In November of 2012 I posted about not deleting your pictures if they are not in perfect focus. Some bloggers/experts recommended that you delete them, while I suggested that you do not know what will be possible in the future. Well the future is here. Photoshop Shake Reduction will be available in June of this year. Checkout the video below. I have a few pictures that meet this criteria waiting on me to apply the fix. I am sure this feature will continue to get better and would work great on my type of photography which is run and gun. I have a lot of photos that I have taken from moving cars and auto rickswaws that this might really help. [color-button color=orange href="http://bhagavideo.com/2012/11/the-future-of-photography-technology/"]See my post "The Future of Photography Technology"[/color-button]
I spent about 2 years debating what type of scanner I wanted to buy before purchasing the Epson Perfection V700 Photo Scanner. I even sent 50 slides to ScanCafe to see what the quality was from them. If you are interested, you can read my post about them. A service can be a great time saver if you have a large film and/or slide collection. I had a Microtek scanner that I bought in 2002 that desperately needed to be replace. Some recent scanning of color pictures finally drove me to decided to get the V700. I had the negatives, why was I scanning the picture! I did a lot of reading of scanner reviews before my purchase. Important to me was the Digital ICE technology and I like the SilverFast software that comes bundled with the scanner. I didn't want to spend half my life in Photoshop healing hair and dust off of my film, so a scanner and software that supported infrared was high on my list of must haves. I don't use it for every picture, but it is amazing how much dirt there actually is on the film. Be careful how aggressive you get with the infrared or you can impact the final picture quality. For handling film I have cotton work gloves that I use to keep the oil from my skin off of the film. In addition or as an alternative, using a compressed gas duster on the film and scanner bed helps control the dust problem. A very good investment when scanning. I use it to dust the outside of the scanner as well.
There were many other things I would love to have on the scanner, like auto focus or better film holders, but I also wanted to keep my price in the $500 range if possible. I ended up spending $636 on the V700 at Micro Center. Overall I would rate the quality of the scanner a close 5 out of 5. There is very little to complain about and even the film holders provide the ability to adjust the height to improve focus. I scanned 12 slides using the different height adjustments and found that the factory setup was the sharpest scan (arrow pointing to +). The light source isn't LED so there is a short warm-up time, but I am looking for output quality as a priority.
Here is what's in the box.
- Epson Perfection V700 Photo scanner - with DIGITAL ICE technology
- 8" x 10" transparency unit (built into lid)
- Four film holders: 35mm negatives, 35mm slides, medium format and 4" x 5"
- Film Holder Height Adjusters
- 8" x 10" Film Area Guide
- CD-ROM with Epson Scan software and productivity applications
- DVD-ROM with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 9
- CD-ROM with LaserSoft Imaging™ SilverFast® SE6
- USB 2.0 cable
- Epson Setup Sheet
- AC adapter and power cable
The scanner isn't worth much without the software and there is little purpose to have the scanner and not run the best software you can afford. The software it ships with is good and it may be all that you need. The first thing I did was to download the latest demo version of SilverFast 8 and made sure that it worked on my system and that I was comfortable with it. I spent about three days using the software and took advantage of their upgrade offer from version 6 to version 8 Ai Studio.
Using SilverFast 8 I currently scan to jpeg at 3,200 dpi. I have done some scans to tiff, but I will reserve that for photographs that I feel are of a special nature. Otherwise jpegs are fine for the scans. The software function in SilverFast I make the most use of is the Histogram. The scans on a flatbed scanner will never be perfect, but for my work as a serious photographer the investment was worth it.
Above is a scanned 35mm close-up picture I took of an electric meter in 1977 using a GAF 35mm camera.
The above picture was taken in Mohican State Park forest in August 1977. The flash fired, resulting in highlighting the foreground rocks and tripod. I scanned 39 slides from the camping trip to the park. I had forgotten about visiting the park until I scanned the slides.
The above picture had histogram adjustments only. No sharpening was applied to the image when it was scanned.
The same picture compared side-by-side to the raw scan and the adjusted finished product.
See the follow-up to this post about scanning negatives, click here.
Unlock your memories and find those old photos!
