Interview with Henry Wilhelm on print permanence

Discussion in 'Australia Photography' started by Wayne J. Cosshall, May 4, 2007.

  1. Wayne J. Cosshall, May 4, 2007
    1. Advertisements

  2. Wayne J. Cosshall

    =\(8\) Guest

    Does your "interview" cover why in their testing they don't test with real
    world conditions, like varying humidity, heat and cold fluxuations, airborne
    polutants, dirt and other airborne substances? All of why by the way plays
    an important part in the life of anything you place on your walls?

    This is why there testings is worth dog poo. Until they add in invironmental
    factors like those found in average peoples homes their tests will alway be
    a joke. They also need to spend less time trying to duplicate museum like
    environments and more in duplicating the evironments of the people that will
    be buying most of these printers, papers and inks and that is the average

    =\(8\), May 4, 2007
    1. Advertisements

  3. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Bill Again Guest

    Well that's pretty negative. As it happens I disagree with most of what you
    say. Although these"tests" are not real world stuff they are nevertheless an
    indication of how the ink/paper will, or might, react overtime. This is
    better than no idea at all.

    So thanks Wayne.

    Robert R.
    Bill Again, May 4, 2007
  4. My thanks, also; plan to read this week.

    "=(8)" sure knows a lot, but won't say who he is. Not impressive.
    John McWilliams, May 4, 2007
  5. I used to think so too - until the Epson 26-year print fiasco.

    Not so very long ago nobody was making any claims for inkjet print
    longevity - everyone knew inkjet prints were transient, fine for proofs
    but totally unsuitable for final prints you would hang on your walls for
    years. Then, 7 or 8 years ago, Epson introduced their Photo Stylus 870
    and 1270 printers with new long life media - new inks and new high gloss
    papers. They ran a huge advertising campaign highlighting that inkjet
    prints with their new media not only looked and felt like traditional
    photos they lasted at least as long. In fact, Epson claimed the prints
    wouldn't show signs of fading for at least 26 years and this had been
    verified by an independent laboratory - none other than the renowned
    Henry Wilhelm himself.

    The new Epson printers and their output became the talk of Internet
    forums - had anyone ever seen such photorealism from inkjet prints
    before? Unfortunately, Epson became the subject of even more talk a few
    months later when reports started to come in of prints on their new
    media fading in much less than 26 years, but in weeks, days and in some
    cases only hours! To be fair, Epson began to look into the problem
    almost immediately but they handled the situation quite poorly, openly
    suggesting all sorts of causes - radon gas, pollution etc. They finally
    stated that they had simulated the effect in their laboratory with
    controlled exposure to ozone, which in itself created the urban legend
    that ozone was indeed the cause of the problems experienced by their
    users. Like all urban legends, there was a core of truth surrounded by
    exaggeration - Epson only claimed they could recreate the problem in the
    laboratory using ozone, at no time did they suggest ozone was the
    primary cause. As it turns out, any oxidising agent caused the problem
    - even the oxygen in normal air if it was warm enough and was
    continuously replenished over the surface of the print. Wilhelm's tests
    focussed on light fading, in fact, light fading is what made Wilhelm's
    reputation when outed Kodak's poor resistance to it. However he hadn't
    gone any further than that and had, completely wrongly, assumed that
    light fading was the dominant cause of the short life of inkjet prints
    too. His test methods did not consider atmospheric effects - not even a
    clean atmosphere, let alone common pollutants - and they still don't.

    Users, and I was amongst the most vocal in the UK, claimed Epson and
    Wilhelm had misled them and demanded a product recall. An open letter
    to MacWeek by the late Bruce Fraser, of Photoshop fame, suggested
    avoiding Epson products until the problem was resolved. Epson ignored
    us all, but significantly watered down their claims for the products.
    That remained their position for over a year until they faced the
    serious prospect of a class action lawsuit being filed in the US. They
    then realised that the magnitude of the case could break the company and
    took it seriously, making several options available to affected
    customers to prevent the issue reaching court. One such step was to
    bring encapsulated inks to market much sooner in the Photo Stylus 2000P
    - less gamut and photo realism, but fully protected and stable inks.

