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 web site, directly via e-mail to: or or by US Mail to: PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

A Reader's Experience Switching To An Apple Mac
In your Q&A column in the April 2004 issue of Shutterbug, Sandy Noble wrote you in reference to changing from PC to Mac platforms. Several months ago I was in the same quandary--wanting to change to Macintosh but reluctant to incur the additional costs of changing software. In anticipation of the change, I wrote several of the software manufacturers and was pleasantly surprised by their responses.
Adobe was exceptionally helpful. They informed me that all I needed to do was sign a statement that I would destroy my copy of the PC version of Photoshop and they would, at a very modest cost, furnish me a copy of the Mac version. I don't remember the exact cost but it was little more than the cost of shipping and handling. I did sign the statement and received my full Mac version of Photoshop in about two days. Incredible!

Pictographics furnished me a copy of iCorrect EditLab for the "upgrade" price--again a very nominal cost. Photoshop Elements come with both platforms included on the installation disk. I use the nik Color Efex Pro filters and the Genuine Fractals programs and both platforms are included with both of those packages.

Microsoft offers no special deals on the Office product, but in a non-commercial setting, Sandy might be wise to look at the Student Teacher version, which, if one qualifies, may be purchased for less than $150.

My camera, scanner, printer, monitor, etc. all were easy to change over to the Mac and in fact all are still in use on both platforms. I have my printers and monitor hooked up to both a PC and a Mac and they work flawlessly on both. I use the PC for e-mail, Quicken, and business applications, and the Mac for everything else. I flip a switch on my monitor (a Sony G520) to change from one to the other.

All in all it was a very easy and pleasant transition from PC to Mac. I used the Detto Move2Mac program to transfer my files, although if I were to do it over, I would just network the PC and the Mac and transfer the files manually.

I would appreciate your passing this information on to Sandy. I enjoy your columns in Shutterbug and have found a lot of helpful information included in the great information that you write.
Julian Price

Thank you for your message. I am sure the readers of Digital Help will appreciate knowing the things you have found that support making the transition from a PC to a Mac less burdensome. It is especially good to know as some readers and I have obtained a response, particularly from Adobe, that what you describe is not possible. However, in response to the Sandy Noble message in Digital Help another reader has confirmed what you have said regarding Adobe's policy.

I would also add that readers should look at all of their software CDs to see if they support both Mac and PC Windows. Most digital camera software, printer and scanner software from manufacturers do. And LaserSoft, on their website, will support downloading the Mac version of their driver if you have a valid serial number for a comparable Windows version. To accomplish this the current LaserSoft SilverFast version must be registered through the website.

Similarly, for those who have a ColorVision Spyder and either PhotoCAL or OptiCAL software for monitor calibration and profiling, the latest software in Mac format may be downloaded from the Support section of their website at, and your current registration serial number should work with the new software.

Happy Camper
This is in regard to the letter from Sandy Noble in your column in the April 2004 issue of Shutterbug. I changed from a PC running Windows 98 with Photoshop 6.0 to a Power Mac G4 a year ago (and have been a very happy camper ever since). Adobe allowed me to make the cross-platform change by simply arranging to sign a "Letter of Software Destruction" which can be downloaded from their website, promising to erase Photoshop from my hard drive and destroy the original software disk. The change was done for the cost of sending me a CD (about $12) for the Mac version plus the price of upgrading to Photoshop 7.0 as they were no longer making Photoshop 6.0. I thought this was more than fair.

My PC crashed irrevocably after a repeated series of trips to a very competent repair shop. A year prior to that I went through another series of problems which eventually required reformatting the hard drive. Each occasion involved numerous phone conversations with technicians--a consequent enormous waste of my time.

My Mac experience has been so much better. I have had a few freezes but recovery was quick and painless. As an architect and amateur photographer I do care about what things look like, and I find the graphics of the various message panels, etc. far superior to Windows.
Thank you for all of your great columns, product reviews, and technical articles. They have been of enormous help to me in my six years of scanning and printing digitally. I have purchased several items of equipment on the basis of your reviews and have always found the reviews to be right on.
Herman F. Woerner

Thank you so much for sharing your experience, particularly the part about the cross-platform Photoshop support you received from Adobe. I will be sure to include your message in Digital Help so others may consider and possibly benefit from your experience.

I also greatly appreciate knowing that what I am trying to do to help support digital darkroom enthusiasts is working, and what I contribute is of value to readers of Shutterbug magazine.

Critical Scanner Maintenance
Here is the story of my scanning issues: As part of my sabbatical work, I intended to scan my color work going back over 20 years, all of which had been shot on 8x10" color transparency film. The scanner I used originally was a Microtek 8700, which was upgraded to a Microtek ArtixScan 1800f, due to its ability to capture a wide range of density. I used SilverFast Ai 6, and quickly ran into problems. The first was a serious problem with Newton rings. I tried every known solution, from talcum powder (too messy and a threat to the scanner sensor), using a hair dryer on the film prior to scanning (had no effect), and Anti-Newton Glass (supplied by Focal Point) on the top and bottom to hold the film flat. Unfortunately, you can't use the Anti-Newton Glass on the bottom, only on the top, or you get blurred scans.

