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Author Topic: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?  (Read 3464 times)

michaelsh

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Instagram and snap chat addicted ...
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2018, 08:07:25 AM »

Thing is, in an instagram and snap chat addicted world, especially with people under 30, that often couldn't care less about how long their prints last, or whether they are even sold and collected, showing work on a good 4K and soon 8k led screen, in a public place, is going to become more and more popular all the time. They don't even need paper, period ( especially if they want sound as well).

Especially if you are doing high gloss super vibrant photography like people are doing with "digital cibachrome" face mounted or backlit in a light box type of work. It's really no different than the Getty
Stock landscape imagery you see on Google Chrome it looks fine ( until it all starts looking the same ) Personally I hate that kind of soulless textureless presentation but a lot of people love it. If you are going to adopt that kind of aesthetic, might as well do it on tv. Same thing as viewing on your display in the dark. Just cycle through these hd slide shows with no framing involved and when a 16k screen comes along go for that too.

I see your point (to some extent), but please don't assume I fall into the 'under 30 people' category'.
I'll be 63 this coming October  ;)
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michaelsh

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Here is an example
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2018, 08:19:52 AM »

My photographs look better printed than they do on a monitor. I spend a lot of time on them and use a variety of papers. Different images look better on different papers. But the op's photos may be an entirely different image that looks better on the screen. It's hard to judge without seeing the work.

Let me summarize: I have a very good semblance between what I see on screen vs. what I see on print.

But the difference between the additive RGB representation using emitted light (the display) vs. the subtractive CYMK representation depending on the quality of the reflected light (the print) is enough for me to prefer the display representation in many cases.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2018, 08:29:37 AM by michaelsh »
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Ernst Dinkla

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2018, 10:58:18 AM »

That was indeed a sloppy remark on my side: as you pointed out above white on print is determined by the paper base colour. That is the reason why I prefer to print on ultra white paper, because all the fine art papers I have tested never gave me a 'neutral' white and they also shifted colours (some less some more) depending on the paper base colour.

Your "neutral" white is not the neutral white the IEC described based on empirical test results many decades ago. Before mobile phones with 8000K displays became the norm.  However there should be less shifting of colors on art papers that are near neutral (IEC) than on the ultra white papers you prefer, the last usually have a high Optical Brightening Agent content where the white point say Lab 98 0 -12 either creates a break between the white point and the neutral grey areas in the image or with another profiling approach the grays and less saturated colors have to shift a hell of a lot to suit the OBA white point. The actual white light reflectance is not that different between the paper types.

You do not belong to the young ones but it would not surprise me if Millennials and Generation X could shift the average experience of neutral white compared to the generations dating back to the great war that set that standard. However that new neutrality if used on paper tends to be less constant in changing light conditions due to the OBA content needed and will shift in time too due to the degradation of the OBA dyes. On one hand the gadgets and habits of younger generations may shift their perception of neutrality, on the other hand cataract in an older and older becoming population adds a yellow filter.

The preference for cooler or warmer white-points/ímages is also influenced by the luminance levels, check the information on the Kruithof Curve.

Edit;  The paper you use is really loaded with OBA, I added the spectral plot of it here. That and the laptop screen, the older i1 Display and no specific description of the calibration/profiling numbers and no mention of the viewing light makes me wonder whether it is just the display's dynamic range that is making the difference here. I see the P70 has (optional) internal calibration so should be adequate for the job depending on the settings.

Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
March 2017 update, 750+ inkjet media white spectral plots



« Last Edit: February 12, 2018, 02:26:32 PM by Ernst Dinkla »
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nirpat89

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2018, 12:07:41 PM »

I don't understand the premise.  It is not a question of either/or.  Or which is the best way possible objectively to look at a photograph (notwithstanding the fact that from the invention of photography, the photograph has been a print.)  If I ask a gallery to display my work, they don't give me an option - would you like to hang 20 Samsungs or 20 picture frames.  I, so far, only have one choice.  Better make prints for that one.    If you want to hang your pictures in your house, are you able to hang monitors all over the place like Bill Gates?  Well then you have a choice.  Until then, do the best print you can make when it is the print that is needed.  Otherwise share the rest of the thousands of images we take like everyone else - on a mobile phone screen.

