Q&A For Digital Photography
To aid us in making Digital Help as helpful as possible, please be specific in your query and include components, including software, that you use. David says, “Make me guess the problem and I might guess wrong.”—Editor
Display Calibration And Profiling Are Not The Same
In all the color management resources I’ve read, the act of adjusting one’s display to accurately render colors is called “calibrating” and the resulting file that contains the adjustment information is called a “profile.” The ColorMunki software I currently use, the GretagMacBeth software I used before that, and the Windows Vista Color Management control panel applet all refer to the files that are created to calibrate the display as “ICC Profiles.” If a profile is removed, or the display is reset to its default (as is the case with the UAC warning messages), reapplying the correct profile will bring the display back to its calibrated, color-managed state.
While it may be that Microsoft released the UAC on/off feature in a Service Pack update rather than with the initial product, it is currently available and should be noted that the former limitation is no longer an issue and has not been for quite some time. Your initial review was no doubt correct, but it is only fair to inform readers about updates and enhancements that nullify previous shortcomings and enable important aspects of the workflow.
I am sorry but you are putting two separate and distinct display color management functions together that are done separately as part of the process of measuring, calibrating, and profiling a display. Calibration is a basic measurement of the display’s native performance and the measurement is compared to a basic ICC RGB standard; from this a calibration executable file is written and placed in the StartUp folder and put into action to bring the display to ICC conformity as a part of launching the Operating System (OS). A much more detailed set of measurements are made as part of the display management, comparing the display’s overall color performance to an IT-8 ICC set of color references, which in an Eastman Kodak color management guide dated 1994 results in the “characterization” of the device. The ICC/ICM profile that results is a read-only text file that describes the differences in color between the IT-8 ICC reference and the display’s actual color reproduction. This display profile is not involved when the UAC on-screen alert darkens the screen, but the .EXE calibration file is turned off by that OS action. (You can reference the original bug report cited below.) The two separate calibration and profiling functions are clearly defined on page 114 of Real World Color Management by Bruce Fraser, Chris Murphy, and Fred Bunting.
A display profile is just a text reference file located in a Color folder in the Windows system, and like all the many profiles it is not a file that can cause any action to hardware. Profiles are just text data references when color files are being used or transferred from one device to another, from an image editor like Photoshop to a printer.
I have been using color management since 1990 and was one of the beta testers for ColorVision when the Spyder system was developed. I have done more since, like helping with the development of a scanner Kodachrome profile capability, which is also an article on record in Shutterbug.
The original bug report on Vista was published by CHROMiX, a color management business in Seattle just a few miles from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, and that report is on file in ColorWiki, a color management information resource CHROMiX supports on the web at: www.colorwiki.com/wiki/ColorWiki_Home. My 2007 Shutterbug report on Vista referenced CHROMiX as the source for discovering the problem, for instance.
Q. I have a large collection of slides (roughly 25K) that I would like to transfer to digital, for both archiving and display. Is there a good batch scanner out there? I have looked around and the only one I have found is the scanner by Pacific Image. The only problem is that it seems to use Braun cartridges and I have all Kodak. Any thoughts?
A. First of all, there is no alternative in the consumer price range, but more importantly the actual physical scan does not result in a usable image file. Much more time and expertise must be applied to editing, color correcting, and image cleaning, and that is a different job for each Raw scan file. In other words, you don’t get a good quality, ready to view or print image from batch scanning. The real work is after the scan is made to a Raw file, and every scan requires a different and unique editing solution.
Batch scanning provides roughly the equivalent of what a digital camera Raw file produces, but without the automatic camera adjustments or the image processor built into every digital camera.
Affordable Image File Storage Choices
Q. I recall your saying that DVDs are not good for archival storage of image files. You suggested gold CDs, I believe. There is an interesting site (http://adterrasperaspera.com/blog/2006/10/30/how-to-choose-cddvd-archival-media) that suggests using JVC Taiyo Yuden DVD+R discs. The author has a very long explanation on the subject, and I have found other references on the web saying these are very good archival quality DVDs suitable for long storage.
What do you think? Any comments are welcome.
