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ATPM 7.01
January 2001


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Review: Kodak Photo CD, Picture CD, & Photo Net

by Jens Grabenstein,

We live in a digital age, and digital photography has become very popular. But maybe you own an analog camera and like taking pictures the old way. Or maybe you bought a new analog SRS camera because of the huge variety of zooms and macros. If you occasionally like to e-mail pictures to friends or share images over the Internet, you might consider a scanner; but a scanner eats up desktop space and may need additional software to enhance your pictures. If you simply want to “go digital” with your pictures now and then without getting too complicated, Kodak provides a few good alternatives.

• • •

Kodak Photo CD


Developer: Eastman Kodak Company

Price: starts at $25 per roll

Requirements: 68020-based Mac with System 7.0. Adobe Photoshop 3.0.x (for Acquire Plug-In).

Recommended: 68030-based Mac.

For a professional approach, try Kodak Photo CD. You send in your 35mm film images (negatives, slides, B&W, internegatives) to be scanned and transferred to an XA-formatted CD-ROM. The disc can be burned over several sessions, making it possible to add images until the CD is full.

A standard Photo CD can hold 100 pictures scanned from 35mm film; there’s space for four 24-exposure rolls. The pictures are stored in five resolutions. The highest resolution is 3072 x 2048; the lowest is 192 x 128. All resolutions are stored in one file. These five resolutions are called: Base/16 (192 x 128), Base/4 (384 x 256), Base (768 x 512, TV format), 4Base (1536 x 1024, HDTV format), and 16Base (3072 x 2048). The 4Base and 16Base images are compressed using Huffman encoding so no information is lost during compression.

The Photo CD mounts on your desktop like a normal CD-ROM. The pictures appear in five different folders (one for each resolution) even though there is actually only one Photo CD file on the CD containing all five resolutions. Or, you can use the Kodak Photo CD Acquire Module, a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. This software enables you to acquire images stored in Photo CD format and to perform basic functions like sharpening, cropping, zooming, and rotating the images. A preview window helps to select the picture you want. In the 16Base resolution, an image made with a standard 35mm film camera measures about 5 x 3.4 inches for a print resolution of 600 dpi.

The image quality, in general, is good. However, most pictures need retouching to remove dust or hairs and to crop the images, because the scanning process seems to be done quickly and because the edges and corners of images tend to fade.


When introduced in 1992, Kodak Photo CD was aimed not only at professional users, but also at the consumer market. The Photo CD format and the Photo CD were intended to revolutionize the photography sector the way the audio CD had changed the music market. Along with Photo CD, players were developed that could be used to watch your images on your TV set (as well as to play normal Audio CDs). The Photo CD stayed, but the players were replaced by desktop computers. The Photo CD format has been widely supported through alliances with Apple and Microsoft.

Neither the technology nor the software have changed much since then. Kodak seems to consider its own product outdated. The Acquire Module hasn’t been updated in the past five years, but the world of desktop publishing and personal computing has changed significantly. Scanners and CD recorders are very cheap today. Compared to the prices for a cheap scanner and CD recorder, a Photo CD is very expensive (starting at $25 per film roll), and it may take up to two weeks till you hold your Photo CD in your hands. Since it rarely happens (at least in my experience) that a roll of film contains only world-class pictures, it may be worthwhile to spend some money on a scanner if you need the high quality. The quality of scanners even in the $100 range is good enough to digitize even your best pictures.

Kodak Picture CD


Developer: Eastman Kodak Company

Price: $8.95 per roll

Requirements: PowerPC-based Mac with Mac OS 8.0, 20 MB of application RAM.

Recommended: G3-based Mac.

With the “everyday picture-taker” in mind, Kodak designed Kodak Picture CD. This service is only available from an original roll of 35mm or APS-film at the time of development. A Picture CD can hold 40 pictures, so there’s space for only one 36-exposure roll. Since this CD contains holds only a single ISO9660-session, no further pictures can be added. The pictures are scanned and burned onto a CD similar to a Photo CD; however, there’s only one resolution (4-base, 1536 x 1024-APS films are scanned at 1536 x 864 pixels).

The images are stored as JPEG files. Each CD ships with software to view, edit, and send your images. The Macintosh user interface is made with Macromedia’s Director software and is designed for the average computer user. The editing features are limited to basic functions like rotating and cropping images, and removing red eyes. The retouched images are stored on the startup disk in a folder called “Kodak Picture CD.” Every time you insert the same Picture CD, the folder is scanned and the edited images are shown together with the original pictures on the CD.


