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 Believe Every Rumor About A Product
Q. I have read that when the Photo or Matte Black cartridges are changed in the Epson, all inks reset and ink is wasted. But, the cartridge cost for the HP is almost three times as much (although I have been unable to find out the size of the Epson ink cartridges).
Steve Vihon

What you have read--that there is ink waste changing from Photo (PK) to Matte (MK) Black with the Epson R2400--is untrue. Simply remove whichever is in the printer, take a piece of Scotch tape and seal the opening in the cartridge so it can be used again later. I have let such a cartridge sit for many weeks without a problem--nothing is lost.

Inkjet Printers For Both Color And B&W
Q. Your reviews in Shutterbug are always interesting. I would like to purchase an inkjet printer; after seven years of very good and loyal service my Epson 1280 appears to have broken down. I think I've narrowed down my choice to two models, the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 or the HP Photosmart Pro B9180. I would like to print both color and black and white prints. From your review of the R2400 in Shutterbug, I got the feeling that the black and white printing was quite amazing. The presence of a closed calibration loop and the absence of swapping between Photo Black and Matte Black cartridges seem to be very interesting in the HP printer. Both printers are in the price range of my budget, but I would like to spend my money wisely, and I still really hesitate after reading everything I could find about those two printers. Would you have a specific preference for one of these models?
Jerome Petit-Jacques
New York City

I did not test and review the HP B9180, so really don't have any direct experience with it. HP does very well with graphics, but they are well behind Canon or Epson when it comes to understanding photography. From what my colleagues who have used it have reported it is good but not great. And from what I get in feedback from readers their main reason for purchasing the HP B9180 was its cheaper street price.
So, if the best quality is what is to be achieved by purchase of a 13" printer that does both color and black and white, the Epson R2400 remains the choice today. However, Canon recently announced their long awaited PIXMA Pro9500 pigment ink 13" printer, to be delivered in May, and I have been promised one to test and report on for Shutterbug.
Currently my printer is the 17" Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5000 pigment ink printer, which I find significantly superior to the Epson R2400 when printing both color and black and white. But, for most individual photographers, it's expensive to buy and use (a full inkset for the iPF5000 is $900 retail).

No Free Lunch--A Point-And-Shoot Or A D-SLR?
Q. I have a basic question about high megapixel digital cameras vs. high dollar D-SLR cameras. I would like to take photos of wildlife and sell small 8x10 or 11x14 matted copies in local gift shops or at my own little shop once I retire from my real job. I'm a hunter and outdoorsman and have a knack for getting in pretty close to animals in the wild. I don't shoot in fenced areas so getting good close-up shots can be a challenge. My question is specific to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. Being a 10 megapixel with a 12x = 420mm, it sounds like a good candidate for my needs. It's smaller and lighter than, let's say, a Canon EOS 5D with a 300 or 400mm f/2.8 lens. Not to mention the cost difference. Will the FZ50 produce the quality I need to sell pics? If not, I will just work longer and save more money for the right equipment. Please be direct in your answer.

If it were possible to do wildlife photographs effectively with a point-and-shoot digital like even the very high-end Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50, don't you think a lot of photographers who do use a Canon or Nikon D-SLR and expensive long lenses would be saving their money and using the point-and shoot?
There are a lot of reasons why your proposition is not a possibility. You say you are a hunter. How many shots with your rifle would actually hit the target if there was a delay between pulling the trigger and the gun firing? With point-and-shoot cameras there is a very noticeable delay between pressing the shutter button and the camera actually making an exposure, which makes any kind of action-following photography almost impossible. Most of the time with a live subject, the subject will move between the time when you're pressing the shutter release and the actual exposure.
But that is not all: for wildlife photography autofocus with a very long lens has to be very responsive and accurate, and at maximum or close to the longest telephoto setting with point-and-shoot cameras focus response and accuracy is not nearly as critical as it is with a camera like the Canon EOS 5D and a 300mm f/2.8 Canon lens.
I could go on with more specifics, but it all boils down to the principle "you get only what you pay for." Sorry, but there is no free lunch. If you were a carpenter and needed to build a house, it would be cheapest to go to Wal-Mart and buy a hammer and a handsaw, and you could probably get the job done, but it would be both quicker and better if you opened your wallet at Home Depot's tool department for all of the specialized power tools today's builders use.

Preparing A Scan For Duotone & Panorama
Q. I have two questions regarding digital photography. First, I like to duotone black and white prints so that they will look as they should. However, Photoshop requires one to convert an image to 8 bit before it can be duotoned. If this is so, then is there any point to scanning a negative in 16-bit mode if one must convert to 8 bit to duotone the image?
Second, I sometimes like to use Panorama Maker to stitch images together for panoramas. However, I have noticed something curious. If I combine a couple of images that are each 28MB files, the combined panorama is about 10MB! How can this be? I expected the combined stitched image to be about 40MB. This happens every time, even though I use the TIFF format throughout for both the input images and the saved panorama.
Alex Larson

If you make all corrections and editing adjustments in your scanning software so you don't need to use Photoshop after scanning to further adjust the image, then scanning to 8 bit (24-bit RGB) would work fine for duotone images with Photoshop.
If you put two images together manually using Photoshop to stitch them together you would get a much larger file (actually twice the size) than just one of the images, as you assume. So Panorama Maker is probably downsizing the images as part of the stitching process. But I can only guess as I have not used the software myself.