The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 3, Number 14 13 July 2001

Copyright 2001, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 50th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We teach ourselves a lesson while Dave discovers a gem of a scanner. And, it being summer in our hemisphere, we light a bonfire under color negative conversion.


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Feature: Scanning Old Photos With Your Digicam

So there we were, just arrived with our luggage still piled in the hallway when we found ourselves suddenly confronted with a recently discovered album of family pictures dating back to 1919.

"How can I get these copied?" our hostess asked innocently.

We didn't run, but we did hide behind some expert advice. The pictures, it turned out, were contact prints of negatives shot with a Kodak Brownie. With the exception of one unprinted negative that flew out to greet us as we flipped through the album.

The faces on all of them were no bigger than Lincoln's on a penny. We realized immediately they should be scanned. And (fortunately) we didn't pack a scanner.

"They should really be scanned," we intimated. "You'll be amazed at the detail the scan will bring out. These tiny faces will be nearly life-size on the computer screen," we promised.

Old contact prints can, in fact, be too small to see very well, especially for the older eyes that would most appreciate them. Being able to enlarge a coin-sized face until it fills a monitor can be as startling as bringing someone back to life. Well, we exaggerate -- but not much.

Our hostess made a mental note of our advice (to which we helpfully added the certitude that the son-in-law with all the latest computer gear would be able to handle the job in no time) before excusing us from the task.

But a few days later, we found our impending departure was starting to get on our nerves. We caught ourselves pausing for a moment of silence on discovering we had, for example, brushed our teeth for the last time on this trip.

Put simply, we had to find a project. Preferably one with insurmountable difficulties. And the old album was it.

DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME

So we grabbed our digicam (with its miraculous macro mode) in one hand and the album in the other and found the brightest corner of the room on an overcast day.

We set the exposure mode to black and white (to eliminate any variation in hue from the variously processed black and white images). Then we set manual mode to shutter priority, picking 1/60 second (which we were sure we could handhold steadily). Finally we turned off the flash and selected macro focusing, zooming the lens to the right range.

The overcast sky was bright so we had enough light but no shadows. We took a few sample shots (some tough ones and some not so tough ones), cropping each one carefully. Then we ran downstairs to our laptop to see what we had. If you have a histogram display, you might save your neck by taking a look at what it tells you about your exposure. We were too impatient to see what we'd gotten.

Remarkable!

We were astounded to see how well the images copied. Good detail in the shadows and highlights, sharpness despite some shaky camera work, plus that bonus magnification of those unrecognizable prints on our screen. That was enough to persuade us to run back upstairs to do the whole album.

YEAH, BUT ...

We knew our hostess would like prints to share with her siblings (two sisters who cleverly remain unencumbered by computing devices, devoting their attention instead to golf). But we don't travel with a printer either. Fortunately there was an old Macintosh desktop setup with a recent vintage 1440x720 dots-per-inch Epson 740. We could work with that, we winked.

Except we had to move not only our test shots but about 50-MB of images to it.

We like to travel with SyQuest cartridges. A drive and a handful of cartridges let us keep two copies of every image we shoot (which lets us sleep at night). Our laptop (circa 1997) has a SCSI port and the desktop PowerPC (circa 1995) had built-in SCSI, too.

So all we had to do was cable the SyQuest to the PowerPC, insert the cartridge and then power up the desktop. It found the cartridge and mounted it without any special drivers. Problem solved.

YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE

Until we found out the desktop was running System 7.5.5 and enjoyed a meager 16-MB of RAM. Even with RAM Doubler pretending there was 32-MB to play with, we knew we needed every byte we could squeeze out of the system to print our 9-MB images.

Fortunately, the desktop had an old version of Photoshop installed. Version 3.0.4 has much more modest RAM requirements than version 6.0's 64-MB. So we were delighted to see version 3.0 again.

Sure, we might just have cabled the Epson to our laptop running Photoshop 5.0, downloaded the drivers for our OS and made some prints. But we had bigger dreams. Like leaving a copy of the images behind for slide shows and more prints.

But does Photoshop 3.0 have the tools to handle the job? We hardly remembered.

