Q&A For Digital Photography
Digital Help is designed to aid you in getting the most from your digital photography,
printing, scanning, and image creation. Each month, David Brooks provides solutions
to problems you might encounter with matters such as color calibration and management,
digital printer and scanner settings, and working with digital photographic
images with many different kinds of cameras and software. All questions sent
to him will be answered with the most appropriate information he can access
and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this department.
Readers can send questions to David Brooks addressed to Shutterbug magazine,
through the Shutterbug website (www.shutterbug.com),
directly via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
Kodak's DIGITAL GEM Plug-In Filters
Q. My husband is a subscriber to Shutterbug and there is this Kodak DIGITAL GEM Airbrush Pro software he's been wanting. I wanted to surprise him for his birthday, but I can't find this software anywhere in Michigan. Where can I purchase it?
A. Kodak's DIGITAL GEM software plug-in filters are available directly from that division of Kodak on the web at: www.asf.com.
The Right Scanner
Q. I have seen some of your comments on the Shutterbug website. I am new to SLR photography and after reading some of the comments I saw that you can scan negatives. Do you need a special scanner or will any flat-bed do?
A. I am afraid not just any flat-bed scanner will provide you with scans of film negatives. There are a few models of flat-bed scanners that have become popular with photographers for scanning film, and that do a very good job to provide an image file that will reproduce reasonably large, high-quality prints. They include the Epson Perfection 4990 PHOTO and PRO models and the Microtek ScanMaker i900 and i800 models. However, if your film is only 35mm format, a dedicated 35mm film scanner, even one of the medium-priced models, will usually provide better scanned image quality.
Epson's UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper
Q. First of all, regarding the availability of Epson's UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper S041896 (and other sizes): It is in fact available on the Epson site and is in stock. I recently checked. It's also available from other vendors at a nice price reduction.
On another note, in your review of the Epson R2400 printer I don't believe you mentioned as to whether the black ink has to be changed when printing matte or glossy papers. If so, what is the cost of ink when switching? I have read that in the larger printers the cost is about $70.
I have an R2400 in a shopping cart now and am hesitant to complete the transaction until I know the answer. Perhaps the next Epson will overcome this limitation as it has in the Epson 4000 and I should wait. What do you think?
A. Thanks so much for the latest on Epson's UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper. I sure wish they would make up their minds! But if it continues to be available it is a very good option and one of the best papers Epson has offered.
I didn't mention having to switch black from PK to MK and back because it is so very much easier with the R2400. The ink cartridge design now includes a poppet valve so there's no mess removing a cartridge with ink still in it. To "tell" the driver you've made the change just click on the ink status icon in the utility window and the switch is made for printing. I just clean off the cartridge taken out and put a piece of Scotch tape over the outlet to keep air out, and it re-installs fine. So no loss of ink at all, and no extra cost with the R2400.
The Epson 4800 is unusual because of its unique design with more cartridge slots than any other printer. That was because the original Epson 4000 allowed two sets of four CMYK cartridges (eight cartridges in all) for super-fast proof printing. Don't expect the R2400 to be replaced any time soon.
A Larger Film Size Will Provide A Better Scanned Image File
Q. I'm thinking about buying a Mamiya 7 II medium format rangefinder camera. Would its increased negative size (from a 35mm negative) be an advantage when scanned via my Epson 4870 flat-bed scanner vs. a 35mm negative scanned via my Nikon Coolscan V ED?
That is, if I scan a 6x7mm negative in the flat-bed at 2400 ppi and a 35mm negative (assuming all else is more or less equivalent) in the Coolscan V ED at 4000 ppi, which .PSD file would most likely result in a better 13x19" (approx.) print (Epson R2400)? How about for positive film?
A. If all other factors are the same, like film type and ISO speed, the 6x7cm film will produce a better scan if for no other reason than the larger film format just contains more information. Whether positive (although a bit less information) or negative should not make a lot of difference, although obtaining good scans from negatives can be a bit more challenging, especially when it comes to color correcting and adjusting to an optimum level.
Fine Inkjet Printing Paper Choices
Q. Concord Rag from Legion Paper has been discontinued. I really liked its soft white color (you had recommended it strongly) and wonder if you can suggest a replacement.
A. That's sad news that Concord Rag is no longer available. It was a paper with outstanding character and unusual attributes.
The closest paper I know of is made by PremierArt and is called PremierArt Hot Press. There are several variations of this paper. You can obtain detailed descriptions and a list of dealers at: www.premierimagingproducts.com/premierart/ premierart.htm.
The PremierArt Hot Press, however, does not have a similar look and feel as it is a physically softer paper, even though it is made by the same type of method as Concord Rag. But it does accept ink as well and reproduces images with great quality.
