Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography

Digital Help is designed to aid you in getting the most from your digital photography, printing, scanning, and image creation. Each month, David Brooks provides solutions to problems you might encounter with matters such as color calibration and management, digital printer and scanner settings, and working with digital photographic images with many different kinds of cameras and software. All questions sent to him will be answered with the most appropriate information he can access and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this department. Readers can send questions to David Brooks addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug website (, directly via e-mail to: or or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

Archival--Photographs That Last
Q. I am a happy owner of 35mm cameras and also several digital cameras (I am pleased with both results). My question is the longevity of the prints. I know with film the images have been preserved and we have photographs dating back to the 1800s. With digital, has there been any research on how long the images will last once printed? When I print out my digital images, I use photographic paper that was formulated for my printer.
Tracy A. Lindsay
via e-mail

A. First of all, I must question your assumption that film photography has some great advantage. Some film and prints made from film have lasted a long time, and a lot have not. Even in my own collection of photographs I have made since I began in 1952, some remain in fair condition and others have deteriorated beyond recovery. The museums and libraries that have collections of photographs, I think, will report similar findings and have a large and difficult challenge on their hands preserving photographs, whether made first on film by analog methods or digitally.
There has in recent years been testing done to project archival quality by accelerated exposure to light how long inkjet inks will last before fading. You can find these results at: However, how long color ink applied with a digital printer will last before fading is just a part of the problem, saying nothing about the "paper" the ink is printed on. How long will that last?
In the September 2007 issue of Shutterbug (page 59) I had an article reporting on research I had done over the previous year and more on inkjet paper, called "The Lowdown On Inkjet Paper"--if you don't have the issue you can read the article on our website at:
To make a very condensed overview, most of the less expensive digital inkjet printers using dye inks on inexpensive "photo" paper coated with polyethylene plastic may not even last a generation, while better photo printers using pigment inks on archival ISO rated 100 percent cotton rag paper will last at least 100 years, and probably longer.

LCD Display Calibration Problems
Q. You are my last resort. I was reading your review about the Samsung 244T on I don't know if you still use that monitor or not, but I thought I would give it a shot since I'm about to get thin haired. I'm having a hard time getting the correct settings for contrast and brightness, same as you had. What settings did you end up using to get it right?
Patric Sandelin
via e-mail

A. I currently do not have a Samsung SyncMaster 244T, but did buy a couple other LCD displays I use that I reported on. However, the problem for all higher-end performance LCDs of setting brightness and contrast (rather white point and black point) is pretty much the same with nearly all LCD displays. And essentially the setting should be the same in measured values of a white point of 120.0 CD/m2 and a black point of close to 0.50 CD/m2.
To adjust, calibrate, and profile an LCD display you really have to use a sensor and software to set the adjustments to the specific recommended measurements for white point and black point (the brightness control on the display will set the black point and the contrast control will set the white point). I suggest and recommend the Spyder made by Datacolor, formerly
called ColorVision. The least expensive package for PC Windows only is the Spyder2express. Go to, turn off the movie intro and click on Product Information. The latest Spyder3 Elite and Pro hardware and software will support providing a screen reading with the sensor (colorimeter), providing a CD/m2 value for both black and white points. That way
you can adjust the display contrast and brightness controls to obtain the recommended values rather easily.

Inkjet Printers And Idleness Problems
Q. I read your article on using inks and I am impressed. I have some questions though. I had all kinds of problems with my 1280 when I used the MIS ink system; I replaced the head twice and finally threw the whole thing away when I bought the 2200. I now use only Epson inks on my 2200 and even if I don't get a chance to print for more than a month if I am out of the country, I do a few cleanings and everything is fine. What about these pure carbon inks? Do you predict problems after sitting for a while? Can you remove the cartridges in between printing black and white and then put them back in when you want to just by switching drivers? By the way, I just looked and saw that B&H had the R1800 for $369 after mail-in rebate. What do you think is the very best paper for this model? I saw the ones you tested. I use the Enhanced Matte a lot and am reasonably satisfied but I want to move on to a better paper for the prints I want to frame.
James A. Will, DVM, PhD
via e-mail

A. First of all, there can still be a problem with carbon black inks clogging if the printer is not used frequently. But it is not as bad with the 1280 because the R800 and R1800 have print heads made to use pigment inks and the 1280 was originally a dye ink printer. I have not tried the strategy of removing the MIS Eboni cartridges if the printer is not going to be used, so can't say it would work.
Although my tests were very convincing on the black and white and color prints I obtained, I often do not make black and white prints for long stretches, so I use a Canon pigment ink printer for both kinds of printing like the Canon PIXMA Pro9500 I tested and reported on in the November 2007 issue. I also have an Epson R2400, but use it little because I like both the black and white and color the Canon prints better.
Finding good paper that does not break the bank is a challenge. For day-to-day printing I use the Illuminata Watercolor Paper sold by; for the best prints for exhibition I use PremierArt Imaging's Hot Press Smooth Natural 270gsm.

I am pleased to announce a new Third Edition adding five chapters to my eBook DIGITAL DARKROOM RESOURCE CD. The CD now contains 26 chapters totaling 318 pages in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format, providing easy-to-read text and large high-quality illustration. The CD is available for $20 plus $4 shipping and handling (US Mail if available). Ordering is as simple as sending a check or money order for $24 made out to me, David B. Brooks, and mailed to PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.