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Digital darkroom - without spending a fortune


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I have seen some of the digital darkroom postings below. This is

a little different. I would like to know how to achieve the best set

up for printing without spending very much on new equipment -

I�d prefer to make the most of what I�ve got, and save for new

Leica lenses instead!

 

I do not need a scanner, I am content to have a lab scan my

favourite slides or negs onto a CD (they have mega-expensive

equipment and it�s less hassle.) So my question is really about

systems, software, and printers.

 

My computer is a three-year-old iMac with a paltry 64MB of RAM. I

need more but how much? 512MB is the maximum I can buy.

 

Software: everyone talks about Photoshop Elements, but are

there other options? How about GraphicConverter or Pic

Station? I have downloaded trial versions but need more RAM for

satisfactory results.

 

Printer: I may need an alternative to the old Epson Stylus 740,

then again it was pricy and needs to earn its keep. What inks or

papers do you recommend?

 

Slides are scanned at about 20MB each. Is this a good size?

What are general tips to avoid pixellation and maximise quality?

Thanks for your help.

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A couple of low-budget suggestions: Picture Publisher is a powerful software tool with very similar functionality to Photoshop but at a fraction of the cost and in some respects more user-friendly. Version 10 will probably set you back about $100 but you may be able to find a more-than-adequate V8 for less than $40.

For the printer an Epson 820 is inexpensive but quite good and the C82 is not to be dismissed if you are prepared to forego glossy paper.

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well david, i dont know much about the printer or the sistem, but i can tell you something about the software, im also trying to build a digital darkroom, and i dont have the 700$ to buy myself the great but expensive photoshop, and i would rather use that money to buy a new camera. In my search for a photo editing program thats woulnd break my wallet i came across a photo editing software called GIMP or the GNU image maniputaliton program, this is a program that comes stock with linux, but you can get a windows version abusolutley FREE, yes i said free, and dont be fooled by this i have found the program functional and its extremely powerfull if you know how to use it, if you wish to download it go to www.gimp.org and then go to downloads.
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David, I can tell you about the Epson 740 printing photographs. Prints from Photoshop look very good initally when you get everything working right. On regular Epson photo paper, the prints fade quickly if displayed. On Epson Premium Luster Photo paper, prints hold their own in dark storage, but I don't know how long if displayed. One trick though is to print photo paper using the media setting for "Photo Quality Inkjet Paper" printing to photo paper instead of using the media setting for "Photo Paper". For me the "Photo Paper" setting puts out too much ink and I get smears in the white borders. Go to computer-darkroom.com and look at the tutorials on printing from Photoshop using an Epson printer and setting color spaces and gamuts.

 

As for software Photoshop is king. Photoshop has utilities for getting your monitor calibrated and for managing color spaces with profiles that go from scanner to monitor to printer roughly WYSIWYG - I believe that Elements will handle this too but you should check to make sure.

 

There is a steep learning curve to getting a good digital print and most of the help is centered around Photoshop. I think for about US$100, you can get Elements and it might be enough for you. Elements might be bundled with a printer - you might check.

 

Epson makes photo printers in the carriage size of the 740 for about US$100 to US$200. As for me, I'm going to get an Epson 2200 as soon as supply catches up with demand.

 

Regards, Doug

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I also have a unit with 64 RAM and 200 MgHRZ. My processor is a Pentium MMX but I need a Pentium 4. All my systems are simms(sp.?), so I can't upgrade my current unit...no longer available. My hard drive is ok in size, but that's about it.

 

I use an Epson Photo 820 printer right now (had to return my first due to a bad on/off switch), but it give me VERY excellent prints in both color and B/W up to 8x10, best at 5x7 or smaller, but, very slow printing!

 

I am happy, anyway, since this is all I need right now, but...bottom line...

 

I must upgrade sometime, and that means spending big money I don't have...I think many of us can relate to that!

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PS:

 

Software...I use Adobe Photo Deluxe 4.0.

 

My computer can not handle Photogshop 7, I could never understand Photoshop LE, and I am not familiar with Photoshop Elements. There is an "advanced" segment to Adobe Photo Deluxe that provides many manipulation options. I also love the "retouch old photos" tool...I use that to retouch the most crappy photos, and to eliminate dust spots on everything.

 

Don't underestimate "amateur" imaging software! Explore it.

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"Epson 820 is inexpensive..." Try "giving them away." I just bought an Epson 820 last weekend at CompUSA for $100. Of course, I also wanted to buy the new $700 one with the extra grey ink cartride, but for $ 100 I'll have no trouble throwing it into the basement with all my other old computer equipment when the 2200 drops down to (say) $100. Prices of last years top scanners seem to be taking a nose dive as well. So, this is a good time to get started without losing much money. The price of the equipment is about the same as three ink cartridge replacements. If they don't last, I'll save the polished files and print them again later with a better piece of $100 equipment. I'm trying to maintain the same attitude towards digital cameras. When the 10 megapixal ones drop down to a couple of hundred dollars and I can afford to throw it away too, then maybe I'll buy one. Clearly the cost of our own labor to use these things vastly exceeds the price of the equipment.
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If 512 is the most you can get, do it.

 

Another piece of software I've used throughout the various versions of development in addition to Photoshop is Corel PhotoPaint. A very good program, which a lot of compatability with photoshop stuff and is quite inexpensive. Probably less than $100 but I haven't checked in a while.

 

You really ought to read up on digital darkroom to see the size requirements, etc. 20mb is good depending on the resolution and bit depth. If I'm just after decent prints I'd rather it be 8 bit rather than 16 to allow me to print larger files.

 

To maximize quality, the bigger the scan the better is the usual rule. I scan my 35mm in to 130mb files and start my work right away on those raw Tiffs. I have 512mb ram in this machine and it does a fine job with those files. The general rule of thumb is that you should work with one file at a time and have twice as much ram as your largest file will be in size. Sometimes I work with 2 images at once but my 512mb is usually sufficient because one image is just for comparison, etc.

 

Of course, when printing I set an epson printer at 360 dpi and print out 300dpi files from the software. I find that produces outstanding results as long as all the components are set up properly. a 20mb file could be big enough for prints almost 8x10 maybe with some resizing. However most of the cheaper editing programs resize rather poorly.

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Memory is key and today it's cheap. Upgrade your computer to at least 256. My home computer is a Pentium-I 233MHz with 256, my office computer is a 1.6GIG P-IV with 1GIG RAM and I can't see much difference in the digital imaging I do (maybe that shows how involved I get with with it, but it works for me). I also like Photodeluxe. I've got PS5, LE5.0 and Elements and rarely ever use them unless I absolutely have to.

Do you have a CD burner? If so, why not just do your own image processing, burn the new files to a CD, and have them printed professionally on regular photo paper. If you don't intend to produce scads of photos, that's the best way to nice quality archival prints for framing and hanging that I can think of.

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I have used the Epson 740 with MIS archival inks with excellent results. You may have to make some adjustments in color balance.

 

http://www.inksupply.com/index.cfm?source=html/epsonarcs.html

 

I use the Epson Matt paper. Almost all of the paper I have used will yellow if exposed to light. The worst paper to uses is glossy. I keep my prints in archival plastic pages or under glass. I have not noticed any fadding after 2 years of prints under glass exposed to daylight. Matt prints viewed under plastic or glass look just as good as prints made with glossy paper.

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