    You will find the Epson / Wilhelm saga all documented on several web
    sites including (a good account of the effect but
    limited in comment because of the NDA Bob signed to get access to Epson
    experimental media.) (a bit OTT on the personal
    involvement, but fairly accurate chronology of events)

    So it is quite wrong to assume, as I and many others did only a few
    years ago, that Wilhelm's testing gives any "indication of how the
    ink/paper will react over time". That is only true IF the mechanism
    being tested is the dominant mechanism for the media - and with new
    papers and inks, who can know that for sure? The fact that Wilhelm's
    test procedures do not account for normal use does, as =(8) said, make
    them as worthless as dog poo to the average user, and it is quite
    irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

    That is not to detract from Wilhelm's work. He did an incredible job
    standing up to the big yellow god to begin with and bringing their
    shortcomings to public notice, despite extended legal battles. And his
    continued work is of value for museums and galleries worldwide, where
    the conditions of his test chambers are often replicated, thus making
    his results relevant. However it is completely misleading and downright
    wrong to use Wilhelm's work to give any indication of print life under
    average user conditions. It is completely irrelevant to the average
    user hanging inkjet prints on their walls.
    Kennedy McEwen, May 4, 2007
  6. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Pete D Guest

    Oh gosh John, someone on a newsgroup not giving their full name and address,
    I do however agree with Bill but will say that a little more of the
    variables could have been added to show the affect, of course all long term
    testing is still only an indication of what might happen.
    Pete D, May 5, 2007
  7. Wayne J. Cosshall

    frederick Guest

    I disagree with you. As there's no hard data from long term "real"
    exposure testing available - and there never will be when product
    development cycles are a year or two but where tens or even hundreds of
    years display permanence is sought, there's nothing better than
    accelerated testing to go on. Accelerated testing is not a new idea -
    and mistaken conclusions from accelerated testing of materials are
    hardly limited to print permanence. But when a mistake is discovered
    (be it the silicone sealant used to seal the windows in the Sydney opera
    house, the durability of some ceramic prosthetic hip joints, or gas
    fading of dye based inkjet prints) then once it's identified it can be
    allowed for in testing (and will likely force a change in design).
    Sure - I agree that because an ink/paper combination gets a 200 year DPR
    from Wilhelm doesn't mean it will last 200 years on my dining room wall.
    But you can be highly confident that it will last much longer than an
    ink/paper combination rated at 10 years.
    frederick, May 5, 2007
  8. Wayne J. Cosshall


    Patrick Ziegler ImageQuest Photography
    I have not read the Wilhelm article but I will say this. Permanence testing
    is done using the known processes that affect the majority if not all
    artwork. The results of this sort of testing are not to be taken literally
    but used as bench marks to compare different ink/paper combinations and
    printing processes.

    If testing results state the a certain ink/paper combination or process have
    a life of 150 years, I do not think you are to assume that the print will
    last 150 years; only time can prove that. The results should be used to
    weigh one product or process against another. With that said, the testing
    procedures HAVE to remain the same and not be dinked around with over time.
    Else, you end up with apple to oranges test results that do nothing but
    create confusion.

    My two cents…

    Patrick Ziegler
    DBLEXPOSURE, May 5, 2007
  9. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Mr.T Guest

    And that is where you may be mistaken. As others have pointed out already,
    that would ONLY be the case IF the dominant mode of failure was under test,
    or at least common to both cases. This CANNOT be assumed to always be so. In
    fact the Epson case makes that quite obvious.

