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 email@example.com or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
LCDs Vs. CRTs
Q. I have a CRT-type monitor for editing digital photographs. For years I was told that flat screen monitors are not as good as CRTs for doing graphics and digital photo editing. However, I wonder if this is still true. If you were to get a flat screen monitor for editing digital photos with Photoshop (such as a 24” one), what tech specs would you look for, such as native resolution, contrast ratio, etc? And, would my Monaco color management system still work with an LCD monitor?
A. The early LCD displays sold for computer use were not optimal for doing graphics and digital photography, but in the last three years a number of graphic-quality LCD displays have been available and in most dimensions of performance surpass CRTs by a considerable margin. However, LCD displays sold for general home/office computing applications are mostly not suited to supporting Photoshop and editing digital photographs, and many cannot be calibrated and profiled to support digital photographs in a color-managed workflow.
I began testing and reporting on LCD displays for reports in Shutterbug at least three years ago, and most of those reports can be accessed on the Shutterbug website at www.shutterbug.com. On the front page of the website click on the Equipment Reviews tab, then in the Search box put in LCD Displays, and you should find a list of reports.
I currently have three different LCD displays I work with that are at different quality and price levels. I have tested larger 24” LCD displays and have not found they offer any real advantage, especially for the higher-priced, larger LCDs that usually sell at if they are pro-graphic models.
If your Monaco Systems software and monitor sensor is over a couple of years old, it will probably not support calibrating and profiling an LCD display. The most affordable option for calibrating and profiling an LCD display that I would recommend is the Datacolor Spyder2express, and the best for the money is their Spyder3Pro.
The Limits On Computer Automated
Q. I am a teacher at a small rural Texas high school and another teacher and I produce the yearbook. During the fall we travel to football games that have different types of lighting. Question: We need some software that does automatic batch processing for pictures made at various football fields. We also encounter similar problems at gymnasiums during basketball games. We have several Nikons, ranging from the D40 to the D200. Please advise.
A. I have to assume that your concern is adjusting for the differences in the white balance of the lighting in the various venues. As far as I know there is no software that can make a correction for lighting color differences after the fact. The reason is that the image information in each file does not provide any distinction between the color effect of the light source and the color content of the subject photographed.
Of course there is the EXIF data embedded in each image file made by the camera, but the only information it conveys is the white balance the camera was set for each exposure.
The only automatic adjustments in Photoshop, for instance, are those like Auto-Levels and Auto-Contrast, which can be made more or less reliably on the basis of measuring the values in the digital image file. You cannot measure the color of the light (white balance) that actually exposed the image through software. This can only be done by perceptually identifying an object in the image that you know to be neutral gray and then measuring the RGB values and determining how much out of balance those readings are.
The only effective solution to making photographs that will look like they were taken in the same light is to preset each camera’s white balance manually with a gray or white card at each venue before the game with the lights on. That will help, but many artificially-lit venues contain a mixture of light sources that to correct will still demand some editing adjustment after exposure.
However, and this may help at least for a single shoot, if you make the correction determination for one exposure from one venue, you can, after making one corrected image, save the adjustments and apply that set of adjustments to all of the other files in the set. In Photoshop CS3 this can be done with a Droplet.
Keeping Up With Upgrades That Make Some Things Obsolete
Q. Some years ago I reached deep into my resources to purchase a DiMAGE Scan Multi PRO negative scanner, which was and I believe continues to be a first-class instrument in its class.
I have recently upgraded to a Mac Pro computer with the Leopard OS. And in the meantime, of course, Minolta went kaput except for continuing support from Sony on some but not all product lines. After some research on the web and by telephone I gather that it is not going to be possible to use the DiMAGE Scan with Leopard because no driver or other upgraded software support is available.
My first question: Is this true? Second, if sadly it is true, is there a current negative scanner that you would recommend as an appropriate replacement—one that in quality is in the same league, at least, with the Minolta? As an alternative, I am considering simply retaining the Mac G4 which has been serving the Minolta, just for that purpose alone.
A. I have some good news and some not so good. I, too, have a Minolta scanner and am running Leopard OS 10.5, but my scanner is the Minolta 35mm DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 II, and I have been using LaserSoft’s SilverFast to drive the scanner for sometime. LaserSoft has upgraded SilverFast to run on Leopard 10.5 for my Minolta, but checking the LaserSoft website for the Minolta Multi PRO model the most recent version is 10.4, which I am sure won’t work for you.
However, LaserSoft may upgrade SilverFast to 10.5 for your scanner, but just has not gotten to it yet. So what I would suggest is to give them a call at their Florida office at (941) 921-4815, and ask to speak with Boris Bischof. Ask him if a 10.5 version of SilverFast for the Minolta Multi PRO will be available.
If LaserSoft is going to provide support with SilverFast, I think you will find it a good solution. It works very well for me and I use SilverFast to drive all of my scanners as a matter of preference because it is such an efficient and effective way to scan.
The only other option I can think of for a new Mac and Leopard 10.5 is to run Microsoft’s Windows either through an alternate boot facility supported by Apple’s Boot Camp or, my preference, an inexpensive software application called Parallels 3.0 (available from the Apple Store). Then you can get an OEM copy of Microsoft’s Windows XP Pro rather cheaply at sites like TigerDirect.com, and it will support running the original Windows version of the Minolta driver on the CD that came with the scanner.