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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Another scanner in this class is the LinoColor Saphir Ultra. If you
are using a Mac, the software that is available from LinoColor is definitely
comparable to SilverFast.
However, neither the Scanmaker 5 with SilverFast added or the Saphir
Ultra offer as much performance as Epson in the Expression 836XL for
Also, relative to your print size expectations, I would not expect a
flat-bed scanner in this range will handle 35mm film originals well
enough to make such large prints. The 2700-2800dpi optical resolution
of the better 35mm film scanners is really necessary to reproduce scans
of 35mm to make prints as large as 16x20 and definitely 20x24. For your
professional requirements, I would recommend the Nikon Super CoolScan
2000 (LS-2000), with the addition of LaserSoft SilverFast 4.X software.
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
First of all, the Millennium "bug" is a possible hazard
only for those digital devices which involve automatic dating, a digital
clock, and if the year number is recorded in just two digits, like 99
for the current year instead of four digits, or 1999. If your camera
has a time/date recording feature and records the year in four digits,
it is very unlikely a problem will occur when the calendar turns to
January 1, 2000. Also, if your camera's microchip does not have
a date/time function there is little likelihood a problem will develop.
For those of you who have digital time/date functions built into your
camera's automated functions and the year date is recorded in
two digits, it would be advisable to query the manufacturer about the
possibility of a problem and hopefully acquire a solution sooner than
later. For those with newer digital cameras which interface with a computer,
considering they are relatively new, it seems unlikely that the "Y2K"
potential was not taken into consideration in the programming of their
functions. And, with many of these cameras that do interface with a
computer, the chip may be programmed with software transferred from
the computer to the camera to avert a possible Y2K problem. How-ever,
the more the camera's digital functions are integrated, the more
likely a serious problem could occur, including a complete shutdown,
if the year date was programmed to have only two digits instead of four.
According to Chuck Westfall at Canon, there are two points of discussion
on Y2K and Canon photographic products. First, the Y2K issue has nothing
to do with fundamental camera operations such as AF, AE, shutter release,
and film transport. In this respect, all Canon cameras past and present
are "Y2K compliant." Second, referring specifically to date
imprinting and/or date memory features, all Canon cameras, data backs
for cameras, and other date recording accessories for cameras that are
"electronically controlled" are "Y2K compliant."
This covers all such products ever marketed by Canon, dating back to
the Sure Shot II QD that was originally marketed in 1983. "Mechanically
controlled" data imprinting devices, such as accessory Data Backs
A, F, and Fn, etc. are neither current nor "Y2K compliant."
Obviously it is not feasible for me to inquire of every manufacturer
about every camera model they have produced which contains a microchip
and has a time/date function. So, if what I have indicated above applies
to you and your camera(s), it would be wise to find out now what, if
anything, you need to do. I'm sure the companies will be swamped
when this year begins to expire, and the situation may be worse in the
few days and weeks after the Millennium changes if the "bug"
shuts down various devices with time/date microchip functions.
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)
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.
Your best bet in finding a template is to get involved with some of
the online forums like those on CompuServe which specifically address
various computer uses and particularly database applications like FileMaker.
You might also obtain some useful feedback on digital photo filing as
well in CompuServe's Professional Photography Forum. These can
be accessed from the web at: www.com puserve.com
However, even if you do find some templates, many additional functions
you may require will have to be programmed including various printing
options. Unless your time is worth nothing, I'd suggest biting
the bullet and buying something like Extensis Portfolio. Then, if on
the Mac it is anything like Windows database applications, which usually
in professional versions support ODBC, you will be able to connect the
fields in Portfolio to functions in your existing database if need be.
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.)
I was encouraged to consider the Nikon CoolScan III, for about $200
more. I was told it had better detail in the shadows, that it could
handle underexposed prints/slides better than the CanoScan; that in
fact the CanoScan didn't have very good ability to scan underexposed
Would you e-mail me with any suggestions as to getting the CanoScan
to work on the Macintosh, and also your opinion of the CoolScan III
compared to the CanoScan. Do you have any other recommendations for
a Mac compatible slide/film scanner for less than $1000? Thanks much.
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).
Once these are downloaded to a Macintosh computer, you'll need
to unstuff them using Stuffit Expander, which is available for free
on the web.
Here's some additional support information:
1. Canon U.S.A. is marketing the 2700F with ScanCraft FS for Windows
95 only. Distribution is exclusively through Authorized Canon U.S.A.
Camera Division dealers.
2. Consumer phone support for this product is being handled by CITS
(Canon Information Technology Services) through their Chesapeake, Virginia
facility. Customers who call the toll-free numbers ((800) 652-2666 and
(800) 828-4040) will be forwarded to CITS at this location.
3. CITS will support 2700F as it is sold here in the U.S.A., meaning
that in the specific area of software support, they are only responsible
for ScanCraft FS.
In addition, Canon Inc. has developed a Mac plug-in module for the CanoScan
2700F. This software and an Adobe PDF file of the English language manual
for it is already available for download at no charge through Canon
Deutschland's web site mentioned earlier. The purpose of informing
our Sales Reps, Pro Reps, and CITS support about the availability of
the Mac plug-in is so we can help customers who may be looking for this
information. We want to make it crystal clear that neither Canon U.S.A.
nor CITS will "officially" provide this driver or support
it, however, we are happy to provide information to customers who wish
to take advantage of the free downloading that is available through
the Canon Deutschland web site.