THE HOOK

We shouldn't have worried. In our excitement over every new Photoshop release, we tend to forget what a lot of image processing has been done with older versions. Whole movies, in fact, were enhanced with Photoshop 2.0. We're thinking of Spielberg's "Hook," released in 1991, which required processing as much data as had been done in the entire galaxy up to 1984, according to one (haggard) source at Industrial Light and Magic.

(Just for fun, we looked up the system requirements for 2.0: 2-MB RAM, System 6.0.4 or later, a hard disk. Recommended: 4 to 8-MB RAM, an 8-bit or 32-bit video display card, a scanner and a laser printer. And it shipped on diskettes.)

Still, you get spoiled by progress. Going back in time can be difficult (even for Spielberg).

So we asked ourselves what we needed besides a backup image (never work on the original, remember) to tweak these images.

THE ESSENTIAL TOOLS

We wanted to be able to adjust the brightness and contrast. Levels is the easiest way to do that. And 3.0 has Levels. It even has Curves, should we get into trouble too deep for Levels.

Every old photo has its blemishes, but they're easy (even fun) to fix with the Rubber Stamp tool. To retouch an image with the Rubber Stamp tool, set it to "clone aligned." Then select an area with the texture and tone you want to copy by holding down the Option (Macintosh) or Alt (Windows) key and clicking the mouse on it. Release the Option or Alt key, move to the blemish and paint over it. If the blemish doesn't magically disappear, press Command-z or Control-z to undo the retouching and select a different area to copy from with the Option or Alt key held down. Select, brush and optionally undo until you get the problem to disappear.

We also had to eliminate various artifacts on the prints. Sometimes this was grain, sometimes it was physical deterioration. We usually find the Dust and Scratches filter too strong for this and Smart Blur isn't available in 3.0 but Despeckle does a nice job of smoothing away artifacts without blurring edges. And 3.0 has the Despeckle filter (under Noise).

Of course, we wanted to sharpen the image after that. Some were blurred originally but they all needed a little help. We were enlarging them substantially, after all. And 3.0 has Unsharp Mask. We like to slide between 20/40/60 percent with a Radius of 1.5 pixels and a Threshold of 0.

Then it was just a matter of sizing each image under Image Size. Photoshop always displays the image at screen resolution (72 pixels per inch) but we needed something higher for printing. We had enough data to make 8x10 prints on the Epson, but we decided on 5x7s to get two out of each sheet (we had to make copies for each sister, after all).

So, with File Size constrained, we set the long dimension to 7 inches, giving us 5.25 inches along the short side.

And that was all it took, really. Except for the negative.

ABRACADABRA

It took two of us to photograph the negative. One person held it aloft several feet in front of a white surface (a spare ceiling tile, actually, but a white wall would have done just fine). The white surface reflected the daylight from the window through the negative but wasn't close enough to be in focus. We crawled up to the negative on our knees, framed it in the LCD and shot it just before we fell over. Piece of cake. For a circus clown anyway.

We just had to Invert it to turn it into a positive (although we actually used Curves to invert it). Then we ran it through the same Levels, Despeckle, Unsharp Mask, Size and Rubber Stamp process to which we subjected the other images. And which, we should add, made them look a good deal better than the originals.

And there, for the first time in many years, you could see Aunt Betty (just as our hostess had somehow predicted) in her new dress posing in front of the old house. As if it had been yesterday.

A few test prints got us out of doing the dishes that night.

NOT SO FAST, THERE

Of course there was one little problem we hadn't paid much attention to because it wasn't technical. And that was just who all these people were. That was Aunt Marilyn in the penny loafers, this was Aunt Betty on the bike, but was that infant on the lawn Betty or Marilyn and how old was she in this picture and....

Fortunately the album had been captioned and even more fortunately our hostess had done the captioning.

So before we shut down, we tossed the folder of images on QPict and indexed them with the captions from the old album, adding a story or two to explain why Andy the milkman's picture was in there, for example.

Putting them into a database with captions increased the odds they'd mean something even to future generations (some of whom are already rug rats). But it was helpful to the rest of us, as well. This was, after all, a private album hidden away many years, the images and places familiar only to the principals.

REGRETS, A FEW

In retrospect, it might have helped to overexpose the images a bit (as the histogram would have shown), but it's doubtful we could have entirely avoided using Levels.

