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 (www.shutterbug.com), directly via e-mail to: editorial@shutterbug.com or fotografx@mindspring.com or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

Fine Points Of xD-Picture Cards For Fuji And Olympus Cameras
Q. I read the Test Report in the April 2006 issue of Shutterbug about the different speeds and performances of CompactFlash and SD cards, which was very well written. I was then looking for a new xD-Picture Card for my Fuji camera and noticed that some are marked as 512MB, 512MB M, and others, 512MB H (Olympus brand). I think I read somewhere that the M stands for multi layers and allows the card to hold more than 512MB. What does the H mean and do the M and H affect the speed of the cards compared to the original type xD-Picture Card? Are all the cards basically the same with just a different brand name on it? I have yet to find any documentation that says the exact write and read speeds of any xD-Picture Cards, leading me to believe they are all the same.

A.
As this referred to Peter Burian's article on memory cards, and he is much more knowledgeable on the subject, I referred the question to him. Burian's response follows:
What Is Standard Type xD?
The xD-Picture Card is an ultra-compact memory media that has been developed jointly by Fuji and Olympus and was introduced in 2002. The name "xD-Picture Card" was derived from "eXtreme Digital" and was chosen to reflect the excellence with which the format would be able to record, store, and transport audio-visual information. The standard xD-Picture Card writes at 3.0MB/s and reads at 5.0MB/s.
What Is Type M?
The Type M xD-Picture Card was released in late 2005 and uses Multi Level Cell (MLC) architecture to achieve higher storage capacities. The Type M xD-Picture Card suffers some compatibility issues with older cameras (especially video recording). The Olympus card has marginally slower read/write speeds than their standard card and writes at 2.5MB/s and reads at 4.0MB/s. The Fuji Type M xD-Picture Card has identical operating specifications to the standard Fuji card.
What Is Type H?
The Olympus Type H xD-Picture Card can attain write speeds of up to 2-3 times faster than the standard or Type M xD-Picture Cards. Speed is dependent on the camera's on-board controller and shooting modes. The Fuji Type H xD-Picture Card uses different methods of digital encoding but has identical operating specifications to the standard Fuji xD-Picture Card.
xD-Picture Cards Type M and H enable high storage capacities to be achieved at lower cost per megabyte. Using new, compressed methods of digital data storage, higher capacities are achievable with minimal impact on read and write times. Types M and H use different methods of digital encoding, however, their identical operating specifications make them fully interchangeable.
--Peter Burian

Continuous Flow Bulk Ink Printer Systems
Q. I have been seriously interested in one of the two available Continuous Ink Systems (CIS) for printing, but can find nothing on the web, in newsgroups, or in magazines like yours about how well they work, how safe they are for the life of the printer, etc. I use a Canon i9100 (dye-based ink) and would love to go this route, for the price of inks is something like supplying gas for a very large SUV (which I don't do). Could you take a look at the available systems and print your findings? I did note that some of the very large prints currently on display at the Eastman House (Rochester) used or credited Lyson inks, so some photographers are using them for serious purposes. There is also the issue of these CIS systems using pigment vs. dye-based inks.
All in all, I think some kind of review might be worthwhile.
Gene Endres

A.
I have tried continuous flow bulk ink systems twice with desktop printers. In both cases I soon abandoned using them, and at a considerable loss in the investment made. In addition, I have become aware from feedback from users that those who do use them with satisfaction are people who are doing large numbers of prints and are using the printers involved almost daily.
In all cases I have had experience only with Epson printers and also those who have reported back to me their experiences with Epson printers. The Canon printers involve a very distinct, replaceable print head, which may be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Canon's Bubble Jet print heads also do not readily support the use of pigment inks, except possibly their newest PIXMA Pro9500 that is designed to use pigment inks. In other words, with Canon printers I would hesitate commenting further because I do not have personal experience with them with continuous feed ink.
From the feedback I have seen, as well as data on some websites, continuous flow ink supply systems do require quite a bit of maintenance--but that may be in part due to the fact that many who do use them are doing a large volume of prints. If your main concern is cost, there are other solutions if the amount of printing is moderate. And that is using the latest ink cartridge designs that do not have an internal sponge and include a poppet valve. These can be refilled from bulk ink quite effectively, if the chip is re-programmed.
I would suggest one of the more reliable, quality suppliers; one with good informational support on their website is MIS Associates, Inc. at: www.inksupply.com.
Also, if the number of prints being made is quite large, you might consider investing in a professional printer that uses a very large cartridge ink supply system. What I would choose if quantity print production were an issue and I wanted to reduce ink cost while maintaining reliability, high print quality, and archival prints would be Epson's Stylus Pro 4800 printer, which will use 220ml ink cartridges. These will produce a high number of prints per cartridge set and lower per print costs.

Got A New Digital Camera And Photoshop Does Not Open The Raw Files
Q. I can't get my raw images to open up in Photoshop Elements 3.0. I have a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT and I download with a card reader. The file extension is CR2, e.g., Img_7245.CR2. I can view the photo on the camera's LCD screen. I get an error message on the computer--it says invalid file. I double click in Explorer and still get the same error message. What are your thoughts?
Sheila Corbin

A.
What you need to do is to obtain the latest upgrade of camera support for Camera Raw for Adobe's Photoshop Elements 3.0 from the Adobe website. It is a fairly small download that is easy to install. The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT came out with its new file format after Elements 3.0, so you just need to update Elements to be able to recognize and convert the .CR2 file format. Go to www.adobe.com/photoshop/ and go to the download section for Camera Raw.

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