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.

To aid us in making Digital Help as helpful as possible, please be specific in your query and include components, including software, that you use. David says, “Make me guess the problem and I might guess wrong.”—Editor

A Good Suggestion
Readers frequently ask you for advice in scanning old large format negatives and transparencies. I had a revelation and by gosh, it worked great. I used my aging Epson Perfection scanner which can scan a filmstrip as wide as 21⁄4”. By scanning several passes of an old 4x5 negative, I stitched the images together with software called Calico Panorama ( The resulting image showed no signs of the edges of the source images and I ended up with a nice electronic image of my parents from almost 50 years ago. My darkroom is long gone and I would have no convenient way to utilize this old sheet film otherwise.
Gary Stewart
Kenney, IL

Thank you for sending your suggestion. Not long ago quite a few readers mentioned that they use a similar method with letter-sized scanners to scan larger sized print images, so why not film as you suggested? Just about everyone with a contemporary photo-editing application will also find the panoramic software support to easily stitch the pieces of several scans together.

It’s All In The Timing!
Q. Just when you correct yourself about the Apple Mac mini’s RAM here comes a new one with 8GB of RAM. I am thinking of getting a new mini since mine only has 2GB of RAM. The one with the Snow Leopard Server has two 500GB drives and costs less (equally equipped). Have you heard of any problems with Snow Leopard and Photoshop? I use CS3.
Russell Pettit
via e-mail

A. You are not the only one who noticed. I would also like to get one of the new Mac mini models, but already have three; maybe with this new one I could replace my Mac Pro, but that would be trading sideways.
The Mac mini Server has its place I am sure. In fact, one of the big casino operations in Las Vegas is run by a warehouse full of Mac minis. But for the individual it makes no sense. The regular new mini with 8GB of RAM is, like the old ones, best served by adding external hard drives connected via FireWire—I have a bunch of those as well, and each has its own cooling, and if it goes down, it is cheaply replaced without any cost of technical support.
I have run all versions of Photoshop CS, including CS3, CS4, and CS5, on a mini, and they all run fine. In fact, CS5 is very quick running on my most recent mini with 4GB of RAM. Snow Leopard, like any major OS upgrade, required new printer drivers but other than that usual hassle, it has features and improvements that have been helpful and appreciated.

Practical Choices In Photo-Editing Software
Q. Just read your review of Elements 8 in Shutterbug (March, 2010). I consider myself an “enthusiast” with 30 years experience but new to digital editing. I’d like to edit photos (JPEG and Raw) taken with my Canon PowerShot G10. I have a professional photographer who is willing to teach me in my home. He is suggesting Photoshop CS5 or possibly Elements but he has no experience with Elements. My concern comes from reading some of the Elements reviews on Amazon, e.g., Elements causing computer crashes, not working, etc. On my photos I’d like to “dodge” the center to lighten the subject. Is this possible with Elements? Would I be better off with Elements 7 that has gotten better reviews? My OS is XP. Should I bite the bullet and go for CS5? My best guess is that I’ll probably only print a dozen or so photos a year with my photographer friend’s recommended Epson 1400 printer, but will probably take 1000-2000 shots per year (landscapes while backpacking, skiing, general) with my G10.
Rick Fessenden
Greenwood, ME

A. No on the CS5 choice. There is a very long and steep learning curve and probably a lot of complexities you may never need in CS5, plus the expense is high. Considering you make a lot of images, you might be best served with Adobe’s Lightroom 3, which was designed from the ground up to support digital camera photography.
To get a good idea of what is involved, if you have broadband Internet, go to: You can watch good video coverage describing how the Lightroom application can be used.

Try Something Different
Q. I’m getting disillusioned with my Epson R1900 and am ready to try the R2880 because I need black and white. Do you think it’s as good as the R1900 for color? In that size, is there anything better?
Tom Scott
via e-mail

A. I have an Epson R2880 and an R1900 in my lab sitting right next to each other. I use the R1900 regularly and with great satisfaction. Epson gave me the R2880 to test and I am ready to put it back in its box permanently, for as far as I am concerned it is just a problem to me due to driver changes and complications. I don’t know why you are disappointed in the R1900. It works fine for me even when I print a black-and-white image on occasion (but that may be due to my systems being thoroughly color managed).
If it is just for the addition of a black-and-white printing option, rather than the Epson R2880 I would suggest considering the Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II. Even before Canon upgraded the 9500 to the “Mark II” designation, I found it produced both better color and black-and-white prints compared to the Epson R2880, and reported that in my review.

Is Good Ever Moderately Priced?
Q. I need advice on a new monitor. I have been using an inexpensive Acer (paid perhaps $300-$600 at Staples) purchased maybe five years ago. It works fine but I believe I need a better monitor to do serous work. Am I correct to buy a new monitor? If so, what do you recommend in the moderate price range?
Ralph Selitzer
via e-mail

A. There is nothing I know of in the “moderate” price range that will work to achieve color managed processing and color matched printing. The two I have recommended in Shutterbug, the NEC MultiSync P221W with SpectraView II and my most recent purchase, an EIZO FlexScan S2242W (or if available now the S2243W), are 22” HD format, but the EIZO has a higher resolution yielding a sharper and more detailed image.
Any of the current consumer LCD displays in the stores will not provide either the color or the brightness adjustment (white luminance of 90.0 CD/m2) needed for digital photography. With the complete NEC LCD display with software and sensor, you have all that’s needed for well under $1000.