Permanence and Care of Color Photographs

a review by Philip Greenspun; created 1998

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I wrote this review back in 1993, which was when Wilhelm came out with his book. You can still order the book from Amazon

The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs by Henry Wilhelm is (IMHO) the most important photography book of the last ten years.

Wilhelm describes his research into the archival properties of color prints, Type R prints, color slide film, color neg film, B&W paper (RC & FB). Wilhelm also discusses techniques for the preservation and storage of photographs, i.e. envelopes and sleeves, refrigerators, etc.

Many of Wilhelm's conclusions are injurious to the reputation of Eastman Kodak products, especially his conclusion that Fuji paper (both Type R and C prints) outlasts Kodak by factors of two or three (also that Fujichrome slides last much longer than Kodachrome when projected). Presumably because no publisher would take the book as is (it alleges that Kodak intentionally obscured the truth about their products' non-archivalness), he publishes it himself.

Sample Color Negative Film Data

For a 20% loss of the least stable image dye in accelerated dark fading tests at 144 deg. F and 45% RH (figures are in DAYS):

Kodak VPS:              215 (implies about 80 years at room temperature)
Kodak Ektar 1000:       200
Kodak Gold 400:         175
Fuji normal neg films:  130
Konica 100:             110
Kodak VR films:         110
Kodak Ektar 25:         90
Fuji Reala:             85
Kodak Gold 100:         85
Kodak Vericolor HC:     85
Agfa various:           75
Kodak VPL:              30

Thus, VPS should last approximately twice as long as Reala (but will the marriage outlast either?)

Sample Color Slide Film Data

For a 20% loss of the least stable image dye in accelerated dark fading tests at 144 deg. F and 45% RH (figures are in DAYS):

K25, K64, K200:         580
Ektachrome, all:        225
Fujichrome, not Velvia: 185
Fujichrome Velvia:      135
Agfachrome 1000:        75
ScotchChrome 1000:      45

Excerpt from Color Print Paper (Type C from negs) Section

"Fujicolor Paper Super FA Type 3 and a higher-contrast version (SFA3 Type C) for commercial labs are by far the best, longest-lasting RA-4 compatible color negative papers available. ... When exposed to light on display, the Fujicolor SFA3 papers will last more than four times longer than Ektacolor Edge, Ektacolor Portra, Supra, Ultra, and teh other Kodak RA-4 papers."

Excerpt from Color Print Paper (Type R from slides) Section

"Ilford Ilfochrome [Cibachrome] are the only products that can be considered to be absolutely permanent in dark storage at normal room temperatures. ... Fujichrome Type 35 paper is by far the best choice among Process R-3 reversal papers. With its good dye stability and low stain level in dark storage together with good light fading stability, this is the slide-printing counterpart to Fujicolor SFA3 papers for printing color negatives. It should be noted, however, that although Fuji SFA3 and Type 35 have similar dark storage stability, SFA3 paper is much more resistant to light fading on display. For that matter, the light fading stability of Fujicolor SFA3 paper is significantly better than that of current Ilfochrome prints!


Kodak Ektachrome Radiance Paper, introduced in 1991, ... falls considerably short of Fujichrome Type 35 paper in both light fading and dark storage stability."

You can order this book from