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.

Is LCD Portrait Mode Display An Important Feature?
The ViewSonic VP2250wb LCD display that you tested for the September 2008 issue of Shutterbug can be rotated 90? and you can then display your “vertical (portrait mode)” photographs full screen.
Bill Porter
via e-mail

I was quite aware of the rotational feature. Two of the three LCD displays I use daily have the feature, and in the past I evaluated them using the portrait rotation. However, it is too inconvenient to be switching the screen physically from landscape to portrait. For an actual portrait photographer it probably is an advantage to rotate to vertical portrait mode, but, particularly with widescreen displays, vertical mode is awkward, and particularly so for other applications and uses of the computer, with the possible exception of word processing. I think many if not most photographers are, like myself, back and forth between different computer functions during the day, and reorienting the screen for occasional vertical photos just doesn’t work, so I don’t even mention the feature anymore.

It’s Not Just Easier, But Often Better To Go With The Crowd
Q. I have a fairly large number of 645 and 21⁄4 black and white negatives that I would like to convert to digital positives. I have read your Shutterbug piece on black and white negative scanning from the September 2002 issue and that was very helpful, but I do not have a quality scanner. My question: If I copy these negatives using my new D700, is there a Photoshop Elements 6 function to convert them to positives? I have looked through the help material for Elements but didn’t find anything. Or do you know of a program that I could buy to do the job?
Morton Susman
via e-mail

A. It may seem logical to use a digital camera to digitize black and white film negatives, but I can assure you the quality will be disappointing; it will be difficult to do; and there is no support from any major software vendors for doing it.
The main reason there is no support is that there is a much better solution—scanning black and white film negatives with scanner hardware and software that is inexpensive, efficient, and relatively easy to learn and do. I recently bought a new scanner for just that purpose and am in the middle of writing a report and how-to article on basic scanning. The scanner is an Epson Perfection V500 Photo that sells for just $200, including all the hardware and software needed.
If you insist, Photoshop Elements has the manual tools to process the images. However, you will need the “copy” optics for the camera, a support for the film, and a backlight source to illuminate the film negatives, which you would have to piece together on your own. And being that almost no one does this, you will find you are on your own as to how to do it.

With Scanners Sometimes Two Is Better Than All-In-One
Q. I’ve had an Epson 4870 scanner for a couple of years and I’m considering changing to an Epson V700 or a Microtek ArtixScan M1. Not having Digital ICE with the M1 bothers me some and support from Microtek has been criticized, but the focusing function and quality of the scans get high marks.
I don’t enjoy scanning much, but I do want the best quality scans I can get for mostly 35mm transparencies. My price range is $500-$1000, and the end result is usually 12x18 prints, but occasionally 20x30s. What are your thoughts and recommendations?
Tom Davis
Sisters, OR

A. If, as you say, you have mostly 35mm to scan and want the best quality, I would not recommend either the Epson Perfection V700 or the Microtek ArtixScan M1, although both are excellent scanners. If you want mostly excellent 12x18” image size prints and larger you might want to consider the strategy I adopted recently. For 35mm I use a dedicated film scanner, the Plustek OpticFilm 7500i, which scans at 7200dpi. For 120 medium format film I purchased an Epson Perfection V500 scanner. The cost of the two scanners is well within your budget, and I think you will find your scan quality is not compromised in any dimension with the Plustek for 35mm and the Epson for 120 medium format film.

Bulk Ink Continuous Flow Systems For Consumer Printers
Q. In order to reduce the high cost of ink cartridges with my high printer usage, I installed a Continuous Ink Supply System (CISS). Unfortunately, clogging of the print heads has been a very serious problem. I am using an Epson 1800 printer and a Lyson CISS. I have tried every possible solution recommended by the manufacturer, chat rooms, and other sources without any success. I believe the problem lies with the printer itself. The savings in ink will more than justify the cost of a new printer and CISS but it is impossible and prohibitive to test every product. Do you have or are there any sources recommending specific printer and CISS combinations to solve this problem?
Don Harger
via e-mail

A. Continuous ink supply systems for consumer printers very frequently produce unreliable performance from what has been reported to me, in part because a printer set up with a continuous bulk ink system of necessity uses ink differently from what the printer manufacturer has designed the heads to match. In addition, ink drying because of air in the system also has a tendency to clog print heads, which is often difficult to prevent. Some users report good success, but most who do are printing every day so there is a constant flow of ink through the system and heads.
The most reliable system I have heard of currently is that supplied by MIS Associates for use with their inks. See their website at:
I have over the years tried to use continuous ink supply systems for consumer printers, but never with reliable success. So my solution to the problem of ink cost and doing a lot of printing is a 17” wide format professional printer, specifically a Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5000, which is now sold in an upgraded model. The ink cost per print using Canon ink is substantially lower than using 13” consumer printers and cartridge ink made by the printer manufacturer. And although the initial price of a printer like this seems high, you have to consider the printers are sold with an inkset included which will reproduce a good number of prints, so the cost of the printer itself, less the value of the inkset included, is not all that much more than the best 13” printers. In over two years of service this Canon iPF5000 has never failed producing excellent-quality prints, in part due I think to its auto-sensing and self-cleaning system.

I am pleased to announce a new Third Edition adding five chapters to my eBook DIGITAL DARKROOM RESOURCE CD. The CD now contains 26 chapters totaling 318 pages in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format, providing easy-to-read text and large high-quality illustration. The CD is available for $20 plus $4 shipping and handling (US Mail if available). Ordering is as simple as sending a check or money order for $24 made out to me, David B. Brooks, and mailed to PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.