Dye ink vs pigment ink - an 18 month comparison

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by paul -, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. These 2 4x6 shots are the same age, and have been displayed side by side in identical conditions.
    Anyone still have doubts about dye vs pigment?
  2. BTW, they looked identical when they started!
  3. So you compare one particular set of dye inks with one particular set of pigment inks. You can't draw conclusions from this about dye vs. pigment inks per se.
  4. Granted, this is one dye set vs. one pigment set.

    Having said that, it was known LONG before photo ink jets that pigments are much more durable than dyes. This is due to basic chemistry and there's no way around it.

    Pigment prints are much more stable, and I would not print anything I wanted to last on a dye photo ink jet.
  5. While I have no doubts about the relative instability of dye prints overall - I do have color
    Canon dye prints (actually Apple Stylewriter 2400, which gives an idea of their age) 6-7
    years old, framed under glass, that still look "good" (a sensitometer might show fading).
    Daylight in the room is about 64 foot-candles.

    Glass filters out UV light (main cause of light fading) and also protects from chemical,
    atmospheric breakdown of the dyes (remember Epson 'orange fade'?)

    As a slight side-note - in several cases the dye prints under glass have outlived the
    original picture files stored on CD-Rs (also dye technology), which are now corrupted
    (color bar codes, not photos) or not readable at all.

    At the time I got my Epson 1280, the pigment option was the 2000P - I'm happy with the
    choice I made then. My next printer will be pigment, for sure.
  6. ...it was known LONG before photo ink jets that pigments are much more durable than dyes. This is due to basic chemistry and there's no way around it.
    Better tell that to the Chinese. They've got some interesting art on silk. Dye inks. 1400+ years old, much of that time in display conditions of the times. Mostly that was hanging on walls without glass.
    Maybe they had a different chemistry teacher? ;-)
    Jokes aside, I for one have great doubts about the so called dye vs. pigment debate. What do you think that pigments are made of if not dyes? It's mostly a question of packaging - pigments are essentially balls of dyes.
    2006 is going to be an interesting year for inkjet printing. Don't hold on to your preconceived notions too tightly!
  7. I agree that this isn't necessarily a valid comparison, and there's more to the equation than just the inks and environment. The paper printed on is just as important as the inks.

    For my prints, I use only Canon-brand papers and inks, which are engineered to work together. I have several three-year-old prints mounted under glass in my office, and they all look just as brilliant as when produced. The blues and greens (the most susceptible hues to fading) are still deep and true. And these aren't even Canon's newer, "longer life" (ChromaLife 100?) inks.

    I'm in the market for a printer upgrade this year, and right now I'm planning to move up from my S9000 to an i9900 when those get discounted for clearance when the new Pixma Pro 9000 (dye-based) and 9500 (pigment-based) are released. Before I buy, I'll read the reviews on the Pro 9000, to see if it's worth the additional $$ over the i9900 for me. (I expect the Pro 9000 to premier at $500, and that I'll be able to get an i9900 for $300-350.)

    But the reports of clogged heads on Epson pigment printers gives me pause (I certainly don't print daily), and if the Pro 9500 debuts at $2,000 as reported, well, I could reprint my collection of displayed images many times (*if* they faded), and still be ahead of the Pro 9500 game financially.
  8. Just a response to Bruce's question about the difference between dyes vs. pigments. Dyes are based on organic (i.e. carbon based) molecules, the bonds of which can be broken by UV. Pigments are inorganic or mineral based, such a zinc oxide, that cannot be harmed by UV. Dyes are cheaper to make, provide a wider color gammet and the molecules are much smaller than pigments, which is why they're so popular.
  9. You can't draw conclusions from this about dye vs. pigment inks per se.
    Well, it certainly supports what's already widely known. Through personal experience (I have a canon S9000 and Epson 4800), as well as aging tests performed by Wilhelm.
  10. Well, I think Pauls results speak for themselves. What I would be very curious to see though, is a 3rd print in the side by side comparison, of the same shot printed today, whether with pigment or dye. While the side by side example above clearly shows more fading in the dye print vs the pigment print, I'm curious how much the pigment print may have faded since it was first printed.
  11. Bruce Watson says, "pigments are essentially balls of dyes".

