[Scribus] quality images for press (digital camera? cheap/free online stock s? scan?)

Rainer Heilke rheilke
Wed May 4 23:47:49 CEST 2005

Craig and Neil offer some excellent advice. There are truly a wide range 
of variables to investigate. I would just add a couple quick items.

The Hasselblad cameras fall into the category known as "medium format". 
They have a film size considerably larger than 35mm, which is one of the 
reasons pros prefer them. There are also "large format" cameras, which 
have an incredible range of film sizes. These cameras also have a wide 
range of movements simply not possible in the 35mm and medium format 
cameras, which provide a number of  useful functions. This is what 
people like Ansel Adams use(d). The smallest well-known film size is 
4x5. That's in inches.

Creo (the owners of Leaf, now) and PhaseOne make digital backs for both 
medium format and large. Aside from being very expensive,  take the 
"large format adapters" with a grain of salt. They are medium format 
digital backs with mounts that fit them onto the back of a large format 
camera. Thus, while you gain the movements, you lose the film size 
advantage. Some of these also require three  shots, one for each of the 
RGB colours. This is like the Amiga's DigiView of the 80's, albeit faster.

All that said, you are more than likely looking at the digital SLR 
solutions. I'm hearing wonderful things about the professional Canon 
line, which tends to be in a constant leap-frog game with the equally 
wonderful Nikon gear. Based upon what I've read, you may be very happy 
with the Canon Rebel. Check some of the photo sites. Better still, find 
a dealer that will let you "test drive" the camera(s) for a week. This 
is what Ben Rockwood (see the blog at cuddletech.com) did.

If you have a good 35mm SLR that you like, there are a variety of good 
scanners for 35mm slide and negatives. I'm hearing excellent things 
about the Epson scanners. Here, you are definitely getting what you pay 
for. If you notice odd colour casts right away, take it back before the 
warrantee expires!

All of the above recommendations I know from friends in the industry. I 
can't provide personal advice, I'm afraid, other than to say be wary of 
the current market in large format even if you have several thousands of 
dollars to splurge. The digital backs aren't there yet, and it seems 
both the film market and the drum scanner shops to digitize the large 
film, are drying up. My next load of 4x5 film will probably have to be 
ordered from Samy's in Los Angeles. As for scanning my finished slides, 
I may be up the creek without a paddle. :-(


neil lewis wrote:

> I've been a professional photographer for almost twenty five years, 
> and have been working 100% digitally for the last five years.
> The sort answer to your question is that it all depends on the size 
> and quality of output you are expecting.
> Some years ago (mid 80's) I remember the UK pro photo mags getting 
> very excited because Hasselblads could at last be fitted with a 
> digital back (made by Leaf) which had a resolution of about 4M pixels. 
> (The Hasselblad, for those who don't know is a favourite pro 
> photographers camera. It's totally modular and comprises a body, lens, 
> viewfinder, winder and film or digital back. All these parts are 
> interchangeable so that an ideal camera can easily be built in a 
> couple of minutes to suit the job in hand.) The magazine publishers 
> were excited because this Leaf back was capable of image quality which 
> wqas virtually indistinguishable from film when used for a glossy 
> magazine cover.
> I mention this for several reasons, and I'd like to explain the 
> importance of each reason in turn. This may take some time, but I hope 
> it's worth it.
> First, the size of the output for comparison was only A4. With an 
> image sensor of 2048 x 2048 pixels, the pixel density on a page about 
> 8" wide could be as high as 256 pixels per inch. (PPI)
> This PPI figure equates well to the "lines per inch" normally quoted 
> by litho printers, since each recorded pixel must be represented by a 
> pattern of many dots by either a litho or standard desktop (ie inkjet) 
> printer. Few printers will work to much higher than 200 LPI for normal 
> use, even on high quality glossy media, so this resolution is 
> certainly plenty for this purpose.
> Second, the relationship of printed size and viewing distance must be 
> taken into account. The same image printed at A2 (ie, twice as large 
> in both directions) would have an effective resolution of just 128 
> PPI. A critical viewer would certainly be able to see flaws in the 
> image if they were to view it from the same distance as the A4 
> version. In practice though, no-one will normally view an A2 image 
> from eighteen inches away and from a more sensible distance the flaws 
> will be invisible. The effect is similar to that for "depth of field", 
> a much misunderstood phenomenon for which the scale vs viewing 
> distance part of the equation is most often ignored by those who think 
> they understand photography.
> Third, the pixel resolution is only one of the aspects of image 
> quality which will affect the result. At least as important are: 
> dynamic range of the sensor, recorded bit depth, compression method 
> (if used) and of course lens quality. Sadly, it's much harder to find 
> information on any of these factros than the pixel resolution. Once 
> again, it's the result of a market driven by a desire to sell to 
> people who think they understand what they are buying but in reality 
> are over influenced by advertisers looking for easy comparisons.
> Lastly (for now at least!) the final quality you get from your printer 
> will be hugely influenced by all of the above, but also by the way you 
> prepare your images for printing and of course by the quality of the 
> printing device and its consumables. I have absolutely no knowledge of 
> your personal hardware setup, nor of whether you are using an external 
> printer (or their setup).
> It may well be that your "local photography shop" (presumably you mean 
> they retail photographic equipment rather than photography) is giving 
> you excellent advice. I would certainly recommend a good lens, high 
> dynamic range sensor and uncompressed file save options over high 
> pixel resolution, unless you can afford all four of course! It's 
> uncommonly honest of a photo retailer to give this sort of advice and 
> I'd suggest you thank him for his honesty and reward him with your 
> custom and loyalty.
> Neil Lewis (photobod)

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