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
How To Store Digital Image Files
Q. Re: archival storage of image files. I have been using CDs from Delkin Devices for a couple of years. Now they have an Archival Gold DVD-R (the 100-year disc). Looks like there is gold on both sides. What is your opinion on using these DVDs? You have stated that you do not use a DVD as the grooves do not go deep or wide enough to provide good archival usage. I have been using these DVDs for archival reasons. So, are they going to work in the long run?
A. Yes, I have been skeptical of DVD-R discs in respect of how long they will last on a theoretical basis because a DVD-R records eight times as much data as a CD-R using the same size disc space, so the recording tracks are much finer, more delicate, and made in a dye layer. Until recently there has been no objective scientific testing to determine how long their life span could be. Even manufactured DVDs used heavily, even though the recorded information is in a metal layer, can be easily destroyed—just ask Netflix about how many movie DVDs they rent that are destroyed by customers. Or, you can put a DVD-R out in sunlight for a while and see how quickly the data is lost because the dye layer has been bleached by sunlight.
There is some news on this front, however. Very recently a new kind of DVD-R has been announced and samples have been sent to members of the press, including yours truly, and this new kind of DVD-R has been tested for durability by the US Department of Defense’s weapons laboratory at China Lake, California. It is called an M-Disc and is made in the U.S.A. by a company called Millenniata. You can get information and pre-order M-Discs and drives at: www.millenniata.com.
I am just about finished working with some new M-Disc samples and an LG drive to record them, and will have a complete product report ready that will be published in Shutterbug soon. Frankly, you or I will never know if the discs we make will last 100 years, so we have to rely on testing labs to provide some clues.
Scanner Software Upgrade
Q. I am in the process of scanning a fairly large amount of Kodachrome slides from the 1950s. I have a Microtek ArtixScan 120tf with SilverFast Ai 6. With the Ektachrome calibration slide as a reference the scans come out with a bluish cast. SilverFast sells a Kodachrome calibration slide, but I don’t know if my scanner supports it. Could you tell me if they are compatible?
A. What you may want to do is upgrade your LaserSoft SilverFast application for the Microtek 120tf. With a current version of SilverFast, in the main setup, you have three options—positive, negative, and Kodachrome. If your scanner is profiled, then this Kodachrome scan selection interpolates between a standard profile to what it would be if a Kodachrome IT-8 reference slide were used. To profile yourself, you do need an IT-8 version of SilverFast that has profiling support. (The slide I believe is $79 plus shipping. But from my experience a current SilverFast Version 6.2.3 essentially has it built in, and works just as well; and you get more for your money. An upgrade should be free for Version 6.2.3.)
In any case, the next step may be to just upgrade your SilverFast software for the scanner, and try the Kodachrome setting option. From my experience it is an advantage over using a scanner profiled with an Ektachrome IT-8. Check the exact version of SilverFast currently available on the LaserSoft website, www.silverfast.com, to see if there are features you would like to include in an upgrade.
Managing Files On CDs
Q. I’m using a Mac mini, Snow Leopard OS, and Photoshop CS4. My problem is that when I try to save a file in Photoshop from a CD it’s read only and I can’t save it after editing it. I’ve imported CDs (infrequently) but don’t remember having this problem.
A. If you are using files from a CD that is read only, copy the files to a folder on your desktop and then use the Save As command to save the file elsewhere. In the Finder File menu selection you can use Get Info to pop up a dialog that tells you the status of a file:
If that file is copied to your computer desktop, you obtain a different
Q. What are your thoughts on purchasing a refurbished Canon digital camera directly from Canon? I am looking at a refurbished EOS 5D Mark II because I might be able to purchase it for $1699 directly from Canon, if there is one in stock and if the 15 percent off offer works. Big ifs, but worth considering for a significant savings.
So, any thoughts you have about new vs. used equipment would be a huge help.
