Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography

Digital Help is designed to aid you in getting the most from your digital photography, printing, scanning, and image creation. Each month, David Brooks provides solutions to problems you might encounter with matters such as color calibration and management, digital printer and scanner settings, and working with digital photographic images with many different kinds of cameras and software. All questions sent to him will be answered with the most appropriate information he can access and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this department. Readers can send questions to David Brooks addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug website (, directly via e-mail to: or or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

Digital SLR Flash Compatibility
Q. I recently received a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D camera. This is my first serious digital SLR. I also have a Maxxum 7 35mm. On the 7 I have been using a Vivitar flash. What flashes are compatible with the Maxxum 5D? I have heard horror stories of frying the electronics by using the wrong flash with digital cameras and I do not want to ruin it before I even begin to learn to use it correctly.
Pansy Fryman
via e-mail

A. I do not have any specific compatibility information, particularly regarding a Vivitar flash, which I would have to assume is pretty old. But if you have used it on a Minolta Maxxum 7 35mm SLR, I would assume the 5D flash sync would be the same or similar, as the 5D SLR body was derived from the film version.
However, I would advise caution, particularly because the Konica Minolta company just announced it is closing its photo products division. Service and warranty support from Konica Minolta may be very much in doubt, so don't take a chance if you can afford not to. In other words, maybe the better part of wisdom would be to look for a compatible Konica Minolta flash and buy one. You should be able to get one at a good price considering the company has just announced it is going out of the photo business.
The Sony Corporation has taken over some of the Konica Minolta digital camera products, so in time support in the way of accessories like flash units and lenses for your Konica Minolta digital camera should be available from Sony.

Using A Laptop In Conjunction With A Digital Camera
Q. I'd like your advice on buying a laptop. I know CRT monitors (yes, I'm using one currently) are best. Is there a laptop model that works well or comes close to CRT color? I'm about to spend a decent amount of dough on a laptop and would truly appreciate your input.
John McNamara
via e-mail

A. In general, I know relatively little about laptops as I don't use them myself and have not done any testing or evaluation on specific models. However, many professional photographers, some who I know personally, do use laptops in conjunction with digital cameras as part of the way they work. All but one I know of use Apple Mac laptops. And, just from the specifications, it is clear the Apple Mac higher-end laptop models are like their counterpart desktop G5 models with strong support of graphic performance. I would have to assume the LCD display is comparable in quality as it is in specifications to the Apple Cinema Displays for their desktop computers, which I have tested and found well suited to digital photography.
But I also realize not everyone feels favorably toward Apple Macs, even though many pros use them. The one high-quality PC computer that does make models that includes some very respected laptops specifically configured for graphics and photography is Sony. This makes sense as they also make some fine digital cameras. So if it's PC Windows, I would suggest looking at the Sony Vaio laptop models.

LCD Display Viewing Angle
Q. I came across your comments about the Samsung SyncMaster 244T on the Shutterbug Forums and wonder if you would comment on its viewing angles. Any problems with color shifts or loss of contrast even if you move your head position slightly? I'm also considering the Dell 2405FPW but am concerned about reports of narrow viewing angles with this monitor, hence I'm trying to find out more about the Samsung.
via e-mail

A. Compared to any CRT, all LCDs do have a narrower angle of view, and if not viewed from center line straight on, the image will be adversely seen as the angle increases. In this latest high-end model, Samsung has increased the viewing angle compared to earlier models and brands of LCDs.
Samsung is the world's largest manufacturer of LCD displays, and considered by many in the computer industry to have the most advanced models offering just about the best performance among consumer products. You are not likely to obtain better performance unless you go to the pricey pro graphic models like the Eizo ColorEdge CG210.
My remarks only apply if the display is digitally connected via a DVI plug to a digital output video card.

