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.
Replacing An All-In-One eMac Computer With An LCD iMac?
Q. I am about to replace my aging eMac, and am considering whether to buy the Mac mini or iMac. Do you have any opinions as to which is the better monitor: the 20" which comprises the iMac or the Apple Cinema Display (20") which I would attach to the Mac mini? Primary use is photography, using the Adobe RGB color space.
A. Because quality CRT monitors have not been manufactured for some time now, for the last couple of years I have tested and reported on most of the new LCD displays which are specifically designed and made for pro graphic and photographic image work. You can find these reviews on the Shutterbug website (www.shutterbug.com) by typing "LCD displays" into the Search box.
Of all of the LCD display models I tested and reported on, including the highest rated EIZO ColorEdge CE210/240W and LaCie 320 or NEC 2090 UXi, the performance of the three Apple Cinema Displays was at the bottom of the list, even against some less costly models.
Personally, after also owning an eMac I used for business computing for a number of years, as well as a Mac G5 Dual Power PC I still use, I purchased a Mac mini to replace the eMac (the least expensive model). More recently, I have been using a Mac mini 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo model with 2GB of RAM for doing photography. It really does not make much sense to me to assume both display and computer processor will last or remain adequate in performance for the same length of time. That has not been my experience. And, if one component in an all-in-one like the iMac has a serious problem you might have to replace the whole thing if it is out of warranty.
So, I have preferred the Mac mini and a LaCie 320 (same as an NEC 2090 UXi) LCD display, which I find is the best combination of computer and display I have used for doing digital photography. And, by the way, the modest cost of the Mac mini made it affordable to match it to one of the best LCDs available.
Effective Software Is As Important To Scanning As Hardware
Q. I'm scanning my slides with a Nikon Super CoolScan 5000 ED. On slides with contrast between light and dark areas, there is a halo where the white bleeds onto dark. Its width is about 2 percent of the image. Very annoying. Is this normal? What should I do?
Also, Kodachrome slides come out very dark and most of my slides are reproduced fuzzy, especially around the edges. They project great. Any clues?
John R. Willis
A. From the gist of your question it seems you are using the Nikon software driver for the scanner and are largely allowing the software to automatically adjust the scan image file output. This will produce acceptable results from slides that are typical subjects and neither too light or dark. But more challenging subjects and images usually demand very precise pre-scan adjustments based on the preview. This is particularly the case with Kodachrome, which also must be scanned with Digital ICE turned off. To get better focus scanning slides, I would suggest remounting them in professional, heavy plastic mounts that will hold the film flatter than cardboard or Pako slide mounts.
The Nikon scanner is very well made physically and can perform well, but the software driver is both difficult for most users to master and to get good control of scan output. So, may I suggest considering adding the LaserSoft SilverFast Ai 6 software to replace the Nikon to drive the scanner? It is much easier to learn to control the adjustment tools and in many instances will improve the quality of scan image files you output.
You can read about and download a demo version of the software at: www.silverfast.com.
Inkjet Printers For Utility And Show
Q. Once again...help! When our old 13x19 printer bit the dust there were so many new printers about to hit the market that I decided to wait until the dust had settled.
Then, your review of the Canon iPF5000 changed everything. Problem: we had to wait a while to afford it, or purchase some transitional 13x19 unit. Now our letter-size printer has just had a catastrophic failure and we have no printer.
Susan's photographs (which have been enormously successful) are printed on canvas, which tends to curl terribly when fed at a vertical slant. Whatever printer we buy now, it would be a huge help if it were able to feed from a flat position. Is there any 13x19 printer you can recommend whose quality approaches the iPF5000 at a lower price (and will feed canvas sheets)? When we are able, we will acquire the iPF5000. Until then, can we still find a really good 13x19 unit?
A. Most recently Canon has announced they will be delivering the Canon PIXMA Pro9500. It is a 13x19 quite similar in technology to the larger and much more expensive iPF5000, which is also due for an upgrade shortly to an iPF5100 with
I have not as of this writing received the Canon PIXMA Pro9500 for test and review, so cannot say anything about it based on firsthand knowledge. Personally, although I have tried, I have not had any success printing sheets of canvas with any of the printers I have used and tested. As I understand it, most canvas printing is done from roll stock, which would make sense to me. But I also have to admit to not liking the image results I have seen on canvas from an inkjet printer, and get little feedback from readers with an interest in it, which suits me fine. However, I do print some images on coarsely textured paper, which I think works fine with pigment-ink printers like the R2400 and the iPF5000, and functions without problems due to its inherent paper stiffness. In addition, the coating on fine art, coarsely textured matte also supports a better range of tones and color depth than what has to be used with a canvas substrate. But that opinion does you no benefit as to your problem.
As to a letter-size utility inkjet that prints photos with great quality, and is exceedingly inexpensive to buy, I can recommend the Epson R260. The inks used with this latest Epson dye-type photo printer are very much improved and get a long life rating by Wilhelm Imaging Research. Keep in touch and I'll maybe be able to provide more information as things progress. However, it is unlikely I will be test printing with canvas myself.
I am pleased to announce a new Bonus Edition adding five chapters to my eBook DIGITAL DARKROOM RESOURCE CD. The CD now contains 21 chapters totaling 266 pages in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format, providing easy-to-read text and large high-quality illustration. The CD is available for $20 plus $2 shipping and handling (US Mail if available). Ordering is as simple as sending a check or money order for $22 made out to me, David B. Brooks, and mailed to PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.