For the money the CanoScan is a very good scanner, although I found
the software not as effective as what is available for some scanners.
The most significant advantage with the Nikon CoolScan 30 would be if
you add the full version of LaserSoft SilverFast to accompany it. Polaroid's
scanners for slides are expected to be replaced with new models soon,
and Polaroid scanners do have a very good reputation. I would also look
for a new 35mm slide scanner model from Microtek before long as well.
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
The second thing that concerns me is matching the screen to the print.
I am using a 19" Viewsonic PS790 monitor and the Epson Photo EX
printer. Right now all I am doing is adjusting the printer with the
manual controls for color and brightness and contrast until I get close.
Contrast seems to be the hardest to balance. I haven't tried using
the Windows 98 ICM. I have looked at the utility that comes with Corel
PhotoPaint but I do not have profiles of my devices to input. Can you
recommend any plug-ins or anyway of using PhotoPaint or Windows to help
with this problem? I'm really not sure of how this all fits together.
Would Vivid Detail's Test Strip mentioned elsewhere in the magazine
be of any help?
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.
Getting a match (at least to the degree possible considering a monitor
is a light through media while a print is reflected light media) between
screen appearance and Epson EX output should be automatic in Windows
98 if you turn on ICM in the printer driver Advanced dialog. However,
be sure you are using the most recent driver for your EX as the earliest
version of the driver had a bug that affected color management. You
can download drivers from Epson's web site at: www.epson.com Also,
the application from which you are printing can have an influence. Currently
the only application which does a thorough job of color management utilizing
Windows 98 ICM 2.0 is Photoshop 5.0.2.
Vivid Detail's Test Strip 2.0 is particularly useful for fine-tuning
print output if you don't mind investing a little in paper and
ink to make prints of their "Test Strip" window that will
show a range of choices for adjustment in the printed "strips."
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.
The HP PhotoSmart scanner is really not comparable in sophistication
and professional performance in respect of the choice of a Kodak 8650
series printer. A good "photo" ink jet like the Epson Stylus
Photo 700 will produce about as good looking prints of images scanned
by most of the under $1000 consumer-level scanners. And if they're
for personal use rather than for selling them to customers, why stand
the expense of a dye sublimation printer.
On the other hand, if you are scanning slides or color negatives and
using equipment like the Nikon Super CoolScan 2000, then you could expect
superb results from your system with the Kodak 8650 printer. Otherwise,
the printer is overkill with the scans the PhotoSmart can produce.
The Sony computer will not be an issue in terms of the results. The
Sony monitors are very good and provide an excellent visual environment
for working with digitized images.
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.
I would really like to have a scanner that would allow good trial pictures
of 4x5 and 120, before committing to an expensive scan. I do a lot of
pinhole 4x5 and Holga 120 that might be just fine as a final product
on a less good scanner. A Holga neg at 2400ppi would be 4800 at final
output, enough for a 16x20 theoretically. I feel that if I learned the
scanner software I could probably do a better job than the operator
doing batch work. In looking through the Internet, I found little info
on this scanner. I did find references to different incarnations of
the Perfection 636, ranging up to $1000 (with a t/a that sold separately
for $299). One was a model that was optical 800ppi.
What do you think? Is this a scanner that would allow serious photo
work from 4x5 or 120 negs to be worked in Photoshop and printed on an
Epson EX? Your post mentions a $400 price, sounding too good to be true--are
there different models available? Help. Thanks.
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.
The Epson Perfection 636 scanning at a MicroStep optical resolution
of 2400dpi will produce a 40MB (approximately) file from a 21/4x23/4
120 transparency or negative (5400x6600 pixel image). This is more than
sufficient for printing with most contemporary output capable of making
digital 16x20 color prints.
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.,
What do you think of the Nikon vs. Polaroid's Sprintscan vs. Minolta's
Dimâge for my needs? I've heard from others that the Minolta
software isn't intuitive, though the ability to scan bigger negatives
Please explain in simple language since I'm a real newbie-- Photoshop's
not even out of the box yet.
Mary K. Love
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
The Nikon LS-2000 also has Digital ICE, Image Clean which saves a great
deal of time "spotting" images, as well as multi-pass scanning
which is useful to reduce noise with low key subjects and underexposed
transparencies. The hardware is reasonably fast (in normal scan mode),
and the physical handling of slides and film strips works very smoothly
and efficiently. The system is fully ICC color management supported
for Mac and Windows platforms, and a LaserSoft SilverFast custom profiling
"module" is available. The scanner's 2700dpi optical
resolution is more than adequate to make excellent 11x14" prints.
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.
I've had my Microtek E-6 for a little over a year, and I can see
a lot of dust, on the inside of the glass. I've used can air,
but it is hard to direct it well to blow it off the glass. Also, I'm
plagued by dust and stuff sticking to the foam on the inside of the
cover. What is the best cleaner to use, to avoid static electricity
causing this dust to collect on the outside, and what can I do about
the dust on the inside? (Short of taking the case apart.) I realize
the dust on the inside I may have to accept, but surely there is something
I can do to prevent excessive dust on the outer surface. Thanks a bunch.
Charles C. Livingston
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.
As for a cleaner, I've found 3M's Screen Cleaner 675 is
very effective and safe for glass used in this manner as in scanners
and the screen surface of monitors. For dust removal I would acquire
one of those very small hand vacuum cleaners to extract dust from the
cover and if there is an access panel to the inside, especially from