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 (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

Display Brightness For Print And Web
Q. Although I religiously read your column each month I do not recall previously seeing the 140.0 CD/m2 white luminance recommended setting for my display for editing images targeted at other computers. I have been experimenting for a while, with mixed success, with higher settings (120+ range), but never quite that high. I have been leery of going too high since I really had no idea what setting most computers used out of the box and was afraid of producing images that are too dark.
Did you arrive at the 140.0 setting by trial and error or use another approach?
It now dawns on me, after reading your January, 2013, column, that the approach I should have taken to avoid all the trial and error was to base my setting by using an original, properly exposed and unedited photo image with good dynamic range and a histogram in the general shape of a bell curve. Open the image and without any editing (e.g., no changes to curves or levels, etc.) keep changing the white luminance setting until the image appears properly exposed on my monitor, while recognizing that room lighting can have some impact on how the image appears. Is this a reasonable approach to fine-tuning the white luminance, or am I missing something? Or should I simply go straight to the 140.0 setting?
John Chapman
via e-mail

A. The basic principle for setting the white luminance of a computer used to produce photographs for reproduction is that the brightness (white luminance) matches the producer computer display of the receiver. If the receiver is paper reproduction, either an inkjet printer or CMYK files for an offset press, the originator should set the white luminance to be the equivalent of paper white, which is 80.0 or 90.0 CD/m2.
If you’re producing image files for the Internet or to be received by other computers, the standard is sRGB color. The brightness of different computer displays is variable, but has been progressively getting brighter, so the display management companies have chosen an estimated white luminance, and I have agreed with those who suggest 140.0 CD/m2. But who knows what is right, considering it is a variable that has not been objectively measured? If you use 140.0 CD/m2 and sRGB and you get feedback the images are too bright or too dark, of course you can adjust your own display setting accordingly.
You could research companies that produce images for sRGB and Internet use and match their production computer, but I would bet that the result from such a survey would be varied and inconclusive. So, if you can, obtain feedback from actual users who are opening your images on their computers. Try using the 140.0 CD/m2 setting and see what your recipients say as to whether the images are too light or too dark.

Support For The NEC MultiSync P221W LCD Display
Q. I’ve written to you before about issues with my MultiSync P221W monitor. All is well now, with a new monitor that works fine. My issue involves calibration for black and white. I’ve been using SpectraView to calibrate using the same settings I have always used: white point 6500K, gamma 2.2, white luminance 90.0.
Since I’ve started printing a lot of black and white, my prints are consistently coming out too light, even though they look great on the monitor. I’m using an Epson R2400 and Harman Professional paper. Do you think I should change the intensity setting? Do you have any other thoughts about what’s going on here?
Ima Jay
via e-mail

A. First of all, your settings for your display are correct for color-managed printing if what you are calling “intensity” is the white luminance setting in CD/m2. However, if your black-and-white images are grayscale files, they are not color (RGB), so color management does not apply to them in printing. So the lightness and darkness of the print has to be controlled in the printer driver window; the print’s qualities are not controlled by color management.
Although I use an Epson R1900 rather than the 2400 you use, I edit my black-and-white files in RGB color and then I use color management to control the printing through Photoshop and obtain a brightness match to the image on screen. Try and see if it works for you.

The (Really) Mobile Photographer
Q. Because of your recommendations of the Mac mini, I’m considering going with one, perhaps even two—one for photo and video editing and one for music recording and editing. The problem is a monitor. As you know, my lifestyle is a little different, working and traveling on cruise ships and traveling by plane, so the number of cases and their weight is a consideration.
I’m thinking that if I could get a foam-filled (pluck foam or whatever) SKB roller case and put two Mac minis and a flat screen monitor without the stand, I would have a pretty portable setup.
Also, I’ve been hearing some complaints that the new Apple laptop screens are TOO bright, which in turn is making people’s prints come out TOO dark. So I figure expensive doesn’t necessarily mean good. I found a 19” Dell monitor that comes without a stand and although I realize it is probably not the best choice for precise color correction, I’m wondering if it would be good enough that I wouldn’t be totally disappointed. What are your thoughts?
Randy Bradley
via e-mail