Another of my favorite papers is Moab Entrada Natural. See what they have to offer at: www.moabpaper.com.
Replacing A CRT Monitor With An LCD Display
Q. I looked at the posts on the Shutterbug Forum (www. shutterbug.com) and it's not real clear to me what kind of monitor I should buy. My CRT just burned out, and I'd like to move to an LCD. I'm a web developer, so all the graphics I produce are for the web, only rarely do I produce anything for print. I use a PC. Would the NEC Multisync LCD1980SXI be a good choice? I'd like to keep the cost under $1000.
A. It is really not clear to most anyone which monitor fits which particular needs these days. The information provided by the LCD makers and sellers tells little that is helpful to distinguish which will provide quality graphics and photography support.
I have not used and tested the NEC LCD1980SXI model, so I can't comment on its performance. In the under-$1000 price range there are two monitors I do know and would recommend--the Samsung SyncMaster 214T and the 20" Apple Cinema Display.
But if you are replacing a CRT monitor on an older PC you should probably also upgrade your computer's video card to one that has a digital DVI output. The current LCD displays perform considerably better in digital mode connected to a video card with a DVI connector. And, the Apple Cinema Display is DVI only, and will perform as well on a PC so equipped as with a Mac.
For the best prices I would suggest reviewing what is quoted on www.pricegrabber.com.
Avoiding Problems With Eyes When Photographing People
Q. To begin, many thanks for the wealth of information available on your website. Those of us living in places where it is not feasible to obtain the magazine much appreciate being able to keep up-to-date via the web.
One thing that I see mentioned in your Forums, but not in reviews, is the "lazy eye" problem that seems to be inherent to high-end digicams and digital SLRs. I recently went from the Konica Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi to the Maxxum 5D, and find them both very susceptible to this. I notice the problem more with teen-agers--I suspect due to faster reflexes. There must be several thousand new owners of digicams struggling with this problem. I do not know of any way to completely eliminate it, but there are ways to alleviate it. How about an article on the subject?
A. Actually, I think what you are referring to is a problem that has been associated with cameras with a shutter release delay and on-camera flash for a long time.
Of course a partial solution if you are photographing people is to get the flash off-the-camera and not point it into your subjects' eyes directly (which also avoids redeye). The other is to select a camera with as short a shutter release delay as possible.
Otherwise, reducing the lazy-eye effect involves photographic technique, which is a subject that is most often covered in the context of portrait photography. It's working with your subjects and getting exposures at a peak of their best expression. That is a subject our contributor Monte Zucker has touched on and will likely cover even more in the future.
On Setting Up A Website
Q. Just a short question about obtaining a website. If you search there are 10,000 different companies out there that want one's business. I need to explore design, hosting, domain, and dot com, etc., and I don't have the slightest notion of which way to turn. What general prices are around the country for site hosting from a reputable company? What size site should I buy to show fine art and wildlife photography? Can you steer me in a safe direction to accomplish this task? I have always valued your opinion and column in Shutterbug and would appreciate your input.
A. I don't really do this myself, and am just too busy with what I do now to have time to set up and maintain my own website. However, on our own Shutterbug website Forum (www.shutterbug.com) there is a section "Photo Art Sales and Shows" where readers discuss these subjects. And one participant who can be very helpful with real experience who participates in this Forum section is Larry Berman. So I would suggest visiting the Forum and this section, messaging Berman, visiting his website, and seeing if what he is doing is something like what you want to do. I am sure he can also be very helpful and have information and advice far beyond what I could offer.
Digital SLR Flash Compatibility
Q. I recently received a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D camera. This is my first serious digital SLR. I also have a Maxxum 7 35mm. On the 7 I have been using a Vivitar flash. What flashes are compatible with the Maxxum 5D? I have heard horror stories of frying the electronics by using the wrong flash with digital cameras and I do not want to ruin it before I even begin to learn to use it correctly.
A. I do not have any specific compatibility information, particularly regarding a Vivitar flash, which I would have to assume is pretty old. But if you have used it on a Minolta Maxxum 7 35mm SLR, I would assume the 5D flash sync would be the same or similar, as the 5D SLR body was derived from the film version.
However, I would advise caution, particularly because the Konica Minolta company just announced it is closing its photo products division. Service and warranty support from Konica Minolta may be very much in doubt, so don't take a chance if you can afford not to. In other words, maybe the better part of wisdom would be to look for a compatible Konica Minolta flash and buy one. You should be able to get one at a good price considering the company has just announced it is going out of the photo business.
The Sony Corporation has taken over some of the Konica Minolta digital camera products, so in time support in the way of accessories like flash units and lenses for your Konica Minolta digital camera should be available from Sony.