Users with Internet access can send their favorite pictures to their loved ones on the other side of the globe using the Picture CD software. The interface lets you select images and add text. However, you can’t control the resolution in which the images are sent. The pictures are sent in a regular e-mail attachment. The slideshow displays your pictures on the screen, but again, the resolution can’t be chosen manually and the pictures are shown only in the 768 x 512 format (on my 14-inch PowerBook display).


The wallpaper feature that lets you choose your favorite image as desktop picture is not available for Macintosh users, though the implementation seems to be in progress. The printing feature offers several templates to choose from and makes it easy to print several low-resolution images on one page.

Last but not least, you can use the software to export your images from the Picture CD to your hard disk. You can choose among different formats and JPEG compressions depending on the purpose (Internet, professional use, etc.). The overall look and feel of the software is very good. The application is easy to use and very intuitive. If you already have Internet access it’s never been easier to send your pictures over the Internet. However, in some cases, the program on the CD didn’t launch or kept crashing when looking for images on the CD.

Picture CD is aimed for occasional computer users, not power users. I must emphasize this. People who really want to work with their pictures and look for high quality scans should stay away from Kodak Picture CD. Some of the scanned pictures show a strong Moire effect, and images taken with 200 speed films look pixellated. The resolution of the images and the JPEG format limit the utility of the Picture CD for professionals and power users.

For those who don’t need the quality or simply want to share their pictures over the Internet, Picture CD is affordable and easy to use.


Kodak Photo Net


Developer: Eastman Kodak Company

Price: $5.95 per roll (+ $1 for downloading high resolution scans, 1536 x 1024)

Requirements: Internet-compatible PC and 4.0 Web browser.


For those who only want to share images and have no need for a CD, Kodak offers Kodak Photo Net. Your pictures are scanned in the same resolution as for Picture CD and stored on one of Kodak’s servers for 30 days. A personal account is created, and you can access your images via the Internet as soon as they are processed (AOL customers can access the Photo Net via AOL using the “You’ve got pictures” feature). You can order reprints, send your pictures via e-mail, and download them onto your hard disk. However, all pictures are shown in low resolution. If you want the high resolution scan, you have to pay $1 for each picture. This is a major disadvantage of Photo Net. If you really want to manipulate your pictures, but you don’t need the high resolution, Kodak Picture CD is the better choice.

• • •

All three of Kodak’s options have their drawbacks. If you don’t expect high quality scans, but you’re looking for an intuitive and easy-to-use solution to manipulate your pictures or share them over the Internet, Kodak Picture CD is the best solution for a good value. The image quality of Photo CD may be much better, but it comes at a price and it lacks the ease of use of Picture CD.

Reader Comments (35)

Aaron Christensen · January 15, 2001 - 01:01 EST #1
One thing about Picture CD--While it's true that you can only get one roll/40 pictures on a Picture CD if you send it to the Kodak processing labs (which is what happens when you take your film to Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, etc.), some local photolabs (like the one I work at) have this system in-store and are actually able to put up to three rolls or 120 pictures on one Picture CD. They can also scan individual negatives and prints that you bring in and put them on Picture CD, Picture Disk, or Photonet.

Another piece of advice: If you are ordering Photo CD, make sure you make this blatantly obvious to whomever is taking your order, no matter where you take your film. It is very easy to confuse Photo CD and Picture CD, especially when many people do not even know there is a difference.

