Q&A For Digital Photography
This column will attempt to provide solutions to problems readers may have getting into and using digital cameras, scanning, and using digital photographic images with a computer and different kinds of software. All questions sent to me will be answered with the most appropriate information I can access and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this column. Readers can send questions to me addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug web site, directly via e-mail to: editorial@shut terbug.net or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
Q. I am making the transition
from the traditional dry/wet darkroom to a digital one, and have a question
regarding the equipment I should use to accomplish this.
One part of your question can be answered simply, and that is the easiest
way to make your panoramas is to scan the prints with a flat-bed scanner.
Of course you'll not get any more out of these scans than is in
the prints, probably quite a bit less information than is in the negatives.
Generally what I am recommending for scanning 120 size film is a flat-bed
scanner that has a transparency unit with at least 1200x2400dpi optical
resolution and scanning at 36-bit color depth. For 35mm a dedicated
35mm slide scanner is best by a considerable margin. CDs are the most
efficient and cost effective method of archiving image files. Use CD-R
rather than CD-RW as the former is cross platform if it is recorded
in an ISO 9660 format.
Q. I have a Nikon N90s
and I'm thinking of buying a medium format camera, but I would
like to get a film scanner that is capable of scanning medium format
film at a higher resolution like that of the 4000dpi Polaroid scanner
or the ArtixScan 4000t scanner that you mentioned recently. Since neither
of these will accommodate 120 film, do you know of any scanners available
today or any that are coming out soon that can? Also, what is the minimum
dynamic output range that I should accept in a film scanner for the
best quality prints? Thank you.
A. There are several flat-bed scanners which offer effective medium format and 4x5 film scanning. Prices and specification vary, so it's very hard to recommend anything in particular. But if you are looking for something that will provide "print size" comparable to a 4000dpi 35mm scan, then maybe the new Epson Expression 1600 might just be the ticket. Higher resolution, e.g., 3000dpi is available, but this class of scanner gets expensive. Dynamic range is much less significant on a practical level than most people think. The reason is that few transparencies actually utilize the full density range of the film, and negatives are well within the range of nearly any scanner. A good target number is 3.3.
Q. I recently purchased an Epson Stylus Photo 1200 printer. I am very happy with the results from it. However, the special paper they sell for it is a drag to have to purchase. I have heard that they are unique from regular coated stock that you may find at a paper and graphics store, in that the ink adheres to the paper; where regular coated stock will smear. Do you know if this is true? What is it that they do to these papers? Can I spray something on a regular sheet to give the paper these adhesion qualities? Perhaps "sizing," "Iris Print Seal," or "workable fixative."
characteristics of ink jet papers are indeed quite different than other
papers. This is quite evident when you compare the print appearance
between output from your printer on plain paper and then the same image
printed on Epson Glossy Photo paper. The coatings used in making the
quality ink jet papers is specific to matching the characteristics of
the ink that is applied. That is also why there are specific settings
for all the different papers in the Epson print driver, just as there
is in any brand of ink jet printer. The printer is then applying ink
in a specific manner that matches the characteristics of the paper.
Q. First of all, I enjoy
reading your monthly columns and articles. I've learned a lot
in regards to digital imaging.
A. At this answer all I have seen of the Epson Expression 1600 is a picture and a brief news release. Sample copies of the scanner have as yet not been sent to members of the press, although I am told to expect one in the next few weeks. The Expression 1600 has some specification advantages over scanners like the Umax PowerLook III and Saphir Ultra 2. For film scanning it has a dual focus mode that moves the focus level above the flat-bed glass surface. I would assume the film holders are designed accordingly and will be an advantage to avoiding Newton Rings. The Expression 1600 will also ship with the full Monaco EZ Color 1.5 color management software package. I have found the Monaco color management easy to work with and quite effective. Considering the Expression 1600 is an improvement on the Expression 800, I am expecting it will provide a high level of scanning quality and efficiency for its rather modest cost.
Q. I am looking forward
to purchasing a digital camera in order to obtain fairly good quality
images to put onto auctions on the Internet. I would like to keep it
as simple as possible without spending a small fortune. I am not that
knowledgeable about computers thus far, but hope to be soon.
A. The Olympus-340R is a good choice for the purpose described. I think you will find that you need to find out within each web site what their photo size, resolution, and format requirements are and then process a copy image file for that particular web site. Most will not re-size for you. It is just a guess, but I would assume that there will be a supplementary "pro" model of the C-2500L Olympus before long with better manual control that will make studio work really viable. Just hang in there.