Ilfochrome (also commonly known as Cibachrome) is a dye destruction positive-to-positive photographic process used for the reproduction of film transparencies on photographic paper. The prints are made on a dimensionally stable polyester base as opposed to traditional paper base. Since it uses 13 layers of azo dyes sealed in a polyester base, the print will not fade, discolour, or deteriorate for an extended time. Accelerated aging tests conducted by Henry Wilhelm rated the process as producing prints which, framed under glass, would last for 29 years before color shifts could be detected.[1] Characteristics of Ilfochrome prints are image clarity, color purity, and being an archival process able to produce critical accuracy to the original transparency.


Dr. Bela Gaspar created Gasparcolor, the dye bleach process upon which the Cibachrome process was originally based. It was considered vital to the war effort in the 1940s. Gaspar turned down many offers to sell the rights to his process and after he died, Paul Dreyfus, who was the chemist and technician for Gaspar, went to work for CIBA AG. When the patents ran out, he developed the process for Cibachrome. (Frozen Moments - Richard C. Miller) In the 1960s, the Cibachrome process was originally engineered by the Ciba Geigy Corporation of Switzerland. Ciba acquired Ilford in 1969,[2] and sold it to International Paper in 1989;[3] in 1992 [4] the product was renamed to "Ilfochrome". Colloquially, however the process is still referred to as "Cibachrome".

Before 2004 Ilford Ltd had two main manufacturing sites: Mobberley in the UK, where most traditional products were made, and Fribourg (Freiburg) in Switzerland, where Ilfochrome and Ilfocolor papers were made, as well as the inkjet papers. The UK side was subject to a management buyout, and the Swiss operation (Ilford Imaging Switzerland GmbH) was sold to the Japanese Oji paper group in 2005 and to Paradigm Global Partners LLP in 2010. The Swiss plant retained the Ilford name, while the UK operation was inaugurated under the name HARMAN, taken from the name of the founder of the original Britannia Works. Ilford Photo HARMAN Technology Ltd can still use the Ilford brandname and logo under license on previously existing products, while new products will carry the Harman name.

In 2012, Ilford announced its final production run of Ilfochrome Classic in response to declining market demand attributed to the expanding popularity of digital image making.


The composition of the emulsion used in Ilfochrome prints is responsible for color purity, image clarity, and archival permanence. Azo dyes, which provide stable vivid colors, are embedded in the Ilfochrome emulsion and bleached out in processing. Since the dyes are in the emulsion rather than in the chemistry, the image is also much sharper and clearer because the dyes create an anti-light-scattering layer which keeps the image from being diffused when viewed. As the azo dyes are far more stable than chromogenic dyes, prints made by this process are of archival quality and galleries and art collectors report they do not fade in normal light.

Use directly in camera

An alternative use of Ilfochrome was for image capture directly inside a large format or ultra large format camera. This created a unique original positive photograph, in which the subject is reversed left-right unless a mirror or prism was used in front of the camera lens. A much longer exposure was required than with sheet films or plates designed for use in a camera. The procedure thus resembled the slow daguerreotype and ambrotype direct positive black-and-white processes used in the 1850s.[5][6]


  • Coote, Jack H. (1978). The FOCALGUIDE to Cibachrome. London: Focal Press. ISBN 0-240-50981-1.
  • Ilford Cibachrome-A. Switzerland: Ilford. MAN 03 GB.
  • Peres, Michael R. (2007). "Silver Dye-Bleach Photography". Focal encyclopedia of photography (4th ed.). Focal Press. p. 709. ISBN 978-0-240-80740-9.


  1. ^ Wilhelm, Henry (2006). "A 15-Year History of Digital Printing Technology and Print Permanence in the Evolution of Digital Fine Art Photography - From 1991 to 2006" (PDF). Society for Imaging Science and Technology. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  2. ^ Araujo, Anderson. "Ilford chronology". Ciba 1963. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
  3. ^ Araujo, Anderson. "Ilford chronology". Ciba 1989. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
  4. ^ Araujo, Anderson. "Ilford chronology". Ciba 1992. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
  5. ^ Annaratone, Marco. "Going Ultra: Ultra Large Format and In-Camera Ilfochrome" (PDF). Going Ultra. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
  6. ^ Evans, Glenn. "Shooting Cibachrome in-camera". Glennview. Retrieved 2008-02-25.

External links

Akim Monet

Akim Monet (born February 25, 1968) is an American and Swiss photographer who lives and works in New York and Berlin, Germany.

Ilfochrome print – by Akim Monet

Carol Henry (photographer)

Carol Henry (born 1960) is an American fine art photographer and curator.

Chromogenic print

A chromogenic print, also known as a silver halide print, or a dye coupler print, is a photographic print made from a color negative, transparency, or digital image, and developed using a chromogenic process. They are composed of three layers of gelatin, each containing an emulsion of silver halide, which is used as a light-sensitive material, and a different dye coupler of subtractive color which together, when developed, form a full-color image.

