Q&A For Digital Photography
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
On Adjusting LCD Displays
Q. I was having problems getting my Dell U2410 monitor calibrated using the Datacolor Spyder3Elite. I followed all your instructions but could never get the luminance down to 90.0 CD/m2. Last week I was trying again when during the CheckCal I got the message that my settings were too high. Then it was easy to adjust the brightness and contrast setting to 90.0 CD/m2 and continue with the calibration.
I then saved the profile. The next day, just as a check, I reset the brightness and contrast and repeated the process. Unfortunately, the old problem came back. I am not sure why the calibration problem works sometimes and not others. I am using Windows XP with all the service packs. Datacolor does not seem to be much help on this one. Can you help?
A. From what you have told me I see no reason as to why you cannot adjust the display and get a white luminance reading within a few points of 90.0 CD/m2.
So let’s review:
1. Your Datacolor Spyder3Elite is less than two years old; with older ones the colorimeter will only measure sRGB displays.
2. You have set the Dell U2410 top Mode button so the display is running in Adobe RGB mode.
3. You are using the Expert Console and have set the parameters to gamma 2.2, white balance 6500K, and white luminance to 90.0 CD/m2. (Black luminance can be set at 0.0 CD/m2 but you should get a reading just above zero.)
4. The Dell U2410 display brightness should be set at 50 percent.
5. If you lower the Contrast to between 20 percent and 25 percent the white luminance should read close to 90.0 CD/m2.
If you get it right and have a display adjustment that works and a profile generated, leave it be.
Q. In the December, 2011, column you indicated that the Apple iMac is the “worst computer with problems for photographers.” I’m aware of the advantages that IPS LCD panels have over standard TN panels and I use an IPS made by LG. I process my photos on my Apple MacBook with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and am quite satisfied with the results.
I’d been considering replacing my PC desktop with a 27” iMac and then I read your column. It is my understanding that the new 21.5” and 27” iMacs have IPS LCD panels. If this is the case, what are the problems that you are referencing but not identifying in your column?
A. The Apple iMacs have good general performance and still are an excellent replacement for a Windows PC and provide superb functioning and many user advantages in a modern, well-engineered, efficient computer system.
The problems I have identified arise only when iMacs are pushed into doing serious digital photography using color management. The iMac handles snapshot-level digital photography uses well when the images are limited to JPEG/sRGB files. The problems arise because the iMac screen is an sRGB color range display, with an LED backlight and a glossy screen surface. Most significantly, the only screen control is a brightness adjustment; better independent LCD displays have at least a contrast adjustment as well as brightness.
The problems show up when a user tries to make color-managed matched prints with Photoshop after calibrating and profiling the display. The iMac screen is very bright and the white luminance, with only a brightness adjustment, cannot be lowered to match the brightness of paper white. This can be worked around in one of two ways—by adding ColorEyes Display Pro software and a supported colorimeter, or by adding a second pro-graphics display for color-managed work. Without being able to lower white luminance to match paper white, color-managed prints that are too dark are reproduced.
Your suggestion that the solution my readers who are serious about digital photography might offer to Apple—to modify their iMac design—is unlikely. Apple has two models that do not have the limitations of the iMac, the Mac Pro, which high-end graphics and photography professionals use, or the less costly Mac mini, which has essentially the same computing power of an iMac but that must make use of an independent LCD display. And even with a professional display, the Mac mini system costs about the same as an iMac.
The one thing Apple could do is to inform their sales staff not to push iMacs to serious photography customers; sell them a Mac Pro if they can afford it, and if not sell them a Mac mini. I think the Mac mini is an ideal computer for serious photographers who can’t afford a $3000 Mac Pro.
Tethered Monitor For Shooting
Q. I have a Fujifilm IS-1 that I use for infrared photography. Viewing my subject through the electronic viewfinder or LCD monitor to actually “see” is no solution. Neither way adequately helps determine what’s in focus. So, can you recommend a small portable video monitor that would attach to the hot shoe and give me an image greater than 4”? If not, is there some other video arrangement that would work outdoors? I do not own a laptop.