And we do wish we'd shot overall images of each page in addition to the individual copies of each image. That would have given us the original captions.

And, of course, we shouldn't even be telling this story. This is not the way to do this kind of project. Get a tripod, control the light or better yet, as we said at the beginning, scan these things. We know better, you know better, we all know better. But sometimes, as we found, you can know too much for your own good.

We were saved from that by a couple of things.

The prints were small. So scanning them at 300 dpi would have actually given us less data than shooting them with a 3-megapixel camera. And any textured surface (which bedevils a scanner) was minimized by photographing the picture in the shade. Finally, they were black and white prints so in-camera color interpolation wasn't a disadvantage.

When you can recover the frameless glasses on a great, great, great grandmother in a print from the turn of the last century and brighten her face into the full cheerfulness of her charming grin again, who but a know-it-all would complain about how it was done?

We certainly didn't think it would work out very well. And when it did, we have to confess we gave the family matriarch a wink.

It was when the dear woman winked back at us that we knew it was time to go. And a smoother flight home we've never had.

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Feature: Canon FS-4000 Scanner -- Affordable 4000 DPI

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/FS4000/FS40A.HTM on the Web site.)

MANUFACTURER OVERVIEW

In the digital world, Canon has developed one of the broader lines of digicams, spanning the range from entry level point and shoot models to a professional SLR model. Canon has both flatbed and film scanners, the two different divisions competing strongly in their respective niches.

The CanoScan FS-4000 is the latest in their line of film scanners, sporting 4000 dpi scanning resolution and 14-bit digitization for less than $1,000. The FS-4000 is a bit slower than the fastest film scanners we've tested, but that's about the only way its performance is the least bit off true professional standards.

THE BASICS

The CanoScan FS4000US is a typical size for a desktop film scanner, although its elongated shape means it's difficult to make our standard comparison to a thick book standing on its spine. The FS4000 has about the same cross-section as a book, but is a good bit longer at 3.6x14.5x5.7 inches and 5.3 pounds. Because the film holders don't project out the back of the unit, you don't need any more space in the back than the cables require.

Speaking of connections, the FS4000US has both SCSI-2 and USB ports on its rear panel. We only tested the SCSI connection. Older Macs (beige PowerMacs and before) come with built-in SCSI ports, other computers require the addition of a SCSI interface card to take advantage of the higher-speed interface. Most current computers, whether Macs or PCs have USB ports though, so the scanner should be usable out of the box with just about any computer built in the last few years.

The accompanying CD includes a nice set of software with good support of both Mac and PC platforms. Both Mac and PC users will find a copy of Adobe's excellent Photoshop LE, along with Canon's FilmGet FS acquire plug-in that operates the scanner from within Photoshop, allowing immediate adjustment or editing of the images as soon as they're acquired. Arcsoft's PhotoBase image database program is also provided for both platforms. For printing, the two platforms diverge slightly, with Canon's ImageBrowser for the Mac and Canon's PhotoRecord dedicated photo-printing package for Windows. Of the two, PhotoRecord provides much more flexible printing capabilities, ImageBrowser being mainly intended as a photo-organizer tool. Still, it's nice to see support as well-balanced between Mac and PC platforms as it is.

Scanning resolution can be as high as 4000 dpi, producing a maximum image size of 5888x4000 pixels with 35mm film, for a file size of 64-MB. Beyond its basic scanning resolution though, we also found the FS4000's lens system to be one of the sharpest we've seen and the overall resolution and detail delivered by the scanner is among the highest we've experienced.

Bit depth is another important parameter for scanners, as a measure of both color accuracy and the maximum density range a scanner can recognize. Scanners with 8 bits per channel are common, but 10 bits is better and 12 quite good. A few scanners are now beginning to appear with 14 bits per channel of digitization accuracy. The CanoScan FS4000 captures a full 14 bits per channel and furthermore allows you to import the full 42 bit image (14 bits in each of three color channels) into Photoshop.

SPECIAL FEATURES

We've reviewed several scanners featuring automated dust-removal systems. Some use purely software-based techniques of little practical benefit. If they remove the dust, they also remove most of the fine subject detail. If they leave the subject detail, they leave the dust too. The most successful methods use infrared light to generate a "defect mask" that then guides sophisticated processing in the scanner's firmware and software. The idea is that the infrared light passes through the film's emulsion layers more or less untouched, but is blocked by dust or scratches. We've found infrared-based methods to be quite effective in removing dust and scratches from scans. (Note though, that since Kodachrome and black & white emulsions are largely opaque to infrared, these methods don't work with films of those types.)