Phil Lefebvre · May 18, 2001 - 15:21 EST #2
Regarding the quality of the Kodak Picture CD: You may want to shop around and find a better lab. I have been getting Picture CDs from my local Wolf Camera (who processes it in-house) for almost a year, and I have been uniformly pleased with the quality. I have never seen any pictures with visible digital artefacts, certainly nothing as bad as your examples. On my desk is a cropped, 5-fold blow up of a Picture CD file that I printed with my Epson Photo 750, and there is not one pixellated point on the whole print. I also feel that the color fidelity and depth is better than the prints Wolf makes for me from the same role. There's a digital camera review site that would strongly agree with me, comparing Picture CDs to the best 2-3 megapixel cameras. Cost-wise, at a place like Wolf, it is a free option for WolfPack members. It really a no-brainer deal compared to the cost of a digital camera, or the time/hassle of scanning prints.
Ron Voss · July 17, 2001 - 03:22 EST #3
I have no problem reading Photo CDs on my Mac PowerBook G3 FireWire CD/DVD running Mac OS 9.1, but I generally cannot read Picture CDs. I say generally because I found one (a Volume 3 Issue 1) which I could read, and it looks like it's from a single session. All the others may all be multi-session (meaning multiple rolls of film), and they're all Volume 4 Issue 1. Has anyone had any problems reading any Picture CDs on this PowerBook? Is the problem likely Volume 3 vs. Volume 4, or single vs. multi session? Thanks!
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · July 19, 2001 - 00:43 EST #4
Ron: I wonder exactly what do you mean when you say you "generally cannot read Picture CDs"? I, too, have a PowerBook G3 FireWire (Pismo) running OS 9.1. I've only had one set (7 discs) of Picture CDs made and that was several years ago. They read just fine on my computer (sort of ... more on that in a second). They are Volume 2, Issue 3 discs. Honestly, I never have (and still really don't have) any idea exactly what that means, but I can't believe older issues can be read on newer machines and newer issues cannot. Now, I said I could sort of read them. Since I use Photoshop and have little use for the on-disc software, I just go straight to the "PICTURES" directory and copy out the JPEG images I want. On the CD's root folder, there is an application called "STARTMAC" which is supposed to launch the editing application. Perhaps this is the problem you speak of. It wouldn't launch for me. It said it couldn't find the application "LAUNCH2." I found both "LAUNCH1" and "LAUNCH2" in the "PCD" directory. Both of them will successfully launch the application. I'm not sure what the difference is. I've been racking my brain to remember if my prior computer—a PowerBook 3400—would launch the application with the "STARTMAC" icon. *Sigh* I don't remember. But I do, indeed, remember that whichever icon I had to double-click, my 3400 also would run the application. I can't speak on whether the multi-session discs are causing the problem. Mine all only have one session. I turned them all in at Eckerd's and my understanding was that multi-session was simply not an option. I had these discs made prior to this article, so it was news to me to hear that they can theoretically have more images added. That makes sense if they really are ISO discs, assuming the "write disc" option wasn't used instead of "write session."
JJ Ingrassia · September 30, 2001 - 07:39 EST #5
What about OS X? It does not even mount these disks to the desktop or Finder. Is this resolved in V. 10.1? I prefer Photo CD--it's more versatile and certainly is a space saver. I'd love to be able to use this in OS X.
Ron Voss · October 1, 2001 - 17:41 EST #6
Lee, I see that I wasn't clear about the behavior. The Volume 3 Picture CD will mount on the Pismo, Volume 4 will not. Both mount just fine on our beige G3 tower. Pismo and tower both run 9.2.1 now. I'm guessing it's the actual drive in the Pismo that can't read the Volume 4 version.
Ray W. · March 11, 2002 - 23:29 EST #7
Has anyone developed a DVD or CD player that will display JPG photo format on a TV? If so I would like to know who makes this product.
Eric Blair (ATPM Staff) · March 15, 2002 - 12:34 EST #8
My cheapie (freebie) Apex DVD player plays JPEG CDs. The one I have is the AD-1100W. I don't know which other Apex models have this capability.
William Smokey Robinson · September 5, 2002 - 17:11 EST #9
I would like to know the procedure for sending pictures that are on my CD that is already on my hard drive. Every time I try to send pictures, the other party tells me that the pictures were not sent, or that they did not receive them. I'm have a terrible time trying to figure this out, Thanks for any info on this matter.

Smokey Robinson
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · September 5, 2002 - 17:47 EST #10
Smokey - the exact procedure will vary depending on what application you use for e-mail. In general, the procedure is:

  1. Start or switch to your e-mail application

  2. Create a new mail message

  3. Type in, or pull from your addressbook, the person you want to send the message to

  4. Provide any subject or body message you desire

  5. Click the button that says something to the effect of "Attach" or "Send File"

  6. Navigate your hard drive or an inserted CD to find the picture or file you wish to send, select that file, and click "OK," "Attach," or whatever button is presented

  7. Send the mail message as normal

Perhaps the software on your Picture CD has a utility to send a picture by e-mail. This utility generally assumes you have a regular SMTP e-mail client such as Outlook (Express), Eudora, MailSmith, etc. I see you provided a CompuServe address and the built-in e-mail application behaves differently. It is entirely likely that the Picture CD software's "Send picture by e-mail" function will not work with CompuServe. You'll have to attach it manually from within CompuServe, as I described above.
JJ Ingrassia · September 5, 2002 - 22:33 EST #11

What kind of setup do you have? Computer, e-mail, and what kind of CD are you using? With Mac OS X 10.2 and iPhoto, this is a snap. iPhoto is synced to Mail so you just select a picture and hit send then choose an address. iPhoto automatically imports from Picture CD and Photo CD. It will also import from "other" CDs, but not automatically.
William Barnard · November 14, 2002 - 10:51 EST #12
What do I need to show images I have burned to a CD on my TV? I want the ability to rotate, enlarge, and move around images. I have a device from Radio Shack that lets me show images from my Compact Flash cards, but these are so expensive. Thanks.
Rayallen · December 21, 2002 - 09:22 EST #13
Regarding DVD units that can play a CD with JPEG files, there's the Mintek 1600. $60 at Best Buy!

