Jim Doty - Photo Blog

Photography: Photos, News, and Tips
Monday, April 25, 2005

If you haven't become acquainted with Tim Grey already, let me introduce you. Tim used to be George Lepp's digital guru. He taught classes at Lepp's Institute of Digital Imaging and launched the DDQ email service (more about that in a moment). His articles have appeared in Outdoor Photographer, PC Photo and other magazines. Tim really knows his stuff. He was snatched up by Microsoft a few months ago. Tim is providing a wealth of information that you can get online for free.

If digital photography is your thing, you should sign up for Tim's Digital Darkroom Questions E-mail Service (DDQ for short). You can receive the DDQ mailings for free. To ask questions, you need to be a subscriber. Even if you don't want to ask questions, I would suggest you make a donation to support all of the information he is providing. One example of a DDQ question and answer is at the end of this post.

Tim has written a white paper on optimising a Windows XP system for digital imaging. It is a detailed and comprehensive article (41 pages) that will help you set up your Windows XP system to make the most of digital imaging. You can make the most of the system you now have. If you are going to buy a new computer with Windows XP, read this white paper first. You can download the pdf file here.

Tim has also authored or co-authored several helpful books:

Photo Finish: The Digital Photographer's Guide to Printing, Showing, and Selling Images by Jon Canfield and Tim Grey

Color Confidence: The Digital Photographer's Guide to Color Management
by Tim Grey

Real World Digital Photography, 2nd Edition
by Katrin Eismann, Sean Duggan, and Tim Grey

Learn to Make Great Digital Photos For 5 Bucks! by Tim Grey

If you decide to buy one of these books, you can help support this blog by going to JimDoty.com and using the Amazon link at the bottom of the page. Thanks.

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A Q&A from a recent DDQ follows.


I will be getting a new scanner, using it to scan mostly slides (velvia, provia and sensia) but some negatives (mostly B and W) - all 35mm. Scans will be low res for my own website, for sample submissions and to supply to one stock agency, and high res for another stock agency (Alamy) and to supply direct to clients for publication. I may use scanning later to produce scans for inkjet printing, but this would be very much a secondary use . My questions are as follows:

* Scanner
* - Which scanner would you recommend. I am currently considering the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 II or the Nikon Coolscan V ED. If I was to get the Coolscasn 5000ED it would have to be second-hand (definitely not my preferred option) does it really offer advantages worth twice the price? I will be using Pshop 7 and a Dell e772p monitor. Ram - I am planning to upgrade to 1GB. Will this be enough?
* Profiles - What is the best way for me to deal with scanner profiling?
* Monitor calibration - Are you still recommending the Spyder 2 as the best of the cheaper alternatives? This will be my first attempt at monitor calibration.
* Books - I have your great book Color Confidence, are there any others you would recommend that would help with learning to produce high quality scans.
* Software - Would you recommend getting the Vue Scan software or just using the Nikon programme. The Silverfast software looks excellent, but is out of my price range unless it offers very significant advantages.


"The Minolta and Nikon scanners are both very good, but I do prefer the Nikon scanners because they've demonstrated better performance with Digital ICE in my testing. Otherwise I consider them to be essentially equal, but the Digital ICE performance is a significant benefit of the Nikon scanners. As for choosing between the Coolscan V ED and the Coolscan 5000 ED, I'd be perfectly comfortable going with the V ED. Frankly, Nikon did so much to improve the V ED that there isn't much difference in upgrading to the 5000 ED.

Having 1GB of RAM will be adequate provided you're only scanning one image at a time and saving it, and that you're not working on more than one image at a time in Photoshop. If you'll be working with multiple images at a time I'd consider going to 2GB, but even then 1GB will work well, it just won't necessarily give you optimal performance depending on how much you stress the system.

With the Nikon scanners I really consider profiles totally optional. They will improve the workflow from the standpoint that less color correction would then be necessary, but the Nikon scanners render very accurate color to begin with. If you do want to profile your scanner, I'd recommend using the MonacoEZcolor (www.monacosyst.com) as a simple solution that produces very good results.

I do recommend the Color Vision Spyder2 package (www.colorvision.com) as the most affordable and easiest to use monitor calibration package. I consider the X-Rite and GretagMacbeth offerings to be a little more accurate, but I'm perfectly comfortable with what Color Vision offers.

Unfortunately, I don't know of any recent books on the subject of scanning that I can recommend. Taz Tally had an excellent book on scanning about five years ago, so that one is going to be a bit out of date. He's written a more recent book on Silverfast, but that won't necessarily apply to you. Both are excellent, but neither probably meet your needs. I've only heard of one other book recently on scanning, but I've not seen it so I couldn't comment on the quality of it.

I would personally stick with the Nikon software. I know many DDQ readers use and love VueScan, and many others love Silverfast. Both are excellent programs and offer a number of advantages. However, I've always been impressed with what is possible right out of the box with the Nikon scanners. My recommendation would be to start off using the Nikon software and see how you like it. If you're at all disappointed (and I don't think you will be) then take a look at VueScan. They do offer a free trial download of VueScan (http://www.hamrick.com/vsm.html), so I'd encourage you to try it out, but I think you'll be perfectly happy using the Nikon Scan software included with the scanner." DDQ Answer: Copyright by Tim Grey. All Rights Reserved.


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