Gear and Software

As mentioned elsewhere, Lumen Perfectus is not here to discuss equipment, photography techniques, digital image processing, or Web site development. We continue to receive, however, requests for this kind of information. We've created this page to answer some of the common questions about the equipment used and the development of the Web site. For photography techniques and tutorials, however, you'll have to look elsewhere.

What follows is the photographer's description of the photo and computer equipment and the software used to create Lumen Perfectus and our photos, liberally sprinkled with comments and opinions. When not taking pictures, most photographers enjoy talking about equipment, accessories, film, and techniques. Their latest purchases, equipment trials or rentals, and X-Y comparisons are all topics of conversation. That's true for me as well, but as you'll see my "kit" is pretty modest. It's also necessary to hike to the places from which I like to shoot; a modest kit helps keep the weight manageable.

You'll find links at the bottom of the page to several of the manufacturers mentioned here.

Camera Equipment

I use Canon EOS gear in the field. In May, 2017, I purchased a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR body. This replaced the 5D Mark III I bought in late December, 2012, which replaced the 'original' 5D I got in April, 2007. That camera had been a solid, reliable workhorse that ended our years of shooting film. The Mark III proved to be a significant advance in many ways; I think my photography benefited greatly, and I hope I can one day say the same about the Mark IV. I use two Canon lenses, an EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM and an EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, which in August, 2018, replaced an original (“series I”) I'd used for over sixteen years. I also have a Sigma 20mm F/1.4 'Art' lens. I use Canon's 12mm and 25mm extension tubes for macro photography. I also have a Canon 1.4x teleconverter.

A small collection of filters is used, including B+W circular polarizers and split neutral-density grads. I also have a Hoya variable neutral-desnity filter. I rarely use color filters now, as the effects of these filters can generally be added in Photoshop.

A Gitzo G-1257 tripod is used. The camera is almost never hand-held now, though nearly all photos on the Web site were taken sans-tripod until I saw the error of my ways around the middle of 2001. Since then I've taken the tripod everywhere. I use the outstanding Ultimate Ball Head from Acratech and quick-release plates from Really Right Stuff. The light weight of the carbon-fiber tripod and the Acratech head make up a nice system for hiking.

All of this fits into a Renaissance Photo Tech P3 backpack. With the tripod this kit weighs over 30 pounds. Sadly, Bruce retired and closed RPT (and photobackpacker.com) in 2014; these wonderful backpacks are no more.

I have some custom-made panorama gear. My dad was a retired machinist, and maintained an impressive shop in his home. We collaborated over the years on a number of designs, mainly for tooling and assembly fixtures, for various employers. In this case, I sent sketches of what I wanted, he did the design work, and then turned his drawings into the metal parts needed for the pano rig I wanted. It allows adjusting the camera postion over the tripod head's panning base so the entrance pupil (often called the nodal point) of the lens is over the panning axis. Under all of this is the excellent Acratech Ultimate Level Base, the most compact and lightest weight leveling base I've found.

I also have a Manfrotto 3021B Pro tripod, but since getting the lighter and stiffer Gitzo, the older tripod with a pan/tilt head is used mainly with our spotting scope.

My long-retired film camera body was an EOS A2e, purchased in 1998 prior to a trip to Alaska's Denali and Glacier Bay National Parks. See my EOS Control Dial Repair site for an interesting story about this camera.

This site has a number of photos taken before I bought the A2e. Nearly all of these images are scenics or macros. These were taken with Topcon Super-D and RE-2 bodies and an assortment of third-party lenses. Extension tubes or bellows were used for some of the macro photographs. The maker of Topcon cameras and lenses no longer does that, concentrating instead on equipment for ophthalmologists, but the brand was quite popular in the 1960s and '70s. You'll find several Web sites devoted to collecting, history, and use of Topcon equipment.

We still have slides not yet processed for printing or display on this site (more information below). Slides are viewed, sorted, and inspected on an Apollo light box with a Pentax 5.5 power loupe.

As mentioned above, I no longer shoot film, but for many years I used Fujichrome Provia F 100. I also used Fuji's Velvia (ISO 50), but it was often too slow for use with my lenses, especially for wildlife photography. It was frequently fine for landscapes, and the color saturation is wonderful for most nature photography. I used Kodak E-200 but found it to be grainy and contrasty, especially when pushed a stop. You can see evidence of this in some of the photos from Svalbard, Norway and those in the Polar Bear gallery. I also used E-100VS but didn't cared for the overall color cast, especially in scenes with a lot of green.

I occasionally used Fuji's Provia 400. The speed was terrific, and under some lighting conditions it worked very well. It could get a little grainy, especially in clear skies, under some conditions.