Conservation and restoration of photographs

The Conservation and restoration of photographs is the study of the physical care and treatment of photographic materials. It covers both efforts undertaken by photograph conservators, librarians, archivists, and museum curators who manage photograph collections at a variety of cultural heritage institutions, as well as steps taken to preserve collections of personal and family photographs. It is an umbrella term that includes both preventative preservation activities such as environmental control and conservation techniques that involve treating individual items. Both preservation and conservation require an in-depth understanding of how photographs are made, and the causes and prevention of deterioration. Conservator-restorers use this knowledge to treat photographic materials, stabilizing them from further deterioration, and sometimes restoring them for aesthetic purposes.

While conservation can improve the appearance of a photograph, image quality is not the primary purpose of conservation. Conservators will try to improve the visual appearance of a photograph as much as possible, while also ensuring its long-term survival and adhering the profession's ethical standards. Photograph conservators also play a role in the field of connoisseurship. Their understanding of the physical object and its structure makes them uniquely suited to a technical examination of the photograph, which can reveal clues about how, when, and where it was made.

Photograph preservation is distinguished from digital or optical restoration, which is concerned with creating and editing a digital copy of the original image rather than treating the original photographic material. Photograph preservation does not normally include moving image materials, which by their nature require a very different approach. Film preservation concerns itself with these materials.

Danny Pope

Danny Pope (born February 11, 1960, of English and Italian heritage) is a bespoke photographic printer and restorer. Pope has printed works for photographers such as Andrew Catlin, David Hiscock, Linda McCartney, Gian Paolo Barbieri, Calum Colvin, Tim Page, Corinne Day, Ian McKell, Brian Aris, Eve Arnold, The Douglas Brothers, Terry O’Neil, David Bailey, Barry Lategan and Terence Donovan.

Panorama Magazine called Pope the "Master of Polopan Printing". Pope was the first color printer to win the Ilford Printer of the Year Award in 1993.

Dye destruction

Dye destruction or dye bleach is a photographic printing process, in which dyes embedded in the paper are bleached (destroyed) in processing. Because the dyes are fully formed in the paper prior to processing, they may be formulated with few constraints, compared to the complex dye couplers that must react in chromogenic processing. This method has allowed the use of richly colored, highly stable dyes.

It is a reversal process, meaning that it is used in printing transparencies (diapositives).

Ilfochrome (originally Cibachrome) is currently the only widely available dye destruction process, and is known for its intense colors and archival qualities.

Older dye destruction processes included Utocolor (early 1900s) and Gasparcolor (1930s).

Ilford Photo

Ilford Photo is a UK manufacturer of photographic materials known worldwide for its black-and-white film and papers and chemicals, as previously as its range of Ilfochrome and Ilfocolor colour printing materials, before these were discontinued. Ilfochrome was formerly called Cibachrome, developed in partnership with the Swiss company CIBA-Geigy. Formerly, it published the Ilford Manual of Photography, a comprehensive manual of everything photographic, including the optics, physics and chemistry of photography, along with recipes for many developers.

Ine Lamers

Ardina Gerarda Maria (Ine) Lamers (born May 15, 1954) is a Dutch photographer and video installation artist, who is specialized in ilfochrome photography and chromogenic color print.Born in Wijchen in Gelderland, Lamers received her art education at the AKI (now AKI ArtEZ Academy for Art & Design Enschede, part of Artez)from 1983 to 1987, and at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht from 1987 to 1989. After her graduation, she settled as independent artist in Rotterdam in 1990. Since 1995 she lectured at the Piet Zwart Institute, and in the same year she was awarded the Hendrik Chabot Prize.

Inkjet paper

Inkjet paper is a special fine paper designed for inkjet printers, typically classified by its weight, brightness and smoothness, and sometimes by its opacity.

List of photographic equipment makers

This list of photographic equipment makers lists companies that manufacture (or license manufacture from other companies) equipment for photography.

List of photographic processes

A list of photographic processing techniques.

Masking (art)

In art, craft, and engineering, masking is the use of materials to protect areas from change, or to focus change on other areas. This can describe either the techniques and materials used to control the development of a work of art by protecting a desired area from change; or a phenomenon that (either intentionally or unintentionally) causes a sensation to be concealed from conscious attention.

The term is derived from the word "mask", in the sense that it hides the face from view.

Photographic developer

In the processing of photographic films, plates or papers, the photographic developer (or just developer) is one or more chemicals that convert the latent image to a visible image. Developing agents achieve this conversion by reducing the silver halides, which are pale-colored, into silver metal, which is black (when a fine particle). The conversion occurs within the gelatine matrix. The special feature of photography is that the developer only acts on those particles of silver halides that have been exposed to light. Generally, the longer a developer is allowed to work, the darker the image.

