Q&A For Digital Photography Page 2

The Best Scanning Resolution Choice
Q. Just wanted to thank you for your previous guidance which gave me the information to decide on the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 film and slide scanner. It has done a remarkable job for me. Not too many issues ago, I believe I read a response by you to a reader which suggested that he/she scan everything on their "consumer-level" scanner at the highest resolution and then adjust the resolution in an image-editing program. If that was your comment/response to a reader did I understand it correctly? Is that a suggestion for flat-beds only or also for dedicated slide/film scanners such as the 5400?
Mike Sullivan

A. Scanning at the scanner's maximum optical resolution provides the maximum quantity and quality of information the scanner can obtain from a film image. So, it makes sense to me to start with all that is possible, and just re-size smaller if you don't want to use it all for a particular purpose.

Recommendation For Monitor Sensor To Calibrate And Profile
Q. Your department in Shutterbug is always good, and a help to me. You have also answered my queries a couple of times and I hope you can help once again. I am considering the purchase of a monitor calibration device. I have looked at a number of products, and would appreciate your input. I cannot afford the topnotch brands such as Monaco. I am now trying to decide between Digital Light & Color's Profile Mechanic - Monitor at about $180, and ColorVision's ColorPLUS (at $109) or Spyder (at $169). Do you have any recommendations/comparisons that will help me make a decision?
George S. Pearson

A. In a recent issue of Shutterbug (November 2004) in an article on the newest LCD displays I included a sidebar announcing ColorVision's new Spyder2. Since then I have been using one and found this latest ColorVision monitor calibration and profiling hardware/software package is a significant improvement over what I have used before. In addition to being the best in practical terms, ColorVision has an aggressive pricing policy so it is also one of the most affordable of the quality solutions available.

A New Computer + Older Printers And Scanners = Possible Problems
Q. I have an HP printer that was receiving my memory card and downloading into my computer just fine until I recently bought a new Dell computer. Now when I insert the card the computer says that the device does not contain any images or it is missing its storage medium (such as a memory card).
It has also said that my parameters are not correct. What can I do to solve this problem? I was able to download the pictures by using a cable but I would much prefer to use the easier method. I have tried reinstalling the printer software and have gone back to the default settings.
Emeline Keith

A. Very often, and commonly, the purchase of a new computer involves also an upgrade to the newest version of the operating system. Although the new operating system may have basic support for the older, legacy devices like your HP printer, there is not always support for all functions. Sometimes the device, in this case the HP printer, requires a rewritten device driver. Many companies provide these new version drivers on their website for download. If you have not explored this possibility, I would suggest that you go to the HP website and search for drivers for your printer, and hopefully there will be a newer driver version specific to your current operating system. If so, download it, uninstall the old HP printer driver, and install the new one.
Sometimes even this will not restore all of the same facilities the original driver and the old operating system provided. I have run into this problem on numerous occasions. Unfortunately I have had to come to the conclusion that this is part of the price of progress.

The Challenge Of Mounting Resin-Based Ink Jet Prints
Q. My question concerns ink jet papers: Can they be dry mounted? Currently I am using a Canon i9900 printer that uses dye-based ink and Ilford's Galerie Classic Pearl Paper. If this can be done, what precautions should I take?
Richard Batchelor

A. Theoretically, any dry mounting material and press specifically intended for use with RC photo papers should be relatively safe when used for mounting resin-based ink jet papers. However, my personal attitude is more cautious, that with any color dye image one should avoid using any heat applied in the process of mounting to avoid the heat shifting the color values. Unfortunately, reliable cold, high-pressure mounting equipment is rather costly. So, if you are mounting a limited number of prints it is maybe more prudent to have it done by a reliable professional who deals with high value art, like a reputable frame shop. And, by the way, spray adhesives tend to dry out in time and lose adhesion.

All Sensor-Created Digital Images Are Not Sharp
Q. I am new to digital and have a few questions about which camera from Canon would give me the best quality at the lowest price. I would like to print 20x30" prints if possible. I shoot in the raw format and work on it in Photoshop Elements. The best print I have gotten is 11x14". I purchased a Canon EOS Digital Rebel with an 18-55mm lens. The lens at 18mm does not seem sharp even at f/11. I sent it off to Canon and they checked it out and sent it back saying they could find no problem. Am I doing something wrong? Or is it the quality of the lens or should I purchase another high-quality lens that's not a zoom? Or is it the Digital Rebel that may be the problem?
Kris Boom

A. The problem you have is not with the camera or the lens, it is that you, like most photographers new to digital, do not realize that any digital sensor array is inherently "soft" due to the physical size of each cell in the sensor, and the image requires sharpening with firmware and/or software. And, there will be little difference between cameras in this regard that have the same sensor area size and megapixel count. But of course with a higher megapixel count for a given sized sensor, the smaller each sensor cell must be, so effective sharpness will be greater, and will appear sharper at a particular print size.
In addition, there is specialized interpolation software that is used effectively for the production of large prints, the most popular being Genuine Fractals, which is marketed by LizardTech. I have used this software to make prints with an image size of 16x24" with an Epson Stylus Pro 4000 from images made with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel. If anything, the prints look better and sharper than similar sized prints I have made in the past from 35mm film.

A Basic Slide Scanner Recommendation
Q. I have slides from the 1960s and '70s that I would like to make into prints. What would be the most practical way to get this done? There are over 1000 slides. I have a computer and printer.

A. The most effective and practical way is to use a dedicated slide scanner. If you don't expect to make prints with an image size any larger than 11x14", or smaller, there is a new scanner I am currently testing that I can recommend. It is the UMAX PowerLook 270 2, which has a price of $299. More information can be obtained by visiting their website at: www.umax.com/scanners/. Look for my review in an upcoming issue of Shutterbug.