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Les Sparks

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2018, 03:40:30 PM »

Quote
Thing is, in an instagram and snap chat addicted world, especially with people under 30, that often couldn't care less about how long their prints last, or whether they are even sold and collected,
I'm not sure there is really much difference in how the casual camera user behaves now  compared to pre-digital.   The difference is really the technology. Before digital you took your 36 exposure roll of color film to Costco for development and 4x6 prints. You shared a few print with family and friends and then forgot about them Now you take a few 100 photos with your phone and share them immediately with family and the world and then forget about them.
If you were serious about prints, you had a darkroom or access to one--a moderate (few hundred $) lifetime investment. You went through a few dozen at most photos to select the few to print. Now if you're serious about prints, you have hundreds of images to go through to select what you want to print. You have a reoccurring short term (5 or so years) investment of several hundred to thousands of dollars in printer and software. The time and $ investment in printing can become a serious concern when a person decides to get serious about printing.
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Telecaster

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Re: Here is an example
« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2018, 04:05:47 PM »

But the difference between the additive RGB representation using emitted light (the display) vs. the subtractive CYMK representation depending on the quality of the reflected light (the print) is enough for me to prefer the display representation in many cases.

There ya go. For color I agree with you. I mostly prefer prints for displaying b&w, and for each pic I choose a paper with a base tone that helps give me the look I'm going for.

Use the tech that gives you the results you like best.

-Dave-
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: Here is an example
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2018, 05:56:03 PM »

Let me summarize: I have a very good semblance between what I see on screen vs. what I see on print.

But the difference between the additive RGB representation using emitted light (the display) vs. the subtractive CYMK representation depending on the quality of the reflected light (the print) is enough for me to prefer the display representation in many cases.

From your posted image you may have an issue either with your calibrated monitor's display of shadow detail or you like plunging shadow detail into black with your edits.

Your image can't possibly look better as a print because you've crushed and reduced the tonal contrast so that a print can't possibly ramp out of those shadows without making the midrange and highlights gold detail over saturated.

Images with that level of contrast will print with milky, flat looking shadows and garish saturated color which isn't the printer's fault but a perceptual issue with how you tone map a scene shot in low light. The appearance is similar to viewing a movie in a theater with lights on or off. It can show up in prints as well.

Tonemap that image so it appears lighter from the shadows up gradually increasing in lightness from absolute black.


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michaelsh

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Re: Here is an example
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2018, 12:47:06 AM »

From your posted image you may have an issue either with your calibrated monitor's display of shadow detail or you like plunging shadow detail into black with your edits.

Your image can't possibly look better as a print because you've crushed and reduced the tonal contrast so that a print can't possibly ramp out of those shadows without making the midrange and highlights gold detail over saturated.

Images with that level of contrast will print with milky, flat looking shadows and garish saturated color which isn't the printer's fault but a perceptual issue with how you tone map a scene shot in low light. The appearance is similar to viewing a movie in a theater with lights on or off. It can show up in prints as well.

Tonemap that image so it appears lighter from the shadows up gradually increasing in lightness from absolute black.

These are quite astonishing conclusions drawn from a jpeg very much reduced in size and posted on the web.
Would you believe me if I told you that none of your conclusions - either about the picture or the print, are correct?
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: Here is an example
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2018, 02:24:15 AM »

These are quite astonishing conclusions drawn from a jpeg very much reduced in size and posted on the web.
Would you believe me if I told you that none of your conclusions - either about the picture or the print, are correct?

Then post a photo of the print you're complaining about looks better on the display. It's not hard to do. I do it quite a lot here only I get screen to print matches even from a Walmart print submitted in sRGB. You see I don't think any of my prints look worse or better than on my display.

And that image sample you posted is a lot bigger (4721x3161) pixels than you've indicated. That's big enough for me to see plenty and stand by what I said. Or maybe your eyesight is going bad. Who can tell? You don't give very much info so we can help you. And BTW...you're welcome!


« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 02:28:43 AM by Tim Lookingbill »
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2018, 10:15:44 AM »

Tim has a point - but perhaps it's a bit exaggerated. I have Michael's photo from inside the Rococo church up on my secondary display as I write this - both displays are properly calibrated and profiled. It's actually a good choice of a photo for the context of this discussion, precisely because it has such a large and difficult tonal range to deal with. I don't know how the original raw file (if there was one out of the camera) looked, nor do I know how much editing Michael did with it to produce this JPEG. It's a printable resolution (180 PPI - the lower limit I would print) but has about 4700x3100 pixel dimensions, so resizing it to 360 PPI without resampling would allow me to make a very decent (resolution point of view) 13 x 8.6 inch print. So Tim is correct that the resolution is adequate for at least discussing this photo. But reverting to the main point about the tone mapping and how to make it print so that it will look good on paper, I've prepared a series of exercises in Lightroom 7.1 which I think gets to the heart of screen versus print and what paper suits what kind of photo. There are 8 screen grabs and we are allowed only 4 per post, so this spreads over two posts.

Screen grab 1 shows the photo on display without softproofing. As Tim observed, there is some blocking-up of shadow detail, as confirmed by the bunching up at the left side of the histogram. But I know from experience that this shadow detail could be further revealed if one wanted to do so. I also know from experience that this kind of photo should be printed on a gloss/luster medium because of its shiny appearance and wide tonal range. So screen grab 2 shows it under softproof for Ilford Gold Fibre Silk (IGFS) in an Epson SC-P5000 (the largest gamut inkjet printer on the market along with its larger-format siblings). You will notice there is very little difference of appearance between illustrations (1) and (2), meaning that with the right printer/paper combination you could be about equally satisfied with the tonal depth seeing it in a print or on display with no softproofing. However if I repeat the same softproofing exercise but this time using the profile for a high quality matte paper (e.g. Canon Premium Fine Art Smooth) having respectable gamut for a matte paper, I could be disappointed because the dark tones would come out on paper rather muddier than suits the photo (Screen grab 3). So the moral of the story thus far: if you are going to print this, don't make a matte print and then complain that it lacks the tonal range of what you see on a non-softproof display version; use something like IGFS. Or do specific matte-based edits under softproof that make the best of a disadvantaged situation from the point of view of tonal range. That can get you a good part of the way to bridge the difference between matte and glossy, but not all the way. (And for all those who pooh-pooh the usefulness of softproofing, this demonstration might get you to think otherwise about this important procedure.)

So let us turn to some "playing around". In the IGFS softproof version, my top-level analysis of how it could be improved (to my taste) would be to tame the highlights a bit and open the shadows some. I did this to the IGFS softproof as seen in screen grab 4. You can see the adjustments in the menus to the far right. I still thought the shadow detail at the very bottom of the photo could be brought out more, so I used the graduated filter to further open that dark area (screen grab 5). The "final" photo is in screen grab 6. By the way, I really do like corrected perspectives, so I used Lightroom's superb Upright controls to get the verticals right (screen grab 7). Now before we leave this version, there remains a question in my mind about whether the colour balance is right. Is the interior of the church really that blue, or is this a case of the camera sensor seeing dark areas "blueishly" as they often do, but when we are in the scene our brains adjust to not be seeing blue. I could easily rebalance these colours by clicking the white balance eyedropper on a suitably blue area and the photo's whole colour scheme changes dramatically, but not knowing the scene appearance I won't bother with that here.

