Query from Leon Brosnan I’m currently using a Canon EOS3 and a Leica M7 with a number of lenses …


Query from Leon Brosnan

I’m currently using a Canon EOS3 and a Leica M7 with a number of lenses to go with them. I have just added a Casio QV-R4 to the kit. I have a CanoScan FS 4000, a Diamond View flatbed scanner and a Xerox Phaser 6200 colour printer. My main interest is putting photographs of the grandkids, etc, on the hallway walls, plus some scrapbooking. I’m looking for the best possible photographs I can get. My question is what can I do to improve (apart from learn more!!) eg, an inkjet printer or better scanner or other?

My best results are from the Leica and camera store enlargements.

Leon Brosnan
February 2003

My only reservation about the equipment line-up you”ve outlined is the laser printer – and even then, the issue probably relates more to personal taste than to the actual equipment itself. Although I”ve not road-tested the latest laser printers from the point of view of a digital photographer, the last time I looked at this type of technology (about 18 months ago), the results coming from laser printers were very close to the output of a decent photo” inkjet printer. However, the actual appearance of a laser-printed photo wasn”t the same as a photo – and this is where taste comes into the equation. The surface of laser-printed photos is generally not glossy, and you can often see boundaries between different colours in the subject. In addition, the colours delivered by laser printers tend to be slightly more saturated than those produced by inkjets and the paper stocks available are often lighter than photo” paper. So, if you”re expecting something that looks and feels exactly like a photo, a laser printer won”t deliver it.

However, given your wish to display your shots on walls, you should probably also consider the effect the typical viewing distance will have. Most of the differences I”ve outlined really only show up when you examine the prints closely. From a normal viewing distance – say 1.5-2 metres – they”re not obvious. Furthermore, the more saturated colours produced by the laser printer may actually be advantageous if the lighting in your display area is rather flat. Finally, the laser prints may last longer than inkjet prints if you have no plans to laminate them. (Inkjet prints should always be encapsulated in plastic – or at least framed behind glass – to protect them from atmospheric pollutants if they are being displayed.) I guess you will have to try it and see.

While I am familiar with the CanoScan FS 4000 (and know it to be a competent film scanner) I am unfamiliar with the Diamond View flatbed scanner and cannot advise as to whether this will deliver optimum results. For photo scanning the critical criteria are optical resolution (the higher the better if you plan to enlarge the results to A4 size or bigger) and the way the scanner handles colour information. I suspect the Diamond View model would be less capable in the latter category than scanners from Canon or Epson, which have been designed with photo scanning in mind. But if you”re obtaining satisfactory results, there should be no reason to change.

There is no reason not to continue getting your best shots enlarged by your camera shop as a competent practitioner can generally deliver better results than a less experienced worker printing with a desktop printer (regardless of what type).

Margaret Brown
Technical Editor

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