Older images from the Topcon days were generally shot with Kodachrome 25 or 64 or with Ektachrome 160 or 200.

Digital Processing

Although we no longer shoot film, we have many slides yet to be reviewed and scanned for the Web site and for printing. 35mm slides are scanned with the excellent Nikon Coolscan V-ED scanner. Previously I used a Hewlett Packard "PhotoSmart" S20 scanner, a surprisingly flexible low-end film scanner. The HP's scans were more than adequate for the small files on our site, but would fall short when making prints much larger than 8 x 10 inches. Scans from the 4000 dpi Nikon result in files over 100 megabytes in size. This is overkill for anything displayed on the Web, but I usually use this resolution and then resample as necessary to reduce the image sizes as required by my page designs.

As described in our December, 2016 article, we've purchased an Epson Perfection V850 Pro flatbed scanner. This provides high-resolution scans of reflective (print) media, and also for transparencies larger than 35mm negatives and slides. Nikon no longer manufactures slide scanners; they offer no Mac-compatible driver for them. We use SilverFast Ai Studio software from LaserSoft to make scans with both the Nikon V-ED and the Epson V850. The scanners have been profiled, giving us a color-managed workflow from scan to print.

Adobe Photoshop (latest version) is used for image editing. Most images receive some processing and sharpening to make them look as much like my original vision of the scene as possible, at least on my calibrated monitors. They may look different on your monitor, as relatively few are calibrated for proper color, brightness, and contrast. I will also crop images to improve composition or better display the subject. This sometimes results in enlargement as well. I use a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium drawing tablet ("digitizer") when editing files.

Processing is done on a Mac Mini (2018), six-core Intel Core i7 with 32 gigabytes of RAM, plenty of external storage, and dual monitors. The computer is tiny, quiet, and very fast compared to the machine it replaced. See our article “Waiting For Apple” which describes the decision to replace the old Mac Pro with the Mini. Given the size of files produced by the 5D Mk IV and the scanners, and those created for producing large prints, this level of computer performance is more than adequate. An NEC MultiSync PA272W-BK-SV (27-inch LCD) is the primary monitor. This is calibrated with NEC's SpectraViewII software and the X-rite colorimeter (i1Display) included with the monitor. A Dell UltraSharp 2007FP (20.1" LCD) is the secondary monitor; it's calibrated using DisplayCAL and the previously-mentioned X-rite colorimeter.

The Mac is networked to shared storage for backups, a MacBook Pro 15-inch laptop, and to a monochrome laser printer. The large-format color printer (see below) is also on the network. The network is held together by a Netgear Wireless Router/Firewall and an SMC 16-port gigabit switch.

Backup and archiving are done over the network to a 4-bay QNAP NAS (Network Attached Storage) with six terabytes of RAID1 storage. The NAS and the networking gear are powered through a Belkin 1500VA UPS. The RAID is backed up to hard drives via a USB 3 dock, allowing the backup drives to be stored off-site.


In May, 2021, after nearly a decade of service, our Epson Stylus Pro 7900 printer reached the end of its life. We've begun what may be a long process of researching replacement machines. Until we have a new printer installed and have surmounted its learning curve, we are not offering fine art prints for sale.


Nearly all of this site's art, including the page-top banners, word marks, logos, icons, and other graphic elements were created with Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. These two packages make a nice set-up for such work, although Illustrator is certainly overkill for what I need to do. As the version we have is for the Windows OS, we no longer use it. As mentioned above, all image processing is done with Adobe Photoshop.

All pages on the current site are hand-coded using any of several HTML-aware text editors. Our current site design is XHTML "strict" compliant. Older pages remaining from the our earlier design very likely comply with nothing, and the site isn't fluid or mobile friendly. We've lots to do before even thinking about rebuilding the site.

I favor open-source software and use it whenever it offers good alternatives to commercial apps. Some excellent examples are LibreOffice (office 'suite') and FileZilla FTP client. Naturally I also use a number of commercial apps, along with some free- and share-ware.

Manufacturers' Links

Here are links to the Web sites of some of the manufacturers mentioned. These sites are maintained by their respective companies. We are not responsible for their availability, operation, or content, but if you find a broken link here please let us know!

- Acratech (ball head and leveling base)
- Canon EOS cameras and lenses
- Epson large-format printers
- Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner
- Gitzo and Manfrotto tripods
- Really Right Stuff
- Schneider/B&W filters

- APC backup power
- Apple Macintosh
- Hewlett-Packard
- NEC PA272W-BK-SV monitor
- Netgear networking equipment
- Nikon USA
- QNAP network storage appliances

- Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator)
- DisplayCAL open-source calibration application
- BBEdit HTML/text editor
- FileZilla ftp client
- LibreOffice ("office" suite)
- SilverFast scanning application