Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography

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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 (, directly via e-mail to: or or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

Shutter Lag In New P&S Cameras
Q. I asked Canon how long the delay is in pressing the shutter release and the image being taken on their new G9. I was interested in buying that model. But I do not need the shutter lag if it's like my Canon PowerShot A530. Their reply was they did not know. Here is their reply to me:
"Shutter lag time is not an official specification of the camera. However, of course we all know what it is. Because it is not an official spec, this information isn't documented here at technical support. We do not have the references or resources available to provide this information. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."
Daniel Bitar
via e-mail

A. Although one of our writers, Jason Schneider, has reported on the Canon PowerShot G9 (see for the web exclusive), and it has been mentioned in a couple of reviews in Shutterbug, the only specific testing I could find with shutter lag results was on Imaging Resource:
A shutter lag test result of 0.088 seconds if pre-focused and a range of 0.57-0.69 seconds, including autofucus, was reported. This is quite short and close to some D-SLR cameras, but not as short as professional D-SLR cameras of course.
The camera has had very positive reviews regarding overall performance and is considered competitive with the best models in this field. I would assume if shutter lag were a serious deficit it would have been noted as an issue, but it has not.
So my advice is to buy from a source that will accept it back and provide a full refund if unacceptable, and just give it a try. I doubt seriously that you will be disappointed.

Dark Prints A Common Problem
Q. I have followed your digital camera raw workflow from start to finish and have had no success at all. I set the camera to Adobe RGB color space, Photoshop 4, choose full color management and the correct printer for printer color space. Then I set "no color management" in printer settings, and the print is far too dark. The only way I can get a good print that looks anything like what I see on the monitor is to select ColorSync. I know this is an incorrect method for maintaining color management. Also, my monitor has been calibrated with Spyder2; is it possible for you to give any help as I have no idea how to perform this task?
Larry Hazeldine
via e-mail

A. Although, as you say, you have followed a color-managed workflow, getting print results darker than what's on screen seems to be a common problem these days. With most users now having LCD displays, the cause is that the display is too bright and the images are then adjusted setting the midpoint gray too low. This can be corrected when you calibrate your display if you have the Spyder2PRO version by setting the software to Advanced mode so you can choose the CD/M2 value specifically for the display's white point. The white point should be between 110.0 and 120.0 CD/M2. In other words, you have to ignore the portion of the ColorVision instructions to leave the display at factory defaults, and usually lower the white point significantly by lowering the contrast adjustment of your LCD display. Of course with Apple Cinema Displays this is not possible, and Apple says their displays are optimally set at the factory. I have argued with management at ColorVision on this point to no avail and Apple is not listening. So I hope you have an LCD display other than one made by Apple.

Troubleshooting Scanner Problems
Q. I work with a Mac OS X (10.3.9) and an Epson 4870 using SilverFast Ai 6. It has been successfully scanning 120 film and flat art for years. Recently, for no apparent reason, it disconnected Photoshop CS before showing the scanned image. Repeated scans resulted in the same disconnect. The image is pre-scanned, shown larger, then scanned, then a message appears stating that Photoshop has unexpectedly quit. The Epson scanning software works fine. Have you any suggestions as to what the problem might be?
Sandy Noble
via e-mail

A. Scanners require two-way communication between the computer and scanner to function, and that function seems to cause problems. Very likely part of the SilverFast software has been corrupted by a disk error. So the first thing to do is download a fresh copy of the software from LaserSoft and reinstall it after thoroughly deleting the old copy. Go to If your version is older than the current 6.5 you have to pay an upgrade fee, but some of the new features are worth the expense.
If that does not fix the problem I would suggest contacting LaserSoft's technical support at their office in Florida at (941) 921-4815, or use the e-mail help feature on their website. They have figured out problems I've encountered that were beyond me to figure out myself.

Adobe's Elements (5.0 And 6.0) For Color To B&W Conversion
Q. Sometime ago I asked your advice concerning converting a color image file to black and white. I have one more question. I am using Elements 5.0 and will be printing on an Epson R2400. After selecting Enhance>Convert To Black and White from the toolbar at the top of the Elements work space, should I go to Image>Mode and select Grayscale before printing? The Mode by default is RGB.
Ray Welch
via e-mail

A. Converting color to black and white is not always or usually fully advantageous simply by making a Mode change from RGB to Grayscale. Most current applications like Elements 6.0, Apple's Aperture 2.0, Adobe's Lightroom, and LaserSoft's SilverFast have provided a Convert From Color To Black and White which includes a dialog with RGB sliders and a side-by-side thumbnail before and after comparison.
These facilities allow changing the primary color values to lighter and darker tones. This will allow you, for example, to darken a light blue sky, lighten the often too dark tones of a conifer forest, or change the contrast between a red and a green of the same color intensity. Elements 5.0 includes the Convert Color To Black and White dialog to allow adjusting colors to different levels of black and white tones.

I am pleased to announce a new Third Edition adding five chapters to my eBook DIGITAL DARKROOM RESOURCE CD. The CD now contains 26 chapters totaling 318 pages in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format, providing easy-to-read text and large high-quality illustration. The CD is available for $20 plus $4 shipping and handling (US Mail if available). Ordering is as simple as sending a check or money order for $24 made out to me, David B. Brooks, and mailed to PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

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