Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography Page 2

Where To Go From Nikon Scanners?
Q. Your blurb about Nikon scanners in the February 2010 issue prompted me to look and it now appears that Nikon film scanners are defunct (only the high-end 9000 was on Nikon’s website and a quick check of a few online retailers all listed the item as temporarily out of stock). Please give advice as to the best way to scan Kodachrome slides.
I procrastinated about getting a Nikon film scanner and now it appears that this was a big mistake. I checked out the Plustek line, but the low 3.x dynamic range seems not to be conducive to getting high-quality Kodachrome scans that are suitable for publication (as per the Plustek review from a couple of years ago). I have an Epson Perfection 3200 PHOTO scanner, but have not been happy with any of the Kodachrome and E-6 slide scans I’ve tried, so I’m leery of flat-bed scanners when it comes to doing slides.
Alex Hrapunov
via e-mail

A. As far as I’m concerned, the fact that Nikon scanners are no longer made is not a very big loss as they were grossly overpriced, even though the hardware was very well made. The Nikon driver software was very difficult to use and produced poor results for most users. In the last few years I have not recommended Nikon scanners under any circumstances because the product remained too costly for what a user obtained.
For over a year I have been using a Plustek OpticFilm 7500i and although completely manual and with few mechanical features, it has an excellent 7200dpi CCD linear scan array and I have obtained very good scans of 35mm film that will print at 16x24”. Plustek recently showed a new model, the OpticFilm 7600i, with LED lighting and improved mechanics. The LaserSoft SilverFast SE and Ai software that drives the Plustek is excellent for profiling Kodachromes. In addition, the most recent Epson Perfection V600 scanner with SilverFast added provides much improved flat-bed scanning, close to what a dedicated film scanner can do, and at a resolution of 6400dpi. I just tested it and a report is done and in the works.

Software Upgrades
Q. Love my Shutterbug and your column! I am interested in the Sony Alpha A850 as a replacement for my trusty old Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D. A good friend just bought the Sony A850 and loves it. And we are both interested in getting a digital storage/viewer device. However, we were concerned when we heard back from HyperDrive products that their COLORSPACE UDMA can support JPEG and Raw files for the Sony A100 camera, but since the A850 is pretty new, it might not support it. My friend and I were both taken aback and confused. Is this a problem of camera software, the storage device software, or both? I would think that there should not be a problem with a JPEG file, or is this a much bigger thing? Is this a case where the Adobe DNG file format support by the camera manufacturers would make sense?
Erich Heberlein
Everett, WA

A. I am not familiar with the HyperDrive products or the company, and personally recommend the Epson P-3000/P-6000 Photo Viewers for their superior LCD display performance and technology.
As to Raw formats, companies have to update their software support to access the newer camera models. I just bought a new Sigma DP1s and Adobe already has Raw support for this new camera. So if HyperDrive is not up to speed, yes, you can probably use Adobe Camera Raw’s latest 5.6 version and convert the files to .DNG format.
But if you want current information about camera model Raw support status, contact the company directly at: HyperDrive USA, Inc., 1036 Casuarina Rd., Delray Beach, FL 33483; (877) 570-1833, fax: (877) 570-1833;
Raw format is proprietary and exclusive to each camera model. And for good reason, as a manufacturer, like Sony, puts the specific color rendering and interpretation factors into their own software, while other companies like Adobe license the use of it or just approximate it. Some independent software companies do better than others. But it takes time and effort, and Adobe, for one, is very quick to add support for new digital cameras.

LCDs And The Old CRTs
Q. My faithful CRT monitor has “bit the dust,” so I guess it’s time to get on the LCD bandwagon. Now that they have been out for a few years, which one or ones have the truest color and would you recommend for critical print work? I haven’t seen any yet that match a CRT. My preference is a 21/22” screen.
Brayton Maggs
via e-mail

A. Your statement that you have not seen any LCD display that matches a CRT may be due to the fact that what you see in LCD displays in stores are inexpensive home/office displays that are not intended for use in pro-graphics applications. The best LCD displays for serious photography are not stocked or displayed by consumer stores.
Personally, I began using LCD displays some years ago, but had the best Sony Trinitron 21” GDM CRT display and kept one that has little use stored in a dark place. I got it out and tested it against a good pro-graphics LCD display a few months ago. The size of the color gamut I measured from the CRT and LCD was compared with Adobe RGB (1998) that is the standard color space profile used by serious digital photographers using Photoshop. The Sony CRT measures a color gamut of well under 80 percent of Adobe RGB; the new pro-graphics LCD display measured in with a color gamut size of 95 percent of Adobe RGB.
The home/office LCD displays sold in consumer stores, however, have color gamuts closer to what the old CRTs were. The old saying “you get what you pay for” applies.

Plustek 7500i Review?
Q. In the February 2010 Digital Help column, you mentioned that you’d done a how-to article on the Plustek OpticFilm 7500i. I can’t find it on the Shutterbug website. Could you kindly direct me to it? I have ordered this scanner and would appreciate all the help I can get.
Bob Cadwell
via e-mail

A. I have not done a user report on the Plustek OpticFilm 7500i, but I have done a couple of articles about scanning using the 7500i scanner. You can reference one by typing the name of the scanner into the Search box on our homepage.
Recently I received the new Plustek OpticFilm 7600i with new LED scan lighting and other scanning improvements, as well as new features in the SilverFast scanning software that comes with the scanner. I am just beginning my tests for a report and it is looking like a very good replacement for the 7500i model. You may want to change your order to the new 7600i model.

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