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

Missing Digital Darkroom Resources Chapter
Q. In the November Digital Help column you stated in an answer to a PC vs. Mac question that you had “a chapter covering the applications and utilities Apple provides without any extra charge, but that you have to add to a Windows PC.” I have not been able to find this chapter in the copy of the Digital Darkroom Resources CD, Fourth Edition, I purchased from you a while ago. I’m baffled as I really wanted to read this to make an informed choice as to my next computer purchase.
Alex Hrapunov
via e-mail

A. For some mysterious reason, after getting the chapter done, I never included it in the content. Anyway, I did find a low-resolution PDF file of the chapter, which I am sending you. Please excuse my negligence and thanks for the reminder. It is now included in the content as Chapter 33.
Note: To all readers who have purchased Digital Darkroom Resources 4.3, if you want the 33rd chapter, send me an e-mail and I will return a PDF file.

Prints Too Dark, Continued
Q. I read, I think, all of your Digital Help answers concerning dark prints and still have problems. Yes, I am using a “cheap” Samsung 2333 with a Spyder2 that seems to be “right on” with color but I still get dark prints. I have Epson R2400 and R1800 printers.
What specification on a monitor allows for setting the white luminance point? I see in your December, 2008, article that it should be no higher than 120 and no less than 110. I thought I saw more recently that 90 was the setting. Can the white luminance point only be set with a monitor calibrator such as Spyder devices or can it be adjusted manually with some trial and error? I am currently using a utility called InkSaver to help control the printer output.
Johnny Paul
Austin, TX

A. It has been over three years since the “prints too dark” problem became large and evident and caused me to try to find some answers. And that answer is now simple—the print darkness comes from using an LCD display that is too bright. Brightness is confusing to many because the display adjustment that raises and lowers the white luminance is the factor that causes the problem, and poses the solution; it is the display contrast control, not the brightness adjustment.
Over time and a lot of trial and error as well as references to displays made for graphics professionals, the white luminance that is a practical match to the paper white of inkjet printing paper is 90.0 CD/m2; pro graphics like pre-publishing use a slightly lower 80.0 CD/m2, but I suspect that is influenced by the fact they are working with CMYK rather than RGB files and offset printing paper is not as bright as inkjet printing paper.
When I have to manually adjust an LCD display to get to a white luminance of 90.0 CD/m2 I leave the brightness adjustment either at default or close to 50 percent of the adjustment range; then I lower the contrast setting until I get a 90.0 CD/m2 white luminance reading.
You really need software that will provide a white luminance measurement read-out. With the Datacolor Spyder2, the Pro version set in Advanced mode can be used, and with the Spyder3 it is the Elite version of the software that will provide a white luminance measurement read-out. Personally, I find the ColorEyes Display Pro software ( works easier and better, using Spyder colorimeters with it.
Manual sight-tested adjustment of white luminance is almost impossible as human vision is self-adjusting to light brightness and is not a reliable measurement tool. You do need an instrument (colorimeter) that measures the light produced by the LCD display. So will your LCD display adjust to 90.0 CD/m2 and provide good color performance? Many home/office displays will and others won’t. I have one very well-known brand and model of home/office displays that will and another that won’t; the latter sits unused in a storage area in my lab.

Sensor Size
Q. I have a question regarding equipment. I have been using Nikon for years and have a number of Nikon lenses. I am looking to buy a new camera and am considering the Nikon D700 or the Canon EOS 5D. Is there going to be a big difference or loss of quality when using full or APS-C frame sensors?
Eli Horowitz
via e-mail

A. Considering you have Nikon lenses and accessories you would be at an advantage to stick with Nikon. If you can afford a full-frame D-SLR you will find it an advantage as well.

iMac Display Problem
Q. I am using a 27” iMac with 2.8GHz Intel Core i7, OS X 10.6.5, and Photoshop CS5. My camera is a Nikon D90 and my printer is an Epson Stylus Photo R320.
I am shooting Raw and processing in ACR, setting the white and black points, then opening in Photoshop (am using Adobe RGB 1998). The image looks fine on the computer but prints with an overall blue tint background. I even tried pushing the green and cutting back on the blue, to no avail. Any suggestions?
George Kostovick
via e-mail

A. Sorry, but you bought an Apple Mac for home/office and school kids, not one to do photography. None of the pro-graphics LCD display manufacturers are using LED backlit displays, and don’t plan to. Apparently “white” LED backlit displays are difficult to color manage, and adjust, calibrate, and profile successfully.
There is one company that has software and a colorimeter that may help, ColorEyes Display Pro (
What you need is a display that is adjusted to a white luminance of 90.0 CD/m2 to match the brightness of paper white, and calibrated to match the ICC color spectrum, and then profiled so Photoshop can translate the color of the display to reproduce Adobe RGB (1998) accurately. Then maybe a color-managed print will match the image on screen.
I can do this easily and accurately with a Mac mini, 8GB of RAM, and a $500 Dell UltraSharp U2410 LCD display. If you want a candid suggestion, trade in the iMac for a Mac mini and a good pro-graphics LCD display, and get the best display software and colorimeter you can. Then you will have a chance at control over what you want to do photographically.

