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 read your article
on the Epson 836XL and it sounds very impressive. The only question
I have is if you have any opinion on the Microtek Scanmaker 5 vs. the
Epson. The Scanmaker's resolution is higher, but I don't
know how good its software is. I'm a professional wedding/portrait
photographer and am looking to scan prints and 35mm and 21/4 square
negs. I would like to makeup to 16x20 prints--maybe 20x24. I also have
an interest in Iris prints. Would these scanners be overkill or would
the Epson 636 or something with similar specs be more appropriate? Any
advice would be appreciated. I love your articles and columns in Shutterbug
and you have really helped me understand the often confusing world of
digital imaging much better. Thanks.
First of all, the LaserSoft Silver-Fast software that comes with the
Epson Expression 836 XL is definitely superior, and a great advantage
at the price. The Microtek ScanMaker 5 is an excellent scanner, but
the software that comes with it is not comparable to LaserSoft's
SilverFast. However, LaserSoft has SilverFast available for many of
the Microtek scanners, possibly including the ScanMaker 5. I would check
their web site for this information at: www.lasersoftint.com
Q. With the "Y2K"
computer showdown looming, I was wondering how my electronic N8008S
camera would fare. Are the computer/microchips in our automated cameras
at risk as well?
cannot answer your question with specifics regarding your Nikon N8008S.
So, you may want to inquire of Nikon whether the Millennium "bug"
will effect that particular model. But before you decide to do that,
there is a general method of determining whether there is a potential
Q. Is there any process
that can make a true photographic print on photo paper from a digital
file? If so, how do I access it? I am interested in making high quality,
durable prints from my scanned slides. (Photo CD)
A. Yes, Fuji makes a printer that does just that, and it is used in a number of photo labs that provide print services. This printer is called the Fuji Pictography 3000/4000. Considering I am not aware of where you are located, may I suggest trying the Fuji web site to see if they list labs that make digital prints with their equipment: www.fujifilm.com You should also look into the services provided by Sienna Imaging, Inc. You can obtain information about their photographic print services from digital image files at: www.siennaimaging.com
Q. I have a few thousand
slides to label and catalog on my G3 PowerMac. I have FileMaker Pro
and was wondering if you knew of any freeware or shareware FileMaker
templates being offered on the Internet for creating an image database.
If I can't find any, I'll have to fashion one myself. I
could do it, but why reinvent the wheel? Thanks. I've greatly
enjoyed the in-depth technical advice in your magazine.
Essentially your comment about reinventing the wheel is key to why there
are so many function specific thumbnail image database applications
on the market. Years ago before there were any, I made a few bucks programming
database functions for some businesses to be able to utilize images
as one of the data fields. Unfortunately businesses almost always are
on PCs so I didn't acquire any experience with the Mac and FileMaker.
And, I have not seen anything like the templates you mentioned available,
not that such an animal doesn't exist.
Q. I recently read
your review of the CanoScan 2700F. It sounds like a great scanner, but
will it work on a Macintosh? I was told by Canon, B&H, and Hunt's
Photo that it would not. I was told that you need a driver for it to
work on Macs, but that driver is no longer available. (I looked on Canon's
web site but could not find it anywhere.)
the time I reviewed the CanoScan 2700F a Mac driver was available for
download. But, from what you indicate the people you talked to are not
aware of the particulars. Currently Mac driver software for CanoScan
2700F can be found on the Canon Deutschland web site at: http://188.8.131.52/
Once you get there, follow the links for "Download" and
you'll find the page with the CanoScan 2700F files. The filenames
you're looking for are: pifs304.hqx--This is the Mac driver; pifspdf.hqx--This
is the English language instruction book (Acrobat).
