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Do Dye Sub Prints Fade? Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

25 June 2014

We're evaluating a DNP DS40, an industrial-strength dye sub printer, so we took the opportunity to reprint a few old dye subs that have been hanging on the walls for a while. They made it 10 years.

Two Prints. The new print (left) shows how much fading occurred in 10 years to the original on the right.

We framed them behind glass and hung them up in April 2004 after printing them as 6x8 prints on a Hi-Ti 730PS. They caught the afternoon sun through a diffused glass window on the days the sun shone. You can subtract summer and much of the winter.

We knew, of course, that they had faded. Over the last couple of years, they were mere shadows of themselves. But they had faded together and gracefully.

The Original. The print just after it was framed, on April 4, 2004.

It's worth remembering that the 730PS featured the same dye sub technology and media as its little brother, the 640PS, which won the 2004 DIMA Shoot-Out, besting the Sony EX-50 and Kodak Printer Dock 6000 for its superior color performance and lower consumables cost. Good stuff, in short.

But time takes its toll.

If you look closely at the comparison image on top, you'll notice a dark band around the edges of the faded print. That's where the mat protected it from the sun. So that's the original color.

Ten years isn't bad. And kept out of direct sunlight, we have some older dye sub prints around here (from the Fargo FotoFUN, circa 1998) that are still holding their own. In sunlight, though, five years seems to be pushing it for a dye sub. A merely subjective observation, we admit.

If you subtract summer and winter, as we recommended above, you do come up with five years in direct sunlight.

Inkjet prints -- whether the ink is dye-based or pigment-based -- outlast dye sub prints. They even outlast their human printer, according to Wilhelm Imaging Research. We have had a 13x19-inch print from a 3-Mp Nikon Coolpix 990 hanging next to these dye subs and it's in great shape.

That one we're not touching it. It's already in the will.

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