Apr 3, 2005

In the digital age, a clash over fading photos

Source: Wall Street Journal–April 1, 2005; Page B1 (paid subscription required)
By William M. Bulkeley
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The boom in digital photography has sparked a backbiting squabble over the longevity of pictures made on home printers. The clash pits printer makers eager to market their own lines of expensive specialty photo paper against big paper purveyors like retailer Staples Inc. and photo giant Eastman Kodak Co., neither of which makes inkjet printers of their own.

As more people use digital cameras, many are making homemade prints. Yet many shutterbugs could end up disappointed by the shelf life of their photos. Wilhelm Imaging Research, a testing lab in Grinnell, Iowa, that was hired by Hewlett-Packard Co., Seiko Epson Corp. and several other printer makers, recently publicly criticized Staples’ top-of-the-line photo paper as a “disaster,” saying photos printed on it fade rapidly from exposure to ozone pollution.

Meanwhile, Kodak last year claimed prints made on its special paper with printers manufactured by H-P and Epson would last more than 100 years. Scientists from H-P and Epson – which market their own photo paper – disputed Kodak’s claim. “Eastman Kodak uses significantly lower test criteria than industry-accepted practices to achieve this rating,” Epson scientists wrote in a paper published on its Web site.

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