A. The article is interesting, but to me it seems to have been paid for by a company that sells CD and DVD media. The claim of a lifetime of about 70 years is OK if ideally stored, but that is not archival. To be archival the media has to be scientifically tested by an independent laboratory and the data submitted to ISO for verification and approval that it will last at least 100 years. By the way, I get bulk purchases of Taiyo Yuden CD-R discs and use them for my Digital Darkroom Resource eBook. They are marked and inscribed as Taiyo Yuden by serial number. But I use gold-gold Mitsui made discs that use a similar formula developed by Kodak (probably Mitsui produced the original gold-gold discs for Kodak). Technically I don’t agree with the article’s statement about gold, as the only gold DVD-R discs are gold on the top side, but Mitsui CD-R discs are gold on two sides. And I get them for less than $2 per disc in 200-disc lots. I first got the gold-gold discs from Kodak almost 20 years ago, when Photo CD was still in beta test, and those discs are still as good as new.
For photographers just beginning to store their image files I recommend using RAID-1 disk storage. Recently I posted a blog on the subject titled “I Change My Mind Occasionally”; go to www.shutterbug.com/category/david-b-brooks-blog.
Dedicated Film Scanners
Q. You have given favorable reviews to the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i and the Epson Perfection V600 Photo scanners. I am embarking on a project to scan several thousand Kodachrome and E-6 slides. Would you recommend one of these scanners over the other for such a project?
A. That sounds like a serous undertaking. I know because I have been at the job of scanning my film library myself. I use the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i scanner you mentioned, although the Canon CanoScan 9000F, which I recently reviewed, produced the best results I have seen using a flat-bed scanner. But a dedicated film scanner remains the better choice for scanning 35mm film images. Unfortunately, in the consumer marketplace there just aren’t any real choices left other than the Plustek. Fortunately, it does a better scan of 35mm slides than any of the older film scanners of the past. So even if Nikon, Minolta, and Microtek were still in the market, the Plustek would remain at the top of my scan performance list.
Spec Choices For A Mac mini
Q. I have decided to switch from a PC to a Mac and buy a mini. I currently use CS5 and Lightroom 3. The standard unit comes with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive. The processor can be upgraded to 2.66GHz for $150; the hard drive can be upgraded to 500GB for $50; and you can upgrade the RAM to 4GB for $100 or 8GB for $300. What do you recommend? I have been shooting about 5000 photos per year with high-end Nikon equipment, but at this time I would like to keep the cost down and not pay for things I will not really need.
A. From a photographic editing perspective I would suggest getting as much RAM as you can afford; the faster processor and larger hard drive are less of an advantage. For more storage space an external hard drive is a better option if you want more space as well as backup security.
Colorimeter For An EIZO ColorEdge
Q. I have ordered the Mac mini with 8GB of RAM, and will shortly be ordering the EIZO ColorEdge CG223W. Since the CG223W comes with ColorNavigator, I do not need calibration software. So my question is, which colorimeter to purchase? I spoke to EIZO technical support and they seem to think the best choice is the ColorMunki. I think you favor the Spyder3, while another choice appears to be the i1Display 2.
David A. Bradlow
A. I don’t know which dealer you are purchasing your EIZO ColorEdge CG223W from, but if I could afford one and didn’t have a better measuring device, I would get the EIZO EX1 that comes with their EasyPIX system. It is a Datacolor Spyder3 colorimeter made specifically for EIZO. X-Rite has good stuff and their best, i1Photo Pro, is my pick as the best, but the list price is $449 just for the spectrophotometer. Be sure to read my Shutterbug blog (www.shutterbug.com/category/david-b-brooks-blog) on the X-Rite i1Photo Pro and Jon Canfield’s report in this issue on page 100.
LCD Displays On A PC Or A Mac
Q. The gurus at the Apple Store claim that I will have color problems using a different monitor with the iMac because the video cards are designed for Macs. Does this make sense to you? Of course, they might be trying to sell me a Mac Pro tower, but I would like to avoid that as the tower is overkill for me. I was going to try the Dell UltraSharp U2410 LCD that you mentioned. Any thoughts?
A. Quite a number of my readers have added a second LCD display to their iMacs and have had it work for them. The Apple Store people were probably just saying whatever because they really don’t know—the hardware in the iMac is about the same as in a Mac mini and minis don’t come with displays, you have to supply one for yourself. I have four of them, one of which is using my Dell UltraSharp U2410. Although I have one Mac Pro, I agree it is overkill for nonprofessional users.
So yes, the U2410 should work fine for you. You will need to get a cable adapter from Apple to connect a standard DVI cable end to plug into the iMac display port. And I hope you have display color management with software and a colorimeter to adjust, calibrate, and profile the U2410 once installed.
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