It can also play MPEG files and has a unique shuffle feature that can access images randomly vs. sequential order.
Shelly Webb · March 7, 2003 - 20:44 EST #14
I would like to purchase a good negative scanner to scan old black and white 220 negatives, and 126 and 35mm color negatives. I want a recommendation for a brand that has good enough quality so that I would be able to enlarge the picture to an 8x10 size if I want. I would most likely store the images in a TIF file. Even though I am not a professional, I would like to get as professional quality as I can afford. Maybe someone could give me a good, better, and best recommendation. For the future, I think that I will just purchase a good digital camera; then, as I understand, that is my negative right there, already scanned, so to speak. I have thousands of old negatives, so I don't think I could afford to pay someone to scan them for me.

P. Mac Millan · April 1, 2003 - 19:34 EST #15
To my inexperienced computer mind, the Kodak Picture CD is a source of endless frustration! Kodak supplies numerous adjustment buttons to get the best results from this ingenious device, but gives no guidance to the uninitiated as to what sequence they should be pressed! Mine is a volume 5 issue 2 model and I cant find any useful information on the Internet, either. HELP!!
anonymous · September 14, 2003 - 10:39 EST #16
Does anyone know how to e-mail pictures from a Walgreens Picture CD? If anyone knows, please keep me posted and send the info to me. I would greatly appreciate all your information about it. Thanks to anyone who responds.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 28, 2003 - 20:12 EST #17
Please consult my September 5, 2002, post (above) for general instructions for attaching a photo to e-mail. As for where to find them on a Picture CD (by the way, you're probably meaning to say a Kodak Picture CD, not Walgreens—Walgreens may have had the CD made for you, but Picture CDs are Kodak), scroll up further and find my July 19, 2001, post.
Joseph H. Bisher · November 28, 2003 - 00:23 EST #18
I recently started using the CDs. When I send a picture via e-mail, for some reason I cannot center the picture. Consequently, the person receiving the picture and printing it does not have the complete image. Objects are cut off. Please advise.
Dennis M · March 11, 2004 - 15:32 EST #19
I have an older (Mac 6500) with a 9.0 OS , a Yahama crw /4416 crw burner and a Lexmark x83
scanner. I have no problem scanning and burning
my photo album pics,(using ISO 9660 format) and
viewing them on my computers' screen. But what I want to do is veiw them on my TV screen using my Apex AD-1225 CD player. The rep from Apex tells me that I must change the images to jpeg. Can anyone tell me how to do that?
Thanks, Dennis
wendy funnell · March 19, 2004 - 16:57 EST #20
I need some basic help. when I feed in the Kodak Picture CD the cmputer will not read it in full colour - largely black and white with some splashes of a dominant colour. then the notice comes up 'this program has performed an illegal operation' and the system freezes. any sugggestions?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · March 19, 2004 - 17:13 EST #21
Wendy - try not using the software that comes with the Picture CD. It's pretty flaky. Just go straight to the folder that contains all the JPEG pictures and open them in an image editor of your choosing.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · April 6, 2004 - 14:48 EST #22
Dennis - without having seen the particular Apex device you're using, suggesting that you get the manual and follow its instructions to play back pictures is the only reasonable advice we have. Are you specifically aware of a feature in this player that supposedly shows still pictures?

As to saving JPEG files, I think we can be more helpful. The software you use to control the scanner should have a setting to define what file type will be saved. Perhaps it's defaulting to TIFFs. TIFF files are better in the sense that they are not compressed and don't degrade a little every time you save them, but they are huge files. The 1MB high quality JPEG files in my digital camera end up as 9MB files when I convert them to uncompressed TIFFs.

