Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography

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: editorial@shutterbug.com or fotografx@mindspring.com 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 time.

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 away."

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.
Dave Belew

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.
Bob Marshall

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 flash.

Ink Jet Vs. Dye Sub Printers
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 larger photos?
Tim Camerer

A. 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 do not.

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?
John Patterson

A. 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.
Wayne LaMothe

A. You 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 it aside.

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.
Randy Foulds

A. 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

A. 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.

Slide Presentation 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.
Patricia Steele-Perkins

A. 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.

Imacon Flextight 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

A. 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 Digital Images?
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?
Dave Hannah

A. I 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?
Stephen Chong

A. The 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.

Standard Digital 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?
Jim McKernon

A. To 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.

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