Why do some inkjet photo papers fade so quickly?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by john_ashby|2, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. 6 months ago I printed the same picture on Inkpress Metallic Gloss and Inkpress Fiber Gloss, and had them both displayed unframed bare paper in rooms with bright windows. They were printed a couple of days apart on the same Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mk2 with the same ink cartridges.
    Almost immediately, the Fiber Gloss started fading and the Metallic seems unchanged. The sample pic attached shows both pictures, Fiber Gloss on the left, as they look today. Why did the Fiber Gloss fade so fast? The paper seems completely useless and it was a fairly expensive paper that I still have a lot left of.
    It's also embarrassing to give out pictures that fade within a few months, and since this was supposed to be a premium paper, it seems there's no way to know what will or won't fade.
  2. If that printer uses dye inks that would be the primary reason. Dye based is great looking but not very permanent. Different permanence on different papers is not surprising.
  3. It is not recommended to use dye based inks on ceramic coated paper. The ceramic coating has an extremely high surface area for quick absorption and drying. It also exposes the ink to rapid oxidaton and fading by ozone normally present in the air. Pigment inks are much more stable on any surface, and polymer based inkjet paper dries quickly with both dye and pigment based inks, but is much less prone to oxidation.
    Ceramic papers may feel like a sticky polymer, because they stick to your fingers and squeak when rubbed.
  4. SCL


    It is probably more the inks than the papers.
  5. Thanks for your replies,
    I use a dye printer because one of my favourite papers is the metallic one, and metallic papers don't do as well with pigment ink. But not all pictures look good with the metallic effect and I like to try different papers anyway. The best result I ever got was with a swellable paper, a test print I did 3 years ago has been in bright sunlight ever since and a strip I cut off and kept sealed in the dark is very close to a perfect match. But I don't know of any swellable papers currently available. Are there any?
    Edward: That's interesting, I hadn't heard that about ceramic coated papers. The fiber gloss does have a squeaky/sticky feel thought I wouldn't have thought to call it that. I also bought some Ilford Gold Fibre Silk that I haven't tried because the instructions in the box said it's not for dye printers. Is this a common trait of fiber papers? What about Baryta papers since I was planning to try one of them?
    Don: It is a dye based printer, but Canon says the ink should last 100 years on their paper in an album (I know, huge grain of salt). To get as faded as my picture is in 6 months on display, if that were normal for dye ink, there is no way dye printers would be on the market. That fading is extreme, the picture was unusable within 2 months.
    Stephen: I've heard it's the ink not the paper many times, that's why I posted an example. The only difference between those two sample pictures is the paper. Same printer, same ink cartridges, a few days between the printing, even the same icc profile (per the paper manufacturer recommendation for my printer). And very similar display conditions. The only variable is definitely the paper.
  6. It's also embarrassing to give out pictures that fade within a few months, and since this was supposed to be a premium paper, it seems there's no way to know what will or won't fade.​
    Hi, you're exactly right, there is no way to know about the fading UNLESS someone specifically tells you the test results for the exact ink/paper combination you are using. OR, if you have run your own set of accelerated tests.
    My personal recommendations are either 1) stick with a mainstream supplier, using THEIR ENTIRE SYSTEM, where you are willing to rely on their reputation, or 2) use an ink/paper system where you have specifically seen published stability results (such as from Henry Wilhelm). If you have the capability, know-how, and the desire, you could run your own tests (but if you did, you wouldn't be asking the question on photo.net).
    I have some experience in this sort of thing, and here is an excerpt with comment I made earlier this year, from: http://www.photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00ch87?start=25
    ['Mike'] I also feel that concern over longevity is overblown under ordinary display circumstances. The only reason I am concerned is that in some cases the customer will display the prints in an office or front room with a large window which accelerates fading. And I really don't wish my prints to fade fast under any circumstance. ...
    [Me] Mike, I don't know where your confidence comes from. I've spent my adult life working in photography, and I've seen image-stability problems, and I've heard plenty of confident people talk about how stable their products are. And sometimes it turns out they don't really know anything about it.
