record of archival stability. Fuji claims that Crystal Archive is at least as good, as do the producers of the inkjet pigments, but we all own faded C-prints and have probably seen inkjets that have shown problems such as fading and metamerism.
    Except Crystal Archive dyes and Ultrachrome ink pigments can't be compared to C-prints as they're different technologies. You've set up a false analogy, totally without proof or merit.

    My experience with inkjet pigments inks is that they are far more stable than C-prints - and Wilhelm (and other independent testing sources) verify the stability claims. They're probably also more stable than Ilfochromes which have an archival rating of about 30 years.

    I've done my own accelerated aging tests on C-prints, Ilfochromes, and inkjet prints by setting prints in a south facing window that gets direct sun for at least 10 hours per day. I live in New Mexico at 5,000 feet so we also have a lot of UV energy. The first test I did was in 1988 with a C-print and a Cibachrome. The C-print (Kodak paper) faded badly in about 1 month. The Cibachrome color shifted about 7cc magenta after 6 months. My latest test is with an inkjet print with pigment inks. After 1 year in the window, the print has not changed from the control print kept in a drawer.

    This is certainly not scientific testing as the amount of illumination is not consistent from day-to-day, and is not monitored for total radiant flux on the surface - but, in real world terms, it certainly shows that a pigment inkjet print on rag paper is at least (if not more) stable than an Ilfochrome under direct sunlight.

    It's not exactly like pigment technology is a new thing. Pigments have been used for hundreds of years to create all types of art work. Color pigment inks have been used for at least 200 years to create printed works (etchings and lithographs). While pigment inks formulated for inkjet printers are "different" (carriers / viscosity) than lithographic printing inks, the chemistry and formulation of inkjet inks is far more controlled and tested - specifically because the manufacturers are sensitive to archival issues.

    Metamerism is a totally different issue - and is not archival issue - but an ink / receiver (paper) compatibility problem. Metamerism can be eliminated - you just have to know what to do (use a good RIP and the correct ink/paper combination).

    Color crossover in Ilfochrome CANNOT be eliminated easily. The only way to control it is to treat an Ilfochrome print like a dye transfer print and make black and white separation positives and print each one individually though separation filters. This makes Ilfochrome printing as much a pain in the butt as a dye transfer print - but without the look or longevity OF a dye transfer print. My, there's a bonus.

    If "been around longer," and "more proven track record of stability" are true issues, then your faux collector would be demanding color photographs made only by dye transfer or carbon pigment. I don't see any lines forming at galleries with people demanding a certain technology or "nothing."

    Sorry, David - can't find one shred of truth in your postulations.

  7. #7
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I'm not talking about the materials, but the market. It may be true that inkjet pigment prints are more stable or that Crystal Archive is just as good, but I'm not so sure that the art market widely perceives inkjet pigment or Crystal Archive prints as good investments at this point. That doesn't mean that inkjets and LightJets don't sell--when the work is really provocative they can sell for a lot--but I think it will be some time before the new media have the same level of acceptance as Ilfochrome.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
    I'm not talking about the materials, but the market. It may be true that inkjet pigment prints are more stable or that Crystal Archive is just as good, but I'm not so sure that the art market widely perceives inkjet pigment or Crystal Archive prints as good investments at this point. That doesn't mean that inkjets and LightJets don't sell--when the work is really provocative they can sell for a lot--but I think it will be some time before the new media have the same level of acceptance as Ilfochrome.
    If that were true, then the "art market" would not be buying any C-prints at all. Yet, many photographers make and sell C-prints through photo galleries - and the buyers look at them as "investments."

    It does, however, make one wonder what photographers like Christopher Burkett are going to do in order to hype their photos with statements like:

    "This is why I am the only one who will print any of my own photographs, both now and in the future."

    and...

    "You can be assured that each exhibition print is meticulously handmade by me, one print at a time. Through many hours of patient work, the photograph becomes more refined, as I labor to bring the luminous quality of the image to life. These are not mechanical reproductions, but images in which I have invested my heart and soul."

    My, how heart rendering....pardon me while I strap on my chest waders - it's getting a little too deep for me. I guess the poor little dear will have to invest in a scanner, LightJet printer, and learn Photoshop...(eyes tearing up...can't type any more...snifff...snifff)

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve


    As to Ilfochromes being "collectible" just because they're Ilfochromes - I don't mean to puncture your illusion of rarity - but, it hasn't happened with dye transfer prints. It's the artist that matters, and NOT the printing media.
    Uh huh....I am sure people would pay the same for an Elliot Porter in ilfochrome than they will do for a dye transfer of the same print......NOT!

    Said it before, and I say it again, the process is an integral part of the image. It lends the image a particular feel, and a good phtographer chooses the process to enhance the image. Leaving aside the longevity issues, there is nothing that compares to a well done Ilfochrome. I recently had the chance to compare Ilfochromes to ink jet prints and there was no contest.

    Saying that it is only the artist that matters and not the process is a red herring argument, the artist chooses the process as well for a specific reason. You cannot have one without the other. I know it galls ink jet printers when a photographer is proud of making each print and being personally involved on the process of each and every print and he/she says so, the same way they keep chanting the "process does not matter" mantra, I think many of us will keep chanting the "it is not the same as a machine made print" mantra. Time will tell which will become more valued. So far, a hand made Ferrari is still worth more than a Chevy.....

  10. #10
    mobtown_4x5's Avatar
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    heart rendering? Something to aspire to in imagemaking to be sure.

    Both David and the quoted photographer are absolutely correct. The handcrafted element to wet processes does add a lot of value which is born out in the art market. As a gallery-owner friend of mine (owns galleries in NY, NJ, SF, IL, MA, and LA) told me in confidence about inkjet prints- "nobody serious collects that sh**").

    I suspect that as the quality of inkjet prints that people are producing of thier snapshots at home improves, hand printed images will continue to dominate the fine art market.

    I doubt you will find much sympathy for your pro-inkjet rant here at APUG.

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