Ofoto 2.0 -''adaptive calibration''
Author: Mike Harding
Date: September, 1993
Keywords: photography graphics scanner scanning program software review application
Text: Ofoto 2.0 is a scanning software program for the novice and experienced scanner user as well. Ofoto is great for anyone who wants to scan images without working too much, and who then outputs scans on laser printers and other low-resolution devices. The software has automated functions that enable novices to get good results and is still sophisticated enough to meet the needs of scanning aficionados. To use it, you don't have to know anything about bit depth, how to adjust tonal values, or how to solve the problem of what resolution to set for a given halftone line screen, output device and scaling factor. Instead, you simply pick an output device from a menu and let the program handle the rest, with Ofoto plugging in optimal resolution values as well as a predefined tone-correction curve. During prescan, Ofoto senses whether artwork being scanned is line art or a photograph, and sets bit depth accordingly. You can switch to manual controls and set up your own scan parameters. Ofoto has a number of features that allow it to produce very good images: * Adaptive calibration: Ofoto's unique calibration technology lets Ofoto create scans that produce the best results on the printer you are using. Through a simple two-step procedure you can calibrate Ofoto to any printer or print process you may use to print your scanned images. * Moir* elimination: Ofoto's image processing technology eliminates Moir* patterns and other undesirable artifacts that you may encounter with other scanning software. Moir* artifacts are quite noticeable lines or patterns that may appear when you scan a printed photograph, such as a photograph in a magazine or book. * Smart-pixel processing: This is the name given to Light Source's proprietary image procou have made them. The program can save a compressed TIFF file or print a random dither pattern that maximizes image quality on low-resolution printers. It has an excellent scaling tool that works in tandem with the program's mechanism for setting scan resolution. You simply enter the height, width, or scaling factor you want--or any combination of the three--and the program calculates the scan resolution required to deliver the best results. Ofoto can automatically do any or all of the following for every image it scans: distinguish line art from photographs and color from grayscale; set scanning parameters (resolution and bit depth); find a crop window and crop the image; straighten the image; sharpen the image; adjust the highlight and shadow points in the image; adjust overexposed or underexposed originals. Any of these can be turned off or overridden manually. Ofoto's Autoscan uses all of these features to provide ''one-step scanning.'' You can also Prescan the image to work on a low-resolution preview of the image. Rescanning is also automated. Any changes you make to an Autoscanned or Prescanned image will be repeated automatically when you rescan the image. This allows you to make as many changes as you want to the image without worrying about degrading the image quality. Ofoto can always get a fresh scan and repeat your changes in such a way as to guarantee the best results. Some of these features are slow the program up enough that I have turned off the automated capability for autorotating and autocropping. It's faster to place the artwork on the scanner straight than to wait for the autorotate feature to perform. Usually you get a message saying that the program cannot perform the autorotate feature. The autocrop feature tends to crop to the edge of page rather than to the edge of the image which is what you want. Ofoto's virtual memory system uses space on your hard disk as an extension of memory, so Ofoto can scan and manipulate images that are much larger than the available memory. Ofoto has its own virtual memory (not reliant on that of System 7) that is specifically optimized for image data. Ofoto can set the scanning parameters automatically. It knows how to get the best results with overscanning (scanning more data than you need by using unnecessarily high resolution or bit depth). Ofoto also supports file compression such as the Apple QuickTime image compression technology. Ofoto 2.0 has the ability to scan color, however, I do not have a color scanner so cannot make any comments on its ability to scan color images other than the features that are listed in the manual. Ofoto can use Apple's ColorSync color management system. When used with other ColorSync compatible products this allows you to scan an image that can be printed on a variety of printers with equally excellent results. You can start a scan and go to work on another document or in another application while Ofoto works in the background. That's good because the software is oh, so slow. Changes to Ofoto 2.0 over previous versions include a simpler calibration mechanism and new tools. The two step calibration procedure has been simplified even more by eliminating the ''Printer Types'' list. The heart of Ofoto's approach is its adaptive (or closed-loop) calibration. You print a calibration chart on your final output device, scan that chart, and Ofoto builds a calibration table for that device. Creating your next scan, you apply that calibration, and Ofoto ensures that the output matches the original. You can even calibrate to specific applications or monitors. Also, Ofoto now has a Zoom Out tool, and Eyedropper and Color Patch for setting and displaying the color of the Pencil Tool. An improved Suggest Crop feature now ignores the shadows caused by light leaking in around books and other nonflat objects placed on the scanner, as well as from a scanner lid that is not seated properly. The installation of the program uses two disks and was straightforward and simple. It was installed on a Mac Centris 650 with 18 MB RAM and 230 hard drive. I use the program from the Apple Menu and find it quick to access and while working within other programs. I use the scanner (Apple 1) and Ofoto almost daily for my two businesses. For one, I scan small sections of street and road maps to be placed in a data base and used for sending directions to route drivers for deliveries and service. I use it in the other business for scanning custom artwork, photographs, and tables to be used in ads, brochures, business cards and presentations. It is very easy to scan an image, copy it, and paste directly into another application without having to save the image. I was using the program in minutes after installation without having to use the manual. But the program's more advanced (manual) features were more easily understood by reading the manual. I still would use Photoshop for more advanced editing on photographs, but for most images the autoscan feature with the simple editing tools was more than adequate and the line art scanning was excellent. I have had no reason to call tech support and have found all of the answers to my questions in the manual. Ofoto is System 7 Savy and uses Balloon help. The small selection of tools work in the conventional method and the program follows the Mac interface quite well. The package contains one of the better manuals that I have encountered and gets you through the technical aspects of scanning as easily as the program is easy to use. Ofoto 2.0 requires MAC LC; a hard drive; 1 MB of RAM with System 6.0.7, and at least 2 MB of RAM with System 7. I would recommend more. List price $395.00. Available through mail order houses for$275.00. Ofoto 2.0 is available from: LightSource 17 East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Suite 100 Larkspur, CA 94939 (415) 461-8000 or (800) 231-7226
Copyright © september, 1993 by Mike Harding