Preservation of digital photographs for future generations

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by SwampDude, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. SwampDude

    SwampDude TPF Noob!

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    I fear that my photographs of family and friends that are stored on memory cards will not be preserved and enjoyed in the future by my children and grandkids. I switched from film to digital around 2005, so lots of photos of baptisms, graduations, birthdays, holidays, etc. exist only in digital form.

    I'm considering conversion from digital to prints for photographs I consider most important. I think there may be 500 or more. And, I hope to continue adding to the collection for years to come.

    In my experience, familys hold onto old print photographs. I have photos of my grandparents and parents that are over 100 years old. They are priceless to me.

    Do others here have concern about how to preserve important personal images for future generations? Are you considering a project to print a large number of pictures or catalog digital images in a way that they will be carefully stored and appreciated as family history files?


     
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  2. Fujidave

    Fujidave Blue eyed and Beautiful

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    For me I always print my best shots and family ones, as it is proven fact that photographs last 100s of years so I have mine in a photo album.
     
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  3. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I have prints of all our family favorites that I have taken. Usually around Black Friday Shutterfly and Snapfish will have excellent pricing on prints and photo books so I do this annually for family and vacation photos taken that year. I put them away until after the holidays then spend an afternoon organizing them into an album.

    I had photo books made for both of my brothers of all our old family photos from when we were kids since all the photos ended up with me.
     
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  4. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I've seen damaged and yellowed prints and slide film that faded so horribly that the images on them are barely recognizable. In view, digital is probably going to endure far longer. The greater issue is that if you lose or damage a digital storage device, you probably lost a lot more images (because they can hold so much) and... you want to make sure you have the means to read images off the storage device as standards change. This means someone has to agree to copy old "outdated" media onto new "current" media from time to time.

    If you decide to make prints, you probably want to use "archival quality" papers (acid-free ... or at least as acid-free as you can get). "Dye" based inkjets fade. "Pigment" based inkjets endure much longer (pigment tends to not fade nearly as fast as dye). Dyes were also more easily damaged if they come in contact with water. To be fair ... modern dyes have improved fade-resistance as well as resistance to water damage (and yet ... all high-end photo printers *still* use pigments if that tells you anything.)

    With dye-based inks, you are likely to notice issues by the time the prints are 25 years old. With pigment-based inks, you are unlikely to notice fading in less than 50 years. So there's a big difference in archival quality. Consequently, most "professional" inkjet printers are pigment based ... although both Canon and Epson do offer lower-cost dye-based photo-quality inkjets.

    The two giants of the printer world are Canon & Epson ... (nobody else in the market is considered a serious player).

    Check the type of ink the printer requires.

    For Canon:
    Canon "ChromaLife" inks (ChromaLife are dye-based inks). Canon claims these inks are fade-resistant. The "marketing" claim is 100 years. They claim these new inks are better than the old dye-based inks.

    Canon's "Lucia" inks are pigment-based inks. These inks are naturally fade-resistant.

    For Epson:
    Epson printers that take "Claria" inks are dye-based inkjet printers. Epson claims their new Claria inks are fade-resistant to 98 years (not much different than Canon's 100 year claim) -- and that they're better than the old dye-based inks.

    Canon's "Lucia" inks are pigment-based. These inks are naturally fade-resistant. (Edit: I mistakenly typed “ChromaLife” ... Designer called that to my attention. My apologies for the confusion.)

    But you always want acid-free archival quality paper and lots of vendors sell these.

    The longevity claims for Canon & Epson dye-based inks come with conditions regarding how their stored.

    If you want anything to last ... protect it from UV light.
     
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  5. SwampDude

    SwampDude TPF Noob!

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    I'm leaning towards a printer, if I feel I can set one up and operate it effectively. Your guidance is very helpful for home printing, TCampbell. I'm thinking Canon or Epson. I think I'll do mostly 5x7, and no larger than 8x10 on a few to be framed.

    I want to try photo lab prints first. I'm concerned about quality (print image quality and color longevity) a lot more than cost. Suggestions on a high quality lab will be appreciated.
     
  6. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Getting printers to match color accurately can be ... challenging. Most people are aware of the importance of calibrating the computer monitor to accurately adjust photo colors. But with printers this gets even more complicated ... the printer will have a more limited color gamut than the monitor, and each paper will also respond differently. And then if you use some 3rd party inks... and you can see how one can spend an enormous amount of time dealing with this.

    This is a reason to use a lab.

    Another reason to use a lab is your printer frequency. Liquid inks dry out. Nozzles clog. Canon runs a purge cycle on a clock (whether you use the printer or not) as long as it’s powered on. It will keep itself from drying out and the heads will be clear. But the cost is ... it goes through a tiny bit of ink each time it does this. With that said, I print infrequently and use OEM inks and with light use it was probably 9-10 months before I needed to replace most cartridges (some cartridges that were heavily used were replaced earlier ... maybe 4-5 months in). But they weren’t too expensive.

    I do have an Elson inkjet (but it’s not a high-end pro quality Elson). They don’t run automatic cleaning cycles and the inks do dry out and nozzles clog ... then it takes me a while to “persuade” the nozzle to start working again. I’m told (but do not know for certain) that this is also true of their high-end printers (no automatic cleaning cycles ... so while they aren’t wasting ink, they do expect *you* to be on top of it otherwise you can waste even more ink when the nozzles clog.)

    But if you don’t print enough ... it may be best to use a lab. That solves the color matching problem *and* the ink drying/clogging problem.
     
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  7. Scott Whaley

    Scott Whaley No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have cds full of photos that I took in 1995 when CD burners first came out. The are still good. It's going on 24 years now.
     
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  8. Winona

    Winona No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    When my twins were born I was lucky enough for my Dad to print my hundreds of pictures and my Mom would put them in albums. A family one and one for each of the kids. Plus he put all the photos on CD. However, when I started using my iPhone more he did not print them due to lack of access. Now I have thousands of photos and I’m 2 years behind! Combined with horrible internet it has been hard to keep up. But- we just hooked up a new internet carrier and I’m determined to start catching up. I think future generations would be more likely to pick up a photo album than put a thumb drive in a computer-or however it will be done in 20 years!
     
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  9. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I can't see the future from here, but I wonder what the technology will be like in 50 or 100 years? I mean; suppose you have gazillions of photographs "saved" in digital format, but for some reason you can't connect the do-hicky to the thing-a-ma-mob.

    And all those old-fashioned computer thingies won't run on the modern power grid, so they're giving them away at garage sales, and tossing them into the shredder for recycling.

    So maybe paper is the way to go.
     
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  10. Strodav

    Strodav TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Glad your CDs are still OK, but early CDs were only rated for about 10 years. You might want to make copies and backups.
     
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  11. SwampDude

    SwampDude TPF Noob!

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    Any recommendations for top-notch photo labs?
     
  12. Strodav

    Strodav TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Started in 35mm film in the 1970s with a Canon AE1. Mainly with color negatives, but a fair amount of B&W, then moved to slides as Kodak came out with positive photo paper. I keep them in Kodak print paper boxes and are in great shape. Have converted most of them to digital with an older Epson Perfection V500 photo scanner. Used 2400 dpi making 24mb tiff files. I have them backed up on DVD, mem stick, and 3 different hard drives, one of which is offsite. I plan on passing them on to my kids and grand kids when the time is right.
     
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