Upgrading One Computer Component Sometimes Requires Upgrading Others
Q. We just installed Tiger 10.4 on our two Macs in our studio. One is a G5, the other is a G3 tower. When I connect my Lexar CompactFlash card reader (Model GS-UFD-20SA-TP) to the G5 with Tiger 10.4, it works OK. When I hook it up to the G3 with Tiger 10.4, it is not recognized and the red LED does not light (green power LED lights up). When I run the G3 with Classic 9, it works OK. I contacted Lexar, and they said they don't support the Mac OS above 10.2 for that reader. When I reminded him that it does work on the G5 with Tiger 10.4, he practically laughed at me and said it couldn't work!
Any help you could provide would be great.
Joe Daly
via e-mail

A. The first thing that comes to mind, and I am here assuming your card reader is USB, is that your G3 may need a firmware upgrade for 10.4 to be able to communicate with the USB device. You may want to use an authorized Apple technician for this if your G3's firmware has not been upgraded.
Another possible avenue to provide a fix for the G3 is to install an additional, new model USB card in the G3.
Sorry I cannot offer more, but I have to rely on an Apple technician myself with such problems. I really don't even try to keep up with all of the details involved as to what goes on with the inside workings of things like USB support, and have not had any problems myself so I don't have any real experience to share.

CD-R Or DVD-R For Archiving Image Files
Q. Now that my DVD/CD LaCie burner has arrived, I am curious whether you still have a preference for burning CDs. Do you burn DVDs? My present system works well with TDK CD Gold. In the case of DVDs, I am also wondering whether you have some preference.
Perry Joseph
via e-mail

A. The way you "burn" your own discs, whether CD-R or DVD-R, is quite similar. A blank disc has a dye layer into which a laser burns an imprint of microscopic holes (pits). The main difference is that although a CD and DVD are the same physical size, a DVD squeezes many more times the data into that same space. The result is the recording is more "delicate" and finer, so any deterioration to the dye layer may cause a loss of access to the data recorded much sooner. And, the dye layer can be affected in many ways, including bleaching by exposure to light or deterioration due to exposure to impurities in the air.
CD-R blanks do come in an "archival" version referred to as Gold/Gold because a microscopic layer of gold metal sandwiches the dye layer, protecting the layer from damage by light. The Gold/Gold technology has not been successfully applied to DVD-R. So there are no similarly long lasting DVD-R blank discs available. For that reason I do not use DVD-R for archiving image files, only CD-R discs.

Can Digital Provide Any Advantage To Doing B&W Photography?
Q. I have been reading more and more articles from people who are giving up their medium format film cameras for digital SLRs. I can see this for wedding photographers but can the current digital state of the art really compete with film in terms of fine art quality monochrome prints? My intuition would be that a 4000dpi scan of a 120 negative would have to be better than any current digital SLR capture but I don't know how to determine this. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
David Brenders
via e-mail

A. Most of the advantages of digital that are motivating many professionals to make the switch from film apply only to making color images. There is no similar digital advantage for making black and white photographs, although some adventuresome photographers have used high-resolution scanning backs for 4x5 cameras configured for black and white capture to produce some spectacular results.
If I were still doing black and white, as I did for many, many years until recently, I would shoot on film and scan, as digital inkjet printing does offer some significant advantages. Then you retain the wide range of film choices and development options that have been a part of traditional black and white fine art photography. But I might be inclined to be lazy and shoot the C-41 process chromogenic black and white film because you can use Digital ICE when scanning to eliminate any dust, and Photoshop can make up for tailoring film, exposure, and development to the subject. In addition, there is an advantage to scanning a dye image over a silver-based one because there is almost no chance you will obtain any highlight blocking, which can be a problem when scanning silver-based film.

I am pleased to announce the new second edition of my eBook DIGITAL DARKROOM RESOURCE CD. The CD now contains 16 chapters totaling 227 pages in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format, providing easy to read text and large high quality illustration. The CD is available for $20 plus $2 shipping and handling (US Mail if available). Ordering is as simple as sending a check or money order for $22 made out to me, David B. Brooks and mailed to PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.