Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography

This department will attempt to provide solutions to problems readers may have getting into and using digital cameras, scanning, and using digital photographic images with a computer and different kinds of software. All questions sent to me will be answered with the most appropriate information I can access and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this department. Readers can send questions to me addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug website, directly via e-mail to: or or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

In the May 2004 issue of Shutterbug, reader John Patterson asked a question about glossy ink jet paper and pigment ink printers. As part of my answer, I advised John that "Epson's new R800 printer uses the same inks as the (Epson) 2200, and its introduction is accompanied by a new glossy paper for the printer and Epson Ultrachrome pigment inks." However, I was mistaken as I misread the information provided by Epson on the new R800 printer. The glossy print capability is not in the paper but in the printer in the form of a "gloss optimizer" coating over the ink applied by this new printer. Sorry for leading everyone astray. At any rate, I now have an R800, and the "gloss optimizer" does produce a very effective premium glossy print, something not achieved nearly as effectively by the previous Ultrachrome ink printers.

Scanner Choice From Yet Another Angle
Q. Thanks for your reply regarding the Nikon 8000 scanner. I originally had the Imacon, but returned it because of the lack of dust removal software and of course, the cost. I did, however, love the way the film was held through the light path. I have not been impressed with the holders for the 8000. I have great difficulty keeping the film flat. I purchased the glass holder, but always get Newton rings, so have put it aside.
I should have said that I use the Spyder for monitor calibration. After trying the Eye-One for my monitor, I liked the Spyder's results better. You mention using SilverFast. I did use a demo version, but am reluctant to spend nearly $600 in addition to the scanner. Can you recommend a different film scanner (or two) for medium format? I know some come with SilverFast.
You mention profile mismatch or double hit. You've lost me. I know what a profile is. I am simply using Nikon's software without a specific profile. How would I go about looking for these problems? Should I be calibrating my scanner like I have been profiling my printers?
Let me say that we are touching on the single reason that is keeping me from going digital and closing my RA-4 line. I would love to do this, but am constantly up against difficult printing situations. I print mainly color for designers and architects, where color is pretty critical. So, your advice is greatly appreciated.
Randy Foulds

A. I rather liked the Imacon as well, but could not afford even thinking about it. The competitor of the Nikon 8000 with Digital ICE, which is also supported by LaserSoft with SilverFast Ai 6, is the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Multi PRO, which I reviewed last year. At present the Nikon is selling for $1969 and SilverFast for it is $569; the Minolta Multi PRO is $2119 and SilverFast for it is $399--about equal. SilverFast Ai 6 includes profiling for the scanner, and the Ai 6 software is very effective to profile the scanner and set up color management, whether it is used as a stand-alone or as a Photoshop plug-in.
However, if I were to choose from what is available today for film scanning I would select the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 for 35mm film (I already own this scanner), and for medium and large format film scanning, the Microtek ArtixScan 1800f, which I reviewed a few months ago. No Digital ICE comes with the ArtixScan, but SilverFast Ai 6 is included and it has a dust and scratch removal facility that works rather well, although somewhat slowly. The film holders supplied with the Microtek I found quite effective for 120 and 4x5. For 35mm scanned with the Minolta I use Wess plastic glassless slide mounts with full 24x36mm frame opening. They do the best job of keeping film reasonably flat.
Please check your Nikon software documentation for setting up color management and profile selection. I'm sorry it has been about three years since I used the software and don't recall the details of its setup. But perhaps because I found using the Nikon software was such a bad experience I've just shut it all out of my mind. However, like printers and monitors, scanners should be profiled and the profile selected in the CMS workflow.
You did not mention what computer operating system you are using. That, too, can be a color management issue in itself, especially if it is PC Windows. Corresponding by e-mail makes diagnosing and finding color management profile problems next to impossible without a lot of back and forth of screen shots of dialog setups. And, as I said, I am not all that enamored with Nikon scanners.

VHS To Digital And DVD-R And CD-R Recording
Q. Is there any difference in quality between using different DVD formats for backing up images? I'm also trying to convert my VHS tapes to DVDs. Any suggestions?
Harriet A. Rosenberg

A. I believe the distinctions between DVD-R and DVD+R are chiefly matters of compatibility and should not affect the actual quality of the media recorded. I don't really consider myself an expert in these distinctions so I suggest you might access a website I have found most useful on disc recording technical matters:
Obviously DVD is the medium of choice for digital recording of video. Making the conversion from analog VHS to digital requires specific hardware/software support. For PC Windows one of the more popular and affordable software resources is Ulead Systems ( You might check out their DVD MovieFactory 3 to see if it is what you are looking for.
If you are on a Mac and have the latest Apple OS 10.3 operating system, the software basics are essentially included with iMovie, and its capabilities can be upgraded if need be to truly professional video editing and recording capabilities through Apple.
As for "backing up" or archiving still digital photographic images, I personally prefer to use CD-R rather than DVD, both for reasons of cost-effectiveness as well as the fact that using quality gold/gold CD-R discs affords the closest to archival disc life.