If you can’t think of anything that would work well, would you recommend converting a Canon EOS 40D to infrared only?
A. I’d suggest investigating the possibility of using an Apple iPad 2 to make the video connection between your camera and an iPad 2. I know it is done with some cameras, but candidly I have not investigated all of the possibilities.
Contact both B&H Photo/Video (800-221-5743) and Adorama (800-223-2500). If either has an adapter that will link your camera to an Apple iPad 2, then that may be your best solution. You might also call Apple at (800) MY-APPLE and talk to one of their experts. I know there is support for some Canon and Nikon cameras. One company, Tether Tools, provides support for a Wallee Modular iPad System that you should investigate. Contact them at: www.tethertools.com/plugging-in/wallee-ipad-modular-case.
Using A Medium Format Film Camera
Q. I have a Hasselblad 500C with five lenses, four backs, a couple of bodies, etc. I went the digital way 10 or 15 years ago and let the Hasselblad retire to the closet securely stored in its case. I would like to get back to the great Zeiss lenses and the Hasselblad. I must admit that the scanner and computer are far more enjoyable than the darkroom. What suggestions would you have for making the transition?
Robert C. Bockoven, MD
A. There are quite a few Shutterbug readers who have continued using medium format cameras and film; they just scan the film. What you will need to do to get underway is first of all have your Hasselblad gear serviced; sitting in a case that long all of the lubricants in the cameras and shutters will have dried and using the gear without service would possibly do damage and result in unreliable performance from sticky shutters.
You will need a good scanner to digitize the film images you make. An extremely fine and inexpensive scanner is the Canon CanoScan 9000F I reported on not long ago. Just type “CanoScan 9000F” into the Search box on the Shutterbug homepage. However, depending on where you live, the biggest problems are first getting 120 film and then getting it developed. The film is not readily available except in the few professional camera stores left. You might try two of our advertisers for 120 film, B&H Photo/Video and Adorama, and then check our Photo Lab Showcase ad section for various labs that still offer this service.
Otherwise, getting into film and scanning the film images is not a difficult undertaking. You are probably already set up with most of the computer software if you have been doing digital camera photography. Scanning and editing film images fits right in pretty seamlessly.
Best Film For Scanning?
Q. Which color and black-and-white films do you find give the best overall scanning results? I’m guessing Kodak Portra and Ilford XP2, but am very interested in what you suggest.
A. The most recent shooting and scanning project I did was with 35mm and used both the Kodak C-41 process black-and-white film as well as Ilford XP2, but it seems the Kodak film in 120 has been discontinued. For black-and-white scans, if I have sufficient light, I would do both color and black and white using Kodak Ektar film. It was designed to be scanned, and I see no reason to think a faster Ilford XP2 would produce as good a black-and-white scan.
With current scanners the infrared image dirt and scratch cleaning is a great advantage, but of course does not work with traditional silver-based black-and-white films. So shooting in color negative for both black-and-white and color reproduction is an advantage. In fact, the conversion from color to black and white as part of the scanning process also has the advantage of being able to set up the color interpretation to produce enhanced tonal contrast and separation.
18 Percent Gray Card: Still Relevant?
Q. I’ve been a medium format guy for years, shooting 6x6 and 6x4.5 formats in color and black and white. I recently switched to digital and bought a Nikon D700. I always used a Kodak 18 percent Neutral Gray Card as a part of the first picture for that particular day of shooting. I included the gray card inconspicuously in the picture or took a picture of the card itself. Does this hold true for digital? Will it help in printing a perfect reproduction of the original scene?
Dobbs Ferry, NY
A. Your use of a gray card will work essentially the same, but the concept has been advanced considerably and made more accurate and useful. The best and most popular method is one developed by X-Rite called the ColorChecker Passport. You can get acquainted with what it is and how it works at the following X-Rite website:
I am sure you would find this useful.
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