Photography with a flatbed scanner

Faltbed scanners, even cheap ones, have ample capacity to make useable scans of large objects. When I say large, I mean anything that is significantly bigger than small detail in a frame of 35mm film.

Some say we may have reached the limit of quality for consumer-grade flatbed scanners, with the appearance of such models as the Epson V700 or V750 or the Canon 9950F. For detailed reviews of what they are capable of, take a look at photo-i which is a very good site.

While those scanners might be able to resolve the details in frame of 35mm film adequately, you would think that an old Epson 1660 flatbed scanner would not be up to the job. And of course that is correct up to a point. But here is a scan from an Epson 1660 that I bought a couple of years ago secondhand for a few dollars. I downloaded the driver from the Epson site and cleaned the glass with window cleaner, and scanned this old photograph.


The next shot is small crop of a significantly larger object – a clump of dried grass, scanned at 500dpi and 48bit colour.


So next time you want a change, and want to put away the camera, try a flatbed scanner for anything that doesn’t move and is flat enough to be considered more or less two dimensional.

Lightroom and Photoshop CS3 – some comparisons

I have already posted reasons why I think CS3 is a substantial advance over CS2, but in a nutshell, Adobe Bridge is much quicker and more stable than Bridge in CS2, and the sharpening tools in Camera Raw 4.1 are much better than in previous versions and perhaps better (certainly different) than in Photoshop ‘proper’.

For those not familiar with how Photoshop is bundled; it comprises a Photoshop ‘proper’ module, Camera Raw, and Bridge.

If one is processing RAW images then Photoshop ‘process’ comprises at least two elements – Camera Raw, and Photoshop ‘proper’ – because the image has first to be converted to a Photoshop document (PSD) before it can be further processed in Photoshop ‘proper’.

And if one wants to browse a number of images then the bundle also includes Bridge, which allows one to view large preview jpegs of images of many types, including RAW images.

So what does Lightroom offer?

Well today I found one reason to prefer Lightroom when I wanted to produce a collection of jpegs for the web. Some of the images were jpegs, some were PSDs and some with RAW files.

Lightroon swallowed them all and spat out webpegs in short order. It will also produce high quality jpegs from a variety of source files if you ask it to.

Compare Photoshop where, if the original file is a RAW file, you have to open it and save as whatever format you want – but on a file-by-file basis. There is no batch-process that will cope with RAW files.

Lightroom also offers an additional way of using the tools for adjusting tone and hue/saturation/luminance(HSL). There are sliders as in photoshop, but there is also a Target Adjustment Tool which, once activated, operates by dragging the curser up-down-left-right around the selected area.

If, for example, ‘hue’ is chosen, then as the tool is dragged, the hue changes. It is easier to do (and see the results) than to describe. What the tool does not offer is the ability to isolate the changes to only part of the image. If one chooses to change the hue, then all parts of the image that are a similar hue, are changed.

It is a nice tool but it would be so much better if the chosen area could be set to ‘contiguous’, or selected in some way akin to the marquee tool in photoshop.