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Kodak Photo CD
Links and Abstracts

Table Of Contents

Click on one of these topics to find related links, or just page down to read through all the links.

My Stuff - Links to my Photo CD stuff.
Sympathizers - Others who have struggled with Photo CD.
Photo CD-Specific Software - Software that supports the unique capabilities of Photo CD.
Books About Photo CD
Party Line - Links that appear oblivious to the problems of using Photo CD.
Make Your Own Photo CDs - Links that provide information on making your own Photo CD-compliant CDs.
General - Miscellaneous stuff of general interest.
Kodak's Info - Various interesting parts of Kodak's web site.
Labs that do Photo CD - Just a random list of labs, most of which I've never used.
PhotoCD Programming - Information for Software Developers.

My Stuff

Here are some links to other PhotoCD stuff I've put together.

Ted's Unofficial Kodak Photo CD Homepage. Home base for all my Photo CD information.

Film Term Code List. This is a complete list of all the "latest" Film Terms. Use this to quickly look up a Film Term number that is recorded in a PhotoCD image.

Sympathizers

Not a lot here. But at least I'm not alone in noticing problems with PhotoCD.

Publish Magazine - August 1995 article entitled "Photo CD Comes of Age". Talks about the problems I've discovered with PhotoCD. Mentions a number of third party software packages that load PhotoCD images, and get around the problems.

"Why [PhotoCD] is the worst way to digitize your 35mm slides." A great PhotoCD rant from Maya-Archaeology.org. Suggests that you find PhotoCD appropriate software if you must. Otherwise, avoid PhotoCD and get your own slide scanner. I tried that, and it didn't work for me.

Das ImagePac Forum. This site is in German, but that cool animated icon of the guy banging his head on the keyboard has got to be someone struggling with PhotoCD! In reality, this is more of a developer site. It is interesting to note that Germany appears to have a number of PhotoCD related sites. I'm not sure exactly why it might have been so popular there.

PhotoCD-Specific Software

This section has moved to its own page.

Books about Photo CD

Digital Color Management: Encoding Solutions (Giorgianni and Madden 1998) - A high-level book covering the Photo CD system from some color theory basics all the way through the file encoding (though not enough info to program to). It explains why the Photo CD system is designed the way it is and gives recommendations for future digital imaging systems. This book prompted me to write my Digital Rant. Looks like this is pretty hard to get. You might try ABEBooks. Or maybe I should sell my copy for $1000 to undercut the guy selling it for $1100. I really didn't like it all that much.

Party Line

Many sites still talk you through the process of loading PhotoCD images directly into Photoshop with no mention of the trouble it causes. Some sites even do this wrong, suggesting that you select the "appropriate" Source Profile, instead of "Color Negative" for all images. A few do have some useful information, so I've listed them here.

"Using Kodak PhotoCD Technology for Preservation and Access: A Guide for Librarians, Archivists, and Curators" by Anne R. Kenney and Oya Y Rieger - A "brochure" published sometime in 1998 (based on dates mentioned throughout) summarizing the results of evaluating Photo CD for museum/archival use. The biggest problems noted were with Photo CD's resolution for their particular purpose (sometimes scanning photographs of large posters with fine detail(!)). No mention is made of the "Lost Highlights" problem. In fact, Adobe Photoshop is mentioned as the best software for loading Photo CD images, and they recommend the Acquire Module because of its color management ability. Ha! There is some mention as to the varying skill of Photo CD Imaging Workstation operators. The big find here for me was the link to Photo CD On The Web.

Brian Lawler's site - Brian's essay on PhotoCD goes over the steps for creating a destination profile in Photoshop. A number of Photoshop's color spaces do not have .ICM/.ICC files, and these steps will guide you through how to make the files so you can load PhotoCD images into your preferred color space. By messing with the Gamma along the way, you can try getting more highlights or shadows from your PhotoCDs. Another interesting article by Brian: Whatever happened to Photo CD?