Until now, the only infrared-based technology for dust removal has been Digital ICE by Applied Science Fiction, licensed to both Nikon and Minolta for use in their film scanners. With the FS4000US, Canon has introduced its own dust/scratch removal technology, called FARE (Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement. This IR-based approach is distinguished by the almost zero impact it has on underlying subject detail. Previously, even the best implementations of IR-based dust removal resulted in at least some softening of the image. You could generally get back most of the sharpness by careful application of unsharp masking in an image editing program, but there was always at least some loss of detail, no matter what you did.

With FARE, there was really no loss of detail we could discern, possibly just a tiny bit of softening when the control was set to "Strong" in the control software.

Of course, there's still no free lunch. We found that FARE wasn't quite as effective in removing dust and defects as the best implementations of Digital ICE, but we'd personally opt for the reduced impact on the underlying image that FARE seems to offer.

FARE also has enhancement capabilities we didn't experiment with much. It apparently can do a fairly gentle color restoration to faded images and also has built-in intelligence to partially compensate for the blown-out subjects common in amateur flash photography.

With FARE, Canon has not only advanced the state of the art of automatic defect removal, but they've brought it down market into a very affordable scanner. Very impressive!

SCANNER OPTICS & LIGHT PATH

Film scanners use either fixed focus or variable focus optics. The FS4000US is a variable focus design and the lens autofocuses prior to each scan by default. If you have badly curled film or a poorly focused original that's difficult for the scanner to focus on, you can disable the autofocus option and adjust focus manually. In our experience, this can be a lifesaver, but prepare to exercise extreme patience if you must resort to manual focus.

While some other manufacturers call particular attention to their scanning optics, Canon hasn't made a big deal of theirs. They easily could have though, as we found its lens to be one of the sharpest we've seen in a desktop film scanner. Not only did the FS4000 resolve more detail at the center of the frame than most scanners we've tested, but it was razor-sharp all the way to the corners as well. While a few scanners were as sharp at the center of the frame, none beat it in the corners.

Like many other scanners we've tested, the CanoScan FS4000US uses a cold-cathode fluorescent light source to illuminate the film. In the past, we've seen scanners with fluorescent illumination produce somewhat "softer" scans than those using more collimated light sources. With the FS4000US though, we saw no hint of softness in any of its scans.

FILM HANDLING

Sturdy plastic slide and filmstrip holders slide easily into the front of the scanner. Once a holder enters the scanner throat, the feed motor starts up, pulls it in and then moves it back and forth a bit until it's properly registered to scan the first frame. You can remove the holders at any time by simply tugging on them. The scanner body is open on the front only, as the film holders are entirely contained within the unit while scanning is in progress.

The film adapter generally worked well, but we had a bit of trouble with film that was badly curled lengthwise. It was hard to hold down the film while closing the clamshell and the little ridges meant to guide the film laterally weren't always where they needed to be to catch the ends of the film and keep it aligned. (Our favorite design for film holders is to have a continuous recess running the full length of the adapter. This really helps with curled film.) The ability to get at the film's sprocket holes to make fine adjustments in frame alignment was very handy though.

The slide holder has four recesses into which slides can be loaded. A pair of spring-loaded fingers presses the edge of each slide mount against the body of the holder. We liked this arrangement because on the one hand, we could get the slides perfectly square by bottoming them out against the ridges at the base of the spring fingers. At the same time though, there was enough play to get about a degree or so of rotation between the slide and the holder. This is useful for correcting for the slight rotation we've sometimes found between film and mount on poorly mounted slides. Another nice aspect of the slide holder is that it's very forgiving of unusually thick mounts like our glass USAF resolution slide or bulky glass-and-plastic mounts.

The CanoScan FS4000US is unusual in that Canon ships an APS film adapter with it. This small motorized magazine accepts an APS cartridge into a compartment accessed from its top and which in turn is inserted into the front of the scanner after opening a hinged door. We applaud Canon's inclusion of the APS adapter in the box with the scanner. While many manufacturers offer APS adapters for their scanners, it's often nearly impossible to find them at retail, requiring that they be ordered direct from the manufacturer. (More of a hassle than it should be.)