Turning to the question of matte paper for this photo, I created a proof copy in Lightroom of screen grab 7 and changed the softproof profile to Canon Premium Fine Art Smooth. Then I set about to converge its appearance as closely as I could to that of the IGFS softproof. The strategy is to increase contrast in the darker tones by upping the lower-mid tone brightness and lowering the deep shadow tone brightness, then increasing clarity which further separates at a micro-contrast level between the various darker tones in the lower part of the tone scale. Finally, I applied a graduated filter to the highlight area at the top of the photo and dialed back both the highlights and Clarity a bit to appropriately counteract the slight exaggeration of the highlights from the immediately previous adjustments. The end result for matte (screen grab 8) is snappier relative to where we started, but I would still prefer this particular photo on IGFS, and if it were printed on matte I would agree with the OP that the screen view is more satisfying than the print view. However, printed on IGFS, I would not agree with the OP's basic premise that prints can't match the screen for tonal range. So as usual, a profound conclusion here: "it all depends............." and perhaps some deep ends too. It depends on the photo, it depends on the paper/printer combination, it depends on how well you know how to edit the photos for optimum appearance on the chosen media, etc. I could have taken this further, but an hour later, and we see the main points - at least to me - at issue in this discussion.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #30 on: February 13, 2018, 10:17:12 AM »

And the last four screen grabs.

(BTW, these screen grabs may have lost some of their precision in the conversion to the reduced format more suitable for forum posting, but the main distinctions remain visible.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 10:20:52 AM by Mark D Segal »
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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framah

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #31 on: February 13, 2018, 11:02:11 AM »

I think the only solution to the OP's problem is for him to buy a dozen monitors to display his photos. Forget paper! If your images only look great on monitors then hang monitors around the house. Problem solved.  :o
You can set them to rotate images.
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michaelsh

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Mark, Tim, I really appreciate your feedback
« Reply #32 on: February 13, 2018, 11:29:47 AM »

and especially Mark's tremendous work and explanations in how he worked on the rather unsatisfactory sample (in terms of size and jpeg quality) I had posted.

Some background perhaps: originally captured with the Sigma DP2 Merrill in RAW, converted to 16 bit TIFF (ProPhoto RGB) and then edited in Photoshop and Nik Viveza. Then printed the final TIFF on my Epson SCP-600, letting Photoshop do the colour management and using Tecco's ICC profile for the PUW285 paper.

But I'm afraid that you both might have missed the most important aspect about this picture (most important for me, that is): to capture and display the glorious Autumn morning sun, illuminating only the Altar and Chancel and leaving the rest in (comparable) darkness.

If I may use a rather grand word in this respect: it's an artistic choice to not (as Tim put it) 'ramp out the shadows' and accept the 'garish saturated colour' (again Tim's words) as this is exactly how gold looks like when bathed in abundant morning sunshine.

I rather feel that you have been looking a bit too much at the pure technical side of the picture rather than appreciating it (as I do)  as a memory of a special, rather magic morning (by the way: this is the Marienmünster in Dießen, Bavaria. One of the most important and beautiful Baroque buildings in Bavaria).

That is not to say that your technical criticism and especially Mark's work and step by step explanations are not valid. Quite the opposite. But I think in this particular case they lead to images (Mark's final ones) which are not representative anymore of what I saw that morning and tried to capture with my camera.

I've been thinking about what I have wanted to ask with my initial question and maybe this captures it best:

Prints for me sometimes lack a luminosity which a very good, calibrated monitor delivers by default.
It is only under very good lighting situations where prints begin to shine. And that can be a bit hard to achive if, as in my case,
you have nearly two dozen A3+ print hanging on your living room walls.

And I simply can't afford to hang two dozen monitors instead.

Does that make any sense at all, or is old age slowly catching up with me? In which case I do apologize.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 11:33:04 AM by michaelsh »
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #33 on: February 13, 2018, 11:42:39 AM »

Hi Michael,

Yes - that's the risk of a second-party tinkering with a first-party's work. I would have no way of knowing what you had in mind without your present explanation, and indeed there are innumerable ways of interpreting a photo depending on one's artistic intent. And I do appreciate the sunlight effects on the alter. My intent was a more technical matter of demonstrating the conditions in which one can get *almost* whatever effect one wants whether on screen or in print depending on how one approaches the media and the editing, and in this particular case to see how amenable the photo was to unpacking shadow detail pursuant to Tim's comments. But the idea that you really don't want those shadows unpacked is of course totally legitimate. By the way - what about the bluish cast? Is that how the interior looked when you made the photo? Or is it a matter of rendition and you decided to keep it that way?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Panagiotis

