Q & A Digital Photography
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To aid us in making Digital Help as helpful as possible, please be specific in your query and include components, including software, that you use. David says, “Make me guess the problem and I might guess wrong.”—Editor
Q. JPEG 2000
In your September, 2012, column you mention that JPEG 2000 is a “no loss method.” In Photoshop Elements I have several options of saving changes made to files originated in JPEG. One option is to save in JPEG 2000 format. Would there be any advantage in saving an “enhanced” (corrected and adjusted) JPEG file in the JPEG 2000 format rather than JPEG format?
A. The file formats supported by most applications used for digital photography are of two basic types: 1) lossy compression versions, like JPEG, that became popular many years go because they result in small file sizes, but this is no longer an important advantage because file storage space is now very inexpensive; 2) lossless formats like TIFF, PSD, and JPEG 2000 among others that do not throw out data to obtain a small file size. So, if you want to preserve the data in an image file, do not re-save in JPEG or any lossy file format.
JPEGmini appears to be a new compression system that can cut storage space by about 80 percent. I was wondering whether you’ve had a chance to check it out. Although it’s never a good idea to work on a photo in JPEG format this might be a useful way to store photos on hard drives or in the “cloud.” As many readers have said before, yours is the first column I go to when “Shutterbug” arrives.
A. Thanks for the kind words. If a photographer with a digital camera uses the shotgun approach to photography and exposes everything in sight, I guess using JPEG might be necessary. But a lossy compression method always reproduces less than is captured by a camera, so why throw a part of your camera’s capability away? It makes no sense to me, but I suppose that 10 years ago, when storage space was expensive, it had some reason—today it has none. Also, as for any nonstandard file format, be very careful as many applications may not support it.
Q. Bigger File, More Info?
Several years ago I scanned a couple thousand medium format positive transparencies on my Epson Perfection 4990 scanner. Now that I am more experienced and, hopefully, smarter, I would like to re-scan them. My original scans were 50MB files but now I would like to end up with much larger files, at least 250MB. My question is whether I should maximize the size with the scanner, or resize them after scanning with a program such as onOne’s Perfect Resize. In other words, is there an optimum ratio of how much enlargement I should get from the scanner/software when the scanner alone won’t do it, but the software claims no quality loss up to 1000 percent resizing? Also, would I get a noticeable improvement if I upgraded my old 4990 to a new V700 or V750?
A. First, if you re-scan the images, even with the same scanner, and increase the scan resolution, then you capture more information from the film image. More image information is an improvement in image quality.
As to resizing, if you have a scan file of 50MB and you use software to expand the image size, you still have the same amount of image information, 50MB worth. Correct, no loss, but also no gain, except a larger image and file. So when you increase the image size you will naturally see the image from a greater distance, so you would not see any loss of quality. That is a rational result that justifies the idea of no loss of image quality. But the amount of image information in the picture remains the same, just 50MB of it.
The conclusion has to be that if you want to increase the image quality you would have to scan the original again at a higher scan resolution and get more image information in a larger size file directly from the scanner.
Q. Output Setup Options: Web And Print
I have calibrated my Dell UltraSharp U2410 according to your recommendation for brightness, then tweaked, and now print consistently well. However, this has created a problem for images which are to be viewed on the Internet, or on other monitors; all appearing too bright. Therefore I need two profiles; one for printing and one for panel viewing.
What calibration (brightness?) settings for the Dell UltraSharp U2410 would you recommend if the final image is to be viewed on other monitors and not printed?
A. There is a basic principle that dictates what the brightness (white luminance) of a user’s display must be to get matching output results—for printing output the display should be set at a white luminance of 80.0 to 90.0 CD/m2. If the output is going to other computers for display via e-mail or the Internet, the white luminance of the user’s display should be brighter, to match that of the receiving computer’s display, and should be about 140.0 CD/m2, or slightly higher.
