Month: May 2011

Scanning 35mm Negatives – Methods Compared

Posted by – May 17, 2011

After receiving my Epson Perfection 2400 Photo in 2003 I started scanning my negatives. It soon became obvious that scanning all negatives at a quality suitable for large prints would take too long, so I completed the remaining negatives at a resolution suitable for printing reference contact sheets. I would scan selected images at a higher resolution for printing, but after a while, that fell by the way due to the time it was taking. A quicker method had to be found. A number of small scanners which are basically a camera / light box combination are now available, (promising scans in a matter of seconds) which have caused me to re-evaluate the practicality of re-scanning some of my more interesting negatives. I have compared scans using the 5MP Maplin Compact Film and Slide Scanner and 5MP Aldi Traveller scanner.

Klick Image002_0A

Klick Image002_0A

Epson Klick size

Epson Klick size

Epson Klick size sharp

Epson Klick size sharp

The following is not intended as a review of the mentioned scan methods, but for comparative purposes and is published in hindsight. I include images scanned by Klick when the film was first processed. The Klick images are to be viewed as a reference to basic commercial scanning service capabilities. The Maplin and Aldi images were scanned at 1680 x 2550 dpi in Tiff format and converted to jpeg maintaining their resolution. The Klick image has been upscaled from 1024 x 1536 to 1700 x 2550. To compare the results, I use FastStone Image viewer, as it allows up to 4 images to be simultaneously displayed and scrolled. Comparing the banners in the portrait images reveal sharpening in the Klick image and flaring in the Aldi and Maplin scans. The Epson scan did not bring out much extra detail, and on closer inspection I decided that the negative was not that sharp to start with.

Klick Image020_18A cs5 enlarged

Klick Image020_18A cs5 enlarged

Aldi 2011-05-02_22

Aldi 2011-05-02_22

Epson Match Unsharp

Epson Match Unsharp

The landscape images are the outcome of scanning a sharper negative on the same film. The image ‘Epson Klick size’ was scanned at 1200 dpi, (a comparable resolution to the Klick image) and saved without modification as a jpeg. The ‘Epson Klick size sharp’ is the same image and has been auto coloured and sharpened. Sharpening in the Klick image is again obvious, but the tonal range in the Epson scan provides a more pleasing result. The Epson will scan up to 2400 dpi without interpolation, and provides a great deal of control over the final appearance of the image. As yet I have not found a quick scanner that complements the capabilities of my Epson.

Maplin 2010-12-26_10

Maplin 2010-12-26_10

The Maplin scanner was returned, as the calibration process did not eliminate the vignetting that the back light produced (see bottom left of Maplin scan). The Aldi scanner was returned as it was not equal to my existing Epson scanning capabilities.

Aldi Traveller – Digital Film Scanner: http://www.aldi.co.uk/uk/html/offers/special_buys3_18156.htm?WT.mc_id=2011-03-25-11-11

Maplin 5MP Compact Film and Slide Scanner: http://www.maplin.co.uk/5mp-compact-film-and-slide-scanner-503038

Samsung Q430 Laptop Review… Half Netbook?

Posted by – May 13, 2011

Samsung Q430 Logos

Not as large as a 15.6″ laptop, and not as small as a netbook, but slightly larger than 13.3″ laptops, the Samsung Q430 offers everything you’d get with a laptop, but comes in at a netbook similar price, has a battery life approaching a netbook, and is lighter than your standard laptop. What else does it feature to make it stand out? Well compared to it’s smaller brother, the Q330, the Q430 features a dedicated Nvidia Geforce (Cuda) graphics with it’s own 512mb memory. See below for it’s key features:

Samsung Q430 Features:
– Intel Core i3 350 2.26ghz CPU (dual core with hyperthreading – enabling 4 cpus)
– 4GB RAM (DDR3 – 3.86gb available)
– 320gb HD
– 14 inch 1366×768 16:9 screen with LED backlight (gloss – boo!*)
– DVDrw/CDrw
– NVidia Geforce 310m 512mb GFX
– 2.1kg
– Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
– Built in webcam, SD card reader, HDMI out, 3 USB sockets, ethernet, wifi etc

Samsung Q430 On

First switch on – easy enough, quick to go through the Windows setup process, entering the laptop name, wifi connection etc, then “Samsung Software Installing” takes over… and 20 minutes later you’ll still be waiting for it to finish installing… what I do not know (yet). But it’s probably stuff you don’t want clogging up your laptop… this is a somewhat frustrating start, as it doesn’t tell you what it’s installing or give you any explanation or choice regarding whether you want it or not.

