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

Christoph Schäfer christoph-schaefer
Thu May 5 01:57:31 CEST 2005

I can only talk of myself, but I still prefer 'real' photos made with a 
good camera and good films. But of course you need an excellent scanner 
for premium results.

In addition to what Craig, Rainer and Neil wrote, I want to direct your 
attention to the Leica R9 SLR for which a digital back is available now 
(presumed you have a fortune to spend for a camera). In my experience 
Leica lenses are still the best when it comes to colours and difficult 
exposures. If you can't afford a Leica and want to take only digital 
photographs look at Panasonic SLRs. Some of them are equipped with 
lenses from Leica and are much cheaper than Leicas.


> 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. :-(
> Rainer
> 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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