Oddball File Formats

Can you believe it? After plowing through a half-million formats, I still haven’t covered them all. The last three are the odd men out. One format has a purpose so specific that Photoshop can open files saved in the format but it can’t save to the format.

The second is a new format that, while moderately promising, is not implemented thoroughly enough inside Photoshop to provide much benefit. And the last is less a format than a manual can opener that may come in handy for jimmying open a file from an unknown source.

Photo CD YCC Images

Photoshop can open Eastman Kodak’s Photo CD and Pro Photo CD formats directly. A Photo CD contains compressed versions of every image in each of the five scan sizes provided on Photo CDs—from 128 × 192 pixels (72K) to 2,048 × 3,072 pixels (18MB).

The Pro Photo CD format can accommodate each of the five sizes included in the regular Photo CD format, plus one additional size—4,096 × 6,144 pixels (72MB)—that’s four times as large as the largest image on a regular Photo CD. As a result, Pro Photo CDs hold only 25 scans; standard Photo CDs hold 100.

Like their standard Photo CD counterparts, Pro Photo CD scanners can accommodate 35mm film and slides. But they can also handle 70mm film and 4 × 5-inch negatives and transparencies. The cost might knock you out, though. While scanning an image to a standard Photo CD costs between $1 and $2, scanning it to a Pro Photo CD costs about $10.

This goes to show you, once you gravitate beyond consumerland, everyone expects you to start coughing up the big bucks. Both Photo CD and Pro Photo CD use the YCC color model, a variation on the CIE (Commission Internationale de’Eclairage) color space.

YCC provides a broader range of color—theoretically, every color your eye can see. By opening Photo CD files directly, you can translate the YCC images directly to Photoshop’s Lab color mode, another variation on the CIE color space that ensures no color loss. When you open a Photo CD image, Photoshop displays the dialog box.

Finding your photos on a Photo CD is a little harder than it should be. Look inside the Images folder in the Photo_CD folder. The files have friendly names such as Img0017.pcd. The newly redesigned Photo CD dialog box is divided into three main sections: Image Info, Source, and Destination.

The Image Info section simply tells you the type of film on which the image was shot and the type of scanner used to scan the image to CD. Selections that you make in the Source and Destination areas tell Photoshop how you want it to open the image.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pixel Size: Select which of the available image sizes you want to use from this pop-up menu.

  • Profile: Use this pop-up menu to select the kind of film from which the original photographs were scanned. You can select from one of the variations on Kodak’s film brands—E-6 for Ektachrome or K-14 for Kodachrome—or settle for the generic Color Negative V3.0 Film option. Your selection determines the method Photoshop uses to transform the colors in the image.

  • Resolution: This setting determines the output resolution and size at which Photoshop opens the image. You get the same number of image pixels no matter what that’s controlled by the Pixel Size option.

In other words, changing this value is no different than changing the Resolution value in the Image Size dialog box with Resample Image turned off.

  • Color Space: Select an option from this pop-up menu to specify the color model you want to use. Select RGB to open the image in the RGB mode; select LAB to open the image in the Lab mode. You can also select from 8 Bits/Channel to edit the image in 24-bit color or 16 Bits/Channel to open the image in 48-bit color.

  • Orientation: The preview in the left side of the dialog box shows you the original orientation of the image. If you want to change that orientation, click the other Orientation radio button. The preview updates to show you the new orientation.

Photoshop cannot save to the Photo CD format. And frankly, there’s little reason you’d want to do so. Photo CD is strictly a means for transferring slides and film negatives onto the world’s most ubiquitous and indestructible storage medium, the CD-ROM.

Kodak also offers a product called Picture CD, which is quite different from Photo CD don’t get the two confused. With Picture CD, consumers can drop off rolls of undeveloped film and receive both traditional prints and a CD containing scanned versions of their pictures.

Picture CD images are provided in the JPEG format, so none of the Photo CD file-opening features discussed here apply. You open Picture CD images like any other JPEG file.