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

Digital Photography: Big Processor?
Q. For years I’ve been using Macs (currently a 24” iMac from 2007) and now I want to buy a new computer as I desire upgrading to a wide-gamut display, e.g., the NEC SpectraView Reference 241W. Unfortunately, the Mac mini hosts the same processor and isn’t really faster than what I got three years ago. What are your thoughts here? Apart from the significant additional cost, what else speaks against a Mac Pro in your opinion, or have you changed it?
via e-mail

A. I have a Mac Pro and four Mac minis, one of which runs my office tasks, the others digital photo work. Even the oldest Mac mini I have is not slowed down doing digital photography work, and the reason is the CPU is never even close to running at maximum. In other words, digital photography processing does not need a powerful CPU capacity. Many professional photographers use MacBooks a lot because they are working in the field, but what they do in the field is not slowed down by the relatively small CPU capability of a laptop.
Prove it to yourself; just go to the Utilities part of Applications and open the first utility, the Activity Monitor, and study what the CPU activity is doing while image editing. The only times CPU use ticks up is when you run some seldom used filters like Gaussian Blur.
If I wasn’t doing work other than photography I would not have a Mac Pro, just my minis. They never slow me down or provide inadequate support for any photographic function.

LCD Displays Aren’t Cheap
Q. I am in need of a computer monitor. My Sony Multiscan 200GS finally died; it was my second monitor along with my main flat panel Dell 1907FP for my Dell Dimension E520 with NVIDIA 9500 video card. Presently, I am running Windows XP SP3 and using Spyder3Pro to calibrate the Dell monitor for my photography. Do you have a recommendation for a new monitor which would become my main monitor? I am on a limited budget so about $200 would be the price I am looking at. I will probably purchase a new computer with Windows 7 in about a year.
Steve Ryan
Tulare, CA

A. There are lots of LCD displays in box stores that sell for $200, but none of them will support doing digital photography. Sure they will work for surfing the Internet, checking e-mail, and doing many home-office tasks, but they are sRGB color and TV resolution, far too bright for photography, and will not adjust to reproduce color and brightness matched print output that is color managed. It is almost pointless to even use display calibration and profiling because it won’t match output.
Most of the current LCD displays that will support digital photography are very expensive. But one very reputable photographer, an old-timer like myself, recommended a Dell UltraSharp U2410 LCD display that reproduces 95 percent of Adobe RGB color and can be adjusted and profiled for brightness and color matched printing. I’m currently testing one for an upcoming report in Shutterbug. Dell lists this U2410 display currently at $499, which includes a $100 discount. You can find it listed on the Internet for a little less.

On Using A Large LCD HDTV As A Display
Q. I’m just wondering what the practicality would be in using a 37” HDTV (LCD) with a DVI cable as a monitor for my computer. And could it be calibrated using Spyder? My main objective would be for editing photos. I have a Windows machine using Windows 7 64-bit with 12GB of RAM, and Adobe’s Photoshop CS5. What kind of image quality and color accuracy could I expect? Or, would this be a bad idea?
via e-mail

If you read my blog on, you would know that is something I have done and use daily. An LCD TV can be run the same way as a regular computer display, as most of the current LCD TVs have HDMI and DVI as well as standard PC 9-pin D-sub input connectors. You can get cables with HDMI on one end and a computer video connector like DVI on the other and connect directly to your computer video output.
Even though large in inches, like 37 or 42” diagonal, the resolution of a 1080p LCD screen is 1920x1080 pixels, so the pixels are large like the screen; while a computer display that large in size would have a much higher resolution or number of pixels. So to use it as a computer screen is possible but it’s not very sharp for displaying text, etc.
I use mine to replace a TV cable box and get my TV and movies downloaded (live) over the Internet, and my 1080p TV is calibrated and profiled like a computer screen, so the color is an accurate display like a standard computer’s LCD display output.
So, yes, you can use it, but you will find it does not look very sharp and really isn’t for doing Photoshop-type image editing. My 24” LCD computer display is 1920 pixels high and that’s a lot more than 1080. In other words, yes to your answer, but don’t expect anything more in resolution than the inexpensive 22” wide LCD displays sold in box stores.

Is The Epson Perfection V600 An Upgrade?
Q. I was excited by your V600 review in the October, 2010, issue. Question: I use a V700 exclusively for 35mm film scanning. Do you think replacing it with a V600 makes sense, thinking of the LED light difference primarily?
Bob Benson
Wichita, KS

A. The differences in the V600 will not show significant advantages. The LED light source is more consistent, doesn’t require a warm-up, and overall will get better, more consistent scan results. But the scan quality will not be much different, at least not enough to write home about.
Wait for my review of the new Canon CanoScan 9000F in an upcoming issue and you may find a real difference in scan performance. I sure did in my tests.
The one big difference in the V600 report was the batch-scan advantages of LaserSoft’s SilverFast Archive Suite software, a world better than any scanning workflow of the past.