    Mr.T, May 5, 2007
  10. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Matt Clara Guest

    Bullshit. I don't doubt that some people (in high ozone areas) had
    problems, but I still have prints made on my 1270 that look as good as the
    day I printed them, including one just sitting here in my basement office,
    which has a dehumidifier only in terms of atmosphere control. What's your
    Matt Clara, May 5, 2007
  11. Wayne J. Cosshall

    frederick Guest

    Of couse I "may" be mistaken.
    Did you read the bit in my original post where I said:
    "there's nothing better than accelerated testing to go on"
    If you can suggest a mode of failure that Wilhelm is not aware of and
    does not allow for, then I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.
    If not, then you're at risk of being dismissed as a scaremongering
    conspiracy theorist, or a Luddite.
    frederick, May 5, 2007
  12. Hi all,

    Some of you may not have seen my previous interview with Henry:

    Certainly longevity testing is still very much a work in progress. They
    are now doing ozone tests, do tests at various humidity levels and are
    now adding the flesh tone tests. The problem is simply one of the number
    of variables. When you start adding various pollutants, etc to the mix
    the number of tests goes up exponentially. I know Henry comes in for a
    lot of flak, and I am and have been critical of some of his test
    approaches, but I do believe that Henry is making a really genuine
    attempt to get it right. Henry advocates testing at a higher light
    intensity than some others do, such as Kodak, for example, to more
    realistically reflect real situations. But he has to standardise on



    Wayne J. Cosshall
    Publisher, The Digital ImageMaker,
    Publisher, Experimental Digital Photography
    Personal art site
    Wayne J. Cosshall, May 5, 2007
  13. Henry has tried to calibrate his processes as much as possible by
    seeking out traditional photographic prints of known age and known
    display conditions (or dark storage conditions) and comparing darks
    stored and displayed prints prepared at the same time. He actively seeks
    out, say, portrait photographers in small towns who stored prints for
    customers and where an identical print was hung in the same place for
    many years, etc. All this is imperfect, but he is at least trying.

    Personally I have always been critical of his using a years rating at
    all, preferring an open-ended numerical scale, but Henry feels
    otherwise, but often makes the point that it is a relative rather than
    an absolute year rating. Personally I've always felt that if you mention
    years then that is how people will take it. Henry and I have agreed to



    Wayne J. Cosshall
    Publisher, The Digital ImageMaker,
    Publisher, Experimental Digital Photography
    Personal art site
    Wayne J. Cosshall, May 5, 2007
  14. Wayne J. Cosshall

    Mr.T Guest

    Glad you admit it then.
    Did you read what others have already written? If not then you are at risk
    of being dismisssed as an "osterich", and unable to read or comprehend there
    may be other issues besides exposure to light or even heat.
    And the "Luddite" would be you if you think you already know everything
    there possibly is to know about archival permanance of inkjet prints!

    Mr.T, May 5, 2007
  15. Wayne J. Cosshall

    frederick Guest

    Yep - I read it.
    I'm waiting for you to suggest a possible mechanism for decay of inkjet
    (or any other form of printed media) that Wilhelm doesn't allow for.
    frederick, May 5, 2007
  16. Except it doesn't turn out that way in practice. In 1999, several
    manufacturers offered printers with inks and papers which could be
    reliably expected to last several months without noticeable fading. Then
    Epson released their long life printers and, on the basis of Wilhelm's
    measurements and comparisons with existing inkjet media at the time,
    claimed a 26 year life when the inks were used with their most expensive
    paper. Even though that 26 years only applied to a specific set of
    conditions, your argument suggests the Epson media should have been
    superior to earlier product - instead, it was MUCH worse!
    The Wilhelm test means jack sh!t UNLESS you use his EXACT display
    methods, which are not generic.
    Kennedy McEwen, May 5, 2007
  17. Then you have missed the whole point of the article I posted because
    Wilhelm tested Epson media and others available at the time. Whilst
    most media had display lives of the order of a few months, Wilhelm
    assessed the Epson ink and gloss media to have 26 YEARS of life - much
    better than anything available. Nobody expected to achieve 26 years
    unless the exact test conditions were used. Many people made exactly
    the same mistake as you have suggested and expected 26 years to indicate
    that "it would last much longer than an ink/paper combination rated at"
    months. They were WRONG, and so are you!

