Q&A For Digital Photography

Digital help is designed to aid you in getting the mostfrom 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 (www.shutterbug.com), directly via e-mail to: editorial@shutterbug.com or goofotografx@gmail.com or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.

Help Us Out...
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

Paper Profiles
Q. I have a question regarding choosing the correct inkjet printer paper profile. My setup: Mac Pro running OS X 10.6.8; Photoshop CS4; Epson 2200 printer. When printing from Photoshop using Epson papers, I select the correct paper profile from the Printer Profile menu and press “Print.” In the next print window, I select “Print Settings,” then select the Media Type from a generic list of Epson papers. The list differs depending on whether the printer has matte black or photo black ink loaded. My question concerns using non-Epson papers. I have successfully loaded the profiles for the non-Epson papers and select that profile in the Printer Profile menu. Under Print Settings, the paper choices shown under Media Type are the Epson papers, not the non-Epson papers. Does selecting the correct paper type in the Print Settings-Media Type window matter, as long as the correct paper profile is selected in the Printer Profile menu? If so, which paper type should be selected in the Media Type option window—the one that most closely matches the non-Epson paper?
Mark Naumann
via e-mail

A. First, yes, the selection of the print media type affects the ink-flow level in the printing, adjusting the ink output to match the paper characteristics. Glossy and luster surface paper on an RC base require a different ink-flow amount than a matte fiber-based paper. You did not mention which non-Epson brand paper you are using, but most paper manufacturers have websites or dealers that should be able to specify which paper is correct for the media setting selection and matches, closely enough, the Epson surface.
Second, if you do not have a recommendation from a non-Epson paper company or dealer, then you have to guess which media type to choose. That’s not very predictable because papers that may seem similar may have very different ink-flow requirements.
Most popular brands these days do provide profiles for their papers for use with the most popular printers. That should be a good indicator that the manufacturers are serious about their customers obtaining the best print performance.

Monitor Specs
Q. Based on your feedback from an earlier e-mail I purchased the loaded Mac mini. Now I am down to the monitor. My choices are between the Dell U2410 and NEC PA241W-BK. The stats are almost identical, but the NEC is $300 more expensive. Money aside, which is a better monitor for an advanced hobbyist/amateur? The Eizo was much more expensive and I don’t want to spend that much.
Bruce Feldman
via e-mail

A. The NEC PA241W, at a street price of $779, does have comparable specifications to the Dell UltraSharp U2410. But you have to also buy the SpectraView software and NEC colorimeter to be able to adjust, calibrate, and profile the display. That is quite a bit more money over the price for just the display. And the reason I do not recommend NEC SpectraView display systems is that their colorimeter and software only works with NEC SpectraView displays; you cannot use it with any other brand or model of display, and any other brand or model of display color management does not work with NEC SpectraView displays.
The easiest to use and best current display color management system is the X-Rite i1Display Pro, which sells for as little as $219, including both colorimeter and software. You should select this for either the Dell or an Eizo FlexScan. The Eizo FlexScan S2243W I recommend has a street price of $799 at some online retailers; shop around for the best price. It is a bit smaller, but has the same resolution as a 24” from either Dell or NEC.

LCD Calibration
Q. I have a question concerning calibrating for black luminance. When calibrating either a CRT or LCD monitor, is it worthwhile to use a good-quality reference gradient white to black chart for setting the brightness level? I currently use Spyder3 software for calibration. The chart is small and rather hard to read in the Expert Mode. Are there any other charts that would be easier to use for setting the brightness level? What about products from Spears and Munsell?
Doug Bacso
via e-mail

A. I will only address calibrating and profiling LCD displays, as it has been so long since CRT manufacturing was discontinued that the phosphor coating in a CRT would be so depleted and skewed it is pointless to even try to calibrate and profile one. Most users find setting black luminance to an automatic minimum works well for them, but a few may raise the black luminance slightly to get more detail in shadows.
For the last two years or more I have only recommended the X-Rite i1Display Pro display management hardware and software, as it offers easier control and provides more support for adjustment, calibration, and profiling with very clear on-screen readouts. In my opinion, the Datacolor Spyder4 has tried to keep up but still offers less than X-Rite for just about the same cost.

Still Need 2x2 Glass For Slides?
Q. I was looking through my dad’s photo boxes and found two boxes, each with 100 2x2 glass covers—one from Golde made in Chicago and the other Leitz, made in the U.S.A. Do you still need 2x2 glass for slides? If you’re still interested let me know—all these years later!
Judith Jennrich
Via e-mail

A. Thanks so much for remembering me, and my need for 2x2 slide glass. Since then I was able to obtain a supply, and that project is finished, more or less. But someone may have the same need, so hang on to them.

I am pleased to announce the latest 4.3 edition tomy eBook Digital Darkroom Resource Cd. The CD now contains 33 chapters totaling 399 pages in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format, providing easy-to-read text and large high-quality illustration. The CD is available for $20 plus $5 shipping and handling (US Mail if available). Ordering is as simple as sending a check or money order for $25 made out to me, David B. Brooks, and mailed to PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.