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Re: Mark, Tim, I really appreciate your feedback
« Reply #34 on: February 13, 2018, 12:00:01 PM »

It is only under very good lighting situations where prints begin to shine.
I followed Andrew Rodney's advice and I custom made a lighting set up for viewing my prints with Solux 4700K lamps. My prints look better than my monitor. Actually the first time I put a print under the Solux light I was amazed. It's not expensive.
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michaelsh

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #35 on: February 13, 2018, 12:03:30 PM »

Hi Michael,
By the way - what about the bluish cast? Is that how the interior looked when you made the photo? Or is it a matter of rendition and you decided to keep it that way?

Hi Mark, I was rather transfixed by the golden light and didn't really notice the interior apart from the fact that it was quite dark.
Personally I prefer a slightly cool touch to my pictures (as a rule, so there are lots of exceptions) and in this particular case I quite
like the bluish cast :)

Perhaps another twist to my intitial question, which might make more sense:

Have we already achieved the best technology can deliver in terms of print quality (by which I mean the whole chain: software, paper, ink and printer)?

Cheers

Michael

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michaelsh

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I will look into the Solux lamps
« Reply #36 on: February 13, 2018, 12:05:25 PM »

I followed Andrew Rodney's advice and I custom made a lighting set up for viewing my prints with Solux 4700K lamps. My prints look better than my monitor. Actually the first time I put a print under the Solux light I was amazed. It's not expensive.

Thanks for the tip. Cabling might become an issue in my case, since I have too many prints hanging. We'll see.
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Ernst Dinkla

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #37 on: February 13, 2018, 12:10:30 PM »

Hi Michael,
 By the way - what about the bluish cast? Is that how the interior looked when you made the photo? Or is it a matter of rendition and you decided to keep it that way?

The thing I was intrigued by too. Calibration or cataract? The shadows suit OP's OBA paper white point but the same paper is not so suitable for the sun lit gold in the center. If it is edited that way to increase the color contrast between the shadows and the center then a neutral paper would do both extremes a favor. The paper used measures Lab 95.5 1.3 -10.2, there are neutral satin RC papers delivering near Lab L 97 white reflectance, there are alpha cellulose/cotton fiber/baryta glossy varieties that yield values between Lab L 98/99. Do not underestimate a gain in dynamic range by paper white, in practice better than a similar gain in Dmax.


Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
March 2017 update, 750+ inkjet media white spectral plots


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Panagiotis

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #38 on: February 13, 2018, 12:25:07 PM »

Turning to the question of matte paper for this photo, I created a proof copy in Lightroom of screen grab 7 and changed the softproof profile to Canon Premium Fine Art Smooth. Then I set about to converge its appearance as closely as I could to that of the IGFS softproof.

Your work on the file and the detailed explanation is very useful for me. Thank you. If I may ask a question off topic. How did you compare the two soft proofs? I ask this because when I put two soft proofs/virtual copies side by side in Lightroom develop module's compare view I believe that only the "Proof copy" is under softproof mode and the "Master" is not.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Are prints really the best way to display pictures?
« Reply #39 on: February 13, 2018, 12:59:18 PM »

Have we already achieved the best technology can deliver in terms of print quality (by which I mean the whole chain: software, paper, ink and printer)?


No, I doubt it. Over the past 18 years since Epson introduced the first desktop-sized archival inkjet printer, there have been steady improvements along this whole chain. They have generally tended to be not terribly dramatic from one model to the next, but when you add them all up over time and compare prints we can make today with what we made using an Epson 2000P back in the day, we can appreciate how substantial the accumulating improvements have been. I see no reason to assume that this process won't continue, much as the quality standards the industry has achieved become harder and harder to improve upon given how good it has become. On a completely separate tangent, I see no reason to assume that these companies are not working on totally different materials technologies that will usher-in yet better outcomes again. We don't know what we don't know from the outside looking in, so I think based on experience of watching technical change happen (for example the computer industry) it's not a good idea to believe that we've reached the end of time with this simply because what we now have is very good.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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