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.

Don't Buy "Fast" Digital Camera Storage Cards If You Don't Need The Speed
Q. I was under the impression there was a need for a faster card to cut down on the lag time between shots, whether it was for fast action or not. I do not use it for burst or action sports shooting except for my kids' soccer or baseball games but how fast can a 6- or 9-year-old be? My concern: I am trying to use this D-SLR like my Minolta 9xi, and in regards to shutter lag, I see people all the time with digital point-and-shoot cameras and they have to wait for what seems like 3 or 4 seconds before they can shoot again. I have never owned a digital camera and I am very excited to get my Sony A100 D-SLR, and I am only trying to stay ahead of any shutter lag problems.

Many point-and-shoot cameras are produced to a low price point and therefore the manufacturer does not install a sizable RAM buffer to store exposures in a queue for downloading to the memory card. Most D-SLRs do have a RAM buffer that will hold several exposures; the higher up the "professional" ladder and price of a D-SLR, the larger the buffer size, usually. (Editor's Note: Re: shutter lag. This has more to do with the mechanics of point-and-shoots vs. D-SLRs, and you should find any shutter lag virtually disappears when switching to a D-SLR.)

Apple Mac mini Spurs Interest As A Computer For Digital Photography
Q. I want to thank you for your review of the Mac mini in the November 2006 issue. As a PC user I have been looking to make the switch to Mac for some time now. I am interested if you have any issues with running Aperture 1.5 or CS2 on the mini. I am concerned that the graphic card is 64MB shared. I plan to use it for photo imaging, retouching, and likely will also run Lightroom for Mac. I have considered the iMac, but if I do not need the 128 or 256 graphic card I would be pleased with the Mac mini. If you are satisfied with the Mac mini I am certain that I would also be pleased with it. I do plan to run the mini with 2GB RAM.
Wayne Summers

Since my report on the Mac mini, Apple has upgraded the Mac mini and the Intel Core Solo model I reported on has been replaced with an Intel Core Duo processor. The next model up now has a 1.83MHz Core Duo processor and the base price remains the same. Inasmuch as my experience with the Mac mini Solo was very favorable, I recently purchased another, the 1.83MHz Core Duo version, and now use the original Solo as my business computer. The graphic performance of the original Solo, running a 21" CRT at 1152x870 resolution, was perfectly satisfactory, but when I used it with the 1600x1200 resolution LCD it did slow screen re-writes a bit. But the new 1.83 is faster and the display performance with an LCD at 1600x1200 leaves nothing to be desired. In fact, this 1.83MHz Mac mini is barely slower in any performance aspect than a 2-3-year-old Power Mac Dual Processor G5 with an ATI 9600Pro video card that costs 2.5x as much.
However, I would not recommend a Mac mini for doing photography with anything less than 2GB of RAM, but you say that's what you plan. I would also suggest that the extra $200 for the 1.83MHz model with SuperDrive is worthwhile, and with a new Apple keyboard and Super Mouse it all totals $1077, which even with the added cost of an LCD display is very modest for the excellent performance it provides.

More Choices In High-Performance Pigment-Ink Printers
Q. First, thank you for your response to my recent inquiry regarding scanners. Following your advice I now have an Epson V700, which I have been getting acquainted with the last few weeks and could not be happier with the results.
Now I feel I need a new printer. I want to upgrade to a 13" unit and have been reading about the Epson Stylus Photo R2400, the HP Photosmart Pro B9180, and the Canon PIXMA Pro9000 and Pro9500. Your 2005 report on the R2400 has pretty well convinced me that this is a great choice, especially since I will be printing black and white 30 percent of the time. The report is over a year old now, and I am wondering how the other mentioned competing units now compare (I realize the PIXMA Pro9500 is not yet on the market and I'll probably not wait for it to come out).
One issue regarding the R2400 that is a concern to me is the replacing of the photo black with the matte black when printing black and white on matte paper. Is there any flushing of the replaced ink with the new ink required or significant loss of ink as a result of making this swap?
Jerry Hite

The new HP B9180 has been tested and a report by Jon Canfield was printed in the November 2006 issue. The feedback I am getting is that it is in some ways quite competitive, but is somewhat of a problem to custom profile at this point.
I am currently using a Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5000, a 17" Canon pigment-ink printer which I have tested; my report appeared in the March 2007 issue. It has the same Canon Lucia inks as the PIXMA Pro9500 will use and similar technology. The larger iPF5000 is another step ahead in pigment-ink inkjet printing, providing better print results than what I obtain with my Epson R2400.
However, in 13" wide printers I think the Epson R2400 remains the best, at least for the time being. And to answer your specific question, switching between matte and photo black inks is very easy and does not require any flushing or loss of ink (there is actually very little ink retained in the print head). And, you can just put a piece of Scotch tape over the outlet of the removed cartridge to keep air out and it will reinstall and work fine even after weeks, if not longer. So, there is no ink loss.

Image File Management And Cataloging
Q. Years ago there was a program that was called Ixla. It had a cataloging feature that was great. The company, I think, is no longer around, so maybe you can help. First, let me describe the program: It had the same features as most do that I've found today and a little more. It had an in-depth catalog feature where the main folder was named, say People, then inside that folder were Men, Women, and Children folders, etc. Then all you had to do was drag and drop or copy your photo into that folder. It was great because it was already set up with indexing and subject folders in place--just as if you went to the library.
Now I know all current programs can do the same thing and even more in-depth than the Ixla program, as long as you have the time to create each and every folder along with all the subfolders. This program also let you convert a batch of photos to, say TIFF, without losing the original. It also let you create a small website, although it wasn't too elaborate.
Yes, I have Picasa, Ulead, Adobe Album, ArcSoft, and I'm still going through them. There has to be some generic program that businesses and free-lancers are using that will help save time. I have all the programs I need to edit photos but none for cataloging. Was there a back issue that covered it? I may have overlooked it because most of your issues only deal with editing programs.