, (formerly known as Cibachrome
) is a dye destruction
positive-to-positive photographic process used for the reproduction of slides
on photographic paper
. The prints are made on a dimensionally stable tri-acetate polyester
base, essentially a plastic base opposed to traditional paper base. Since it uses azo dyes on a polyester base, the print will not fade, discolor, or deteriorate for a long time. Characteristics of Ilfochrome prints are image clarity, color purity, more environmentally safe, as well as being an archival process able to produce critical accuracy to the original slide.
In the 1960s
, the Cibachrome process was originally engineered by the Ciba-Geigy
Corporation of Switzerland
. Later on the process was purchased by Ilford
and dubbed the process "Ilfochrome," and is marketed as Ilfochrome Classic. Colloquially, however the process is still referred to as "Cibachrome".
Ilford Ltd prior to 2004 comprised 2 main manufacturing sites, Mobberley in the UK, where most traditional products were made, and Freiberg 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. 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, later to be Ilford Ltd. Harman Technology can still use the Ilford brandname and logo under license to Oji on previously existing products, while new products will carry the Harman name.
As of 2006, Ilford continues to produce Ilfochrome Classic in front-lit products, back-lit products, micrographic film, and the required chemistry.
The composition of the emulsion
used in Ilfochrome prints is responsible for color purity, image clarity, being environmentally friendly, and archival. Unlike Type R
processes by Kodak
, and others, Ilfochrome does not have dyes in the chemistry but rather in the emulsion. Azo dyes
, which provide stable vivid colors, are embedded in the Ilfochrome emulsion are 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 reflected image from being diffused when viewed. Although not completely environmentally safe, it is far more friendly than other processes because the toxic dyes begin in the emulsion and are removed rather than contained in disposable chemistry. As the colors formed from the azo dye are far more stable, the prints made from the process are archival and insisted on by galleries and art collectors as they will not fade in normal light.
Use directly in camera
A somewhat "alternative" use of Ilfochrome is that of using the paper directly inside a large format
or ultra large format
camera. This creates a unique artefact, though the image appears reversed left-right. When techniques similar to this were used in the past (e.g., daguerrotypes) photographers used 45 degree mirror add-ons that - when put on a lens - would reverse the image sideways thus recreating the correct view on the in-camera paper/plate.