Q&A For Digital Photography
This column 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 column. Readers can send questions to me addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug web site, directly via e-mail to: editorial@shut terbug.net or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
Q. There was an article
in Shutterbug about the fast connections using SCSI. Parallel port use:
.115 M/bs and Wide Ultra 3SCSI: 160M/bs. If I use a SCSI scanner does
that mean that I will see an enormous difference in scanning time, compared
to a normal parallel port one? Or are there other parameters to consider?
Thanks as always.
A. Most middle to upper level consumer scanners have been configured with a SCSI connection. Some of the least expensive flat-bed scanners, now under $100, use a parallel port interface, and some of the newest small office and home market scanners are now being offered with USB. The very high-speed Ultra160 SCSI-3 and Wide SCSI is an interface that is primarily used with SCSI hard drives in high-end workstations. Scanners cannot take full advantage of the data transfer rate of even the now standard SCSI 2 specification. This is because the scanners themselves do not run or process data all that fast. Just using a faster connection would not appreciably speed up scanning, although the Epson Perfection 1200S (SCSI) is somewhat faster than the 1200U (USB).
Q. In the January
1999 issue of Shutterbug, you wrote an enthusiastic and helpful review
of the image cataloging program PhotoExplorer by PhotoSoft. In the December
1999 issue, you gave a favorable review to Extensis Portfolio 4.0. I
have about 20,000 slides that I shall begin to catalog in the next year
using a PC and the Windows 2000 OS. When cataloged, the images will
be selectively manipulated in Photoshop and printed or transmitted electronically
to image banks and magazine editorial desks. I would also find it useful
to stage computer slide shows directly out of the catalog program. I
expect to add 1000 or more new slides to the collection annually.
A. PhotoExplorer and Extensis Portfolio provide comparable thumbnail database functioning. Portfolio has the advantage of being cross platform and capable of functioning from a server over a network. Portfolio also has a long history in the field and has a large user base. PhotoExplorer is limited to Win-dows, but as long as that is your only OS, I would recommend it as it provides good functionality for its cost. I would not necessarily use a thumbnail database for producing slide shows for screen presentation. There is no advantage because the images have to be processed and sized appropriately, quite distinctly from what is done by Portfolio or PhotoExplorer. In addition there are numerous inexpensive applications from Enroute, Ulead, Ixla, MGI, and Adobe which provide very effective slide show programming with a wide variety of transition affects, timing, music, and audio inclusion.
Q. In your opinion,
is final print quality substantially improved by scanning medium format
or even large format film and then printing on an ink jet as opposed
to using 35mm film? It seems that the scanners that scan larger film
sizes do so at a lower resolution thereby negating the advantage of
the larger format. Am I missing something? I'm at the point where
I have to decide if I'm going to be happy with the print results
with 35mm equipment (scanner, printer, etc.) or if I should be thinking
of getting digital equipment that enables me to scan larger pieces of
film. The biggest that I'll want in the way of print size is probably
16x20. Thank you for your help.
A. What you can expect in print quality from scanned film is pretty much proportional to what you can expect making a print directly from the film. With digital of course you do have ways to enhance some image qualities like apparent sharpness, but that is not something you want to necessarily rely on. Currently the maximum size of affordable desktop printers is a width of 13". I regularly take scans of 35mm to that print size. But, I would not go much larger on a normal basis, only with the occasional image that is exceptional where all the quality factors are optimum. Scanners for medium and large format film are not limited in resolution, but those which offer higher resolution are somewhat costly. Also when you get into these large print sizes like 16x20 if you scan at an appropriate resolution to produce an image to print at 300ppi, the image is then 6000x4800 pixels, or 28,800,000 pixels which produces an 82.4MB file. That's something to consider.
Q. I've only
recently become interested in digital darkroom work, although I've
been a photo hobbyist for about 10 years, shooting mostly black and
white landscape, lighthouses, and so forth, with an ancient Rolleiflex,
and more recently an obsolete Bronica S2A. In trying to catch up on
the digital articles, I read your review of the Epson Perfection 636
SCSI and became very interested, however no one seems to have them.
They all seem to list the Epson Perfection 1200 at the same price but
it doesn't seem to include the LaserSoft Perfection 636 Scan Software.
It lists Adobe Photo-Deluxe; NewSoft Presto PageMana-ger; Broderbund
The PrintShop PressWriter; ArcSoft PhotoPrinter 2.0; and Epson Instant
Photo Print Software. Do you happen to know how this model compares
with the 636, or is it aimed more at businesses?
A. The Epson Perfection 636 has been replaced by the Epson Per fection 1200. I have tested and reported on this new model and that report was in the March issue of Shutterbug. The Epson Perfection 1200U Photo at $349 provides a significant advance in performance with twice the resolution and faster, better scanning over the previous 636 model. However, the LaserSoft SilverFast full Version 4 is now an extra cost option available from LaserSoft at $155. I highly recommend this addition for scanning film.
Q. I was in the market
for a digital camera, although I knew I would be hard pressed to match
the versatility of an SLR, with affordable lenses ranging from 28-600mm.
Then I happened upon ads for scanners of 35mm negatives, such as Minolta's
Dimâge Scan Speed. What caught my eye was the resolution achieved,
2850dpi, which this ad equated at 10 megapixels! If this is the case,
I can theoretically get much better digital result from using a quality
film scanner with a standard negative, than by using a top of the line
professional digicam. I figure there must be more to the story then
this. If so, please fill me in. Also, is there a recommended film brand
or type to achieve maximum results with a scanner? Thank you very much
for your attention.
choice that you found is a very appropriate and practical consideration.
Currently you are right: the use of a 35mm SLR and then scanning the
film does provide the advantages of what is available to a 35mm SLR
system in features and optics, as well as the ability to scan to a higher
resolution than is currently supported by digital cameras. So, to a
very large extent the question is are the convenience advantages, and
not having to deal with film, sufficient to choose a digital camera.
Also digital is clean and direct--you have immediate access to
the image and know right after taking it if it is a good image.
Q. I have just purchased
a Canon PowerShot S10 and think that it is great! My only problem is
that I would like to take all of the picture files directly from the
camera to a file folder immediately. The software system seems to want
me to view each file and save it individually. I revisited my local
vendor (Best Buy) and they say it can't be done. I am hoping you
can direct me to a solution.
A. The limitation of having to view and then save each image one at a time is pretty typical of digital cameras when the camera is connected, usually via a serial interface, to your computer. If your camera uses either of the two popular memory cards like SmartMedia, and your computer supports USB, then you can obtain a USB digital camera memory card reader which is then like just another drive on your computer. In other words, remove the memory card from the camera, put it into the USB card reader, and download the files directly without having to view them. I think you will find most of web and catalog computer supply outlets will carry at least one brand or another of a USB digital camera memory card reader.
Q. I have recently
started working with digital photography. I acquired an Epson PhotoPC750Z
camera as a learning tool with the hope that I would one day become
sufficiently skillful that I could supplement my retirement income as
a professional photographer. However, the learning process is the rub.
One of the skills I knew I needed for studio work was lighting.
Although from what I understand the Epson Photo PC850Z does have the
features providing the necessary manual control for multiple flash photography,
as does the Fujifilm MX-2900 and the Olympus 2020 Zoom, I appreciate
you not wanting to trade up at this time. The problem with most other
digital cameras like yours is that because the chip is small in physical
size, the lens is short and the shutter/aperture is also small. For
this reason the shutter and aperture control are usually combined into
one function, which makes the provision of manual, or semi-manual, controls
like traditional cameras difficult.