A. I have not purchased any refurbished products from Canon. However, if I need something they have that is refurbished and Canon is selling it, I would not hesitate to do so. I have known the company for years, and many of its employees, and have high confidence in their integrity and expertise. I cannot imagine Canon selling anything that might produce any doubt about their high standing reputation with customers.
Copying Or Scanning Antique Prints, Which Is Better?
Q. I have a large collection of over 700 black-and-white family photographs from my grandparents and I want to digitally archive the most important ones. I do not have negatives for any of the prints, which vary in size from 3x5” snapshots to 8x10” professional studio portraits. I have a Canon CanoScan 9000F scanner running SilverFast Ai 6.6 software and a Nikon D7000 with a “Micro Nikkor” lens and a copy stand. What should I use to get the best digital copy of these black-and-white photos? Does the scanner or the camera generally have a greater dynamic range?
A. To answer that last question about dynamic range, it is really not an issue because a print of any kind has a physically limited dynamic range. In other words, both a scanner and a digital camera have a much greater dynamic range. So the real question is which method of recording a print’s range is the easiest to do to obtain accurate results. Definitely a scanner, because copying prints with a camera involves aligning the print surface with the digital sensor; in other words, you have to position the print on a flat surface, and then position the camera and adjust its angle so it is exactly 90˚.
By placing a print on the glass surface of the scanner platen, alignment is taken care of and the resulting scan will be an accurate representation of the print original. And unlike copying, the scanner provides its own accurate lighting of the print to be scanned. You have, in my opinion, the best consumer scanner and software, but scanning old prints usually involves a considerable amount of manual corrective retouching afterward, so take your time and be patient. Good results can be achieved, and all that takes is practice.
Re: White LED Backlit LCD Displays
Q. I am going to update my laptop to a MacBook Pro i5 or i7. When it comes to screens, which is better for editing photos, the glossy or the anti-glare screen? Any and all advice is appreciated.
A. Most of the professional photographers I know of who use MacBook Pro computers do not use this laptop computer’s display for photographic image editing; they add a pro-graphics desktop LCD display for image color correction and adjustment editing. But that does not answer your question, which would be the matte screen surface would be less influenced by environmental light.
The MacBook Pro screen is not recommended for photo image editing because it is too bright and has a white LED backlight, so it is difficult to color manage. The science behind this assessment I make is in a PDF file that can be found on Google.com, and the title is: “Colour Management White Paper: Light Emitting Diodes (LED) vs. Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFL)…and their use for backlighting in reference displays.” The report was written on February 25, 2010 by M. Chenery, who is a color scientist/Cine-tal product expert.
The final conclusion in the report is: “For high-end colour accurate reference displays, the best choice for stability, ease of colour management and ability to match existing monitor systems remains CCFL backlighting.”
24” LCD Display Recommendations
Q. I would like your recommendation for a 24’’ monitor that has a full range of calibration capabilities. I run Windows XP.
A. The one I have tested and reported on, as well as use every day, is the Dell UltraSharp U2410. There are better performing makes and models that are more costly, and I would include the following I have tested and some I use myself in my lab: the LaCie 324i and the EIZO FlexScan SX2462. In addition, there are the 24” NEC SpectraView II LCD displays, but I am not as enthused as some are with them because they are entirely proprietary, requiring use of the NEC SpectraView software and approved colorimeter.
America Vs. Europe And Asia & Paper Sizes
Q. Do you know what digital photo paper sizes and digital image sizes are most common in various countries in Europe and Asia, or do you know where I might be able to find that information or who I might be able to ask?
A. If you have an Epson or Canon printer all the paper sizes are available in the printer driver interface, up to the maximum size the printer can use. Right clicking on any of the sizes like B4 will display the actual measurements of the paper. Most of Europe and Asia use these standard sizes, or at least some of them.
Google is the best source for more specific standards information like this; it is just very time consuming finding the one reference that specifically answers your needs.
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