Mike Chaney's Tech Corner
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1  Technical Discussions / Printer Media / Re: Improved Ilford Smooth Papers on: October 22, 2009, 02:14:06 AM
Doesn't make sense to me.  They changed the coating enough that it affected dye inks.  How could a "change" make it absolutely the same response as before for pigment?

Seth, I've just seen the same printer/ink combo on both the old and new version of Ilford Gallerie Smooth Pearl (IGSPP11, new vs IGSPP9,old). The sample pair was recently sent to me by a another member of the AaI&A digital print research program.  He used a third party pigmented ink in an Epson R1800 printer and the new coating definitely increased the color gamut and minimized bronzing in the shadows. Enough so, that I offered to make a custom profile (not a service I provide normally) for this AaI&A member so that we can really get the best initial image quality out of both papers before putting them into light fade testing.  Perhaps with major OEM pigmented ink sets the initial image quality differences aren't quite as dramatic, but based on what I've seen, I'd say Ilford should reconsider telling people a different profile isn't needed for pigmented inks.

According to a technical paper I read on the new paper formulation, there is a new subbing layer to wick off the ink solvent more quickly and separate it from the colorant. Also a new nano particle dispersion technology, so all in all, it is truly a different paper yet with the same name. My only wish is that Ilford had lightened up a bit on the OBA content, but we will have to light fade test it to see how significant the OBA burnout response is.


2  Technical Discussions / Articles / Re: October 2009: Pigment vs Dye Today on: October 21, 2009, 09:27:35 PM

Currently, they only have results for 6 printers.  Not a very good sample population if you are trying to determine how reliable their results are.


Hmm.. I'm counting approximately 25 different printer models and over 100 tests already in progress in the AaI&A lightfade database. Another 25 unique printer/ink/paper combinations will be added next week.  But I agree with your basic premise, AaI&A still has much to prove in order to claim any mantle of authority. That said, one can also apply this specific criticism to all of the other published data as well. Many of the test scores available today are repurposed data from just one tested printer model, and we are not told how many trials were conducted nor even what specific image appearance criteria were used to rate the "end of life" of the product.

Moreover, the 100, 200, 300+ year claims of longevity now being cited with authority in various forum discussions and marketing literature are also misleading but, perhaps ironically, not because they are wildly optimistic. On the contrary, any competent curator or conservator can pretty much ensure that images printed with very fugitive inks on the most lignin-filled, acid-choked newspaper pulp will last 100+ years by making only modest efforts to preserve them. The devil is in the details.  Hence, although it sounds intuitively logical, the time scale is actually a rather poor differentiator for print durability and resistance to change. Also, systems don't always fade or change linearly, so a single predicted endpoint to reach "noticeable fade" does not always tell the whole story. Printmakers dedicated to art of the fine print where even small changes in print appearance will be of concern to the curator or collector, are especially not being served by today's photo consumer-oriented testing methods and longevity rating criteria.

I started the AaI&A digital print research program about two years ago after years of intensive research on better print testing methodologies. My goal is to empower my fellow photographers and printmakers with our own research program where participants can freely contribute materials for test and where we can publish more comprehensive and therefore hopefully more meaningful results. Mike, I take your criticism constructively to heart.  I also encourage serious printmakers get involved.

kind regards,
Mark McCormick-Goodhart
Director, Aardenburg Imaging & Archives
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