There Is Always An Answer Somewhere
Q. Can you recommend a good program/plug-in for use with an HP Scanjet G4050 flat-bed scanner, import to Adobe’s Photoshop CS3 or CS5? Since I’ve gone to Windows 7, my scanner will only work “right” scanning reference copy, not trans copy. I’ve tried reinstalling the HP G4050 program CD, but that is of no help. HP is of no help and Photoshop is of no help.
via e-mail

A. I won’t try to talk you into an Apple Mac computer to avoid such problems (smile), but seriously, there is another solution, and that is LaserSoft’s SilverFast SE software to drive/run your scanner. It will provide much better scan results, and the basic SE version is just $49.
Go to your web browser and put in this URL address:
There is a SilverFast version that supports Windows 7. I have been using SilverFast software for almost 15 years and there is nothing better for scanning in the consumer marketplace.

Getting A Used LCD Display To Work Right
Q. I just bought a used LaCie 320 and calibrated it with a Spyder3 and it’s not quite right. I think that this might be due to me not using the LaCie blue eye pro software. Does anyone have any experience with using that combination or using the blue eye pro software with a Spyder puck?
I would settle for advice on the best way to calibrate my monitor for photo editing with the intention of going to print. (I would also love to know what I should use as a secondary color profile for posting on the web.)
via e-mail

A. It just so happens that I have a LaCie 320, the same one I tested and reported on some five or so years ago. It works fine, and I use a Spyder3 colorimeter with it. You really don’t need the LaCie blue eye pro software, but you do need either the Datacolor Elite or better still the ColorEyes Display Pro software ( that will provide an accurate white luminance measurement. And if you are using a Windows PC, be sure you have installed the latest and correct driver from LaCie for your version of Windows.
You can set the display adjustments manually with the control buttons and on-screen read-out. Set the Brightness at the middle 50 percent, and reduce the Contrast until the white luminance measurement is 90.0 CD/m2. Then calibrate and profile using a 6500K white point aim figure, and a gamma of L* or 2.2. The result should support using the Adobe RGB color workspace in Photoshop and provide a good screen to print match in brightness and color.
For doing work to post on the Internet you will need to reset the display to about 140.0 to 160.0 CD/m2 and just use the sRGB color profile as the display profile unless you are working in Photoshop’s ImageReady mode, then the display profile can remain the same or redo the calibration and profiling at the higher white luminance and save it under a different profile file name.

Anything Is Better Than Vista
Q. Based on what I have read from you, I think that until I upgrade to Windows 7 I am wasting my time.
Before I do that, does Windows 7 solve my calibration problem so as to be worth the upgrade hassle? Also, I have always purchased top-of-the-line Microsoft operating systems but have not really used all of the features found there. Do you know if the need is there for photo work? I currently run Adobe’s Photoshop CS4 along with many other apps.
via e-mail

A. According to the ZDNet and CNET computer geeks, authorities on technologies, the main reason for Windows 7 was to correct all the faults that were in Vista, for which Microsoft got a lot of very negative criticism.
What you will need, if you don’t have one, is a display color management software and colorimeter to adjust, calibrate, and profile your display. There are three products I can recommend: ColorEyes Display Pro (, i1 Display 2 (, or Spyder3Elite (
Yes, you need an operating system that supports color management, and you do need to set your system up to support Photoshop CS4. It is a color-managed application and requires an adjusted, calibrated, and profiled LCD display.

A Second Added Display To View Control Boxes
Q. I have received my fourth edition of your book and at about the same time my NEC MultiSync P221W-BK-SV LCD display. I’m using your February, 2010, report as a setup guide. I’m sure that I’ll have some problems, but anything is better than the cut and try printing method that I’ve been employing. My question is about using two monitors. I presume the second monitor, which I would use for administrative purposes and to employ the tool panel(s), does not have to be anything exotic as far as color settings, or am I incorrect?
Michael R. Levy
Wayland, MA

A. The SpectraView software workflow is pretty easy, just read and follow the on-screen directions exactly; the software makes the adjustments to the display. Just be sure to set the white luminance aim point to 90.0 CD/m2.
I don’t recall what kind of computer/operating system you are using, but for all digital photography processing and editing you only need to have the main display calibrated and profiled. A second display can be adjusted, calibrated, and profiled with some systems, but it does not control the color-managed workflow.
Personally, I use an old sRGB LaCie LCD display as my second screen on my Apple Mac Pro for extra space for dialog windows and my Bridge screen and it works fine.

I am pleased to announce a new Fourth Edition, adding four chapters to my eBook DIGITAL DARKROOM RESOURCE CD. The CD now contains 30 chapters totaling 359 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.

Ricardo Butler's picture

Hey David,

Can I order this ebook DIGITAL DARKROOM RESOURCE CD online? If yes, how?

Atty. Ric
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