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
Differences Between JPEG And TIFF
Q. In the December, 2013, issue you mentioned converting Raw files to TIFF. I typically convert my files to JPEG and would like to know if there is a reason that I should be converting to TIFF.
A. The reason for using Raw format with a digital SLR camera is that it records all of the image information that is captured by the camera sensor. If you save the conversion of the Raw file in TIFF or PSD or any other standard uncompressed file format, all of the image information in the camera Raw file is preserved intact. If you save in JPEG or any other compressed format then some of the image information is deleted because the file compression processor thinks it is redundant, and that makes the file size smaller. In addition, JPEG files are also usually saved in sRGB color space, which reduces the number of different colors in the image file by about 35 percent. This causes the variation in different colors on the screen or print to be fewer than in the original Raw file captured by the camera.
JPEG became popular over a decade ago because at that time storage space was expensive, but today storage space costs less than 10 percent of what it did then. So nowadays, little money is saved at the cost of seriously decreased image quality.
Frank Talk On Display Cost/Size & Software, Too
Q. One quick question regarding monitors: should I look at a 27” model? As to software, I am still locked into either Aperture or CS4 because of the plug-ins I use, both Alien Skin products, Exposure and Blow Up. Exposure 5 can now be used with Aperture, but I am not sure if Alien Skin has a version of Blow Up that can operate in Aperture.
A. To be completely blunt, I have yet to see a 27” display equal the performance of the same model 24” version. Second, you pay about twice as much for the 3” diagonal difference, which gets you no more than and usually less than a 10 percent increase in real usable screen space. And, third, you can get a very similar quality 24” sRGB display for less than the difference between the cost of a 27” over a 24” pro-graphics display, and you get a double increase in screen space with that added inexpensive display. Then, having both an Adobe RGB and an sRGB display it is easy to switch from print quality
high-resolution files to JPEG/sRGB files for use in e-mails, on the web, and saved for others to display from a CD/DVD.
As to software, in my opinion Photoshop is the most inefficient and incomplete image-editing application there is, and it’s grossly overpriced. Aperture and Lightroom are made for commercial, wedding, and portrait photographers who cannot think of how to organize and search for different files. By having a big database as the leading part of a simple imaging software program it really slows the functioning of the application. With the latest iPhoto you can obtain just as much editing ability as you will actually find in Aperture and it is also color managed, as are all Apple applications. Plug-ins do not provide anything that is not already a capability of an image-editing application; it’s just an easy shortcut and you pay a lot to avoid the effort of learning how to use an application.
Sorry I am being so critically frank, but I hate to see so many photo enthusiasts taken advantage of by those selling “easy” for many times what it is worth. The result is you get automated look-alike images the same as so many others who have shelled out for the same plug-in.
Minolta Scan Elite 5400 Driver
Q. Your past reviews and articles convinced me to buy the Minolta 5400 transparency scanner. The scanner is still working well, but I recently went online to Sony’s website for driver support and I couldn’t find anything except some historical pages, which didn’t help me. If you know of any existing support for the 5400 line I would appreciate it.
A. If you’re using, as you say, a Windows XP PC (or other Windows version and an Apple Mac) you can obtain excellent scanner software support from LaserSoft SilverFast. If you go to www.silverfast.com/product/Minolta/434/en.html you should find what you need. And if you need more general information just put “Minolta Scan Elite 5400” into a Google search window and you will find all kinds of other support information.
LCD Displays And Various Computers
Q. I plan to update my Mac with a new one. I know that iMac displays are worthless for photographic use because they’re too bright and can’t be easily calibrated. So I need to get either a second monitor for photo use, or get a primary monitor that’s usable for photo work and use it with a Mac mini or Mac Pro.
I’m considering the Dell U2413 because it’s been mentioned in your articles. However, one paragraph on its web page gives me great pause: “Custom color adjustments: Tweak shades to your preference of saturation or hue with Dell Custom Color. Or choose to further calibrate the monitor with the optional X-rite i1DisplayPro colorimeter, which allows you to access a 14-bit LUT (look-up table) via the Dell UltraSharp Color Calibration Solution software (which is only supported on Windows 8).”
That is very disappointing—it sounds like I can’t even properly calibrate this display unless I dump my Spyder3Elite for an X-Rite i1 and switch to Windows. Do you happen to know if it’s possible to properly calibrate a U2413 on a Mac? I’ll switch colorimeters if I really have to, but switching back to Windows is not going to happen!
A. You have to keep in mind that Dell is a PC product company and therefore its perspective is that of a Windows Operating System (OS) and does not even acknowledge that there are also Apple and Linux systems that can be used in conjunction with their displays. So, if Dell is referring to the X-Rite i1Display Pro you have to consider that its native X-Rite software is supported for use with Apple OS and Linux software as well as Microsoft Windows.
