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 web site, directly via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
More Comments On
Jasc's Paint Shop Pro
I would like to clarify the answer you gave Rob H. regarding Paint Shop
Pro 7 and Genuine Fractals in the February 2004 issue. Genuine Fractals
has been fully compatible with Paint Shop Pro ever since Version 5 was
introduced several years ago. (I have been a Paint Shop Pro beta tester
ever since Version 5.)
In fact, as far as I have been able to determine, it's even more
compatible than with Photoshop up to Version 7 and also Elements, since
it fully supports the browser function and displays thumbnails that
are in standard formats.
I have been using Genuine Fractals with Paint Shop Pro ever since Version
5. I was turned on to it by the original developer, who at that time
had just sold the program to Altamira. I had contacted him regarding
an archiving program for museums he had developed and was selling via
Altamira. At the time I was the photo archivist for a local museum in
Mendocino, and was just getting into digital imaging. At the time, he
recommended using Paint Shop Pro 4.5 and Genuine Fractals as a combo.
While learning the program, I became a beta tester for Jasc at the same
The present owner of the program, LizardTech, actually was unaware that
Genuine Fractals was compatible with Paint Shop Pro until I advised
them of it when they revised Genuine Fractals to Version 2.5 a year
or so ago. It is also fully compatible with Version 3.0. For some reason,
their website still shows compatibility with Photoshop 6 and above and
Elements only. The program staff at Jasc has taken pains to make Paint
Shop Pro compatible with Genuine Fractals since a large number of Paint
Shop Pro owners have been using Genuine Fractals for some time now.
In turn, LizardTech is now owned by Celartem, which I believe is a Japanese
company that develops plug-ins. The Altamira website is now merely a
link to the LizardTech site, so I guess they have just "faded
As an aside, I hope that the next upgrade of Paint Shop Pro will contain
both 16 bit and improved color management. The upgrade to Version 8
was such a complete change in both format and programming language that
those items couldn't be addressed at this time--stay tuned.
All the beta testers have been requesting these changes for some time.
Thank you very much for the
information you have contributed. By the way, I, too, got involved using
fractal compression and image interpolation enlargement when "Genuine
Fractals" was still with the original developers, Iterated Systems,
which I believe was located in Georgia.
However, relative to your last paragraph "aside," I will
continue to give a negative recommendation to readers as far as using
Jasc Paint Shop Pro is concerned, particularly the last version that
supports sRGB as the application's "color managed"
workspace. And I will continue to do so until Jasc provides CMS support
that at least matches that of Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.
But then it is really moot as Windows hardly meets current color management
industry standards considering Microsoft is still using ICM 2.0, a CME
(Color Management Engine) released in 1998, which was not even competitive
with other CMMs (Color Management Machines) in use at that time.
Remote External Flash
With Point-And-Shoot Digital Cameras
In October of last year I made inquiries regarding the possibility of
synchronizing a remote studio flash from my Sony camera, which does
not have a PC connector. My problem was that the camera has a pre-flash
which triggered the remote flash prior to the shutter opening. After
a lot of digging around I have located what appears to be an answer
to the problem and thought that you may be interested in it on the off
chance that some other person may ask about the same problem.
At this time I have not yet tried the unit but judging from the write-up
it may be the answer to this particular problem.
After reviewing the specifications
of the DSC-F717 Cyber-shot Digital, which I believe is the model that
currently replaces yours, I would have grave doubts the pre-flash is
the only reason you may not have success using an auxiliary external
slave flash successfully with the camera. If you do get the slave to
sync with the Sony camera, then how will the output of the slave affect
the overall exposure? Personally I would suggest you just use the Sony
for what it is designed to be, a point-and-shoot camera. If you want
to manually control the conditions that affect how your photographs
are made, I would suggest trading for a camera model that offers full
manual control, as well as supports external flash. It will be a lot
less frustrating, and will assure results that will match your expectations.
The "solutions" in your e-mail (Editor's Note: omitted
because of David's serious doubts about its workability) only
resolve one part of the problem involved in using an auxiliary slave
flash with your camera.
An afterthought: Even though many of the better quality consumer digital
cameras are not readily adaptable to using auxiliary external flash
there is another option to using on-camera flash for indoor illumination.
Most of these cameras support higher ISO speed ratings and also support
setting the white balance to tungsten light. Two or three inexpensive
1000w quartz halogen work lights, available from a home improvement
discount store, bounced off ceiling and walls will provide a very nice
light quality that is much more flattering to people than on-camera
Ink Jet Vs. Dye Sub
Q. I am in the process of moving to digital photography and am having
a lot of difficulty deciding on a printer. I have narrowed my choice
down to ink jet or dye sub. Both have their advantages and disadvantages,
but for overall quality, I really like the dye sub prints the best.
My problem is I cannot find a dye sub printer that will print larger
than 8x10. Is there a dye sub printer on the market that will print
Ten years ago about the only printers that would reproduce a photograph
with any degree of fidelity were dye sub printers. Today, among the
serious photographers I know personally, only one is using a dye sub.
