(Are inkjet prints really superior to traditional color printing methods? Ctein and I weigh in. See the last Featured Comment just added to the "Big Mystery" post.)
(Thanks to Ed)
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Featured Comments from:
MHMG: "The fascinating thing about inkjet prints is that they aren't as homogeneous or consistent in appearance as more traditional photographic processes. Folks still call color choromogenic prints 'C-prints' as a holdover from a very early Kodak color paper that wasn't even on an RC base. The look just hasn't really changed all that much over the years. Ditto for Ilfochrome (a.k.a. Cibachrome) or Kodak dye transfer prints. They are all quite easy to recognize due to the unique constraints of the chemical and material processes involved. In contrast, Inkjet prints have an enormous degree of freedom with respect to both image-forming colorants and media. An inkjet print can be made to mimic many historic processes or it can be made to look like no other process that has ever come before it. So, it's all up to the printmaker what kind of aesthetic is going to be achieved with inkjet printing.
"Like many other reflection print processes, when made well, inkjet prints are amazing and when made poorly they are an embarrassment to be called photographs. That said, on technical merits we can break the arguments about print quality down further:
1) As for sharpness and grain structure, even the best multi-channel inkjet printer screening patterns cannot match the super high resolution of a light sensitized analog print paper, but most optically enlarged negatives and slides could never make use of this exceptional print resolution unless the film was contact printed. This practical limitation gives today's digital image files and sharpening/noise reduction algorithms a chance to compete very well in terms of human perceived print sharpness and grain structure in the final print. This perceptual reality is especially true when making very large scale prints.
2) Color gamut of inkjet exceeds most traditional color processes with the possible exception of dye transfer (although dye transfer had a less than optimal cyan dye in particular), but even with as much control as the printmaker had over color and tone in a dye transfer print, the total color and tone control in digital imaging and inkjet printing far surpasses the control we had with analog processes.
3). With respect to overall print durability (which helps prints last longer) one has to be careful when debating inkjet versus traditional color processes. Uncoated inkjet prints do tend to be much more abrasion and scratch sensitive, but coatings can be used to create inkjet prints with as much or more physical durability as traditional silver gelation prints when the application requires it. As for light fastness, humidity resistance, gas fade resistance, and thermal stability, inkjet prints range from extremely fragile to far more stable than any other traditional color photographic processes depending on choice of colorant and media. In this regard, the printmaker must choose wisely...
"...Which brings the whole debate back to P+I+P+C!"