Trackpad, buttoins, and LEDs

Part of this is to ask you to partition your hard drive (I went for default settings, 160/120gb for C and D or something similar). Then after about 30 minutes in total you end up on a nice shiny blue Windows desktop. IE8 comes pre-installed, and comes with mcafee site advisor / mcafee security centre, google toolbar, already installed and active.

desktop-when-new

Design: Latch-less shiny black lid. Silver inside. Quite rattley plastic silver, textured to appear as metal, but you can tell it’s not. The keyboard looks neat with square black keys much like an Apple laptop, or Sony Vaio. There’s also an extra row on the very right hand side with Del, Home, PgUp, PgDown, End which should make it easier to access compared my current laptop (a Dell Vostro 1510), and the \ and / slash keys are in the correct place (unlike my current Vostro!). There are not really any dedicated volume controls apart from the FN + Left/Right buttons, on the keyboard. The trackpad’s mouse buttons are good with little travel and a re-assuringly responsive click.

samsung q430 windows-experience-index

Windows score: (Windows Experience Index)
Overall: 4.9, CPU: 6.3, RAM: 5.9, Graphics (Desktop): 4.9, Graphics (Gaming): 5.9, HDD: 5.9

Idle volume: the idle volume of the laptop is quite noticeable – there is a constant fan noise even when the CPU is doing very little. The Vostro 1510 on the other hand is silent unless under quite heavy load.

Samsung Q430 Volume Controls

Samsung Q430 Volume Controls

The keyboard is really quite good and takes very little time to get used to so that you can quickly start touch typing on the laptop. Although the wrist rest area is a little small, as the keyboard is not as far back as some other laptops, the keyboard is still quite comfortable to type on.

Samsung Q430 Side Ports

Samsung Q430 Side Ports

Screen: gloss is bad for reflections, when looking at a black background you’ll either see a reflection of yourself or lights or other (terrible outdoors in the sun for example), however, the black is often very black and the gloss finish makes photos look very colourful, rich, saturated, etc, almost like a high quality photo print. The optimal viewing angles for the screen aren’t great, although when you do angle it correctly the blacks are very black, angle it wrong and you get what looks like backlight bleed. The screen is also quite low, so long periods of looking at the screen with your head bent down may not be the best for you.

Samsung Q430 DVD Drive

Samsung Q430 DVD Drive

Flickering VGA output? using the VGA cable connected to an external monitor, the screen / image seems to wobble / flicker… fault or just a design / quality flaw – is this something they all do?? It’s worse when you are using the mouse, so could be power related, however, if the cheaper Vostro 1510 doesn’t do this, then a more expensive machine shouldn’t do this!

Battery life – Fully charged, Windows says the battery should last 3 hours.

As someone who uses an external monitor when using the laptop on a desk, I find the flickering of the external display really quite disappointing. (Something a budget Vostro 1510 doesn’t suffer from) Likewise, after using the virtually silent Vostro 1510 (the only noise you hear most of the time is the hard drive accessing), I find the default / idle noise of the Samsung Q430 disappointing. The first issue seems like it may be a fault, the second, seems like a design or configuration flaw. I don’t know whether I can learn to live with these issues… 🙁 (I’m wondering whether I would have been better off with the Intel graphics based Q330… even though it has a smaller screen…)

Pros:
+ 14inch screen / compact size
+ Good keyboard – good layout, and easy to touchtype
+ Good spec for the price

Cons:
– Flickering VGA output
– Loud fan (even when CPU idle)
– Would be nice to have a slot loading drive
– unimpressed by the memory card reader – easily loses contact