The future of photography technology will be as dramatic as the technologies we are seeing in smartphones and tablets. The computing power is doubling at amazing rates and the power needed to manipulate photographs is growing with it. That is so promising and yet not everyone has grasped that yet. I was reading an article about organizing your photographs and the author said to not download your blurry photographs. Stop right there! That statement is assuming a lot of things that are not necessarily true. First, it assumes that the picture is just one of many and no big deal if you delete it. Second, it also assumes that at no time in the future could technology advancements in photography resolve the blur problem. Because of better technology I have pictures that I have rescued this past year that I took 12 years ago. If that blurry image is the only one you have of something important then do not delete it! Have you seen the technology demonstrated by Adobe where blurry images are being corrected to an almost perfect image? I only delete pictures that I feel are duplicates and of no value regardless of the future. Yes, I have a lot more pictures I store because of that but so what? What is the cost of doing that?
Be very selective of the pictures you delete. I have gone back into my archived pictures more than once to process a picture because of what was in the photograph. I used 12 year old pictures of my house being built to see where the pipes and wires were at. I didn't have them in my "official albums" but they were still there on my hard drive. You never know what the value of a picture is until the day you want it or wish you had it.
I store all of my photographs on a single drive that is backed up by Carbonite and I also copy the "Picture" directory to a second hard drive. I do not want to lose my pictures regardless of their perfection.
Checkout the Adobe "Sneak".
I love panoramas and over the years I have used various software applications to create them. Now that I am using Photoshop CS5 I really don't need any other software to create them. However, not everyone uses Photoshop so how does Photoshop Photomerge compare with other applications? I recently tried out Microsoft's ICE (Image Composite Editor) on several pictures, just to see what it could do. Without any work other than cropping, how well does ICE standup against Photoshop CS5? I picked two pictures that I took in South Africa in front of the Breakers Resort at Umhlanga Beach. The reason I picked the two photos is because of the 5 fountains that I could use to help understand what was used from each picture. Note: If you use Photoshop, you can see exactly how the picture was stitched. I did nothing other than to drop them into each application using the automatic features of the applications to see how well each one handled the stitching function. Since the ICE application is a free download it doesn't have to be perfect to have great value. What I discovered was that ICE did a great job with the pictures that I selected, with the benefit that it is free. Let's take a look at the results.
So here are the two pictures that I started out with. My sister-in-law is standing in front of the resort and I took her picture. However I couldn't get the full name on the wall so I took a second picture of just the Breakers Resort name by itself.
I dropped the above two pictures into ICE and the result was almost perfect.
Notice the shadow from the roof has a slight shift where the picture was stitched together. [/color-box]
Now let's look at the results using Photoshop CS5 Photomerge.
Note that both applications stitched the photographs together almost exactly the same. The left 2 fountains are from the left picture and the other fountains are from the right picture. There are three barriers that can be seen in the foreground. The middle barrier is from the left picture in both examples. The "Breakers Resort" is from the right picture. Notice the roof line shadow is different thought. In the Microsoft ICE software the shadow from the left picture is lower than the shadow from the right picture. In the Photoshop CS5 version the shadow from the left picture is slightly higher than the shadow from the right picture, and it is in a different location. So Photoshop did a little better in the shadow area of the picture. However, the big difference is in the amount of data Photoshop was able to keep as compared to ICE. To do the stitching in ICE the left picture has more zoom applied to it than the right picture. Photoshop was able to keep more data from both pictures and did a slightly better stitch as well.
But is this a fair comparison? Could ICE do better? I decided to try to use the other stitch options that ICE provided. Using the Automatic feature it used "Planar Motion 3". I decided to try other camera motion options provided, and I found that the automatic feature did indeed select the best setting. This is a very high level compare of the two products and of course Photoshop allows me to do a lot more with the picture once I have created it. Using ICE you may need to go to your photo editing program of choice and get more creative.
The above CS5 examples were created with "Blend Images Together" checked. Let's take a look at the results of a photomerge without checking "Blend Images Together.
The results were cropped based on the usable image created. Notice the shadow of the roof line has been resolved and the objects used from each of the pictures has changed. The stitching no longer takes into account shadows or color matching. Since the two images are almost identical in exposure and color, turning off blending in this case produces good results, but a small amount data from each picture is lost compared to the CS5 blended version, but still more data than the ICE version.
Just for fun I selected the Geometric Distortion Correction in CS5 to see what the results would be.
I love panoramas because they really help the viewer better understand the environment where the picture was taken. A picture of sand could be a beach or a sandbox, maybe it is quicksand! Help the viewer understand what they are seeing by providing a perspective. Remember to think panorama the next time you go out to take photographs. Make sure your photos overlap by as much as 40%. Too much or too little overlap will prevent the automated panoramic features from performing the stitch. Remember to that GPS GEO tagging can add an even higher level to the viewers perspective!