    This is flat-out wrong. Pigments are generally made of simple and stable inorganic compounds, many of them found in nature. Dyes, on the other hand, are typically complex, synthetic organic compounds with low bonding energies -- and hence, more susceptible to breaking down from exposure to light. Look up "analine" in Wikipedia.

    That's not to say that "long lasting" prints can't be made with dye inks. But when dye-based inks are used, the longevity derives from encapsulation of the ink in the paper's surface, for example, in swellable-polymer or gelatin-based substrates.
  12. If I am not bored with a picture on my wall after 18 moths, I'll just make another print. I think most people use inkjet printers just like me - to print pictures for personal use. For albums and display at home rather than for clients. So archival is non issue. Next year we'll all likely have better printers anyway. If I really want to keep a print for years and years, I'll just have it printed at a lab. Or something!
  13. I have to agree with Pauls results

    Due to my concerns about the longivity of images that I sell I have a basic test set of images that I printed 2 years ago.

    My "test" samples show the same sort of fading. I have a test images printed with s9000 Canon inks on Canon and Ilford papers, as well as Epson 2200 inks on Epson and Ilford papers,hung unprotected in my work area.

    The Canon prints on both papers show marked fading from the greens and blues though the colour shift appears to be slowing as they get older. The Epson prints show no visible fading.

    The prints kept in test albums from both printers show no visible fading, though the Canon print seems to have lost some of its vibrancy. That said it looks very similar to the Epson print.

    The same test image reprinted today on the 2200 (the s9000 is in semi-retirement after my tests!), looks the same as the other 2200 test samples.

    It seems from my "basic" research that any dye based ink print must be protected from UV radiation to survive whereas a pigment based print doesn't need the same level of protection.

    I also have some RA4 prints that have faded considerably in 15years that are all in albums, so even if a dye print beats that in an album you're in front!

    BTW the main reason I started the switch from the S9000 was colour management. Everytime a new ink batch came out I had to reprofile the printer. In the end I gave up and bought the 2200, and I've only had to make each profile once.
  14. Folks - interesting and not surprising results, however, there may be substantial variation in the longevity / susceptibility of dye-based output. For example, my Epson 1270 prints on Premium Glossy Paper left out in the open (unprotected but not in direct sunlight) have sometimes turned a distinct yellow in a matter of a few weeks; others, on matte paper have gone well over 2 years without a noticeable change (maybe slight desaturation of some colors -- I'm not sure because it is very minor).

    On the other hand, prints from my HP Photosmart 7960 and 8750 have shown exactly zero change, and some of these have been exposed to direct light (albeit from a window) over a period of many months.

    I do not have a pigment ink printer results to A / B with the HP, but from what I've seen (and in comparing notes with others who use the Epson pigmented inks), there is little difference - thus far - between Epson pigmented and HP dye ink when used with the recommended papers.

    I should note that prints from HP on other than HP papers have also shown no discernible fading under conditions that caused Epson prints to fade and yellow very noticeably.
  15. Hashim, one of the beauties of photos is that they can last generations. Haven't you ever looked at photos that were 50, 60 70 years old. Look at what past generations dressed like, acted like, enjoyed etc... If today's photos only last a few years, we'll be robbing future generations of these pleasures. Yes, you can reprint those photos, but in time, you'll loose the original file and the photo will be lost forever. I print many of my images...not to just put them onto the wall, but to put them into containers for my grand childern to enjoy.
  16. Harry, Digital photos will outlast anything, since they don't lose quality while being copied in the digital format. It's only prints that fade.

    Talking about future generations, I think it is likely that digital displays and viwers will replace paper prints anyway.
  17. Actually I think it is only prints that are exposed to light that fade fast. Those stored in albums and other containers that are viewed only occassionally should last much longer.