    The fact is that Epson got into problems with the claims they made based
    on Wilhelm's testing because the test was meaningless and their prints
    only lasted days and, in some cases, hours!
    Kennedy McEwen, May 5, 2007
  18. He did - as did Epson!

    As it turned out, if Epson had simply undertaken reasonable consumer
    tests (not even extending to the "use and abuse" testing required under
    EU legislation) this problem would have come to light long before the
    product reached the shelves. Instead, they placed far too much belief
    in the results of Wilhelm's measurements and ignored the normal consumer
    testing and feedback approach until the problem reached the mainstream
    press and lawcourts. As you would see from some of the web pages I
    listed, Epson had to resort to exactly such consumer testing to
    significantly reduce the problem with improved product, with the testers
    signing Non Disclosure Agreements with them. At that point, Wilhelm's
    test took a back seat and, whilst they still feature on Epson
    documentation, they no longer make unlimited claims based on Wilhelm
    Kennedy McEwen, May 5, 2007
  19. The only bullshit is your inability to read historical facts.
    Big deal, so do I and so do many 1270 users - that doesn't mean the
    problem was only limited to "high ozone" areas as you suggest, otherwise
    I would never have experienced the problem in the first place and become
    active in its partial resolution.

    That is part the problem - it takes more than one parameter to induce
    the effect. The combination of those parameters is very common but not
    universal. Initially the worst cases were limited to the specific paper
    which Wilhelm rated highest, and which Epson had to subsequently
    withdraw. It applied to a much lesser extent on most of their media,
    even though these were rated lower by Wilhelm, a problem made worse by
    the fact that they were not recommended by Epson for highest archival
    quality. It is still worst on the paper Epson introduced to replace the
    withdrawn version, although that is at least an order of magnitude more
    robust than the original (in terms of time to achieve the same level of
    fading under identical conditions).

    So the fact that you have 1270 prints that "look as good as the day I
    printed them" means absolutely nothing and was, in fact, one of the
    obfuscation factors in resolving the problem. Search the records and
    you will find many folks who made exactly the same claims as you - and a
    majority of those who subsequently changed their views after time and
    use of the specific media that Epson and Wilhelm made the claims for.

    If I had a penny for every one of the 870/1270 users who claimed the
    problem didn't exist yet who, on further investigation, had never even
    used the long life media that Epson and Wilhelm were making their claims
    for then I would have no need to earn a living today!
    My experience of the issue is well documented in the archives of this
    and other forums where the subject was discussed at the time. I was
    also the first point of contact Epson made within their European
    customer base when they finally decided to act in resolving the problem
    instead of ignoring it. Again, all verifiable in the open archives
    should you require evidence.
    Kennedy McEwen, May 5, 2007
  20. Wayne J. Cosshall

    =\(8\) Guest

    That is all fine and dandy but then they and the printer makers have no
    business pushing their less than accurate numbers like they are gods gospel.
    They need to stop with the fine print disclaimers that in the end basically
    tell you the testing is bullshit and be more up front about things. Hiding
    it in fine print they know most people never read just shows how greedy and
    untrustworthy the printer companies are and just how worthless the Willhelm
    testing is.

    If they really wanted to do real world testing they would take the prints
    home and hang them on their walls and do their readings from that as well as
    provide the information from the controlled labs tests. Until they do real
    world testing outside of a lab their test results will always be shit.

    As for the printer makers paying them and the money having to come from
    someplace, that too is shit. Consumer reports does just fine without
    advertising and many from the manufacturers. Now of course consumer reports
    recommendations suck 99% of the time, but at least they suck because they
    are clueless and not because of ad money or kickbacks from the

    =\(8\), May 5, 2007
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.