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We recently received some photos from a family event that were – gasp – made using analog film. You should have seen the look on the face of the dozen or so children when they crowded around the SLR expecting to see a preview on the LCD only to discover that there was no LCD on the back of this camera. Talk about culture shock. 😉

Anyways, the quality of the prints was appaling, as where the scanned images on the CD that came from the processing lab. The negative, however, looked fine to my no-longer-used-to-look-at-negatives eyes. I decided to revitalize an old film scanner I still have in a box. It is a rebadged Pacific Imaging PrimeFilm 1800u scanner, which will turn a negative into a 4 Mpxl file with 16 bits per color channel.

I like using VueScan with flatbed scanners. It is a low-cost, high-power solution and Ed Hamrick does a fantastic job of supporting almost every scanner under the sun. My experience so far has been that you plug in the scanner, start VueScan, and start scanning.

With the PF1800u it turns out to be a little bit more complicated than that:

  1. Download the latest driver from Pacific Imaging, an application called CyberViewX_SF. Localized non-english variants are available.
  2. Install the driver at the default location (/Applications).
  3. Find VueScan on your hard drive and Get Info in the Finder. You can do this by using the context menu (right-click or control-click), hitting CMD-I, or File > Get Info in the menu.
  4. Make sure “Open using Rosetta” is ticked (see below).
  5. Connect the scanner to your computer and power it on.
  6. Start VueScan.
"Open using Rosetta" in the Finder "Get Info" panel.

“Open using Rosetta” in the Finder “Get Info” panel.

You can skip steps 3 & 4 if you are using a PowerPC Mac. CyberViewX_SF is a PowerPC application, so Intel Macs need to be told to run PowerPC code because though VueScan is a native Intel application. I wish Pacific Imaging would update their driver!

I had some difficulties because CyberViewX_SF is not in the default install location on my system. In this case, VueScan can not find the driver it needs and complains.

If you – like I – want to put your applications in a non-default place, you can create a soft (or hard) link to it to make VueScan happy:

$ sudo ln -s /Applications/Graphics/CyberViewX_SF /Applications/CyberViewX_SF

where “/Applications/Graphics/” is the location of the CyberViewX_SF folder. That’s it!

Thanks to Ed Hamrick for the great support!


Update: Since Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), Apple has dropped support for PowerPC code. You can no longer install Rosetta, so your scanner is just a paperweight if you switch to 10.7 or later.

Processing multiple exposures into a single HDR (high dynamic range) image turns out to be more of a subjective process than I initially thought.

Have a look at the following image, which was processed using Photoshop CS4 and the “Merge to HDR” feature:

Image processed from 3 exposures by Photoshop CS4 "Merge to HDR".

Image processed from 3 exposures by Photoshop CS4 "Merge to HDR".

Not bad, really, at first glance. But notice at the right edge, about halfway down the image, how the arch coming in from the wall is completely blown out?

Now look at the same source exposures converted by Photomatix:

3 Exposures processed by Photomatix Pro.

Image processed from 3 Exposures by Photomatix Pro.

The highlights are not blown out, the tonality of the image is smoother, the reddish cast is reduced. All in all, the image is much closer to the intended look than what Photoshop allows.

Given that Photomatix allows me a lot more control to tweak the result than Photoshop, I think the money is well spent on Photomatix …

Conrad Electronic sell the Voltcraft K204 datalogger, which is a 4 channel temperature logger. [Note that the above link is to the German Conrad website. The links to other sites are, unfortunately, not the same, so you will have to perform a search on each national site.]

The logger allows you to capture up to 16,000 samples from up to four different K-Type temperature probes. Depending on the probes, a temperature range of -200°C (-328°F) to 1370°C (2498°F) may be covered with a 0.1°C resolution.

The K204 sports a serial port and comes with a RS232 cable. No Macintosh computer has come with a RS232 port for the last … what … decade or so?

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