Jul 14, 2005

Lack of Standards Spark Inkjet Photo Fade Debate

How long inkjet-printed photos last depends on who you ask, experts say.
Source: PC World
Written By Tom Spring

How long can you expect your inkjet-printed photos to last? More and more photo inkjet papers are being touted as “fade resistant” and “archival safe,” but experts say these marketing pitches don’t always provide good information on how long it will take for skin tones to turn green and paper to yellow on precious family photos.

Because there’s no standard for measuring inkjet print longevity, it’s difficult for consumers to make apples-to-apples comparisons of photo papers. Consequently, experts say, people may find that some photos expected to last for decades will start to fade in just a few years.

“How long a photo printed with an inkjet printer will last depends on who you ask,” says Cathy Martin, an analyst for InfoTrends. She says there are no clear answers for consumers looking for the best, and longest-lasting, photo inkjet paper. Photo paper is considered one of the crucial archival elements for photographs.

The fade debate is growing louder as companies like International Paper, Eastman Kodak, and Staples have begun more heavily marketing their photo inkjet paper for use with printers made by manufacuturers like Canon, Seiko-Epson, Hewlett-Packard, and Lexmark.

Claims and Counterclaims

The latest salvo in the longstanding debate comes from HP and Epson; the companies dismiss claims by third-party paper vendors such as International Paper, Kodak, and Staples that their papers will produce archival-quality prints on any inkjet printer.

Specifically, Epson and HP strongly dispute Kodak’s claim that prints made on their printers with Kodak’s special paper will last 120 years before fading. Similarly, the printer vendors dispute International Paper’s claims that prints made on the company’s recently introduced National Geographic Premium Paper High Gloss will last “more than 100 years.” (Staples, while claiming that photos printed on its papers “resist fading,” makes no specific claims as to how many years a photo printed on its paper will last before showing signs of fading.)

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