September 28, 2012

Nikon EN-EL 15 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery Recall

Nikon has announce a voluntary recall of certain EN-EL 15 rechargeable batteries because they can short circuit and overheat, potentially deforming the battery. This battery model came with Nikon D800, D800e, D7000 and Nikon 1 V1 digital SLR cameras and is also sold separately.

The affected batteries are only models EN-EL15 with a Lot Number containing E or F as the 9th character.

If you purchased one of these spare batteries or a related camera model since March 2012 when they were first distributed, you can exchange the faulty battery for a different one by filling out a form and sending it along with the battery back to Nikon.

For all the details, visit the Nikon web site.

EN-EL15 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery Pack Recall

September 21, 2012

How to Make Your Nikon Coolscan Film Scanner Work with Your New Computer

If you've been working with digital photography for more than 10 years, then like me, you started out by scanning slides or negatives to develop them in Photoshop. In those days Nikon's line of 35mm film scanners called Coolscan (and later Super Coolscan) were the cream of the crop. 

However, with the success of digital SLR cameras, scanning film fell by the wayside and Nikon stopped supporting new computer systems like Windows 7, Apple OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and later, or any 64-bit system on either platform. (See the Nikon web site at That left a lot of us photographers with a library of film images out in the cold.

pine trees frame distant view of Bitterroot Mountains in Montana
Scanned from 35mm color negative film
with a Nikon Super Coolscan 4000
running on Windows 7 64-bit

After doing some research on the internet, I discovered a low cost, easy solution for both Windows and Mac owners. It is a program called Vuescan by Hamrick Software. This program comes in two editions: the Standard edition costs $39.95 and provides 1 year of free updates; the Professional edition costs $79.95 and provides unlimited free updates as well as additional features like raw scans and IT8 film calibration. A single license allows you to "use VueScan on up to four different computers that you personally use, with any combination of operating systems, with any number of scanners, both x32 and x64". 

Pine tree leans over Salmon Lake in the Seeley-Swan Valley of western Montana
Scanned from 35mm color slide film
using NikonScan software
with a Nikon Super Coolscan 4000
running on Windows 7 64-bit

I originally purchased the Standard edition of Vuescan to use with my Epson Perfection Photo 3200 flatbed scanner. (No, Epson does not supply a full-featured driver for this scanner either.) Vuescan works flawlessly with my Epson scanner for color or black & white prints, books, and magazines. The software includes the ability to select scan resolution, bit depth, and output file formats (TIFF, JPEG, PDF). There are also levels and curves controls allowing you to adjust the tonal results and a color balance section to adjust the color rendition.The software includes the ability to automatically save scans to a specified folder with an incremental file name, a big time-saver when you're scanning a strip of negatives, for example.

Black & white silver gelatin print
scanned using Vuescan with an
Epson Perfection Photo 3200 flatbed scanner
running on Windows 7 64-bit

Having been satisfied with the program's performance with both my Epson 3200 scanner and the scanner on my HP all-in-one printer/scanner/copier, I recommended it to a colleague who was trying to get her Nikon Coolscan to work with her new Mac. Complete success for her too!.

So I highly recommend Vuescan by Hamrick Sofware to bring your old scanners back to life!

There's even been a book published on how to get the most from your Vuescan software: The Vuescan Bible by Sascha Steinhoff from Rocky Nook Publishing.

Note for Windows Owners

If you still would like to use the original NikonScan software that came with your Coolscan scanner on your new Windows computer, you may want to read the suggestions of Bob Johnson at Earthbound Light. He offers a copy of some computer code that he successfully modified to get his Nikon scanner to work with his Windows Vista computer. Later he updated it successfully to work with his new Windows 7 system. Following his instructions, I also got the NikonScan software and Windows Vista driver from Nikon to work with my Windows 7 64-bit system.

BE WARNED! This process is not for the faint of heart. If the sight of computer code or delving into system files makes you twitchy, this technique is probably not for you. (But might be for your computer geek support person.) While it really only involves some copy and paste work as well as finding and renaming old files, you do need to proceed carefully. If this idea makes you nervous, take the Vuescan route. It's affordable, painless and works!

September 14, 2012

Learning to Use the New Sliders in Adobe Camera Raw 7 and Lightroom 4

With the release of Photoshop CS6, Adobe also unveiled Camera Raw 7. Adobe has made major changes to the sliders in the Basic panel of Camera Raw 7 (ACR) to reflect the improved software "engine" called Process Version (PV) 2012 that's under the hood. Considering we've been using the same set of sliders in ACR's Basic panel (and Lightroom's Develop module) since 2003, it's definitely a mindset shift! How often do you change the habits you've developed over nine years??!!

Martin Evening, the guru of Adobe photo editing products, has written an article for Digital Photography Review that offers a great before and after comparison of the previous Camera Raw sliders with the new ones. Check it out to see the potential in the updated software.

Extreme Contrast Edits in Lightroom 4 and ACR 7 by Martin Evening

I also watched an excellent online class on Photoshop CS6 by Ben Willmore at Creative Live. There's a free sample video on the tonal controls in ACR 7 that is also very iniformative. And you can purchase the entire clas for $99! An amazing deal!

Camera Raw: Exposure and Contrast by Ben Willmore

Note that I am not affiliated with either Martin Evening or Ben Willmore in any way. I just like these tutorials!

September 7, 2012

Visually Size Your Photos for Email and Facebook

Are you confused about how to size your photos for sharing by email or on social media sites? Do the terms "resolution" and "pixel dimensions" keep you up at night? Now you can ignore all that math and shrink your photos visually! No numbers necessary! Here's how using Photoshop Elements or Photoshop (any version).
  • Open your image in Photoshop or Elements.
  • Open the Navigator window (Window menu, Navigator).
Image open in Photoshop Elements 10
with Navigator window open on the right
  • Using the slider in the Navigator, adjust the photo on screen to be the size you want it out in Web land.
Image reduced on screen using the Navigator slider
  • Look at the percentage next to the Navigator slider.
    REMEMBER this number.
Navigator window showing
reduced percentage circled in upper left
  • Open the Image Size dialog box.
    In Elements choose Image, Resize, Image Size.
    In Photoshop choose Image, Image Size
  • Be sure Resample Image is checked (turned on).
  • Select Bicubic Sharper as the method (if available).
  • Change the measurement unit from "pixels" or "inches" to "percent". Change either pixels or inches; you don't need to change both.
  • Type in the number you got from the Navigator slider.
  • Click OK.
Image Size window with percentage resize at top
and Resample Image using Bicubic Sharper at bottom
  • Your photo will shrink on screen (a good thing).
  • Use View, Actual Pixels to see the photo as it will appear on screen.
  • Choose File, SAVE AS a new photo in JPEG format (e.g. IMG_123-email.jpg). I keep my web images in an Email folder on my desktop.
  • Upload/email/etc. as desired. 
Windows 7 Save As screen
 You're done!

If your photo editing program has similar abilities to adjust the size of the photo on screen using a slider AND tell you at what percentage you are viewing it, you can use this technique too. Thanks to Ben Willmore's Photoshop for Photographers class broadcast at Creative Live.

September 1, 2012

September from Seasons of Montana 2012 calendar

"September" from this year's calendar featuring the seasons of western Montana. Look for my announcement for the 2013 calendar in the coming months!