May 2004 HelpLine

Friendly Skies For Memory Cards?

    * Card Security
    * FAQ On PSD To Tiff
    * Scans For The Memories
    * The Spin On DVD Compatibility

Card Security

Q)  I’ve made the switch to using a digital camera on my travels. I read about preparing myself with batteries and media cards, but I haven’t heard much about going through security with a digital camera. I remember the hoops I used to jump through with film. Is there the same problem with my media cards? Will I lose images, or will they get damaged?

Jed P.
Via e-mail

A)  I know the hoops you went through with film. It definitely could be damaged by airport security’s X-ray machines, especially high-speed film. These hoops have certainly become more difficult in present-day airport security. Thankfully, those machines aren’t causing problems with media cards. Every media card manufacturer that I’ve talked to has told me they haven’t seen a problem when cards go through security.

I confirmed this myself on a recent trip to the East Coast. Before I left, I took two memory cards and stored on them several large test files that I created. The files were uncompressed TIFF files and took up a lot of space on the cards. I put one card in my carry-on camera bag and one in my checked bag. (Generally, I wouldn’t recommend putting your cards in your checked luggage, not because of damage that may be caused by security scanning, but because of the possibility of lost luggage.)

After both outbound and inbound flights, I compared the two cards against the original files stored on my computer using a special program that compares every byte of data in each file stored on the card. The result? The files were exactly the same as when I first put them on the card-just as the card manufacturer told me.



Q)  I saved several photos using the Photoshop .psd format all in one folder. If I want to change the format to .tiff on all the images, do I have to change them one by one, or is there a way to do the whole folder at one time? Also, when I share an image with someone using the .psd format, can it be opened if he or she doesn’t have the Photoshop program?

Pauline Alexander
Via e-mail

A)  To answer your first question, you need a feature called batch processing, which is found in many image editors. In the Adobe products, look for the Batch Processing selection under the File menu. Jasc’s Paint Shop Pro calls it Batch Conversion, and Ulead’s PhotoImpact calls it Batch Convert, but they’re all generally located under the File menu. Browser programs like ACDSee often offer this capability, too.

These batch utilities operate in much the same way. After selecting the command from the menu, a dialog box pops up asking you to select the folder or group of image files that you wish to process. Depending on the software, it might ask you for the original file type. You’ll need to select a destination folder and new file type. Also, you might be given choices depending on the file type you select. For example, if you’re converting a series of files to JPEG, you might be asked for a compression level. This setting also might be accessed by clicking on an Options button in the dialog box.

Once everything is set, you can click on the button that starts the process and walk away, letting the computer do its work. The software will go through all the files you’ve selected and convert them. Some of the editors might give you other batch-processing options, like file resizing or changing the file name. The ability to change the image to black-and-white also might be included.



You asked about sharing PSDs. If they have an image editor that’s capable of opening the files, you won’t have a problem. However, many programs that can work with photos can’t decode PSDs. You’d have more universal success by first converting the file into a nonproprietary interchange format like TIFF or JPEG (they can be opened in any program that handles images on any computer platform).

Scans For The Memories

Q)  I have a large number of slides that I inherited from my father, who used some of the first Agfachrome color slide film more than 60 years ago. I have a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 film scanner, which can scan at 5400 dpi. However, I’m generally only interested in printing to a size of 8×10 or so. Scanning at 5400 dpi (16-bit) gives me a resolution of 4848×7200, which would allow a print of 16×24 inches (at 300 dpi), but with a massive file size of 199.7 MB. My logic is to scan the old slides at that high level to obtain as much detail from the film as possible, details that then would be retained after reducing the file size back to a manageable print size. Am I correct in doing this or could I scan at a lower level without losing any details? I should add that I have a 60 GB hard disk and 512 MB memory. I store the photos in TIFF on CD-ROMs (soon to be replaced by DVD). File size and memory therefore are no problem.

Wal Moser
Queens Park, Victoria, Australia

A)  Either of your suggested methods will work. If you scan at the higher resolution, you’re effectively “over-sampling” your image. This sometimes can result in a better image once you scale it back to your final image size, but realize that there are limits as to what detail you can see in any given size print. Before you take this route, however, consider the amount of data you’re going to be moving around. At 200 MB a file, a CD will only hold three images and a DVD will hold only about 24. Wrangling all of that data around might cause you to think twice about file size. If you’ve already decided what your final print size is going to be, you might consider reducing your scanning resolution to match.



If you think that in the future you might want to print larger, you should stay with a larger file size. While interpolation algorithms built into image-editing software can be amazing in how they create “new” pixels, they still can’t beat the original pixels found in a larger file.

The higher resolution may add more time to the process, from the actual scan to working with the images in the computer. I suggest you do a simple test with a couple of images that you’re going to be scanning. Run both workflows and determine if the benefits are noticeable to you.

The Spin On DVD Compatibility

Q)  I recently made a slideshow on a DVD to play on a friend’s computer, but her computer had a difficult time playing it. It played fine on my computer and another friend’s computer. Am I doing something wrong?

Rowen G.
Via e-mail

A)  It could be that your friend’s drive has a problem or it could be a problem with interchange among media. There’s no easy answer. While I use DVDs on a regular basis, the whole issue of compatibility among drives and media can be a little scary. Let me pass on this information from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).



The NIST, in collaboration with the DVD Association and the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA), has just finished preliminary tests on compatibility between recordable DVDs and DVD drives. The results indicated an 85% success rate. Fourteen different types of DVD-ROM drives and 50 different DVD discs were tested, and problems ranged from
discs that wouldn’t work at all, to freeze-ups, to video and audio dropouts. Soon, more media and more drives will be tested, including recordable DVD drives. Drive and disc manufacturers will use the results of this testing in order to increase the compatibility of their hardware.

I know this sounds a little scary, but the technology has improved and will continue to improve. Right now, it’s still possible to create a disc that will play perfectly on one machine, but not at all on another, but this is becoming less common. While not scientific, my experience with compatibility generally has been quite good.

If you have any questions, please send them to HelpLine, PCPhoto Magazine, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025 or


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