Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Paper Permanence And You

A Discussion With Three Authorities on Digital Paper and Longevity
By Amadou Diallo
Our story begins in China, 105 AD when Ts'ai Lun, an unheralded court official of the Han Dynasty, perfects a technique for turning wood pulp into the ultimate writing surface—paper. Almost two thousand years later, in the midst of a digital imaging revolution, photographers are faced with an overwhelming variety of specialty papers optimized for digital printing.

How does one wade through this sea of choices? Some will choose based on performance issues like color saturation, image detail, and ink load. Others are more concerned with aesthetic qualities such as thickness, brightness and surface texture. These characteristics can be easily and inexpensively observed with sample packs and a few test prints. For those with longevity as a primary concern, however, there are few readily accessible sources of information. “Long lasting,” “archival”, and “museum grade” all sound impressive but these are marketing terms with no quantifiable measure of performance to give them any real meaning.


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