When you go to scan a picture, at the point where it asks you the file name you want to save the scan to, look around for a file format selection, and choose JPEG along with the quality level you want (more compression and more degraded image, or less compression and higher quality image).
david gedalecia · November 26, 2004 - 21:40 EST #23
I have two konica photo cds and have tried to select some from each, renumber and reorder them, and burn the combined jpegs to a CD-RW. When I do that, they appear on the burned cd all jumbled up. Instead of the new numbering I gave them, they preserve the old numberings from the two cds, which sometimes conflict, and the order I created is destroyed. What can I do? And can I add some sort of "autorun" function so that the combined jpegs will play in sequence on a DVD player?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · November 26, 2004 - 22:12 EST #24
David - this may be difficult to troubleshoot without seeing what you're doing. Here are the steps I'd follow to do what you're attempting. Let us know if it matches what you did or if it's something different that you need to try:

1) Make a new, empty folder on your computer hard drive somewhere.

2) Copy all the photos (or just the ones you want to use) from the CD to that folder.

3) Start renaming the files.

4) Copy all (or some) of the photos from the second CD to the same folder.

5) Finish renaming the files.

6) Launch your favorite CD-burning application.

7) Add all the photos from that folder into the to-be-burned list and start burning the CD.

That should you. If you follow(ed) these steps exactly and the same problem appears, then your OS has bigger problems, I'd guess.

As for the "autorun" function and playing on a DVD player, that's an entirely different matter. These steps will burn the JPEGs to a data CD, not a standard video DVD. Now then, if your DVD player has the feature of being able to play a slideshow of pictures from a computer/data CD, then any auto-run activity would be a function of your player, not something to do to the CD.
george mathisen · December 23, 2004 - 17:53 EST #25
When I burn the picture cd to a CDR, the CDR will not let me open any of the pictures. Please help.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 23, 2004 - 18:49 EST #26
George - it'll be difficult to assist without more information from you. Exactly what steps are you doing to burn the CD-R? Then, exactly what happens when you attempt to look at pictures on the CD?
juju · March 29, 2005 - 15:21 EST #27
i have pictured burnned on a cd-r and i find it somewhat taxing to veiw these, can you help me? do i need photoshop?
ATPM Staff · March 29, 2005 - 23:22 EST #28
Juju - are you saying it's slow accessing the images on your computer? If so, the only help would either be to buy a faster CD-ROM reader, or temporarily copy the images to your hard drive.

But if you're saying you don't like opening each individual image, you need an indexer. Apple's iPhoto is nice, but I don't like indexers that build their own thumbnail database. I use iView, but I still have the free bundle that used to ship with Roxio Toast (no more). iView isn't free. Try searching for things like 'photo catalog' on and
jigs · January 20, 2006 - 17:11 EST #29
Is there a reason why my DVD player would read the JPEG impages from one of my Kodak PictureCDs but not the other? It seems like the DVD automatically goes to a test folder rather than the folder that has the pictures. I can see the pictures from both CDs on my computer.
ATPM Staff · January 20, 2006 - 22:16 EST #30
Jigs - check the version number printed on the CD. Maybe the one that doesn't work is an older one and maybe Kodak did something to make newer ones more compatible with DVD players. Can't say this is what has happened for certain, but it's a speculation.
lee gray · April 29, 2006 - 12:13 EST #31
I am desperately trying to locate a copy of the Kodak software CD with the "Pictures Now" program on it. I had one a number of years ago. I recently bought a new computer and wanted to load in this program but could not find the CD. Haven't a clue what happened to it but would apprecaiate help.

Please help me as for me to learn a new way at age 74 is most difficult to say the least.

Thank you

Marla Herzog · May 6, 2006 - 23:25 EST #32
When I try to e-mail my pictures, even when I am on the internet, it says I do not have an internet connection?? Please earlier Kodac Picture CD's were very easy and I did not have this problem. Please advise. Thanks
ATPM Staff · May 6, 2006 - 23:37 EST #33
Marla - you should probably contact Kodak support for assistance.
Michael Samaras · January 11, 2010 - 10:22 EST #34
The Kodak Picture CD's quality is sooo poor it's an embarrassment to Kodak.

The CD I just received on my trip to Egypt was extremely pixelated, washed out, and an insult to my picture taking fun.

Looking at the pictures you can see it's a complete breakdown in proper photo technology practices.
Graham C. · November 24, 2010 - 20:16 EST #35
I have eMac OSX 10.4 11. picture cd's wont open, they just eject with no message. They play{open} on a windows system, and also play on my home dvd player. Kodak chat says they should open on my computer.{YA Think??}. Can anyone help me?i have to give them back{16} to my ex soon.

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