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.

Pushing The Limits Of Optical Quality
Q. I read your column and learn some great information and you seem to have a great knowledge of digital cameras. I have tried to contact several sources in regard to this question and have received diddly. I have a Samsung Pro815 which I like, but I need more juice. It has an equivalent of 420mm flat out at maximum. But, I need some more millimeters.
I thought about a doubler gizmo, like a 2x tele lens. It has a 72mm thread (I think). I was wondering if you knew where I could find something to hang onto this Samsung. I would want the autofocus to work. Would you foresee vignetting at some zoom ranges?

A. Trying to extend the effective focal length beyond the effective 420mm 35mm equivalent by using an add-on auxiliary lens would very likely result in a degradation of image quality. Part of the reason is the optical effect of adding on more, and questionable quality elements. Also, doubling of an already long telephoto effect would add to image deterioration due to camera movement and the natural effect of photographing a subject at very great distances. It would be like putting an 800mm plus lens on a full-frame camera, which would be a real challenge even if the optics were top grade.
A somewhat similar but possibly better solution might be a tele-extender that fits between your lens and the camera body. I would suggest querying Adorama and B&H to see if there is a 2x tele-extender that has the same lens mount as your camera. If you can borrow or try out an auxiliary lens or tele-extender without committing to buying it, give it a go and see if what you get in photo results is worthwhile.

Lightroom Or Photoshop, Maybe Both?
Q. I'm planning to upgrade my Photoshop from CS to CS3. I recently had 1GB of RAM installed in my computer. I've been using Photoshop "Browser" to view my images and assign keywords to them and create PDF documents from them, etc. I understand that when CS2 was released "Browser" was replaced with "Bridge" and I understand that "Bridge" is still included in CS3, so I'm a little confused as to what "Lightbox" offers that I can't do with "Bridge." In your opinion, do you think "Lightbox" is a worthwhile purchase? It seems a little pricey just to be an image organizer.

A. The "Browser" in CS is now called Bridge in CS3. For users of the other CS3 applications, Bridge is common to all plus supports some file-editing processes without opening the images in the application. You will be able to do just about everything with Bridge you were able to do with the browser.
I assume by "Lightbox" you are referring to the new intermediate Adobe application called Lightroom. It is intended for professional photographers who shoot large numbers of exposures in raw format with D-SLR cameras. It supports organizational tasks and a quite powerful database system for ratings, renaming, and keyword functions, all of which are quite sophisticated and robust. Lightroom also includes a Developer module that supports very refined image adjustment by means of nondestructive editing. In addition, you can print directly from Lightroom, but most of the editing functions available in the full version of Photoshop are not available. But you can export the image with modifications directly to Photoshop running on the same computer, or export the Lightroom file saved as a .PSD or .TIF file.
Considering what you have described as to how you work and what you do with your image files, I would assume Lightroom would probably be of little advantage or interest. It is mainly designed to support assignment photographers who shoot a large volume of exposures of commercial subjects and output a small percentage of essentially "straight" photographic images for use in publications.

Expecting Too Much?
Q. I own a Nikon D200 and my question concerns what seems to be a haze over some of my images. If I use Smart Fix in Photoshop it corrects most frames. If you can explain the haze on my original file I would appreciate it. (Editor's Note: Photo was attached, not reproduced here.)
Roger W. Barnard

A. The problem is not "haze" but the result of a low subject brightness range and likely a little underexposure (possibly your electronic flash was not fully recharged). The image looks dull and "hazy" because the image file contains a lot of file space that has no image information; the gamut or range of values of the image is smaller than the file space. This would be obvious if the image file was opened in an image editor like Photoshop and you opened the Histogram window. The graph would indicate the image information somewhere in the middle with no image information on each side.
The "haze" problem can be avoided, and you can obtain improved image quality, by increasing the lighting contrast and setting the exposure level more accurately. If this dull picture is, as I suspect, the result of partial flash power output, wait longer between exposures so the flash unit can fully recharge.
Another recommendation is to learn how to color correct image files manually instead of using an automated setup like Smart Fix. Automated software adjustment is very limited because the application is blind to what you see displayed on screen, and does not know what the subject should look like--it just reads number values and if they vary from a "typical" subject Smart Fix rarely, if ever, delivers optimal image quality.
Invest a little effort in learning how the manual tools in an image editor work so you can expertly color correct camera files. It will pay off in better pictures and more satisfaction with your photography.

Converting Digital Photo Files To A "Kodachrome" Film Look
Q. I am always interested in creating images that look like certain film stock of days gone by, especially Kodachrome. I know of one software program, Exposure 2, that does this, but it is very expensive and includes many simulations that I will likely never use. Do you know of other software programs out there that offer some of its features for much less money?
Wayne LaMothe

A. The capability of outputting with a Kodachrome look would probably be in the form of a Photoshop plug-in, so may I suggest going to the Adobe website ( where they list most of the third-party plug-ins that are available? Sorry, I have not explored all of the plug-ins myself but Joe Farace, in reviews and his Digital Innovations column, covers this beat well.
I would think that this kind of conversion could be done with a color management profile, and although Kodak had such profiles years ago, I would not know if they would even function if available today. Some of the better known plug-in software publishers you might also explore are ACD Systems, Extensis, XPress Digital, Nik Software, Alien Skin, onOne Software, Tribeca Imaging, and Auto FX Software. Researching their websites might turn up something. Another research tool is:
Sorry I cannot be more helpful. But maybe there is a Shutterbug reader who knows of something and will get in touch. If so, I'll put a follow-up in this column.

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