Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography Page 2

Product Specification Numbers
Q. I take it from your blog on the Canon CanoScan 9000F that you would opt for the 9000F rather than the Epson V600. I currently have the CanoScan 8800F and am very impressed with it, even using just the native ScanGear software. I presume it would work even better with SilverFast. I guess my question is, with the very attractive price of the 9000F, do you think it would be worth upgrading from the 8800F to the 9000F with SilverFast? Or, just get SilverFast for the 8800F, which seems to be the same price?
It should be noted that I do have the Plustek OpticFilm 7500i with SilverFast Ai (with IT8 slide), so does that affect your answer to my earlier question? I have lots of prints and color and black-and-white negatives from the 1930s to the present, and lots of slides, including a considerable number of Kodachromes. I want to get the best and most efficient scans of all of these types. So, I’m unsure of whether SilverFast SE or Ai is best for me for either the 8800F or the 9000F.
Ron Thoman
via e-mail

A. First of all, there is a huge difference between the CanoScan 8800F and the new CanoScan 9000F and that is, the new one has twice the optical resolution as the previous model. What makes that important is that the size of the CCD sensors are much smaller, so no matter at what resolution you scan, the relationship of the scan to the film image is very much finer.
As for software, Canon is no better than any other hardware manufacturer. They all write terribly inadequate user control of image quality compared to LaserSoft’s SilverFast. But SilverFast requires learning how to color correct and adjust image values, and most users never bother to learn that skill thoroughly. Most American photographers think it is about hardware when it is really about the learned skill of color correcting and adjusting image values with software. To me, there is really no point in moving from SilverFast SE to Ai unless you have thoroughly mastered what SE can do.

Trial & Error Multiple Scan Variations
Q. I purchased a Plustek OpticFilm scanner (7600i SE) and have begun the daunting task of digitizing my collection of travel slides dating back to 1968. I have experimented with the various settings and am happy with the results except for one thing—the images, when enlarged, seem grainy. When I crop an image I can see the loss in sharpness. Maybe I am doing something wrong and before continuing I would like your feedback.
I am scanning Ektachrome and Fujichrome (saving the Kodachrome for last) and have used the following settings: 48 to 24-bit color, 3600dpi, iSRD when necessary, and auto sharpen. In addition, I am confused about the “multi-exposure” and “multi-sampling.” It seems you have to choose between them. And is the 4x that much better than the 2x? Any advice would be appreciated.
L. Orloff
via e-mail

A. I scan at the largest print size I am going to use, which is 12x18” at 300ppi. I usually only use the automatic sharpening in the scan processing, and if more is needed I add it in image editing later.
Of course I can’t repeat a detailed instruction in how to color correct and adjust images in scanning, but one of my articles on SilverFast SE is on the SilverFast website (, and much more is included in my Digital Darkroom Resource CD described in detail on my website (
In addition, I wrote in my Shutterbug blog a little while ago that I am using Adobe Camera Raw to do post-scan tweaking adjustments of images and the Clarity adjustment can be used to reduce apparent graininess and then enhance sharpening, open shadows, etc. The only times, and they are rare, that I use multi-exposure or multi-scan is if the original slide is very contrasty or underexposed. Try different variations with each image scanned to learn which adjustments work best with different images. And yes, slides from 1970 will be grainy by today’s expectations from newer films.

Archival Storage & Backup
Q. I am beginning to take my photography seriously and plan to do architectural work in New York City. I need to keep referring to my photos, which are reasonably organized. I have them on my hard drive and also on a “My Book” as a backup. Also, most of the photos are on archival disks. I need more space. What is the safest way to remove photos from the hard drive and to a backup like “My Book”?
Should I get another backup and use the current backup for everyday work or should I use a service? What do you recommend?
Ralph Selitzer
via e-mail

A. To be candid, the worst place to store photographic image files is on your computer’s hard drive. The second worst is with an Internet company, as there is no guarantee the company will be there tomorrow or a year from now. In the 20 years I have been doing photography digitally very few of the companies I did business with then even exist today, and I can say the same thing for 10 years ago. All of my archival, permanent digital image files are stored on Mitsui gold-gold CD-R discs, over 500 of them since the year 2000, that’s more than 5000 high-resolution image files. All of the files are thumbnailed and printed on contact sheets that are filed in several categories in large three-ring binders. I can find any image I want in just a couple of minutes, put the CD-R in my computer and have it up for use to print or whatever.
I keep current files that I’m working with on external hard drives connected by FireWire to my computers. Any files I’m not currently working with are only kept on the CD-R discs, and in almost 20 years I have not lost one file.

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