Q&A For Digital Photography
This column will attempt to provide solutions to problems readers may have in 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 the column. Readers can send questions to me addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug web site, directly via e-mail to: email@example.com or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
Q. I often read the
phrases, "Laser quality printing or laser quality text,"
in ink jet printer ads. From users of ink jets I hear of smearing and
fading. Are there laser printers in the marketplace that can turn out
photo quality prints? Do laser printers turn out non-smearing, non-fading
text and images?
ink jet ads you refer to claiming laser quality text in ink jet printers
has been the result of very substantial increases in ink jet technology,
particularly much higher printing resolution--currently up to 1440dpi.
The smearing you refer to has been with older ink jet printers and papers.
The current ink technology is extremely fast drying and smear resistant
using coated, ink jet paper stock.
Q. I have an Epson
Photo 700 printer and a Mustek 1200 111 EP scanner. I have Microsoft
PictureIt and Picture Publisher 8 software. I am just scanning in photos
(people), changing the size to 8x10, and printing them out. The problem
I am having is that when there are dark areas of clothing, hair, etc.
those parts of the photo look painted and almost glossy like. I scan
at 300dpi and choose the 14,400dpi setting on the printer in Picture
Publisher. I print on photo paper. Any suggestions appreciated. I am
a novice so please don't get too technical.
It sounds like the file you are printing needs a little adjustment,
generally referred to as color correction. From what you describe I'd
guess the information in your image file is not utilizing all of the
space the 256 RGB levels in computer colorspace permit. In other words,
the information in your image file covers a smaller range than the 256
RGB levels, referred to as the gamut.
Q. I've been
playing around with arithmetic operations on two images, using Photoshop
3.0 on a PowerMac 8500. They all have an option to check a mask box.
When you do so, there is a further option to check "invert."
What exactly does this do? My impression is that it makes a positive
mask (or inverted mask, if you check "invert"). If so, how
is this "mask" applied during the operation. (I'm
guessing it's a multiple operation, since this would simulate
"physically stacking" a mask over a negative in the darkroom/enlarger.)
I did an Apply Image to a low-contrast subject with wide tonal range.
Lots of shadow detail and highlight detail, to itself. It boosted the
contrast of the low/medium tones (shadow detail) and maintained contrast
in highlights (no blow out to white). It kinda behaves like an adaptive
filter, i.e. behavior dependent on brightness-value. Anyone else run
into this or have another way of achieving this effect?
Inverting a mask changes the application of the mask to select the opposite
of what is masked or was originally selected to include. For instance,
if you select an object and make the selection a mask, inversion changes
the area selected to exclude the object and include everything else.
In other words, invert means making the mask "inside out."
If data is included inside the mask in its new mask layer, invert will
apply to the image values providing a negative of a positive image.
Q. I'm seriously
considering the purchase of a film/slide scanner (35mm, possibly API)
for use with a Mac G3. I am looking in the US $1000 or lower range.
My primary application will be black and white and gray scale, for newsletter
work (600dpi output). Color may become important in the future, but
at the moment I can't think of much use for it--personally--certainly
nothing at the high-end glossy publication scale. Maybe some web page
or PDF file work.
A. Considering you are aware of the fact the Canon CanoScan 2700f is available, you should know Mac software can be obtained as a download from Canon's web site. In addition, I have had one of these Canon 35mm scanners as I've been working with it off and on, testing it for a user report for Shutterbug. On the basis of the specifications relative to cost, it is a step above the competition relative to cost (under $700), providing fully professional level performance except in color depth, which is 30-bit compared to 36-bit for higher priced 35mm scanners. It is also very well constructed and its mechanical functioning is exceptionally smooth and reliable. The software is designed for ease of learning and use, providing largely automated color correction with adjustment selection based on thumbnail previews of optional changes to brightness, contrast, and color balance. My only criticism is that the hardware and performance of the CanoScan 2700f really justifies the addition of fully manual, color correction tools for those who might choose to learn and use them.
Q. I just got back
a roll of Kodachrome slides and while viewing them on my projector,
noted that (as usual), the cardboard-mounted slides are amazingly warped.
As soon as they warm up in the projector beam, you can see (and hear)
them pop into focus.
I would suggest remounting. You might consider a hinged, glassless,
plastic mount like the one I use made by Wess Plastic, model No. GP
GLSLS--041195 105/121. The company is located in Long Island, New York.
Q. I've been
trying to figure out how to calibrate my HP PhotoSmart scanner and Epson
EX printer with Picture Publisher 8, and I need some help.
What you are attempting to do is essentially create your own characterizations
of your scanner and printer and then use Picture Publisher's mapping
ability to function as color management profiles. This would be possible
if you had the measurement tools to accurately read an IT-8 International
reference to plot the mapping. If you had these devices, you'd
also have the software that goes with them and you could then generate
ICC profiles which would work with Windows 98 ICM 2.0 color management.
However, the cost of those color management devices and software is
probably more than your entire system, so that's not a practical
option I'm sure. Second, I don't believe your scanner's
software can provide you with a raw scan necessary to create a profile
from which to create a characterization.
Q. I am an advanced
amateur black and white shooter in 6x7 format. I do all my own printing
and wonder if the time is right yet to pursue digital printing. My custom
lab will do CD scans of my film processing, but at 42 MB--costing a
fortune. Scanners for my PC also are probably too expensive for my print
standards (I print 11x14 size). Should I wait and continue my present
A. The time is as right as it needs to be, considering the cost of flat-bed scanners with 1200dpi optical resolution and a transparency unit, all for about $1000 or less. Try Epson Expression 636 or the Umax line, both companies are now offering very good scanners at excellent prices. The Epson Stylus Photo EX will print very fine looking 11x17 inch prints for under $500. By the way, you don't need a 40MB file to print an excellent 11x14. About half that will do fine. Plus, sometime between now and the '98 holiday season you'll probably see even more to choose from.
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