Optimizing Photo CD Scans for Prepress and Publishing. Brian Lawler also wrote this really big and interesting piece for Kodak in 1995. Kodak's document number is "DCI-346". The "YCC color space" section talks about YCC's basis in TV, and mentions that it is a very large space similar to Lab. That verifies my suspicion that YCC is overkill. Also mentions that YCC's brightness goes beyond Lab, and therefore some loss in the highlights will occur. Hmmmmm. In the "Photo CD In Practice" section, it mentions that there is a Plug-In for writing PhotoCD files (I assume he is actually referring to the YCC TIFF Export Plug-In which makes TIFF files that are YCC instead of RGB). There's a rather in-depth list of PhotoCD-specific software packages here, and their capabilities. Covers scanner dynamic range issues. Worth a read.

"Working with PhotoCD" - An article from YCC Digital Imaging, a Photo CD lab. In this article they go over selecting the "correct" source profile (I've emailed them and they said they would change that, but haven't), and loading into Lab color. Other than the Source Profile bit, a nice little tutorial.

PhotoCD in Adobe Photoshop - Adobe's own information about PhotoCD. Note that they also recommend using the "appropriate" source profile for the type of film. I've sent email to them recommending that they change this information to agree with PCD-043 and my findings. I also wrote them and asked them to ask Kodak to fix the "Lost Highlights" problem too. I know I'll never get a response.

Inside Adobe Photoshop for Windows, Chapter 3 - Discusses the basics, and hints at a "washed-out" problem, but doesn't really tell you how to solve it. Instead covers the basics of using Levels in Photoshop to try and correct the problem. This approach still doesn't solve the "Lost Highlights" problem.

Make Your Own Photo CDs

This section has moved to its own page.

General

Kodak Lossless True Color Image Suite - Conversion of some of Kodak's standard Photo CD test images to PNG format for general consumption.

Corrupt Photo CD - Folks are becoming suspicious of Kodak's longevity claims for Photo CD.

Photo CD Players - Overview of the various Photo CD players produced by Kodak. This is from the "New International CD-i Association". They also have a FAQ Entry discussing some of the details of Photo CD.

ftp.cdrom.com's Photo CD info collection. Wow, lots of press releases and historic info here. I need to sift through it all one day.

The Kodak PhotoCD. An article apparently written in 1992 or 1993. Gives some interesting historic perspective into what Kodak was thinking at the time.

Prism Studios Photo CD Info. A service bureau's site. This one gives a few interesting facts about the PIW scanner dynamic range upgrade from 2.8 to 3.2. Mentions that negative film fits in a 2.8 dynamic range, but slide film doesn't. So slides need the 3.2 provided by the upgrade. Negatives are still helped, though, by the improved noise floor.

Imagers Photo CD FAQ - General info from Imagers, a PhotoCD service bureau. They also have a PDF document hidden in here called Photoshop Preparations of Kodak Photo CD Scans. It very carefully guides you through the mistake of choosing the "proper" source profile. Mentions working in Lab mode, and covers the basics of manipulation in Photoshop, from sizing/resolution, through white/black points, and unsharp masking.

Adam's Image Transfer page - Another PhotoCD user.

Kodak's Info

Most of Kodak's info about their own product is horribly outdated. I don't think they've done anything substantial to their PhotoCD stuff since 1994. The site mentions a mailing list that doesn't exist any more. It takes some clever digging to find the gold, so I've done the work for you. Note that a lot of this is out of date as Kodak has reorganized much of their site and removed quite a bit of PhotoCD-related information.

PhotoCD Homepage - Here you can read about such things as "PhotoCD Player Repair Centers" (!) and "Widespread Industry Acceptance". Does anyone actually make a PhotoCD player any more?

Film Term Code List. This is based on Kodak's 6.5 with some added codes.

Photo CD Plug-In update from Kodak. The one that comes with Photoshop 5.5 is 3.0.6. This one is 3.0.7. It doesn't fix the "Lost Highlights" problem, but it does recognize an additional source profile.

