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: firstname.lastname@example.org or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
Q. I would like to
know if you could recommend a scanner for me, not based on personal favorites,
but on price, quality, and ease of use.
A. For the purposes you described, including producing a professional appearing 11x14 print, I am afraid that the under $500 (US) 35mm scanners are pretty much out of the question. One possibility, which I am currently working with for test and review, is the new Canon CanoScan FS 2710. It definitely has the physical specifications, and its new software is much improved and well able to support professional-level scanning of 35mm originals. However, I suspect it will sell for well over $1000 Canadian. Sorry I cannot be more encouraging price-wise. But, for your need to do presentation images, having professional scans done is a good option to use applied to a limited number of images a portfolio involves. I would suggest using Kodak Professional PhotoCD services. You would probably find the best quality Pro PhotoCD services in Toronto.
Q. I'm having
success with my basic scanner and Ulead photo program, which I'll
update as my budget permits. I'm planning a future web site with
many graphics. What particular choices would you suggest for a "moving
image digital camera?" I'm reading about "going video,"
then transferring to digital. Then there is 8mm, rarely seen in its original
form, from my experience. Just never seemed to "catch on,"
like "Beta" for video, etc. I'm leaning toward a "moving
image digital camera" that uses floppy disks. What cameras of this
type would you suggest I look into? Thanks.
A. The above phrasing was not clear to me in regards to your question; does it refer to a still image of a moving subject, or a motion image of a moving subject? I would guess it is the former, and if it is recording on a standard 1.44MB floppy, then the camera would be the Sony Mavica. That camera is of very good quality and quite adequate for making pictures for web use, but it is a relatively low resolution digital camera by current two plus megapixel standards, and print output size is limited.
Q. I want to buy the
CoolPix 950. Can this camera be linked directly to my computer for studio
work? Does it have a pc outlet allowing it to synch with one or two monolights?
I have not tested the Nikon CoolPix 950, but there is one model (950S)
that does have a PC connector to synch with external flash. However, if
it will work effectively with studio lighting is another matter. Even
these latest more fully featured two plus megapixel digital cameras, with
manually controlled shutter speeds and apertures, are not equivalent to
a film camera in the way they function. These digital cameras are relatively
small physically, and usually have a combined shutter and aperture mechanism
which can be limiting. Although some models like the CoolPix 950 have
an external PC flash synch connector, I would not assume they will work
with studio flash systems, and advise going to a store that has the camera
and a similar studio flash to your own, to do a test to see if they will
work together before making a purchase.
Q. What problems would
you expect to encounter when using Windows NT for digital imaging? I'm
about to purchase my first slide scanner and an Epson 1200. I'm
currently happily using Windows 98 but have just enrolled in classes toward
procuring MCSE certification. I feel that I need to use NT as much as
possible in order to learn the OS. My biggest concern is the loss of ICM
color management. I originally thought that NT would be best for all serious
computing and that perhaps I would only need a small 98 partition for
games, etc. I could put NT only on my old computer acting as a server
in my home network and have the client be strictly W98. Or, I could use
FAT 16 partitions so that both OSs could access files and software. However,
in both cases I would lose much of the features of Windows NT that I need
to study. Having briefly experimented with OS/2, I am well aware of the
headaches of having two operating systems that can't see each other's
directories. I therefore am not very enthusiastic about dual boot.
considering that the trial version of Windows 2000 was just made available
last week, NT is going to be a moot point eventually. Also, the second
edition of Windows 98 has been released and is on store shelves (but I
don't know if the bug fixes in the second edition include ICM 2.0
improvements). I agree dual boot machines can be a problem as you described.
Unless of course you have two or several large discrete hard drives and
put all of the files relative to NT on one, and 98 another.
Q. I've been
using Epson Photo Quality Glossy Paper (SO41124) with my 740 printer.
Color is great but paper is flimsy. Any opinions about Kodak photo paper
for ink jets? It seems to be available everywhere. Or should I stick with
A. Epson's current letter size Photo Paper (SO41141) is a heavier weight glossy surface paper, and should provide the great color you've been getting. Although the Kodak photo ink jet paper is of quite good quality, consider that your Epson printer's color management profiles are configured for their own papers. Using other than Epson brand papers is a disadvantage unless you have the hardware and software to make custom ICC color management profiles for the use of that paper with your printer.
