This department will attempt
to provide solutions to problems readers may have 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 this
department. Readers can send questions to me addressed to Shutterbug
magazine, through the Shutterbug website, directly via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
In the May 2004 issue of Shutterbug, reader John Patterson asked a question
about glossy ink jet paper and pigment ink printers. As part of my answer,
I advised John that "Epson's new R800 printer uses the same
inks as the (Epson) 2200, and its introduction is accompanied by a new
glossy paper for the printer and Epson Ultrachrome pigment inks."
However, I was mistaken as I misread the information provided by Epson
on the new R800 printer. The glossy print capability is not in the paper
but in the printer in the form of a "gloss optimizer" coating
over the ink applied by this new printer. Sorry for leading everyone
astray. At any rate, I now have an R800, and the "gloss optimizer"
does produce a very effective premium glossy print, something not achieved
nearly as effectively by the previous Ultrachrome ink printers.
Scanner Choice From
Yet Another Angle
Q. Thanks for your reply regarding the Nikon 8000 scanner. I originally
had the Imacon, but returned it because of the lack of dust removal
software and of course, the cost. I did, however, love the way the film
was held through the light path. I have not been impressed with the
holders for the 8000. I have great difficulty keeping the film flat.
I purchased the glass holder, but always get Newton rings, so have put
I should have said that I use the Spyder for monitor calibration. After
trying the Eye-One for my monitor, I liked the Spyder's results
better. You mention using SilverFast. I did use a demo version, but
am reluctant to spend nearly $600 in addition to the scanner. Can you
recommend a different film scanner (or two) for medium format? I know
some come with SilverFast.
You mention profile mismatch or double hit. You've lost me. I
know what a profile is. I am simply using Nikon's software without
a specific profile. How would I go about looking for these problems?
Should I be calibrating my scanner like I have been profiling my printers?
Let me say that we are touching on the single reason that is keeping
me from going digital and closing my RA-4 line. I would love to do this,
but am constantly up against difficult printing situations. I print
mainly color for designers and architects, where color is pretty critical.
So, your advice is greatly appreciated.
I rather liked the Imacon as well, but could not afford even thinking
about it. The competitor of the Nikon 8000 with Digital ICE, which is
also supported by LaserSoft with SilverFast Ai 6, is the Minolta DiMAGE
Scan Multi PRO, which I reviewed last year. At present the Nikon is
selling for $1969 and SilverFast for it is $569; the Minolta Multi PRO
is $2119 and SilverFast for it is $399--about equal. SilverFast
Ai 6 includes profiling for the scanner, and the Ai 6 software is very
effective to profile the scanner and set up color management, whether
it is used as a stand-alone or as a Photoshop plug-in.
However, if I were to choose from what is available today for film scanning
I would select the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 for 35mm film (I already
own this scanner), and for medium and large format film scanning, the
Microtek ArtixScan 1800f, which I reviewed a few months ago. No Digital
ICE comes with the ArtixScan, but SilverFast Ai 6 is included and it
has a dust and scratch removal facility that works rather well, although
somewhat slowly. The film holders supplied with the Microtek I found
quite effective for 120 and 4x5. For 35mm scanned with the Minolta I
use Wess plastic glassless slide mounts with full 24x36mm frame opening.
They do the best job of keeping film reasonably flat.
Please check your Nikon software documentation for setting up color
management and profile selection. I'm sorry it has been about
three years since I used the software and don't recall the details
of its setup. But perhaps because I found using the Nikon software was
such a bad experience I've just shut it all out of my mind. However,
like printers and monitors, scanners should be profiled and the profile
selected in the CMS workflow.
You did not mention what computer operating system you are using. That,
too, can be a color management issue in itself, especially if it is
PC Windows. Corresponding by e-mail makes diagnosing and finding color
management profile problems next to impossible without a lot of back
and forth of screen shots of dialog setups. And, as I said, I am not
all that enamored with Nikon scanners.
VHS To Digital And
DVD-R And CD-R Recording
Q. Is there any difference in quality between using different DVD formats
for backing up images? I'm also trying to convert my VHS tapes
to DVDs. Any suggestions?
Harriet A. Rosenberg
I believe the distinctions between DVD-R and DVD+R are chiefly matters
of compatibility and should not affect the actual quality of the media
recorded. I don't really consider myself an expert in these distinctions
so I suggest you might access a website I have found most useful on
disc recording technical matters: www.cdr4less.com.
Obviously DVD is the medium of choice for digital recording of video.
Making the conversion from analog VHS to digital requires specific hardware/software
support. For PC Windows one of the more popular and affordable software
resources is Ulead Systems (www.ulead.com). You might check out their
DVD MovieFactory 3 to see if it is what you are looking for.
If you are on a Mac and have the latest Apple OS 10.3 operating system,
the software basics are essentially included with iMovie, and its capabilities
can be upgraded if need be to truly professional video editing and recording
capabilities through Apple.
As for "backing up" or archiving still digital photographic
images, I personally prefer to use CD-R rather than DVD, both for reasons
of cost-effectiveness as well as the fact that using quality gold/gold
CD-R discs affords the closest to archival disc life.