KODAK: Drivers, Software and Firmware: Photo CD Acquire Module - Here you can get the version 1 PhotoCD acquire module which might support getting at the complete PhotoCD data (I've not been able to try it). However, it doesn't work with Photoshop 5 or 3! Looks like it's Photoshop 2 only????!!!

PhotoCD Technical Papers

A fascinating look at the sometimes warped thinking behind PhotoCD. I still haven't explored it all. I'll keep looking and report whatever interesting tidbits I find. The "White Papers" might be a little too technical for some. I loved them. Here are the highlights:

PCD-042 - Fully Utilizing PhotoCD Images, Using Information Beyond 100% White - Article No. 1

Info beyond 100% white?! Lots of exciting math in this one. Claims that the dynamic range of PhotoCD is more than anyone could ever need: "Most currently available Photo CD display packages do not fully utilize the capabilities of Photo CD images. As a result, images from wide dynamic range scenes may be reproduced with washed out or clipped highlights." If you get the test image mentioned in PCD-102, you'll see that Photoshop does indeed pull in all the luminance data, although the highlights are quite compressed. This is the "Lost Highlights" problem.

PCD-043 - Fully Utilizing PhotoCD Images, Article No. 2 - Universal Film Terms for Reversal Films

Explains the whole point of "Film Terms". Admits that it isn't a perfect system, and it will result in variations (hence that reddish cast with PJ100, etc...). Talks about the "universal" (more like "cop-out") K-14 and E-6 film terms on the PIW side of things. Since you would have to rip the slide mount apart to figure out which transparency film it really is, they decided not to have individual film terms for different makes of transparency film. Mentions that the Universal E-6 and K-14 film terms turn off the dreaded "Scene Balancing Algorithm". Talks about how only one transform is needed when loading PhotoCD images. That transform is what we all know in Photoshop as the "Color Negative" source profile, though it doesn't actually come out and say it.

PCD-044 - Fully Utilizing PhotoCD Images, Adjusting the Balance of Photo CD Images - Article No. 3

Third in this enlightening series. Flat out admits that Film Terms don't really work. "The Kodak Photo CD Imaging Workstation (PIW) currently uses sophisticated automatic density and color balance algorithms to estimate an optimum balance. However, they produce sub optimal results for negatives approximately 10% of the time." More like 100%. I guess it depends on your definition of "sub-optimal". Talks about the math behind color and density correction. Once again claims that the "extended dynamic range" of PhotoCD makes it easy to correct them (see Info Beyond 100% White above).

PCD-045 - Fully Utilizing PhotoCD Images, Article No. 4 - PhotoYCC Color Encoding and Compression Schemes

Not for the faint of heart. This is how the image data is converted into PhotoYCC format. It also covers the lossy compression algorithm used to get that compression ratio of 4.5:1. PhotoCD uses chroma subsampling like JPEG, but it doesn't use DCTs, so the results are better than JPEG.

PCD-077 - Fully Utilizing PhotoCD Images, Maintaining Color Consistency When Creating KODAK Photo CD Portfolio Discs--Article No. 5

Not too intriguing. Talks about gathering together images from varying sources for Portfolio PhotoCDs. Mentions the dreaded "Source Profile" that is supposedly done away with in PCD-43 (and is certainly useless in practice).

PCD-102 - Fully Utilizing PhotoCD Images, Typical Monitor Luminance Values for PhotoYCC Luma Values - Article Number 6

A reference image is here that you can use to calibrate your monitor. This reference image was very handy in diagnosing the "Lost Highlights" problem.

Old Links

Photo CD Content - FAQs and whitepapers on Kodak's site.

Kodak Photo CD Discs Technical Information Bulletin - Kodak's high level FAQ on PhotoCD. Here you'll also find Kodak's link to my PhotoCD site. I also discovered that I have my very own kodak.com link: "http://www.kodak.com/exit/tedfelix".