Q. I've got a
budget to buy a medium format scanner to digitize a lot of archive negatives
and transparencies from the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. A lot of
the black and white archive is on 61/2x41/2" glass plates (about
1mm thick). Are any of the current, relatively high-resolution MF scanners
(Minolta, Agfa, et al.) particularly suited or unsuited to scanning glass
Many of the medium-level flat-bed scanners like the Agfa DuoScan, Microtek
ScanMaker 5, and Umax Powerlook 3000 or Linotype Saphir HiRes have film
scanning drawers which would be a distinct advantage. First they would
avoid newton rings that you can get from surface to surface support, and
second they reduce the number of surfaces that can support dust. However
to scan odd, non-standard sizes some ingenuity will be needed to create
support frames for the glass negatives and positives.
Q. I've read
many articles on digital photography, but none has provided information
on how fast the digital cameras are (i.e., if one were to rate the sensitivity
of their light-capturing sensors, what would that camera's ISO rating
light sensitivity of digital cameras varies between brands and models.
Many of the under $1000 cameras have a default equivalent of ISO 100.
The more expensive and full featured often provide a selection of sensitivity
ratings commonly 100, 200, 400 ISO equivalent. The more expensive and
professional cameras that are intended primarily for press photography
and similar uses have ISO equivalents to as high as ISO 1600.
Q. I am going to create
a web page and would like to enhance it with photographs of the town I
live in. I am thinking that a digital camera would be appropriate for
this, because I imagine that the images can be transferred directly into
my computer, then formatted to fit the web page.
Just for use in web page creation, the inexpensive, under one megapixel
digital cameras are sufficient, and the cost for some 640x480 pixel models
is between $200 and $300. Most are sold with essential software to acquire
the images, as well as an easy to use image-editing application like MGI
PhotoSuite II or Adobe PhotoDeluxe 3.0.
Q. My question has
to do with inserting a digital image in powerpoint presentations.
A. First I will assume the Mavica saves the sound information relative to still images as a separate file, so you will need to locate and identify the sound part of the data for the still pictures. It should be in one of the two standard sound formats like .Wav or less likely in midi format. I have not used powerpoint in some years but I believe sound files can be inserted into a presentation and scheduled parallel with image files. and, considering PowerPoint is Microsoft, the standard sound file format .Wav is supported. You might also check your Sony Mavica Owners Manual specification to see in what format the sound files are recorded.
Q. I was wondering
about the new epson stylus photo 1200--is it better than the stylus photo
EX? I will be using it for making 11x16 prints for an art fair. and, about
the longevity of ink jet prints, would laminating help this problem, and
if so do you know the make and model i would need? Thanks.
You'll find two main advantages with the 1200 over the Ex. First
it prints 13" wide paper, two inches more than the Ex. Second, it
has finer nozzles down to 6 picoliters, and varied dot size, which provides
a sharper reproduction of detail, as well as smoother tones and gradations.
Finally, it is faster printing at maximum resolution than the EX.
Q. I have been accustomed to printing in the darkroom, making four 31/2x5 or two 5x7 pictures on one sheet of 8x10 paper. I am unable to do this in Photoshop, but there ought to be a way. Can you tell me how? I use Photoshop 5.0 and an Epson Stylus photo EX.
of all, check all of the software you received with the Epson Stylus Photo
Ex. That function may be supported by one of the bundled software utilities.
It definitely is with the new Epson Stylus Photo 1200, as part of the
NewSoft application bundle that comes with the printer. You should have
a CD you got with your printer, take a look at what it has on it.
Q. I am researching
the digital photography market and could use an expert's advice.
I have come across many opinions in my research and have noticed that
many people like the Sony Mavica. Since this camera uses a floppy disk
to store its memory it is less efficient than other cameras which use
flash memory (e.g. smartmedia and Compact flash). Which format of data
storage do you see prevailing farther down the road of digital photography?
I don't have a crystal ball for this one. Unfortunately the superior
technology, reason, and logic do not always prevail when it comes to what
succeeds in the marketplace. Personally I would favor Iomega's Clik
disk/drive as being the most efficient and effective camera image storage
medium. However, as far as I know now, Iomega has only been able to convince
one manufacturer of the advantages, and that's Agfa. Now Sony is
in the game with the Memory Stik, yet another flash memory type media,
making three distinct formats for that type of storage.
Q. I recently got a
35mm widelux camera and was wondering if any of the sub $1000 film scanners
can handle the 24x59mm negatives. I could always get a flat-bed scanner
I guess but are they as good as the dedicated film scanners? I get the
impression that the new HP scanner could do what I want but I don't
think it will work with my computer--a Power Mac 9600.
I am afraid there isn't any such animal. The less expensive desktop
35mm scanners function by moving the film on a carriage past the CCD element,
which is controlled by software on the computer and firmware in the scanner.
None of the models like Nikon, Canon, and Minolta that I've used
have had an option to scan a panorama 35mm film image.