    OTOH traditional prints fade too. So do negatives. That quality loss is permanent. Digital fles are truly forever since they are not physical object. They are after all just "numbers".
  18. Hashim, you seem to forget that most carriers of those numbers are a lot more prone to
    deterioration than prints. Professionals in archiving are very worried about the loss of all
    digital data of today within a hundred years. There is a good chance that in a thousand years
    there will be less remaining from our digital history than there will be from ancient Greek and
    Roman written and carved history.
  19. Oh Hashim, I wish it was that simple. If you have thousands of images like I have, and you wish to keep them as digital files, then judging by the march of technology you will have to keep changing them to a new storage format about every 10 years. CD's have a limited life span even when stored correctly, and are now starting to be phased out by manufacturers. DVD's so far are less reliable than CD's and the new Blueray format will be shipped this year. How long till DVD's are extinct?

    It's one of the reasons I still use a mixed method, film capture and digital processing.

    Modern films are very good, colour having a life span of around 30-40 years when stored correctly and silver Black and White several hundred years.My decendants can make a decision whether they think there worth preserving then, at least they will be able to see what they are.

    I know some technicians who make photographic archives, and the only method they consider to be a permanent archive is to use colour seperations and silver black and white film.

    Will you or members of your family think that a 20 year old DVD is worth spending money on trying to recover files when the recovery techniques cost $$$$.

    With new digital technology advancing so rapidly the only way some images will survive is if they printed, which is why some of us spend time to make sure our prints are as stable as possible.

    Some of the great historical photographic collections we have today only exsist because somebody didn't think they were worth anything and stored them away. Using today's photographic technology they would be iretrivable.
  20. "What do you think that pigments are made of if not dyes? It's mostly a question of packaging - pigments are essentially balls of dyes."

    Your knowledge of chemistry is simply astonishing. Tell me, are they both soluble in the medium into which they are dispersed and why would that be?
  21. By definition, dyes are soluble pigments are not, that is the basic difference.

    Soluble does not mean that it mixes in. It means that at a molecular level the chemical is dispersed in the medium. A pigmented ink may look like a dye because the pigment particles (usually under 1 micron) disperse in the solvent. The pigment does not dissolve into the system, it stays as separate discrete particles, disaggregated and deagglomerated (hopefully).

    There are organic and inorganic pigments. Most of the colored pigments you see are organic, if they have any chroma to them. White is inorganic (titanium dioxide). Inorganic pigments are often more muted in color than organic pigments. Most pigments are not ball shaped. Some pigments are stabilized versions of dye chemistries made so that they are no longer soluble.

    There are organic and inorganic dyes. Dyes aren't my thing, enough said. Inks also arenメt my thing, plastics are closer to home and Iメve specialized in coatings for the last 10+ years.

    The ball thing may come from some of Epsonメs technology. I believe that they had some patent on coating pigments with polymers. Just saw that in a patent search I was doing, didnメt really pay attention.
  22. It's an interesting comparison. NO Canon printer for me! after seeing those comparisons. I really should not say that as both Canon & HP have introduced new printers to take aim at Epson.How good they will be is anyones guess.The remarks about EP2 printing was interesting.My home made EP2 prints have stood up quite well as have my Ciba Chromes.I put this down to better home processing than drugstore processing.I am ,however concerned about how long my ink jet prints will last.As of this moment I am not convinced by the manufacturers 100 yr claims.
  23. My HP photos from my first PhotoSmart (P1000) are 5 years old now and show no appreciable fading. They hand in a variety of lighting conditions.

    The prints from my new HP printers are even better because of the drivers and the new Vivera inks.

  24. jtk


    Also relevant, the obvious yellowing, well within a year, of Epson Enhanced Matte.
  25. "Also relevant, the obvious yellowing, well within a year, of Epson Enhanced Matte."

