Both print value and permanence are critical to consumer satisfaction of printed images. Over the last four years, the Printing Industry Center and Image Permanence Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology have published a variety of studies evaluating the print value and permanence of inkjet and electrophotographic prints and compared their performance to the traditional printing technologies of offset lithography and color silver-halide photography. This paper reviews the published work to date. In the print value studies comparing electrophotographic digital press and offset lithography, it was found that the media had the greatest impact on perceived value. There were significant differences in the perceived value between electrophotographic and offset lithographic prints on coated media, with those made on offset equipment being generally preferred. For prints on uncoated media, the differences were less significant. Another study evaluated the perceived print value of inkjet (desktop and wide format) and electrophotographic photofinishing relative to digital silver-halide prints. Targets were generated to resemble photo album pages and photobooks. The results indicated that observers generally found higher value in full-size photobooks and inkjet prints as compared to electrophotographic prints and mini photobooks. The print permanence experiments subjected inkjet, electrophotographic, digital silver-halide, and offset prints to a variety of environmental and user stresses including heat, light, humidity, pollutants, abrasion, and water fastness. The electrophotographic prints were generally more resistant to environment and use forces than offset lithography except for the liquid-toner electrophotographic system which was less water resistant. Because inkjets prints are made with a greater variety of possible colorant and paper combinations, they showed extremely varied responses to deterioration forces. Some were more robust than electrophotography or color silver-halide and others more vulnerable. In comparing the two lines of inquiry, the primary significance was the fact that the prints with the highest perceived value are not necessarily the prints of the highest permanence. Print equipment, colorants, and papers need to be selected for both perceived value and permanence, but no clear metrics exist on which consumers can base such decisions. An understanding of all the key factors and access to the critical information will likely not be possible for end users, so they must rely on knowledgeable photo fulfillment providers to help guide them to the right decisions.
Daniel Burge, Susan Farnand, Franziska Frey, "Review of Research at RIT Comparing the Print Value and Permanence of Digital Prints vs. Offset Lithography and Silver-Halide Prints" in Proc. Int'l Symp.on Technologies for Digital Photo Fulfillment, 2012, pp 39 - 43, https://doi.org/10.2352/ISSN.2169-4672.2012.3.0.23