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:
or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
Choosing From Dedicated 35mm Scanners, Or...?
Q. The Nikon 5000 is over $900; the Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf is about $500. I wonder why the difference?
A. Both the Nikon 5000 and the Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf have essentially the same physical specifications. The Nikon has Digital ICE, the ArtixScan does not. The Nikon has just Nikon software that is mediocre at best; the ArtixScan has both Microtek software and is bundled with LaserSoft's SilverFast, which is about the best scanning software and is also bundled with the Epson V750-M Pro. So what you are paying $400 more for with a Nikon is mostly the name.
Adapting To An LCD Display From Using A CRT
Q. Pursuant to your recent very positive recommendation, I bought the EIZO ColorEdge CE210W. It is dazzling! I used EIZO's software and my Eye-One device to calibrate and the result was a rather dim-looking screen. I couldn't determine what brightness target value to input and started with 95. What should be the starting point? Additionally, since my Eye-One device doesn't measure ambient light, should I skip the white point setting and just leave it on 6500K? I trust a gamma of 2.2 is correct.
Finally, my 31/2-year-old PC is functional, but a bit slow. I will be buying a new computer soon and am thinking about completing my conversion to Mac. My laptop is a 15" PowerBook. You've been partial to Mac in the past and my options include a new Power Mac desktop or one of the souped up Dells. My primary interest, aside from the usual word processing and Internet stuff, is photographic learning and using Photoshop. Would the Mac be a really advantageous way to go?
A. Although an LCD display has the capability to be adjusted to the same white and black target points as a CRT, the LCD is then functioning at a much lower level of efficiency than its range supports and, as you have noticed, reproduces a dull, muddy-looking screen image. After working with many different LCDs and correlating my findings with technicians working in the color management industry, I have come to a set of white and black target points that will provide both a perceptually positive appearing digital photo image and an environment for color correction that should result in a good print match result. These are a black point target of .50-.60 cd/m2, and a white point of 115.0-120.0 cd/m2. Your color temperature target should be 6500Þ Kelvin and gamma 2.2 to be consistent with the parameters of Adobe RGB (1998).
Recently I purchased an inexpensive Mac mini Intel Core Solo, which I reported on in Shutterbug (November 2006 issue), and more recently added a new Mac mini Core Duo 1.83MHz system, both with 2GB of RAM. I also have a 2-3-year-old Power Mac Dual Processor workstation. But the new Mac Pro is, for the individual photo enthusiast, gross overkill and not necessary unless you are doing production work on a full-time basis.
Organizing And Retrieving Image Files
Q. I have been using Google's Picasa since it came out and am very impressed with its ease of use. I will continue to use Picasa but would move to Bridge (or something else) if it made sense. What would you recommend as the best image organizer and filer for people like me?
A. If Google's Picasa works for you I don't know of any reason not to continue using it. Personally, I don't find any advantage in database organizers for images, in part because I store all of my image archive files on gold/gold CDs and make a Photoshop contact sheet with large thumbnails of each image on the CD. I make sure to have its file name printed under it, and then I print the contact sheet pages and put them in one of four large three-ring binders. Image organizers on your computer require a lot of data entry and maintenance to be valuable, and that is a kind of work I find tedious. My collection of scanned image files is well into the thousands stored on over 600 CDs, and I find my simple system works fine and requires minimum effort.
Is There An Ideal Flat-Bed For Scanning 4x5 Film?
Q. I particularly enjoy your scanner-related articles, and was interested in the current one on the Microtek i800. I'm looking to scan 4x5 transparencies, primarily. I now have an Epson 4990 Pro, but am not thrilled with some of the output or the haze that has developed inside, under the glass. So the thought of moving to the Epson 700/750 is not appealing, since I assume they have the same haze problems.
Your review of the Microtek opened up a new possibility. I see that the Microtek M1 is coming out soon (list $699), with specs and features that go even beyond the i800. Your review sounded intriguing, and I'm interested in a few more details.
Have you, in the course of evaluating these flat-beds, had occasion to use the Epson's (4990/700/750), and, if so, how would you rate them vs. the i800? I can't afford the high-priced scanners, and am comfortable with SilverFast Ai.
A. Sorry to disappoint but the Microtek i800 I tested already showed evidence of "haze" collecting on the underside of the scan glass. It is really a classic conundrum. If you seal the scanner mechanism to keep the dirt outside from getting in, that traps the dirt the scanner generates by its operation inside. There is no winning. So when the ArtixScan M1 does get to the market, being that it has a separate and glassless film scanning drawer in the bottom of the scanner, it may be more to your liking. If your scans will be limited to 4x5 or large 120 film images consider the now venerable excellent quality Microtek ArtixScan 1800f, which also has the glassless separate film drawer.
I have tested and reviewed the Epson Perfection V750-M Pro scanner (which is physically the same basic scanner as the V700), and my report is in the Shutterbug website archives. So far it is considerably superior to any other consumer flat-bed scanner available.