    John, is this observation the result of your own personal testing, or acceptance of others' comments? I've used that paper for years and have experienced no perceptible changes in prints, whether displayed behind glass or stored in the dark. I've read other similar comments and wonder if this hasn't taken on the status of "urban legend."
  26. I also have some RA4 prints that have faded considerably in 15years that are all in albums
    I will bet you a case of your favorite beverage those RA4 prints are Kodak (or an off brand) paper. Fuji had the issue addressed and fixed long before Kodak did.
    To add to this soap opera, I've had a pair of Epson 220 (dye based) prints taped to south window since fall. One sprayed with acrylic based UV inhibitor, the other without. Both printed on epson matte heavyweight.
    The non-sprayed print is exhibiting some signs of the yellow dye taking some abuse, but not that dramatic. Certainly not as bad as prior dye based epson's or Canon/HP. Yes, we all know the pigment based printers are the archival leaders, but the dye based inks are getting better, and they don't take a gamut range hit.
  27. "Better tell that to the Chinese. They've got some interesting art on silk. Dye inks. 1400+ years old, much of that time in display conditions of the times. Mostly that was hanging on walls without glass."

    Not quite.

    Inkjet dyes tested by WIR had best longivity when used on pure cotton paper. But when used on a cotton paper with a photographic layer they were a dismal failure. Same poor results with plastic coated inkjet paper.

    Pure cotton papers without a photographic layer usually have poor dmax and poor color saturation. Dyes do fare better when used on paper with encapsulating resins.

    So dyes are very sensible to the medium on which they are used. But, in any event, no dyes have proven more stable than lamp black pigments which are used in some third party b&w inkset.
  28. "Yes, we all know the pigment based printers are the archival leaders, but the dye based inks are getting better, and they don't take a gamut range hit."

    The black ink is very important for the tonal range and professional custom profiles addressed that issue. It's the amateur using the pigment ink printers without custom profiles that had the problems.

    Now where seeing pigment ink printers with multi-level black inks that help both amateurs and professionals with the tonal range.

    Dyes inks are still limited by the medium on which they are used. Even HP's new dyes inkset limits one to HP certified inkjet paper.
  29. Thank you - I found better information in this thread concerning dye vs. pigment inks than anywhere else after half an hour of searching. Now if I just knew the costs... I am in the market for a good print device that will do everything, and what I am hearing boils down to "get a pigment based printer".<br>
    What do I mean by "do everything"?<br>
    - Wedding photos (So far I've stayed away from payed shoots, but I am sure I'll be doing one of these sooner or later...). This means I don't want to gamble with dye/paper combinations that may or may not fade based on the toss of the dice. I am willing to sacrifice a little zip in the photos printed today in trade for photos that will last.<br>
    - Good black and white... Without having to change tanks for different papers. (so not epson 2200)<br>
    - Good prints on any medium. (just say NO to dyes on this note - I currently use a cheapie canon i560 and get extremely different results on every new paper I try).<br>
    - Can anyone provide a web link to somewhere that allows me to compare ink costs from one printer to the next? For example, I found a review where one gentleman states the cost of a Canon PIXMAR Pro9000 at $2.25 in (8 cartrige dye based) ink per square foot. You would think the competitive manufacturers would advertise verifiable total costs of printing... *go figure?*<br>
    - What print device would you recommend that fits my above criteria? At the moment I believe the only choice will be the Canon PIXMAR Pro9500 (10 cartrige pigment based) when it comes out, which I think is going to be priced at $650... NOTE: 13 inch is only mildly more attractive to me than 8.5 inch print devices. I don't believe I'd use the larger format often enough to matter.<br>
    Thank you,<br>
  30. In the sign industry "dye vs. pigment inks" has been known since inkjets came out. Even our 1994 36" inkjet printer has dye or pigmented ink sets still available. In printing seminars back when pentiums were the hot trick, tests shows pigmented inks lasted longer. Try placing a dye sign in the direct sun with reds, they die off to pink in a week or two.
  31. I am amazed at the shortness of the life of these digital prints, at least the dye based ones. I had no idea they could fade out so quickly. When I grew up, photo prints were thought of as lasting virtually forever. Would it be safe to assume all professional photographers provide prints made with pigment based inks, or they include the file along with the print?

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