Archival Answers: True Colors

Archival Answers: True Colors

I read an advice column that said photos printed from a computer will fade quickly. Is this true?

Q. I read an advice column that said photos printed from a computer will fade quickly. Is this true?

A. A traditional color photograph can begin to fade after 10 to 15 years under average display conditions (the light, temperature and humidity levels in a typical living room). But according to Wilhelm Imaging Research <www.wilhelm-research.com>, most computer-printed photos last only one to five years without fading or, for some inks, being affected by humidity.

Technology manufacturers are working fast and furiously to develop longer-lasting inks. Try Epson <www.epson.com> DuraBrite Ultra pigment inks and Hewlett-Packard <www.hp.com> Vivera inks.

The paper you use is important in the longevity of a computer-printed image, too. You’ll find premium photographic papers from both Epson and Hewlett-Packard (on the HP home page, click Home & Office, then Digital Photography). Hewlett-Packard marketers point out that not only is digital photography convenient, but storing a photograph on a CD means it can be reprinted, perfectly preserved, years later. The main concern there is whether advances in technology will allow access to those digital images years down the road — so always transfer your images to the newest media you can afford and keep paper copies.

Balance is the key. Experts recommend using a combination of traditional and digital photography to preserve your memories for generations to come.

From the May 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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