Blue Loon Photography

Archival Digital Prints

Introduction
The Details
Introduction

    Archival digital prints are generally produced in one of the following ways: 1:)Fuji Crystal Archive prints (traditional, expensive) 2:)Fine Art Giclee prints (expensive) 3:)Desktop Inkjet Prints (relatively inexpensive, can be done in the home or home office)

The Details

    Traditionally, archival digital prints have been produced on Fuji's Crystal Archive photographic paper using a LightJet printer which utilizes lasers for enlarging. These prints offer the ultimate fidelity in color, sharpness, and tonal range currently available on any photographic paper. The most notable difference, compared to ordinary prints, is that these prints no longer lose color and contrast with enlargement. Colors remain clean and saturated, like a projected slide, because digital enlarging can feed the same numbers to the output lasers to expose a 50-inch print or a 5-inch print by scanning. The result is a true original photograph on a paper that could also be exposed in a traditional enlarger. Independent tests suggest that these prints in normal display conditions will last at least 70 years before noticeable fade. Often these prints are produces in Limited Editions, so every print from a specific transparency is signed, dated, and numbered in the order in which it was produced. A LightJet printer alone costs over $100,000 while a prepress drum scanner needed to digitize the image runs over $50,000. Only a few labs in the U.S. offer this service. Fuji prints are the kind you often see in galleries, and can be blown up to sizes exceeding 20 x 30 inches.

    Recently, inkjet prints from desktop and larger inkjet printers have advanced to the point where they offer museum quality output with longevity that approaches or even exceeds traditional photographs. Traditionally, artists have used what are known as fine art "giclee" printers to print large artwork and photographs for gallery display. These are basically industrial strength inkjet printers. For details, go to the Fine Art Giclee Printers Website. On the home front, Epson has long been the primary manufacturer of home/office inkjet printers suitable for archival quality prints. These range from true desktop models (Stylus Photo 1280 and 2200, Stylus Pro 4000) to large free standing floor models (Stylus Pro 7600, 9600). Of these, all but the 1280 use pigmented inks, which are generally longer lasting than dye inks (1280). Dye inks are generally brighter (have a larger color gamut), but recent "UltraChrome" pigment inks have a color gamut that is quite acceptable. On the question of print longevity, the Wilhelm Imaging Research company does most of the testing, and tests each combination of inks/paper. Inkjet prints can now be produces with a longevity exceeding 80 years. This usually assumes prints are properly framed under glass, and not exposed to direct sunlight or extreme humidity.