Q. I read with interest
your response to a question concerning black and white printing on the
Epson Photo EX in the January issue of Shutterbug. Do you recommend
using the color ink setting or the black ink? I was under the impression
quality would be better if one used the color setting. What is your
If you print a gray scale image with the color turned on in the Epson
driver, you will get a colorized monochrome print (and the colorization
is usually not that pleasant). If you want to enhance gray scale printing
by using the color inks, then convert the file to 24-bit color RGB before
you turn the color on in the Epson print driver. I do this, however,
only when I want to create a "toned" print effect like Selenium
or Sepia, which I accomplish by shifting the balance of the RGB channels.
Q. I am thinking
of purchasing a Kodak 8650 Series Printer for use in the home. My question
is, will a printer such as the 8650 interface with a home computer that
has 266MHz Pentium II processors and 96MB RAM? I do plan to upgrade
to a 300MHz processor. I plan to scan images from the HP Photo Smart
scanner and then print the images with the Kodak 8650 printer. I am
using a SONY PCV 220 computer. If it is possible to use such a printer
with the SONY computer, are there any special items of interest that
I should be concerned about prior to purchasing? If I use such a printer,
will I or should I get images of outstanding quality? I don't
want to waste money or time if such a printer does not interface well
and will not give outstanding print results because of computer that
Kodak 8650 printers have an excellent reputation and as far as I can
tell from your description of your computer, you should have no problem
running the printer. However, if you get a model with a SCSI interface
printer input, I would be sure to have an Adaptec PCI SCSI (29XX series)
card installed in your computer to interface with the printer.
Q. I was very interested
in your comments on the Epson Perfection 636. I have thought about buying
a scanner, but the least expensive thing that might do a good job on
4x5 seems to be the Saphir Ultra, at about $2700. It is actually a lot
more than that because of the technology cycle, i.e., no concept of
an investment. Then, at 1000ppi, it would not work for 120 film. I tried
scanning some 4x5 and 8x10 negs on a friend's Agfa Arcus II, but
the results were not that great. I have been having negs scanned on
a Scitex Eversmart or Pro Photo CD, and these seem OK, the Eversmart
more so. The Pro CD will make a file up to 72MB, more on the Eversmart.
From what you convey, I believe in terms of print output, you are assuming
you need a lot more resolution than necessary to obtain good quality
prints. I worked for some time with the Epson Photo EX and made many
prints at 11x17 size from images with resolutions of 150-180dpi. These
resulted in comparable print qualities to a standard analog (wet) color
negative print of the same size made from a 21/4" negative. This
is from a file size of about 20MB, a far cry from 72MB.
Q. I'm reading
this with interest since I'm a professional photographer about
to jump into digital. I plan to buy a Mac G3 (currently a Mac person)
and need a film scanner. I'd like one that scans at the highest
resolution possible--something that I would feel good about sending
to an editor (high quality printing) for final output at, say, 8x10
size. (Is this even possible?) OK, how about 1/2 page? I'm concerned
about capturing detail in shadows and highlights, good d-max, etc.,
the Nikon Super CoolScan (LS-2000) with the addition of LaserSoft SilverFast
4.1.4 software is at the top of my list. There are several reasons for
including the LaserSoft SilverFast software, which is very powerful,
supporting quite fine-tuned color correction, and is reasonably easy
to use (see my article on using it in the CompuServe/Photography Forum/Digital
Q. I purchased a
Microtek E-6 about a year and a half ago, before they discontinued it,
and it came with Ulead PhotoImpact software, which I am fairly happy
with, at least to manage the scans. I use Paint Shop Pro to do any "real"
work on the images, once I've get them on my hard drive. I, alas,
cannot afford Photoshop, but am quite satisfied with PSP 5, since it
now supports my Wacom pad. Any comments or advice welcomed.
the box you described you are in, I don't see much room to make
suggestions other than to see if you have the latest version of Ulead's
PhotoImpact, which I believe is 4.2. Personally, I find the application
has many worthwhile features which in some ways make it closer to Photoshop
than Paint Shop Pro. The upgrade to the newest version is very reasonable
and is available as a download I believe, or at least through Ulead's
web site at: www.ulead.com.
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