Scanners and scanning

A scanner review by C

It was raining the other afternoon and being at a bit of a loose end, I started looking through some of my old negatives and in doing so I found some interesting images I had almost forgotten about,  deciding to make some scans of them, I had an idea. How about an article comparing scanners? So here it is!

We are in the privileged position of having access to a variety of dedicated film scanners and flatbed dual purpose scanners.

The aim of the test was to compare the reproduction quality of each device, in this test we have chosen 3 scanners:  2 film scanners, Nikon LS40 ED, Plustek OpticFilm 7600i and an Epson Perfection V550 Photo, a flatbed dual purpose scanner.

Specifications

                                                          Nikon LS40 ED            Plustek 7600i                  Epson V550

Maximum scan resolution          2900 dpi                     7200 dpi                           6400 dpi
Colour depth                              36 bit colour                48 bit colour                     48 bit colour
Dynamic range                                 3.6                                3.5                                     3.4
Light source                                LED array                     White LED                         LED
Lens                                            7 elements                   No information                 No information

To make thing fair, the same scanning software (Vue Scan) was used with all three scanners, this software is unique in that one version works with a huge variety of scanners, whereas manufacturers supply scanner specific software.

The scans were all produced at 2400 dpi, 24bit colour depth, light blemish removal light grain reduction and colour balance set to neutral.

Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikon LS40 ED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plustek OpticFilm 7600i

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epson V550

Sharpness: The Nikon scanner comes out best by a fraction over the Plustek, with the Epson looking a little soft overall.
Colour range: Again, the Nikon scanner is ahead, despite having a lower colour depth, the Epson looks dull by comparison.
Colour accuracy: There is no clear winner here, none of the scanners produced a neutral grey sky, the Epson however was bottom with an overall blue cast.

Conclusions

In theory, at maximum scanning resolution the Plustek should be capable of producing the largest usable image, followed by the Epson and last of all the Nikon, but in practice this is not  the case. It  has cited on several websites, that the effective resolution of the Plustek scanner is nearer to 3600 dpi, this would put the Epson at the top, but the disappointing lack of sharpness could work against it.

All the scanners produced a useable image, within limits, however, none produced a 100% accurate image with a neutral setting in the software, this can  be adjusted in the scanning stage or afterwards with image editing software, sharpening, again can be applied at the scanning stage, however the Epson will still be that bit behind.

 

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