PERFORMANCE

With its capabilities and specs, the FS4000US will interest segments of the professional market, while its price makes it attractive to amateurs. Its performance seems to be somewhere between the two. It produces excellent scans with a minimum of fiddling, but its scanning speeds are a notch below what we'd consider to be pro-class. If you scan a few images at a time or aren't overly concerned about high scanning throughput, the FS4000US offers exceptional value. On the other hand, if you need to crank through dozens of scans per day, you probably want a faster unit.

Preview scans (producing low-resolution views of the film being scanned, to assist with cropping and color/tone adjustment) routinely took about 30 seconds, about in the middle of the pack (some take as little as 12 seconds, others as long as a minute). Once a prescan had been generated, we could generally make all the color/tone adjustments we wanted without the need to do another preview scan. The scanner does force you to generate new preview scans though, whenever you change the bit depth, scan type (positive/negative), exposure level or dust removal setting.

While it doesn't force you to do a fresh preview scan after each color/tone adjustment, the software does take a while to recompute and update the image after every adjustment -- and you have to wait until it's done. This slows the color correction process a fair bit. (Note to the Canon engineers: Making the preview redraw interruptible would really improve the user interaction.)

Small scans without dust removal generally took a minute or two to complete. Full-frame, full-resolution scans took 5-6 minutes without dust removal and as much as 9 minutes with. Max res 42-bit (14 bit per channel) scans take 11-13 minutes.

Calibration time was highly variable, but in most instances quite tolerable. The first frame after the scanner was turned on and the scanning plug-in launched would take a minute or two (!) to calibrate. Subsequent scans took as little as five seconds for the calibration process though, so it didn't end up being a significant productivity issue once we were up and running.

The CanoScan did pretty well with our ultra-dense "Train" image, thanks to its 14-bit A/D converter. It wasn't quite up to the best of the field in this respect though, as it showed more shadow noise than the best professional 35mm scanners we've tested. On the other hand, it was well ahead of essentially all the 12 bit scanners and as such offers good performance for the money.

THE BOTTOM LINE

We were very impressed with the CanoScan FS4000US's resolution and image sharpness. It resolved more detail than any other scanner we've tested and was also very sharp all the way to the extreme corners of the frame. No doubt about it, this is a very high-resolution scanner!

We'd prefer to see finer control in the software, with more resolution and a midtone slider on the histogram display, but we think the average user will find the software package very approachable and useful. Scanning speed is a bit slower than some pro-level units, but when you consider the FS4000US is a full 40 percent cheaper than those models, longer scanning times become much easier to tolerate. If you're looking for a high-end "personal" scanner or a high quality scanner for low-volume professional digitization (with an easy learning curve), the CanoScan FS4000US could be the unit for you.

Combining some of the most advanced features on the market (14 bit A/D, 4000 dpi, IR-based dust removal technology) with a sub-$1,000 price point, the CanoScan FS4000US sets a new benchmark for affordable, high quality film scanning. We were amazed by how close it comes to the high end of the desktop scanner field, at a price that's just 60 percent of competing units. Its scan speeds are slower than other top-end models, but for low- to medium-volume work, it's an unbeatable bargain!

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New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

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Advanced Mode: Correcting Color Negatives I

So you've scanned or shot some old color negatives and want to know how to convert them into a printable positive image.

Conventional wisdom (on the Web and in the books we've checked) is that you have to subtract the orange tint you see on any color negative. But, to our surprise, we've found that conventional wisdom is wrong.

We're going to look at this problem in two parts over the next two issues. First we'll take a close look at how a color negative emulsion works. In the next part we'll show you how to turn your negative RGB images into positive images.

WHEN ORANGE ISN'T

Take a look at any color negative. An orange tint that is plainly visible even between frames glares back at you menacingly.

You glower and reach for your Orange Tint Remover. And there are Web sites galore that will show you how to sample it and subtract it and go about recovering the image's color balance.

But they fail to understand what all that orange is doing there in the first place. After all, if it suited them, Fuji and Kodak (and anyone else) could certainly make clear negative film. Why'd they add the orange?

