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Category: What's Wrong With My Photographic Technique? : Problems with Photo Equipment - Tips & Tricks : Digital Storage Issues

Photography Question 
jacqueline mcabery

Are DVD's Permanent for Storage of Images?

What is the most permanent way to store images? If CD's fade and it is not possible to save all images on the hard drive, where can preserve them for future use? Are DVD's permanent?

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5/27/2004 9:24:06 AM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/22/2002
  Not really, but they'll do for a while. ... There's a new type of DVD that will replace older ones called Blue Laser DVD - but the new machines will be able to read older DVD's. With constant change, nothing is permanent, but look at it this way: You can still find a means of playing an old 78rpm LP. So you should be able to do the same with the newer DVD technology.

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5/29/2004 7:50:14 AM

Dave Cross   Hi Jacqueline: The discussions as to the longevity (or otherwise) of CDR/DVDR media are widespread and vary wildly in their predictions. Just try a Google search on "CDR life" to see what I mean. There is no doubt that CDRs (and DVDRs) fade with time, and unlike an old photograph, the data does not get "dimmer," because of its digital nature it works fine for a period and then, one day, it's unreadable.

Manufacturers offer "archival CDRs" with a life purported to be in excess of 100 years (assuming you use a high quality, properly calibrated drive to write them). The question is not whether the data will be readable 100 years down the line, it is whether the equipment to read it will be available. Yes, we can still play 78RPM records and project 1901 movie film, but try to find a working BetaMax VCR (fair chance), when you've got your BetaMax find a V2000 machine (a late '70s VCR format), pretty well no chance, and that is only 30 years old. In the late '80s, the BBC started the "Doomsday Project" in an effort to collect everything that mattered about the modern world, it was all stored on the latest technology (12 inch optical disks). Less than 20 years later millions of dollars have been spent "rescuing" the data because none of the original hardware survives. Look at:-

There are two ways to guarantee that your pictures will be viewable in 100 years:-
1. Constantly migrate your data to the newer formats, say every 5 - 10 years.
2. Make Silver-Halide prints (real photographs) from your digital masterpiece, stick them in an album like your parents did, and wind up your kids with them when they come round with their kids ...

Just my 2c ... Cheers.

By the way, Jacqueline ... make CD backups and renew them every couple of yers :-)

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5/29/2004 9:30:16 AM

Marvin Swetzer   What is a 78rpm LP?

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6/2/2004 12:32:19 AM

Dave Cross   Hi Marvin.
Totally off-topic ;-)

Remember the old 78RPM 'singles' were 10" in diameter. Well there were some 'long-play' 78s, 12" diameter.

I know the original post was a typo by Damian but '78RPM LPs' really did exist :-)

Like I said, totally off topic.


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6/2/2004 4:55:32 AM

Marvin Swetzer   DC

I only knew of the 33 1/3 RPM LP's. I always bought 78's because the LP's only had a one or two good songs on them. Later, after they stopped making 78's, I would buy 45's. I don't remember the 78 LP's, but it maybe because I just never looked for them. I liked the 8-Track too. I thought they were better than the cassette.


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6/2/2004 12:10:18 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Suddenly I'm feeling very old when someone asks what a 78 RPM record is. Thank goodness we're not talking the cylinders!


BTW . . . three major issues with CD's and DVD's made on burners commonly found in home computers:
1. Longevity of disk substrate (which is an equal issue with commmercially produced CD's and DVD's which are made differently). It eventually delaminates. Last I read, it's 10-20 years for CD.
2. Longevity of the recording on the substrate which is shorter for home computer burners than commmercially produced disks. It eventually degrades over time.
3. Longevity of the recording technology; file format (e.g. JPEG, TIFF) and the directory structure for the files (driven by operating system[s] in use when it was recorded). When any one of these technologies sunsets completely you're hosed unless you've saved a drive, O/S, etc. that can read it. BTW, this nearly happened with a U.S. Census that was on magnetic tape . . . the drives that could read them sunsetted and the U.S. Census bureau just barely managed to save the data by scrounging up some working ones and transferring the date (including its format) to a newer technology . . . and it was no small feat doing so. If I gave you a single-sided, single-density 8" floppy disk with data recorded on it with a Zilog Z80 microprocessor computer that used the CP/M operating system, would you be able to read it?

I can hold my father's Kodachromes made over 50 years ago up to a light and look at them . . . and they look like the day they came back from Kodak processing. Two generations from now, at the same age I am, they'll still be able to do it.

Greatest longevity photographic recording formats? B/W negative (real B/W, not the chromogenic which is like color negative) and Kodachrome . . . they still very greatly exceed anything else past or present.

-- John Lind

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6/2/2004 6:53:51 PM

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