Photographic film

Photographic film is a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals. The sizes and other characteristics of the crystals determine the sensitivity, contrast and resolution of the film.The emulsion will gradually darken if left exposed to light, but the process is too slow and incomplete to be of any practical use. Instead, a very short exposure to the image formed by a camera lens is used to produce only a very slight chemical change, proportional to the amount of light absorbed by each crystal. This creates an invisible latent image in the emulsion, which can be chemically developed into a visible photograph. In addition to visible light, all films are sensitive to ultraviolet, X-rays and high-energy particles. Unmodified silver halide crystals are sensitive only to the blue part of the visible spectrum, producing unnatural-looking renditions of some colored subjects. This problem was resolved with the discovery that certain dyes, called sensitizing dyes, when adsorbed onto the silver halide crystals made them respond to other colors as well. First orthochromatic (sensitive to blue and green) and finally panchromatic (sensitive to all visible colors) films were developed. Panchromatic film renders all colors in shades of gray approximately matching their subjective brightness. By similar techniques, special-purpose films can be made sensitive to the infrared (IR) region of the spectrum.In black-and-white photographic film, there is usually one layer of silver halide crystals. When the exposed silver halide grains are developed, the silver halide crystals are converted to metallic silver, which blocks light and appears as the black part of the film negative. Color film has at least three sensitive layers, incorporating different combinations of sensitizing dyes. Typically the blue-sensitive layer is on top, followed by a yellow filter layer to stop any remaining blue light from affecting the layers below. Next comes a green-and-blue sensitive layer, and a red-and-blue sensitive layer, which record the green and red images respectively. During development, the exposed silver halide crystals are converted to metallic silver, just as with black-and-white film. But in a color film, the by-products of the development reaction simultaneously combine with chemicals known as color couplers that are included either in the film itself or in the developer solution to form colored dyes. Because the by-products are created in direct proportion to the amount of exposure and development, the dye clouds formed are also in proportion to the exposure and development. Following development, the silver is converted back to silver halide crystals in the bleach step. It is removed from the film during the process of fixing the image on the film with a solution of ammonium thiosulfate or sodium thiosulfate (hypo or fixer). Fixing leaves behind only the formed color dyes, which combine to make up the colored visible image. Later color films, like Kodacolor II, have as many as 12 emulsion layers, with upwards of 20 different chemicals in each layer.

Photographic paper

Photographic paper is a paper coated with a light-sensitive chemical formula, used for making photographic prints. When photographic paper is exposed to light, it captures a latent image that is then developed to form a visible image; with most papers the image density from exposure can be sufficient to not require further development, aside from fixing and clearing, though latent exposure is also usually present. The light-sensitive layer of the paper is called the emulsion. The most common chemistry was based on silver salts (the focus of this page) but other alternatives have also been used.

The print image is traditionally produced by interposing a photographic negative between the light source and the paper, either by direct contact with a large negative (forming a contact print) or by projecting the shadow of the negative onto the paper (producing an enlargement). The initial light exposure is carefully controlled to produce a gray scale image on the paper with appropriate contrast and gradation. Photographic paper may also be exposed to light using digital printers such as the LightJet, with a camera (to produce a photographic negative), by scanning a modulated light source over the paper, or by placing objects upon it (to produce a photogram).

Despite the introduction of digital photography, photographic papers are still sold commercially. Photographic papers are manufactured in numerous standard sizes, paper weights and surface finishes. A range of emulsions are also available that differ in their light sensitivity, colour response and the warmth of the final image. Color papers are also available for making colour images.

Photographic printing

Photographic printing is the process of producing a final image on paper for viewing, using chemically sensitized paper. The paper is exposed to a photographic negative, a positive transparency (or slide), or a digital image file projected using an enlarger or digital exposure unit such as a LightJet printer. Alternatively, the negative or transparency may be placed atop the paper and directly exposed, creating a contact print. Photographs are more commonly printed on plain paper, for example by a color printer, but this is not considered "photographic printing".

Following exposure, the paper is processed to reveal and make permanent the latent image.

Photographic processing

Photographic processing or development is the chemical means by which photographic film or paper is treated after photographic exposure to produce a negative or positive image. Photographic processing transforms the latent image into a visible image, makes this permanent and renders it insensitive to light.All processes based upon the gelatin-silver process are similar, regardless of the film or paper's manufacturer. Exceptional variations include instant films such as those made by Polaroid and thermally developed films. Kodachrome required Kodak's proprietary K-14 process. Kodachrome film production ceased in 2009, and K-14 processing is no longer available as of December 30, 2010. Ilfochrome materials use the dye destruction process.

Tom Hunter (artist)

Tom Hunter (born 1965) is a London-based British artist working in photography and film. His photographs often reference and reimagine classical paintings. He was the first photographer to have a one-man show at the National Gallery, London.Hunter has shown work internationally in exhibitions, his work is held in a number of public collections and he has had four books published. He has won various awards including an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society.

Volkmar Wentzel

Volkmar Kurt Wentzel (February 8, 1915 – May 10, 2006) was a German American photographer and cinematographer. He worked for nearly 50 years for the National Geographic Society as a darkroom technician and photographer, and his professional and personal work was highly acclaimed. He was one of the first people to take photographs of then-little known country of Nepal, and was noted for documenting the final years of many of the traditional tribal kingdoms of Africa.

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