A. I would agree with you that traveling with a Mac mini would be a good and economical choice. What I am currently recommending is the i7 as the basic model at a beginning price of $799. It will take a lot of upgrades, but the one that’s most essential is RAM, and it will accept 16GB. You don’t really need two Mac minis, but plan on adding good external HD storage. I recommend OWC; they have some HD units that are the same size and shape as a Mac mini.
Although I have recommended Dell’s UltraSharp U2410 display, I would not recommend their other display models for your use. Dell is not all that dependable or easy to deal with. What I would suggest is a small display made by Eizo that has a good warranty and service available worldwide (they make most of the science and medical displays). The Eizo FlexScan displays have a removable stand and a custom front cover accessory for screen protection. Check their website.
None of the LED backlit LCD displays will reproduce anything other than sRGB color range. All the pro-graphics displays are at least 22”, bulky CCFL LCD displays, and heavy. The one 17” I have recommended has easy-to-use automatic color and brightness settings for different kinds of applications. And these displays are sharp and easy to use. I have an Eizo FlexScan on my office desk and it is on all day. I read and write a lot with it, but it also works for image editing, plus I run iTunes to play a huge collection of flamenco, jazz, and New Age music.

iMac Problems?
Q. I work mainly in black and white using an iMac G5 (OS X Tiger 10.1) with Photoshop Elements 4 (PSE4) and Nik Silver Efex Pro and “the Hidden Power of PSE4.” Antiquated perhaps, but I get nice results, especially when using an adaptation in Hidden Power called the History Brush, a feature resembling Snapshots in Photoshop. However, with my older OS, I’m unable to take advantage of the newer software, so I’m looking to upgrade my system, most likely a new 27” iMac. I would like to keep my workflow simple, such as I currently have in place. So, two questions: is it possible to accomplish my goal, while at the same time retaining or obtaining a feature such as “Snapshots” without purchasing Photoshop CS? Second, since I’m upgrading my system anyway, is there a better approach to my working in black and white, given the fact there is so much new software available?
Phil Krzeminski
via e-mail

A. You did not say what the original images are, whether they are black and white, scanned film images, or digital camera images (Raw or JPEG). Nor did you say how you are using the History Brush—is it to retouch flaws or to create new image effects? Regardless, if you read my column regularly you should know the only Apple Mac problems I get in e-mails from readers are with iMac and a few MacBook users, and that I repeatedly do not recommend iMacs for editing digital photographs. There are many reasons iMacs are a problem, but the main one is the user has no control of the image on screen as Apple does not offer separate brightness and contrast control and does not tell anyone what their brightness control does to both brightness and contrast.
I work with Apple Mac mini computers (four of them) and one 3-year-old Mac Pro. All of my Macs have pro-graphics displays that are adjusted, calibrated, and profiled to match color and brightness on paper white. Whether you can do what you are doing using an older Apple iMac with a new one and OS X 10.8 is not something I can predict, but I would guess probably not. What I recommend to my readers is an Apple Mac mini i7 (base price $799, plus extra RAM up to 16GB) and either a Dell UltraSharp U2410 or an Eizo FlexScan SX2243W LCD display plus X-Rite i1Display Pro color display management software.

Panorama Res & Resize
Q. Recently I purchased a GigaPan device and, to use their stitching software to create a panorama, one has to convert Raw images to JPEGs. (I take all my captures in Raw.) After the panorama is created one can save it as a TIFF and then make any adjustments in CS6 to the TIFF. Without making any adjustments to the JPEG files prior to stitching, does converting the final panorama from a series of stitched JPEGs to a TIFF file lose any information in the process?
My second question relates to resolution. I usually open my Raw images from Camera Raw to CS6 at a resolution of 360. But for the purpose of stitching I save the Raw images in Camera Raw as JPEGs, stitch them with the software, and then save the panorama as a TIFF file. These TIFF files are large because some may be 50 images stitched together. For example, a recent panorama saved as a TIFF was 1.05GB, 574x134” with a resolution of 70 pixels per inch. I am assuming that a print of this size would not have the detail that a print with a resolution of 240ppi would have. Am I correct?
Would converting this image with a 70ppi resolution to a 240ppi resolution using Perfect Resize improve the detail of a print? Or, what if I reduced the image size and increased the resolution to 240ppi using Perfect Resize? What image size reduction would get me to a resolution of 240ppi?
Ross Kaplan
via e-mail

A. If the image is opened as a JPEG and you select TIFF as the format to save the image there is no loss of information. So, if the initial conversion to JPEG was at the highest quality setting, you would get an image comparable to its Raw version.
Yes, you are correct that an image with 70ppi resolution will reproduce less image detail than one that is 240ppi, if the image size dimensions are the same. As for “Perfect Resize,” I have no evidence that image detail would be better preserved. Sorry, I don’t test and use everything that is available.

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