There is only a limited selection of dye sub printers in the consumer
market, and most of those are snapshot-sized models. A letter-size dye
sub printer is considerably more expensive than the best photo quality
6-7 color photo ink jet, and the media and inks for a dye sub are also
much more expensive per print than a photo quality ink jet. In addition,
there is very little choice of media available for dye sub printers,
while there is a very wide range of paper selections of all types available
for ink jets. Then there is the issue of print life, and pigment ink
photo 6-7 color ink jets provide near archival life and the dye subs
Larger than letter-size dye sub printers are almost all designed for
professional use to simulate offset printing for proofing purposes in
the printing and publishing industry. They are expensive to buy and
to use. Xerox, 3M, Xante, and Kodak all make large format dye sub printers
for the printing and publishing industry.
Glossy Ink Jet Paper
And Pigment Ink Printers
Q. I have been printing on my Epson 2200 and getting great results with
81/2x11 Epson and Konica Premium Glossy Photo Paper. (My scanner is
a Nikon LS-2000, with LaserSoft Imaging software and Adobe Photoshop,
Version 6.) However, when I print using Epson's Premium Glossy
Photo Paper, 4" roll, my 4x6 images appear somewhat fogged, almost
as if I am using a soft focus filter. I'm doing everything the
same when I make these photographs, only making smaller file sizes than
for the 81/2x11 photos. I can only think it must be some qualitative
difference in the roll paper. The roll paper is fresh and has been stored
properly. Any ideas?
The Premium Professional Glossy Paper that is made for the Epson Stylus
Photo 2200 printer and other Epson Pro printers which use pigment inks
is made for a limited purpose, which is to provide the printing and
publishing industry a "press" emulated proofing medium for
CMYK output for offset printing. It is not really intended for the purpose
of producing display prints of photographic images. And, the Epson Premium
Glossy Paper you might buy at a computer or photo outlet is really formulated
for dye ink Epson printers, not the pigment ink 2200. So, in either
case you may not obtain either the best paper/printer profile performance
or ideal paper/ink compatibility compared to what you can expect in
prints made with the other media made for the 2200 like Watercolor,
Premium Luster, or Enhanced Matte.
Epson's new R800 printer, described in "Digital Innovations"
in the February issue of Shutterbug, uses the same inks as the 2200,
and its introduction is accompanied by a new glossy paper for the printer
and Epson Ultrachrome pigment inks. This new paper should be listed
on the Epson website store under the R800 printer in the very near future.
Printing Black And
White Images With An Ink Jet
Q. I need to purchase some software to calibrate both my CRT and LCD
monitors. The Adobe Gamma thing is making me nuts and my Epson prints
black and white with a strong magenta cast. I've assigned it the
modified ICC based on the Adobe setup but it doesn't make a difference.
Am I magenta vision impaired? I always see ColorVision Spyder and MonacoOPTIX
being advertised. The basic Monaco kit is always priced over $100 more
than the basic ColorVision package. Do you know why? Is it $100 better?
Thank you for your help in advance.
didn't mention which Epson printer, but that really doesn't
matter as far as printing black and white as long as it is not one of
the really old models with limited number of jets and lower resolution.
Personally, being long of tooth with lots of my library of images in
black and white, with newer Epson printers I simply use the highest
resolution the printer supports and set the driver to print black ink
only. I find the prints are just about as good as even those I made
with special Quad Black proprietary inks and special software, and a
lot less hassle with jets getting clogged up. Color management will
not solve the magenta problem. It is just that it is not possible to
adjust some printers so the balance of ink colors, when added up, produces
a perfectly neutral gray--it's like trying to balance a marble
on the tip of a needle. (However, at least one new Epson printer just
out, the Stylus Pro 4000, will for the first time provide full support
for making black and white prints.)
To a very large extent, color management is not related to the problem
of getting a color cast out of gray scale images printed using all of
the ink colors of an ink jet. However, monitor calibration and profiling
is essential to obtain a good match between an image on screen and how
all the values are reproduced in a print. Several years ago, when Epson
made a joint marketing deal with Monaco Systems, their EZcolor 1.0 software
and monitor sensor was a real bargain compared to a half dozen other
professional color management products then on the market. Then there
were some major changes made to the Monaco development team and they
came out with Version 2.0, and shortly after Version 2.5, neither of
which I found worked satisfactorily for me.
In the interim some small color management companies joined together
to form ColorVision. I have been testing, buying, and using all of the
ColorVision hardware and software products since, with really superior
satisfaction in all dimensions of color matching quality. The reason
they have been able to drop prices substantially on the ColorVision
Spyder and monitor calibration software is a big jump in volume of sales,
which has reduced the per unit manufacturing cost, and they are passing
the savings on to their customers. So I highly recommend the ColorVision
Spyder and either its PhotoCAL or OptiCAL software.
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.