Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
Crystal Archive isn't an inkjet paper. It can be and is frequently used with a conventional enlarger and it is processed in conventional RA-4 type chemistry.

A LightJet printer uses a laser to form an image on a conventional color negative enlarging paper, and Crystal Archive is the most popular paper used for this process. Fuji Frontier printers which also have scanning modules and greater automation for minilabs do the same for smaller sized prints.
CA is just a regular old color printing paper for the newer RA4 process. I always figured RA stood for Rapid Access (as opposed to EP2), but don't know for sure ---don't really care. Type C paper is for printing color negs--Type R is reversal paper for printing slides. Cibachrome is Cibachrome....There are few R papers left, I think Kodak & Fuji have discontinued theirs as recently as last year....

Lightjet printers are as David has explained. They image using lasers on an X-Y axis and need to use a material that has a minimum area of about 4x4 or so. This is one reason why they're priced out at a square foot--and why there may be minimum prices regardless of size--just like using a large laminator in a way--there is an amount of material that will be used up even if the print is just a 5x7 or so. OTOH, the labs will gang prints up & cut them out to maximize this...the lab we use where I work does this, and the fees always fluctuate based on size of the job and how much work they have on a daily basis...

A Durst Lambda printer is similar--but images along a slit more or less, as the paper moves through the machine. They can image to smaller sizes, but don't hold the resolution of type for example, that a Lightjet has. Both of these printers have made huge inroads into commercial signage and printing--since you can output composite text & images onto photographic papers.

You can use almost any roll type photo material as well--not just CA. There's a traveling exhibit of photographs from the National Archives, that was done on a Lightjet with b&w RC paper for example. NARA also uses contract vendors for patron prints--these places seem to use Frontier prints mostly now.

Frontier printers--my understanding of them from another lab we use at work--is they use a screen much like a monitor to burn the image onto paper. Apparently Noritsu has a rival system that's better than this coming out now...at any rate, the printers are coupled in with scanners etc--much like a minilab package printer.

So--yeah--not inkjets, not even close. The NARA exhibit "Picturing the Century" is a traveling version of the one that hung at the National Archives in DC for many years. Both of these are fantastic exhibits, but the one in DC had original prints and more than the traveling show. The museum I work for had the traveling one a couple of years ago, and I was really blown away by the quality of the prints....since then, I'd say 75% of the color work we've done, and almost all the murals etc have been done on Frontiers or Lightjets, and some Lambda machines--in my opinion, the Lightjets are the best, but Frontiers are good for small prints and alot cheaper too.

BTW--I can't remember this exactly-- the lambda and lightjets are the same pricinciple, but work differently. one uses LEDs, the other uses lasers, with the frontiers using a CRT almost.


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