The only option left was either Anti-Newton drum mounting fluid, but Howtek, who distributes one of the better products, did not answer phone calls or e-mails, so we ruled them out. The only solution left was to use Tetenal Anti-Newton Spray, distributed originally by Beseler, and then Jobo, but neither of them distributes it any longer, and had none in stock. I had two old cans, so I tried them, and they worked. The original instructions advise you to spray the film itself, but many users instead spray a light coating on the glass carrier, in light mists until you have just enough to prevent the rings. Then you cover the film with Anti-Newton Glass and scan.

Unfortunately, the scans all had faint lines on them, occurring the entire length of the scan, visible mostly in areas with little detail like skies. We tried swapping scanners, changing software, all to no effect. Then, I happened upon a single line in a posting on the Photonet listserv which mentioned the absolute importance of keeping the small glass calibration window spotless. When I sprayed the glass carrier with the Anti-Newton Spray, some spray drifted over to the calibration window, and when that was cleaned and blown spotless with compressed air, the scan lines disappeared. Working with Microtek tech support, they confirmed the problem, and posted a note on their website to remind users of just how important it is to keep that calibration area clean and dust free.

Now, if we could just find someone to distribute the Tetenal Anti-Newton Spray in this country. It is available in Europe from most photo resellers.
Harris Fogel

Thank you for recounting your scanning experience. I might mention that with just about every flat-bed scanner that has a film scanning capability, the scanner usually calibrates even if there is not a separate physical window, as with some Microtek models. This is usually the top part of the scan area, and it is usually kept clear by an indent in the film carrier. So it is imperative to keep the glass of the scan area as clean as possible, especially at the top where the calibration occurs.

Large Flat Screen Presentation Displays
Q. I am a 30-year professional photographer who is planning to buy a 42" plasma screen and then drive it with a G4 using iPhoto so that I can have a display of several hundred photos that cycle. I would have different files: wedding, portrait, and, no doubt, travel. To this end I have already scanned about 500 negatives. (I don't shoot digital, but I have a 24" Epson, a Nikon 4000, an Epson 1600 for 21/4, and Photoshop.) I doubt that the 4000dpi scans I have are the format I will want to use. Could you please share your thoughts on file format, resolution, and size with me? I think I would get an HD monitor, as there seems to be no shortage of them on eBay. Also, any thoughts on the equipment I have discussed would be welcome.
Stan Kerns

A. I am not an expert in the area of large plasma displays that can be driven by a computer. Until recently the high cost had dampened my interest, as well as the fact that plasma screens are reported to have a shorter life than an LCD. In addition, I have not seen a plasma display that compares in image quality to an LCD.

That said, there was an Intel announcement a few months back about a new generation of chips that will substantially reduce the cost of large, flat-screen displays. So, I have felt it is maybe worth waiting a bit. However, recently I have seen new Sharp brand large LCD screens at surprisingly reasonable prices, and the image quality performance of these screens was exceptional.

I think you will find computers will be easily and fully integrated with entertainment systems soon, which should support what you want to do. Of course Gateway, a computer maker, is currently the largest seller of large plasma displays. And, if you visit the Epson website you'll find they are now into this with new LCD-type products. Visit them at: and click on Home Entertainment under Products.

As to software for slide shows and presentations, since I upgraded to Adobe Photoshop CS I have found that the included Acrobat support for slide shows and presentations is exceedingly easy to use and the on-screen display quality couldn't be better. And, the show can be done automatically from a folder of original scanned images without having to re-size them beforehand.

Adding Text Information Like EXIF Data In Scanned Image Files
Q. I have several thousand files which I am in the process of scanning into my Mac. Is there an application similar to iPhoto which will permit me to enter my exposure data as iPhoto does with EXIF data from a digital camera? I would prefer handling the data this way rather than using a separate database. I use a Power Mac G4 with OS 10.2.8. Thanks for your help!
Ed Wood

A. The Browser in Photoshop CS will allow you to type in data in a number of categories. Of course that is an expensive application just for that purpose. However, I expect the next version of Photoshop Elements will include the same Browser capabilities. I would also expect a new version of Elements is not that far off.

There are likely more Mac applications that include the capability to store EXIF-type data as part of the file, but so many other new products have been taking my attention I have not had the time to explore them. However, you might take a look at how the search engine in VersionTracker ( might meet your needs.

Digital Lighting For Small Product Photography
Q. I would like to take product shots of jewelry with my digital camera. I saw a setup that might work and contacted the manufacturer, but didn't know what it was called and the model number did not produce any results. Now I'm in the same position. I want to take product shots (simple) and I don't know where to turn.
Isabel Smith

A. I am assuming you're looking for a light tent setup for small product photography. The reason I am suggesting the light tent is that jewelry is usually shiny and polished and reflects light sources like a mirror. So, to have a soft enclosed light source is essential to get smooth tones in polished jewelry.

There are a number of products made to serve this purpose. To use digital I would suggest that tungsten (halogen) lights would be the easiest and cheapest way to go. This eliminates flash sync problems, which are common with some digital cameras. With the tungsten lights all you need do is set the camera's white balance to tungsten/indoor.

One of the best selections of products can be found from one of our advertisers, B&H. Just go to the URL for the website page that offers these lighting devices: home?O=NavBar&A=search&Q=&ci=1410.