The second part of this principle is about using matching image output profiles. For printing output the recommended standard profile to be used in Photoshop or other color-managed image-editing applications is Adobe RGB (1998). Some use proprietary workspace profiles that are similar to Adobe RGB, but it is not something I recommend. For output to another computer for screen viewing either via e-mail or other Internet means the workspace profile for the user should be sRGB. This can be accomplished with most image-editing applications by using the File choice of “Save for Web,” or, with some versions of Photoshop, the ImageReady utility that will allow embedding sRGB as the image profile.
With a Dell UltraSharp U2410 display there is the option of using the Adobe RGB mode for print image editing and setting the white luminance to 80.0 or 90.0 CD/m2. And then for output to other computer displays to switch to the sRGB mode and make a new profile with the display readjusted to a white luminance of 140.0 CD/m2. Switching modes can be a rather cumbersome operation, so I just use an inexpensive second display that is set to 140.0 CD/m2 and profiled to the sRGB workspace. I use the second display primarily to view application workspace windows, and to run secondary applications like a browser. Displays in 24” size that are sRGB color can be purchased new for $200 to $300.
Q. Real Estate Interiors
I am interested in doing real estate photography part-time as part of my retirement. My question is on the lens. I have a Canon 17-85mm coupled for my 60D. Do you think that is wide enough for apartment photos? I think it is a little tight. I really can’t afford a big investment. What do you suggest?
A. Considering how small many New York apartments are, shooting the interior will be a challenge. A 17mm may not be wide enough, but if you get a 12mm you will also get a lot of wide-angle distortion. So, a better solution may be to use a tripod and get your camera level, then shoot two exposures side by side at 17mm to get a panoramic view. Less distortion but a wide, not very high image will tell the story. All the newest Photoshop applications have panorama merge utilities, so doing the editing should be pretty simple. And even buying a software upgrade is a lot less costly than a new lens.
Q. Film Scans Vs. Digital Capture
Being new to digital photography I’m trying to figure out why Aperture 3, for example, will not perform the same way on a “picture of a picture” as it does on a photo from life. I know I must be missing something! What is it?
Las Vegas, NV
A. I think you will find that the adjustments Aperture provides do not correct for the fact that a film slide is not reality; it is an image of color dyes which each have their own “personality.” What an application like Aperture is designed to do is adjust RGB numbers that are readings from nature, from reality, in digital camera files, not the distorted values of color film. It takes different algorithms, in other words, a different formula of interpretation available in a scanner’s editing software. Although some try to use the full Adobe Photoshop application to edit slide copies it does not provide all the corrections needed even to edit a Raw scanner file.
I have been doing scans of film images for over 20 years and have learned that it is a challenge to do it well, even with the best scanner and scanning software.
Q. Printer Recommendation For A Family Album
I recently completed writing a history of our family covering the past 400 years and am now preparing to print it myself and have it professionally bound. It has 220 pages, most of which contain both text and photographs I have taken in England. I am using WordPerfect Version 10 and am inserting the images into the text using the conversion feature of the software. I am also using an HP Deskjet printer.
I wish to buy a printer that uses archival inks and am in somewhat of a quandary. I have read that photo printers do not handle text very well unless they have postscript capabilities. On the other hand, the images created by WordPerfect probably would not be enhanced significantly by using a dedicated photo printer. Since I have put in two years time on this project I do not mind spending some money on a good printer. Right now I think either Epson or Canon might be my only choices. I would appreciate any insight you might have on this.
A. I would have to presume if your HP Deskjet is a typical home/office model that the inks are the dye type, so you should not expect archival life of your printed book using that printer.
I reported on the Epson R2000 a while back, and it is a photo printer with a multicolor ink set that will reproduce photographic images with excellent color. Its high resolution will also assure quite sharply defined text reproduction as well. Finally, in its class, the Epson R2000 is the least expensive printer of its kind at the highest level of print reproduction.
However, that is not the end of the story to reproduce a book that will be long-lasting. You also need to print on high-grade fiber-based paper that is archival. Fortunately, Epson has one that is ideally suited to the needs you have called Epson Premier Scrapbook paper. That may seem like an odd name, but it is intended for reproduction of scrapbooks of photographs, and ones that will last for generations. It is also advantageous for book use because it is coated on both sides with equal reproduction performance, and no bleed-through front to back. Good luck with your book-printing project.
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