    Here's a real example, without names. I should mention that I'm not a typical photo.net person; I've worked on behalf of a large chain, so have had extraordinary access to all sorts of technical info. Anyway, a certain media vendor wanted to sell my company inkjet media - a half dozen or so papers with their own inks. Beautiful materials, especially a canvas-finish paper.
    [technical part - feel free to skip] The paper was the big selling point. It was one of those papers where the ink is quickly wicked through a permeable surface into an absorbant layer so that fresh prints resist smudging even though the ink has not yet dried. But the mechanism required dye inks, pigments couldn't get through the surface layer. The dyes are more easily damaged by ozone (in the ambient air), so they had a novel feature - an intermediate catalyst layer converts ozone to plain oxygen. Per them, a specific competitor used a similar paper structure, but with some sort of buffering material. So the competitor's media should hold up in an ozone-rich situation UNTIL the buffering material was completely used up, then the dyes would be attacked. But with this new media, since catalysts are not used up, it should resist ozone for an indefinite length of time. So this gives an idea of the sorts of things that can be going on in inkjet prints.
    So I asked, as I generally do, can you support your claims with actual image-stability test data? We won't consider using it without hard evidence (we are not 'Mike'). If none is available, we'll test it ourselves. They say they'll find out and get back with me. On the call-back, there's no immediate data available, but they're going to get some for me. A couple of months later, they send data. They had commissioned testing, on my behalf, by the Image Permanence Institute in Rochester N.Y.
    Anyway, the point of this is that a name brand supplier was selling advanced-technology inkjet media, and promoting the enhanced image stability, BUT THEY REALLY HAD NO IDEA ABOUT THE ACTUAL PERFORMANCE. In my experience, this is fairly typical for many suppliers. So if, as a photographer, you have much "skin in the game," it seems prudent to do as Arthur does, and seek out actual hard data with the materials you plan to use.​
    I think you were lucky to have learned a hard lesson apparently without dire consequences. Imagine if you had been selling lots of production work over that time period.
  7. It is a dye based printer, but Canon says the ink should last 100 years on their paper in an album (I know, huge grain of salt).​
    Hi, not so much a grain of salt as a different thing. The general thinking about fade is that there are two different mechanisms going on. They are generally known as "light fading" and "dark fading." Light fading is where the dye (or whatever colorant) is damaged by the light itself, dark fading is where some ongoing chemical degradation continues on it's own.
    When Canon referred to album storage, they were presumably talking about the dark-fade aspect, and nothing should be inferred about long-term exposure to light. And since the dark-fade aspect was for their own paper, you can't even apply this to other papers. For example, if they know of a specific weakness of their dyes, they might incorporate some sort of special stabilizing compound in the coating of their own paper, and aftermarket papers might not have this.
    Anyway, what seems like a simple matter of squirting ink onto paper may have hidden technology much more complicated than you might expect, and by mixing systems, you never know what part of this you may have disrupted. My background includes high-volume photofinishing, where we have a great deal of liability for the final product. In this situation, you really don't want to take chances with an unknown product. As an artist, perhaps you ARE willing, I dunno. I can imagine certain artists selling it as "designed to fade, to show the patina of aging in a short time."
  8. If you're looking for a Baryta paper that will work with dye based printers, try the Ilford Gold Mono Silk. It's been cancelled, but still available from many retailers. Ilford advertised this paper as for use with both dye and pigment based (as opposed to the non-Mono varieties which are pigment only).
    They also inexplicably put the advertising focus for this paper on its B&W characteristics, and never mentioned the color properties. I've found it to be quite a good color paper. I've been using the Mono Silk with my Epson 1430, and the prints are fantastic. I haven't done your fade test though, so caveat emptor.
