Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Printing Digital Photos is not the Answer

Epson-inkjet-printer.jpg ‎(400 × 310 pixels, file size: 84 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Subject to disclaimers.
So now you have all these digital photos and you are concerned about digital preservation. Is it a viable option to print the photos to "protect" them from future loss of the files? The answer is presently a very qualified no. My experience with inkjet printers is extremely extensive. We have been using the very high quality large-scale printers/plotters almost since their inception back in the early 1980s. Frankly, we have found that the ink fades at a fairly rapid rate. There have been some improvements in UV coatings and special UV inks, but the consumer models commonly sold almost as a give-away uses ink that is unstable.

One option is to laminate the prints immediately, however, that will only slow down the deterioration. Here is the summary from a Kodak White Paper on the subject:
Print-life estimates based on single, highly accelerated light fade tests are misleading. Any credible estimate of print life must account for all of relavant factors, including those that continue to occur regardless of the room brightness. These factors include temperature, humidity, and ozone-induced fade. In addition, one must also account for reciprocity effects that can occur when very high light levels are used to accelerate dye fade. Comparative standardized testing at multiple light levels provides for a more complete assessment of the lightfastness of different combinations of ink and paper. Standardized test methods for stability in a range of humidity and ozone conditions are also needed so that comparative testing for these factors can be included in any overall measure of image stability.
 This is an area that is changing, like all other technologies. But before making a decision to "archive" your photos by printing them, be sure and research the realistic time frames for the particular make, model and ink type you plan to use.


  1. Nice post. Which printer is the best for printing plastic business cards?

    1. I believe that the process you are referring to is a commercial process involving special ink on a plastic substrate. Because of the cost of setup and printing, it is really hard to compete with commercial suppliers. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Materials like banners and posters or even leaflets and fliers play an important role in the publicity and advertisement campaigns for companies. Thus there proper design layout along with superior quality is necessary in such jobs.

    Boston Commercial Printing

  3. Best digital photo print bring your memories to life in gorgeous color. You will love the convenience of ordering prints online from home. You will forget the darkroom, the rolls and rolls of film and the limited frames.

  4. The printing has most popular part in the human life. All old memories can be saved by the printing .The digital printing is the best generation in the area of printing. This blog is very informative.Thank you for sharing....

    posted by - Jim Sina | Digital Printing Brisbane