Well, it isn't orange at all.

COUPLING TO DIE FOR

It just looks orange. It's actually two different colors: yellow and salmon. And each of these color layers is a dye coupler. Dye couplers are chemical compounds that attach to oxidized developer during processing, altering its natural inclination.

Let's look at that color negative film again, but this time from the side (like geologists). There are actually three emulsion layers: one sensitive to blue, another to red and another to green light. During development each forms a negative image in its complementary color. The blue layer forms a yellow image, the red a cyan image and the green a magenta image.

But these dyes aren't perfect. It's the job of the dye couplers to make those imperfections unprintable.

The yellow dye coupler couples to produce the magenta dye and the salmon couples to produce the cyan dye. They keep the intensity of the red and green layers of the negative from degrading. And they do their job of coupling during processing.

That's when the salmon coupler forms the cyan dye, absorbing precisely the same amount of blue and green absorbed by the imperfect cyan. Since the salmon coupler is destroyed at the same time the cyan dye is formed, the result is a negative made with the imperfect cyan dye and a positive made of the left-over coupler that exactly compensates for the degree of imperfection in the cyan. Together, the negative and positive images produce a cyan layer with normal contrast to red light and zero contrast to blue and green light. In short, a perfect cyan dye.

Likewise, the yellow coupler reacts with the developing solution to form the magenta dye, destroying the yellow color. The yellow positive absorbs exactly as much blue light as corrupts the magenta dye. Together, the magenta layer has a normal contrast to green light and none to blue light, perfecting the magenta.

So the orange you see after development on the emulsion of a color negative is no longer uniform (which is why you don't want to remove it uniformly from the red and green channels of your image). Only in the blue shadows (where it generally is overwhelmed) is any of the yellow and salmon left.

BRIGHT IDEA

The dye coupling trick came to Kodak's Welsey Hansen as he lay in bed one evening. And in 1944 Kodak introduced Kodacolor negative film. You could read about it Collins' "The Story of Kodak" if it were still in print. Since it's not, here's how Hansen explained it in a 1977 speech:

"By using a yellow-colored magenta coupler and a salmon-colored cyan coupler, blue light was kept from degrading the intensity of the red and green layers of the negative....

"Thus, in printing, only the cyan peak is printed, resulting in saturated yellow and magenta images that produce clean bright reds, because the unwanted green and blue absorptions of the cyan dye are canceled out. The colored coupler has a red orange cast to it. The color is destroyed where the image is formed, but where there is no image, the colored coupler remains. Because the absorption is the same over all the picture area, the whole process negative [masked with the colored coupler] looks red orange."

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL

So the residual yellow and salmon dye couplers are one characteristic of color negative film. The red and green layers of the negative have been preserved by the time you see them (after processing). But color negative film has a few other characteristics worth keeping in mind before we color-correct the image.

The most important of which is the wide exposure latitude of color negative film. This is roughly three stops (it's roughly one stop for slide film). But three stops doesn't mean correct exposure. Often in converting a color negative you'll be dealing with less than ideal (if acceptable) exposure.

Another important factor is the narrow density range of color negatives. The difference between your shadows and highlights is less in a color negative than it is in a transparency. Bumping up contrast is a routine correction with color negs.

Finally, remember color negatives are a means to an end, not (like a transparency) the final image. They are designed to be printed with a particular light on a particular color paper.

NEXT TIME

The residual dye couplers in the blue layer, the generous exposure latitude of the medium, its narrow density range and its role as middleman on the way to a print are all factors affecting color correction.

And they make batch conversion to positive with color correction (who does just one color negative at a time?) even more problematic.

One thing should be obvious. You simply can't judge a color negative by looking at it. You can evaluate the density of the negative, but you have to entirely ignore its color attributes.

In Part II we'll describe how to convert that negative image into a positive. Assuming we actually figure it out!

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In the Forums

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

RE: SLR Optics

Dave wrote, "SLR optics mean the LCD can't be used as a live viewfinder anyway. (By its nature, barring a 'pellicle' mirror, the very design of an SLR precludes a live LCD viewfinder.)"

Ummm ... is there some reason Nikon cannot engineer "mirror lock-up" into this beasty?