Problem For Photos With PowerPoint
Q. I borrowed a PowerPoint system (laptop, projector, software) and
am wondering why a vertical slide was cropped. That is, I couldn't
show the whole thing.
PowerPoint is not intended for displaying photographic images that may
be created using a camera in either vertical or horizontal orientation.
It is designed as a business graphics presentation media limited to
display either on a computer or projection screen, both of which are
standardized as a landscape (horizontal) image format.
If you have Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 you can create Acrobat .PDF
Slide Shows from the File/Automated menu. This automatically adjusts
image size for both landscape and portrait photo orientations without
cropping out any part of a vertical format photo. And the on-screen
image quality will be superior to what PowerPoint is capable of displaying.
Vs. Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400
Q. Before I embark on the whole computer/scanner upgrade route I would
appreciate your comments about the Imacon Flextight drum scanner (cost
$5000). Would this be overkill, or would I be fine with the Minolta
DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 scanner with SilverFast?
I know you liked the Minolta scanner, based on your Shutterbug review
in the December 2003 issue. I presently have a Nikon LS-2000 scanner
with SilverFast. While I find it is adequate for a lot of things, with
its SCSI interface it would be a pain to connect it to a new computer.
All the scanners now use USB or FireWire connection.
Also, the Nikon LS-2000, scanning at 2700dpi, is not always accurate
with the colors. Sometimes I notice colors become blocked together,
or the image looks solarized. Would the Minolta scanning at 5400dpi
take care of these problems?
John F. Patterson III
I have a high regard for the Imacon Flextight scanners. I believe the
high-resolution version that will provide scans at a similar level to
the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 sells for just under $10,000, while
the $4995 model 343 only has 3200 ppi resolution, a lot less than the
Minolta and less even than the Nikon 4000.
In addition, although the Imacon software is very good it is not as
easy to use as SilverFast. It is intended for a purely professional
market and skilled operators. Further, for 35mm scanning the Flextight
scanners require that the film be unmounted and in single frames. So,
the physical process of setting up each film frame to scan is laborious,
a pain in the behind, to be candid.
It has been several years since I used the Nikon LS-2000. However I
do not recall any of the problems you described, and I used it driven
by SilverFast either Version 4 or 5. What you are describing is not
normal and could be at least partly the result of problems with profiling
and color management.
The Minolta, in my estimation, is a very high-performance scanner capable
of capturing and recording the finest nuances of color in a 35mm film
image (this is assuming it is driven with Lasersoft SilverFast Ai 6).
However, the hardware and software is just a part of the equation. The
scanner must be part of a calibrated and profiled color management system
to perform optimally, and even though I think SilverFast is one of the
easier scanner drivers to use, it does require some skill to make it
perform to its potential.
How Best To Enlarge
Q. I have a friend using Extensis' pxl SmartScale to up size digital
images, and he says it works really well. He of course concedes that
the larger the original image the better, but he does believe that SmartScale
has its place. I have a Minolta DiMAGE 3 that scans my 35mm film at
a maximum of 2800dpi, which is not really enough to do an 11x16 or 16x24.
Will SmartScale really enable me to do medium size enlargements from
a 35 scanned at 2800?
have not used or evaluated the Extensis SmartScale, so comparing it
to Genuine Fractals from LizardTech (www.lizardtech.com) seems unfair.
I have used Genuine Fractals frequently to make enlarged prints from
digital camera image files and have found it is very effective. And,
generally the reader consensus I get indicates others are also enjoying
good satisfaction with Genuine Fractals. If readers have experience
with Extensis' SmartScale we'd like to hear from them. There
is also more sophisticated and better software for up-scaling images
that is provided with some high-end proprietary drivers for professional
wide format printers, but those software packages start at about $500.
An All-In-One Photo
Printer Not Reviewed
Q. I am planning to buy a photo printer. My friend suggested Epson's
RX500 multifunctional printer. Can you give some feedback on this printer?
Epson RX500 should provide photo printing performance very similar to
the Epson Stylus Photo 900 model I reviewed in the October 2003 issue
of Shutterbug, as the printing specifications are the same. The report
is available to read on the Shutterbug website at: www.shutterbug.net/test_reports/1003sb_epson/index.html.
Camera File Size/Resolution?
Q. My Sony DSC F828 gives me a picture resolution of 45x34" at
72dpi. If I change the resolution to, let's say, 8x10" at
300dpi in Photoshop for printing, will that detract from the image quality?
And if so, is there another way to go about changing size and resolution
for printing? And could you explain to me why they use 72dpi and a large
picture size instead of a higher resolution and a smaller picture size,
since the file size would be the same either way?
answer your last part first, I would guess that 72dpi was established
with some early digital camera makers because the first low-resolution
cameras were used mostly to make pictures for the web, and 72dpi is
VGA screen resolution.
To preserve quality integrity for printing digital camera files, I would
suggest re-sizing with Resampling turned Off, and just adjust the dimensions
letting resolution reset itself proportionally.