In mid-2012, given the parlous state of film-based photography (especially colour slide film), and the less than encouraging signs from Lasersoft Imaging, the chances that a new book on Silverfast would be published must have been remote. That it would also be a very good book, even less so. Scanning veteran Mark D Segal has nevertheless confounded expectations with his eBook, “Scanning Workflows with Silverfast 8, Silverfast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop”. The title may be quite a mouthful, but it is justified through the contents.
Although the book was written in close collaboration with Lasersoft, makes of Silverfast (of itself a positive sign), it’s no hagiography. Where the author feels that Silverfast is not going to give you best results, he makes no excuse for providing alternative solutions in Photoshop and Lightroom. However, with his exhaustive - but never exhausting - exposition of Silverfast’s vast feature set, he reveals and clarifies areas of the application which I’ve either never used or never been comfortable with.
The book targets Silverfast 8, which for me remains something of a pipedream, and I’m stuck with SF6 for scanning with my Minolta film scanner, and although I religiously download each new public Beta of SF8 HDR, I’m sorry to say that that is still way short of usable. However, although some tools, for example AACO shadow recovery, are improved in SF8, what Mark writes is still applicable to SF6.
The last book to be written on Silverfast was Taz Tally’s Official Silverfast Manual published in 2003, which while pretty good for its day, only covered film scanning as an afterthought on the included CD. Mark’s book on the other hand is firmly focused on film, both positive and negative.
The writing still is clear and communicative, avoiding the trite humour that so many writers seem to feel they can’t do without. The author is not going to get rich with this book, which is available for €29.95 from the Silverfast web site. It is clearly something of a labour of love - let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be a requiem.