-- William Reid

(The problem with an LCD-seeing SLR is having two live viewfinders. A film SLR has only one (through the eyepiece). To add a live LCD preview in that restricted light path would be an expensive challenge. Locking the mirror out of the way (so the CCD alone sees the image) introduces image processing issues (like screen updates). And since you have to (and probably would prefer to) focus through the eyepiece anyway, it would be little use. -- Editor)

I think the digital cameras sometimes get too hung up on traditional design. The best features of new and traditional should be combined, I tend to believe.

-- William Reid

(We couldn't agree more, William. There's a great deal to be said for "cameraness," as Dave calls it, but we always enjoy a little dare-devil innovation. Olympus' electronic viewfinder, for example, in their SLR designs. Or even better, the swivel designs of the Nikon Coolpix. -- Editor)

RE: Help for Seniors

Help! I just inherited a near-mint Kodak Senior 616 camera but am at a loss to find film for it. Can you suggest any source for 616 size film or any substitute? Thanks!

-- Dave Wiener

(Alas, 616 film is no longer available but if you have two empty spools, you can use 120 roll film (which should still be around by the time you read this). Visit http://jmcolberg.com/Photography/kodaksenior.html for a sample shot.... Alternately, there's always sheet film, cut to size. One sheet ought to be enough <g>. -- Editor)

RE: The Mill's the Thing

My son-in-law works for Ilford and sent me some Ilford inkjet photo paper to try -- a box of high gloss and a box of matte finish. Both types worked perfectly with my HP 1200 and my Epson 740. Haven't found anything better yet. He told me Ilford manufactures paper for several brand names. I'd recommend it for either printer.

-- James

(Thanks for the great tip, James! Quite right that Epson and the other printer manufacturers do not own their own paper mills. Hammermill also makes a reputable line, too, BTW.... More importantly, though, you've discovered one of the big secrets in digital imaging: the importance of a good photo paper. Lucky you to have an inexhaustible source! -- Editor)

RE: Costarring

I have an idea. But since my "little" voice will never be heard, I was wondering if the Mighty Imaging Resource could put the thumbscrews on these camera manufacturers.

The Idea: Why doesn't Nikon include a video instruction manual on how to use their D1x with the camera. For 6K, you would think they would like to train their customers to be power users.

This idea works equally well for all the high-end stuff by Canon, Fuji, Kodak, etc.

-- JB Baxter

(You mean a video tape showing you how to use the camera? These used to be pretty popular but, come to think of it, I haven't seen many lately (except Macromedia's 30-minute Flash training video and a Deke McClellan Training CD for Illustrator). My hunch is it's too expensive to do a professional video, which is quickly outdated and impossible to revise inexpensively. Just a guess, though.... Maybe we should start doing QuickTime tutorials on the site. There are a number of co-stars I would be willing to work with. -- Editor)

RE: Worth It?

I would like to buy the Coolpix 995, which seems to be significantly improved, especially the flash and the weight of the whole thing (both red-eye and its bulk bother me a bit about the 990). Do you think it is worth thinking about switching at this point?

-- Chezzie (your brother-in-law)

(Ah, Chezzie, how've you been (since the Dec. 8 issue)? Suffering from the constantly metastasizing Featuritis in this business, it seems. You've reminded me of a quote from Heinrich Boll's "The Clown." Says the clown (recently abandoned by his girlfriend Marie), "I suffer not only from depression, headaches, laziness, and the mystical ability to detect smells through the telephone, the most terrible affliction of all is my disposition to monogamy." It's OK to be stuck with a good camera like the 990. It takes a while to get on intimate terms with it, anyway.... The real red-eye test is to shoot someone in a dark room when the unsuspecting subject's pupils are wide open. I suspect the 995 does better than the 990 but the real solution for any digicam is off-camera flash. We tried a 990 with a borrowed SB-26 off camera recently and completely eliminated red eye even in nighttime street scenes (don't ask).... As for bulk, the 995 adds that popup flash. It may weight less, but we wouldn't call it less bulky. Another reason to remain faithful to your 990. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

ZDNet recently reported (http://www.zdnet.com/) a Kodak test late last year of its new EasyShare digicam with Microsoft's Windows "Whistler" OS (an early version of Windows XP due this October) discovered it was "Microsoft's own photo software that popped up -- not Kodak's." Kodak found that users would have to go through "a cumbersome process to get Kodak's software to pop up every time."