  9. AFAIK, in contrast to traditional ink/paints that soak into paper thus colouring it, inkjet inks, no matter dye or pigment, bond only with the outer coating of the "papers" (many are actually specially formulated plastic coated paper bases). Therefore the first thing to suspect in a problem like yours is the ink not reacting properly with that particular paper coating; indeed pigment inks provide no insurance and such incompatibility could happen regardless the ink type.
    Simply change the paper.
  10. Baryta (barium oxide) coated paper should work. It's chemically inert, and just there as a brightener. Titanium dioxide is also neutral.
    The problem with dye inks on fiber is that they soak into the surface, leaving the surface fibers exposed. This results in low contrast and poor blacks. Pigments tend to stay on the surface, while only the solvents soak in, but are more easily scratched.
  11. I agree that this is a problem of incompatible inks and paper. Dye inks are less fade resistant than pigments, but any reasonable dye ink on a compatible paper should certainly last 6 months, no problem. Canon's dye Chromalife inks are meant to last 100+ years - which even in a worse case scenario and using their papers you should get at the very least 10 years before you notice anything. There is a definite incompatibility in your selection. We don't know what ink/printer/paper you are using so it is hard to be more specific.
  12. Dye based inks on compatible paper can last a long time, 25+ years. I have two dye inkjet prints hanging on the wall which were printed 14 years ago, with no signs of fading.
  13. Isn't that printer a pigment and not a dye printer?
  14. I looked at the inkpress website and it does say it's "optiminzed for pigmented or dye ink", so if it's fading because dye doesn't play well with the surface, I really should be complaining to Inkpress.
    Ivo: You may well be right. I know the swellable paper that I liked so much on my printer is a disaster on pigment printers. But if Inkpress says this paper is for dye printers and these results are typical with dye, it's pretty crappy thing for the company to do. I still have 24 sheets of 13x19 and probably won't get be getting a pigment printer in the next year at least.
    Bill C: It's true, the 100 year claim doesn't mean much for pictures in bright light, but when they say 100 years at all, you have to expect better than 2 months no matter what the viewing conditions.
    Chad: Thanks for the suggestion. I'll may pick some up to play with, but I really want to find papers I can try out that I can expect to use for a long time if I like them.
    Edward: The picture looked great when it was first printed.
    Robin: In my original post, I said it was a Pixma Pro 9000 Mk2 with OEM ink and Inkpress Fiber Gloss paper. I'm not sure what more information I could have provided.
    Ellis: It's definitely a dye printer. The Pro 9500 was the pigment version.
    One thing that's interesting is i've used cheap polaroid branded dollar store glossy paper in this printer for snapshots and playing around with pictures I didn't care much about. And it fades the exact same way. I just figured that was because it was cheap paper. This is $3/sheet paper from a supposedly reputable company.
  15. There's things you can to to mitigate this
    • Make sure you use acid free / archival backer board and mat
    • If you use glass in the frame - make sure it has an UV coating, if not, don't hang where direct sunlight or very bright lights shine on it
    • If you use plastic instead of glass - you need to make sure it's listed as archival and make sure it's got UV coating
    • Inks - check the manufacturer of the ink for longevity. If you are using 3rd party aftermarket inks, you can almost guarantee that it will fade very quickly
    • Once you make sure you have the longest lasting inks, then make sure you pair it up with right paper. The right ink with the wrong paper will fade quickly.
    • Refer to Wilhelm's research data : http://www.wilhelm-research.com/
  16. Hi John,
    Yes, sorry missed you said you had the Canon. I don't think the 9000 uses the Chromalife ink does it (?) so I guess the longevity is probably not the 100 years. My suggestion would be to stick with the Canon papers in that case for your regular gloss paper and see how you go. I have the Pro 100 (which does use Chromalife) and have had zero fading problems using the OEM papers.
  17. "Baryta (barium oxide) coated paper should work. It's chemically inert, and just there as a brightener. Titanium dioxide is also neutral."
    The 'Baryta" used in photo papers is Barium Sulfate.
    Apparently, there are several different barium compounds that are commonly(and correctly)referred to as "baryta".

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