PhotoCD Sample Images. Unfortunately, they pulled the PhotoCD samples after 12/16/2001 according to the Wayback Machine. Too bad the Wayback Machine doesn't archive the original PCD files. Under "Variety Selection" they had my favorite PhotoCD sample image, "Cow and Rainbow". It's the image that sold me on PhotoCD. Little did I know that I'd be here now......

Photo CD On The Web. Used to have Photo CD CGI-based software for serving up Photo CD images from your web site.

Web Sites that use PhotoCD. Though the copyright notice has been updated to indicate the year 2000, this page actually hadn't been touched since 1994. Hey, guys! Wake up! Wonder if they would consider listing my site. Funny thing is that they did link mysite for a while, although I can't find that link any more.

The FAQ

Software That Supports Images on Kodak Photo CD Discs - Kodak's list of "all" PhotoCD software. Some packages are in here that specifically support PhotoCD. But then again, Photoshop is in this list too. They need a list of "Software that PROPERLY supports PhotoCD". Like that "Designed for Windoze 98" thing. For now, you'll have to rely on my software list.

Labs that do PhotoCD

This is just a random list. I've used some of these labs. Any attempt to rate the labs would be futile since quality can often be a moving target. Any price quotes are probably outdated, so check each link before making any decisions based on price.

Kodak's Photo CD Service Search - The data for my lab is either missing, or incorrect in this list, so take the results with a pillar of salt. Might be real helpful finding a good lab, though.

Kodak Lab
8101 Snouffer School Rd
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
301-948-2800

I think they'll accept mail order processing requests at this address:

Kodak Digital Processing
PO Box 8610
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-9935

Note that Kodak sold its name to a company called "Lerner", so the Kodak labs are really just a huge national processing chain that isn't really affiliated with Kodak.

My experience with this lab varies from great to poor. As of December 2000, I've noticed that Black and White film is treated very poorly before scanning. The scans are horribly dusty. Transparency film is now scanned after mounting which loses part of the frame. If you ask them to not mount the film, then it gets treated poorly before scanning and the scans are very dusty. Color negative film is the only kind that seems to be handled reasonably well.

Custom Process - The President/CEO was kind enough to email me and give me some more insider info about PhotoCD. Judging from his understanding of the Photo CD situation, his lab should be one to try.

Denver Digital Photo Imaging Ltd. - Great web site, lots of info. I've used them. They will process and scan. Excellent dust control.

YCC Digital Imaging Ltd - Love the name. Based in Canada.

RiverCitySilver - PhotoCD Lab $1.20/scan. Also do Drum scans ($20 minimum/scan). First drum scan free(!?).

Advanced Digital Imaging, Inc. - Lab that does PhotoCD. $1/scan.

Dale Labs - You can download PhotoSee SE for free here. It is a PhotoCD viewer. This lab will process and scan. I've heard lots of recommendations. Worth a try.

Imagers - They don't process film, but they do scan. I've heard lots of recommendations for them.

Pro-Set

Philip Greenspun's list of labs. - This guy's website is an infinite amount of fun. He uses PhotoCD, and is very selective about his labs. That should be pretty obvious from the image quality you'll witness throughout his site.

PhotoCD Programming

This section has moved to its own page.

Unsorted

I need to check these out, do abstracts, and put them in their proper place.

Firehouse's Photo CD FAQ. I'd better download this as it is not linked from anywhere and might disappear.
KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE PHOTO CD Technology FAQ - An older version of the PhotoCD FAQ by Kodak. I'd better download this as it is not linked from anywhere and might disappear.
DAKX - PhotoCD recompression - These folks have proposed a different way of compressing PhotoCD images as an example of using their compression technology.
rec.digital.photo - Most of the PhotoCD related discussion takes place here. There is very little PhotoCD traffic.
comp.graphics.apps.photoshop - Occasional traffic on PhotoCD and Photoshop.

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