They also discovered the OS "steered orders for picture prints to companies that would have to pay to be listed in Windows and that these companies also would be asked to pay Microsoft a fee on every photo sent through Windows."

Microsoft didn't dispute the findings, but blamed Kodak for failing to "respond to our numerous attempts to work with them."

In April and May, according to the story, Kodak took its case to Washington as another example of Microsoft abusing its Windows monopoly. Kodak also approached New York State District Attorney Elliot Spitzer to discuss what they considered "an antitrust issue."

A subsequent release of the XP beta removed the impediments to using Kodak's software, but not the "per-photo fee for images that are sent through Windows to Microsoft's partners."

For the full story visit: http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2781900,00.html?chkpt=zdnn_nbs_hl


Wal-Mart stores are offering a one-time-use camera that includes Wal-Mart's Pictures Online (http://www.walmart.com) service as part of the price ($6.84 per camera, including the online service, a $2.74 value). The disposable camera is tagged so when the camera is dropped off at Wal-Mart, the pictures are automatically uploaded to the Walmart.com Photo Center.


Snapfish (http://www.snapfish.com) has implemented several new features on their site including Pixami's Photo Editor technology, high-resolution downloads and a customizable Photo CD-ROM. The photo editor eliminates red-eye, crops to the correct aspect ratio for standard print sizes and automatically corrects color and contrast. High-res downloads for film images at 1536x1024 pixels cost $.89 each for 1-5 images, $.69 each for 6-10 images and $.59 each for 11 or more. A custom Photo CD-ROM of a Snapfish album is $9.99 for the first 50 images and $3.99 each additional 25 up to 500 images or 500-MB.


The installed base of photo-capable and photo-specialty ink jet printers was close to 140 million units worldwide last year and is expected to grow to almost 300 million units by 2004, according to a recent report by Lyra Research (http://www.lyra.com). Despite the abundance of photo-capable printers, the average number of photos produced at home per month was less than 14, they observed.


Sapphire Innovations (http://www.sapphire-innovations.com) has released Custom Shapes Vol. 5, a set of 600 brush stroke/frame custom shapes for Photoshop 6/Elements.


Pentax (http://www.pentax.com) has introduced the Optio 330 as the world's smallest and lightest 3-megapixel, 3x optical zoom digital camera (35mm equivalent of 37-111mm). At 3.6" wide, 2.3" high and 1.2" thick, it weighs just 8.5 ounces, including battery and 16-MB CompactFlash.


Fujifilm (http://www.fujifilm.com) was recently presented with the 2001 Walter Kosonocky Award for outstanding achievement in image sensor technology at the IEEE Workshop on CCDs and Advanced Image Sensors in Crystal Bay, Nev. The honor cited "A Progressive Scan CCD Image Sensor for DSC Applications," a white paper Fujifilm developed as part of the research and development into its Super CCD digital imaging technology.


Club Photo (http://www.clubphoto.com) has teamed with EarthLink to offer integrated services for photo finishing and online image sharing through EarthLink's Personal Start Page. EarthLink subscribers will be able to process 35mm, APS or digital photos, order prints and photo gifts and share images directly from their start page or through http://peoplechat.earthlink.net.


Andromeda (http://www.andromeda.com) is bundling its Photoshop-compatible plug-ins LensDoc and Perspective for $99 (regularly $133). Call (800) 547-0055 for the special price.


Visit http://www.flipalbum.com/flipalbum/fa40_dl.php for a 30-day trial copy of the $39.95 Flip Album 4.0 [W]. You can include MP3 songs, multiple photos and annotations per page, clipart, even create magazine-like centerfolds.


Ofoto (http://www.ofoto.com) has revamped their site reorganizing it into five areas: View and Edit Albums, Share Albums, Buy Prints, Add Photos and Ofoto Store. The redesign also sports larger photo views and darker background colors to highlight members' photography.

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One Liners

For just $150 an insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

Get PhotoGenetics at http://www.qbeo.com/?dlink=/php3/pgenspl.php3?pcode=223

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Newsletter Forum: http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=irnews
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com

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