Slide Presentation Problem For Photos With PowerPoint
Q. I borrowed a PowerPoint system (laptop, projector, software) and am wondering why a vertical slide was cropped. That is, I couldn't show the whole thing.
Patricia Steele-Perkins

A. PowerPoint is not intended for displaying photographic images that may be created using a camera in either vertical or horizontal orientation. It is designed as a business graphics presentation media limited to display either on a computer or projection screen, both of which are standardized as a landscape (horizontal) image format.
If you have Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 you can create Acrobat .PDF Slide Shows from the File/Automated menu. This automatically adjusts image size for both landscape and portrait photo orientations without cropping out any part of a vertical format photo. And the on-screen image quality will be superior to what PowerPoint is capable of displaying.

Imacon Flextight Vs. Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400
Q. Before I embark on the whole computer/scanner upgrade route I would appreciate your comments about the Imacon Flextight drum scanner (cost $5000). Would this be overkill, or would I be fine with the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 scanner with SilverFast?
I know you liked the Minolta scanner, based on your Shutterbug review in the December 2003 issue. I presently have a Nikon LS-2000 scanner with SilverFast. While I find it is adequate for a lot of things, with its SCSI interface it would be a pain to connect it to a new computer. All the scanners now use USB or FireWire connection.
Also, the Nikon LS-2000, scanning at 2700dpi, is not always accurate with the colors. Sometimes I notice colors become blocked together, or the image looks solarized. Would the Minolta scanning at 5400dpi take care of these problems?
John F. Patterson III

A. I have a high regard for the Imacon Flextight scanners. I believe the high-resolution version that will provide scans at a similar level to the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 sells for just under $10,000, while the $4995 model 343 only has 3200 ppi resolution, a lot less than the Minolta and less even than the Nikon 4000.
In addition, although the Imacon software is very good it is not as easy to use as SilverFast. It is intended for a purely professional market and skilled operators. Further, for 35mm scanning the Flextight scanners require that the film be unmounted and in single frames. So, the physical process of setting up each film frame to scan is laborious, a pain in the behind, to be candid.
It has been several years since I used the Nikon LS-2000. However I do not recall any of the problems you described, and I used it driven by SilverFast either Version 4 or 5. What you are describing is not normal and could be at least partly the result of problems with profiling and color management.
The Minolta, in my estimation, is a very high-performance scanner capable of capturing and recording the finest nuances of color in a 35mm film image (this is assuming it is driven with Lasersoft SilverFast Ai 6). However, the hardware and software is just a part of the equation. The scanner must be part of a calibrated and profiled color management system to perform optimally, and even though I think SilverFast is one of the easier scanner drivers to use, it does require some skill to make it perform to its potential.

How Best To Enlarge Digital Images?
Q. I have a friend using Extensis' pxl SmartScale to up size digital images, and he says it works really well. He of course concedes that the larger the original image the better, but he does believe that SmartScale has its place. I have a Minolta DiMAGE 3 that scans my 35mm film at a maximum of 2800dpi, which is not really enough to do an 11x16 or 16x24. Will SmartScale really enable me to do medium size enlargements from a 35 scanned at 2800?
Dave Hannah

A. I have not used or evaluated the Extensis SmartScale, so comparing it to Genuine Fractals from LizardTech ( seems unfair. I have used Genuine Fractals frequently to make enlarged prints from digital camera image files and have found it is very effective. And, generally the reader consensus I get indicates others are also enjoying good satisfaction with Genuine Fractals. If readers have experience with Extensis' SmartScale we'd like to hear from them. There is also more sophisticated and better software for up-scaling images that is provided with some high-end proprietary drivers for professional wide format printers, but those software packages start at about $500.

An All-In-One Photo Printer Not Reviewed
Q. I am planning to buy a photo printer. My friend suggested Epson's RX500 multifunctional printer. Can you give some feedback on this printer?
Stephen Chong

A. The Epson RX500 should provide photo printing performance very similar to the Epson Stylus Photo 900 model I reviewed in the October 2003 issue of Shutterbug, as the printing specifications are the same. The report is available to read on the Shutterbug website at:

Standard Digital Camera File Size/Resolution?
Q. My Sony DSC F828 gives me a picture resolution of 45x34" at 72dpi. If I change the resolution to, let's say, 8x10" at 300dpi in Photoshop for printing, will that detract from the image quality? And if so, is there another way to go about changing size and resolution for printing? And could you explain to me why they use 72dpi and a large picture size instead of a higher resolution and a smaller picture size, since the file size would be the same either way?
Jim McKernon

A. To answer your last part first, I would guess that 72dpi was established with some early digital camera makers because the first low-resolution cameras were used mostly to make pictures for the web, and 72dpi is VGA screen resolution.
To preserve quality integrity for printing digital camera files, I would suggest re-sizing with Resampling turned Off, and just adjust the dimensions letting resolution reset itself proportionally.