Recently I tested and reported on the new Asus PA249Q 24” LED display (December, 2013, issue). The Asus was tested on an Apple Mac mini and was adjusted, calibrated, and profiled using an X-Rite i1Display Pro to obtain the most accurate final results I have ever recorded with any of the many displays I have tested. The Asus PA249Q sells at close to the same price as the Dell UltraSharp U2413.
So the answer is that none of what you read should be of concern, which is usually the case when a corporate seller is the author of information about their own products. That is why I test and report on products independently for the magazine.
What Have We Here?
Q. I noticed a “multi-scanner” in a catalog that I think may be made by Braun. The slide tray is the old German design. It’s the most expensive of the many “consumer slide scanners” that I’ve seen. Despite the “professional” tag, it seems to have been around for a while since Windows 8 is not mentioned. Has anyone reviewed these units? The claims seem hyped.
A. What you are likely referring to is the Braun Multimag SlideScan 6000 that sells for prices between $1800 and $2000. It offers automated scanning of 35mm mounted slides at up to 5000x5000dpi at 48-bit depth with a 3.8 maximum density. It is limited in use to mounted 35mm slides, so black-and-white or color negative film must be mounted in a standard 2x2 slide. The scanner comes with a LaserSoft SilverFast software driver and the Adobe Photoshop Elements editing application. It is therefore both limited in use and at a lower optical resolution than the much less expensive Plustek OpticFilm 8200i dedicated 35mm film scanners with similar software.
Q. Shortly after reading all the comments about Adobe Cloud in the November, 2013, issue, I received an e-mail from a friend who had a hard drive crash and tried to install his fully licensed CS2. “Tom, I had to put in a new hard drive as I was having problems with the original. I lost Adobe Photoshop CS2. And Adobe no longer supports activation. I have the original but I need an activation number to load the program. Any help is appreciated.”
I did some research and found this in the Adobe Forums: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1187986.
I sent this information to my friend; perhaps you’d want to research this and pass it on, too.
A. Anyone with a computer should realize that the primary hard drive is at risk to fail, so it should be backed up to an external hard drive. This is an easy and inexpensive safety measure, and allows the backup data to be migrated to a new hard drive if and when it is replaced. If a hard drive replacement is made while the old drive is still running, the data on it can be migrated to a new drive as part of the replacement process.
The information in the URL reference you sent to your friend is as follows: “The old installers will want to activate, and the activation servers have been shut down, so Adobe has posted new versions of the installers that don’t require activation, along with new serial numbers that should work, for previously licensed users of CS2 at Adobe - CS2 Downloads.”
This indicates that Adobe has provided an alternative to CS2 activation, but no specific mapping to where on the Adobe site it is located. And I have personally not found it myself, so if anyone finds it let me know.
Finally, there are other image-editing applications available to replace Photoshop CS2 that are much less expensive and have friendlier user support. One of them is Corel’s PaintShop Pro X6 that you can try at no cost at www.corel.com.
Renting From The Cloud?
Q. I’ve been following the debate on Adobe’s decision to sell the Creative Suite only as a cloud subscription. In my opinion, Adobe’s decision to offer the Creative Suite only as a cloud subscription has been driven by a single major reason: making more money. Adobe failed to provide major improvements in CS6 over CS5. Anyway, not enough to justify the $600 price tag (on Amazon) or even higher. Let’s do the math: the cloud subscription is $50/month. By using this new business model Adobe sells the equivalent of a new CS every year to each subscriber. Personally, I deeply dislike this approach, and hope it will make more customers buy alternative photo-editing products from smaller software developers.
Fort Collins, CO
A. A good part of what I do is digital photo editing to have the experience necessary to write for photo magazines. Over quite a few years I have not reviewed and reported on Photoshop, but have tested and written reports on Corel PaintShop Pro X6, LaserSoft SilverFast, and Organic Imaging. But my readers report they keep buying and using Photoshop. To me, if people don’t like what Adobe does with their marketing, why do they continue to use Adobe products? There are other choices. (Editor’s Note: Adobe has notified me that photographers can use specific products in “cloud” CS6 with updates for $9.95 a month. I note this not to endorse it but to correct the $50/month figure in this reader’s letter.)
I am pleased to announce the latest 4.3 edition tomy eBook Digital Darkroom Resource Cd. The CD now contains 33 chapters totaling 399 pages in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format, providing easy-to-read text and large high-quality illustration. The CD is available for $20 plus $5 shipping and handling (US Mail if available). Ordering is as simple as sending a check or money order for $25 made out to me, David B. Brooks, and mailed to PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.