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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
Advanced Questions
by Chuck McKern

With over 12 years of retail and professional experience Chuck thought he'd heard it all - until he took this job.

Send us your questions for either the Beginner or Advanced columns by clicking HERE.  Please include as much detail about the technique, camera, lens, or film as you can so Chuck can answer your questions.

I presently use a Nikon FM camera. I literally have thousands of slides, all Kodachrome 25 and 64. I have not yet gone digital and would like a recommendation for a scanner and printer which will provide me with high quality photographs. A majority of my slides are close-ups of nature. Any assistance you can provide will be greatly appreciated. I am presently on temporary disability and would like to utilize my time at home organizing my slides. 

Thank you in advance for your time. 
Cheryl Moreiss

Choosing the right scanner can be a tedious job. There are a lot out there to choose from. One thing I would say up front for a film scanner, make sure you get one that is packaged with Digital ICE (or similar software). This will make fixing dust and scratch problems, as well as fixing any faded images a breeze. We are currently using Nikon Coolscan scanners and have been very pleased with the capability of these units. Also check out our review of Minolta's Dimage Scan Multi II.

Printers are just as difficult. Especially when everyone claims to be the best at photo printing. All I can say is that we have been more than happy with our in-house Epson Photo printers. The first decision you'll need to make is what is the largest size print you want to make. That will narrow your choice of printers.

Finally, back to your Kodachromes. The good news is that Kodachromes seem to be better than other films at maintaining accurate color over the long haul - meaning less time fooling around with color correction. The bad news is that every scanner currently on the market has trouble accurately scanning Kodachromes - meaning more time fooling around with scanner settings.

I'm researching the Nikon Coolscan 8000 and Minolta Multi Pro scanners. Have you done any tests on either of these scanners, and can you give me a recommendation? I'm an advanced amateur with the camera, but a novice when it comes to digital darkroom. I want to get a quality scanner only once, and have it for years to come (hopefully). 

Thank you for any info you can pass along. 

Overall they're both very good and there are a lot of similarities between the two. They both have basically the same speed, output, and both offer multi-sample scanning. The Minolta has a slightly higher resolution at 4800 dpi vs. Nikon's 4000 dpi. The Minolta's dynamic range is also slightly higher at 4.8 compared to Nikon's 4.2. In reality you would be hard pressed to see those differences. Both scanners are equally equipped with film holders and Digital ICE3 (pronounced ice cubed), ROC, and GEM software. The Nikon comes with the full version of Genuine Fractals which will allow for lossless scaling and compression of your images, while the Minolta provides a light version which you can upgrade.

If you need the IEEE 1394 interface (FireWire), the Nikon becomes a better buy at $3,000. Firewire is an upgrade for the Minolta and raises it's price to $3,100.

If the overall size of the scanner is important, compare these dimensions. The Nikon measures 9.6"w x 19.1"h x 7.9"d, the Minolta comes in at 6.6"w x 5"h x 14.8"d.

It's a shame you can't demo the two scanners because there are some differences in the way the sanner software works. Which approach you like best is a matter of personal taste - but there are no camera or computer stores in this area that demo these high end machines and it's not likely that any in your area will either.

Both scanners should do a good job for you. Look closely at their features and weigh out the differences to determine if any of those small differences will make a big difference for you.

1.- Why are the colors different between the monitor and the printer 
2.- How I can fix this situation 
3.- My printer is a Epson Photo 700 
4.- My computer is a Dell 4100 
5.- The paper is Epson Photo Quality Ink Jet Paper

Please help me.

Thank you very much
Jorge L. Olalde 

Ah Jorge, if I only had a dollar for every time I've heard this question! There are a couple of reasons for the differences in color. The first is your monitor is an illuminated image while printed images are reflected images (you're seeing light reflected off the paper). Once we accept the media are fundamentally different, the goal becomes getting the images to resemble each other as closely as possible.

The industry has developed standards for matching the color of devices. In the PC world these are called ICC files and are used for your monitor, printer and scanner. You monitor controls are found under the "advanced" button after opening your desktop properties in Windows 98, ME, and 2000. The details vary depending on which video card, monitor, and Windows version you're using. You mentioned you're using a Dell 4100 but you didn't mention which monitor. I checked Dell's Web sites for both the U.S. and Latin America and didn't see downloadable ICC profiles for your machine (they may already be on your hard drive). You can contact Dell via their Web site to find out if profiles are available for your monitor. Current Epson printers include profiles on the CD that contains the printer software; but I'm not sure about the Photo 700 as that is an older model. 

In a perfect world the colors will match perfectly after you install the ICC files. In the real world that rarely happens. Monitors both fade and shift colors as they age. At best you'll have to go back in under your monitor properties and tweak the gamma correction for the monitor and you may have to do the same for the printer to get them close.

The low tech alternative, if they're already reasonably close, is to go into the controls for the printer driver by clicking on "properties" then clicking on "custom". This will give you access to all of the print driver controls. From here you can tweak every setting on your printer. By tweaking both the printer and the monitor you can usually get pretty close.

Another option is to use a tool such as Monaco EZColor which will help you create custom monitor, scanner, and printer profiles for use with your specific equipment. You can find out more about them at Their software walks you through the process and makes it much easier than trying to do it yourself. 

This is a simplified explanation. Color matching among devices will make quite a long article in an upcoming issue.

Hi, I am a fashion/advertising photographer, I have always been impressed by the technique a lot of fashion photographers use which is done by the expensive Studio "Ring Flash", such as the Profoto, or Hensels. I was told by a salesman that units such as the Sunpak DX12R or the new Nikon SB-29 are only good for close-up macro work, and are not suitable for fashion shots. 

I was wondering what if we use four flash lights fixed on a circular frame around the lens with sync cords connecting them wouldn't it give us the same effect, with a powerful guide number ? 

I would appreciate your urgent reply as I'm shooting a catalogue soon, and you'd be saving me a lot of money if you would confirm it, and if it is applicable, would you please suggest which Flashes should I buy ? I use Nikon system for 35mm, and Linhoff for studio shots.

Al Morabet

I am going to assume, since you shoot fashion and advertising, that you currently have a strobe system. What I would recommend to achieve this effect is the OctoDome from Photoflex. These are softbox attachments with eight sides. They are being used by many fashion photographers for exactly the lighting effect that you're looking for. These domes can be attached to most strobes with a bracket. This bracket attaches the same way the reflectors attach to the head.

Macro ring lights are designed to produce even light over a small area and are not the way to go to get the look you're after.

What can I buy to power my EH 21 or EH 51 battery chargers from my automobile cigarette lighter/power connection? I'm not always in a motel.

Thanking you in advance,
Hal Hamm

The best way to charge the batteries is with a DC charger that plugs in your cigarette lighter. A company called Digipower makes a kit that has a rapid charger (works with either AC or DC) and a battery. The rapid charger will charge the battery to full capacity in about two hours. The kit retails around $80 and would be the easiest solution to charging on the road.

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