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Thread: Flatbed scanner recommendation

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    Nothing runs like a Deere cotswoldcs's Avatar
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    Flatbed scanner recommendation

    My father is a semi-retired, semi-professional photographer and has gone digital since 2003. However, he has over 20,000 prints (mainly 5" x 7.5") in albums which he now wants to digitise. He is looking for a good quality flatbed scanner that has the option of also scanning some negatives. He might consider a dedicated film scanner in time but scanning negatives would be immensely time consuming for him.

    Last time I looked at flatbed scanners Epson was the best choice with Canon producing some excellent products but mainly targeted at the home user. However, like everything in IT I expect a lot has changed since I last looked. Any recommendations? Budget wise I'm thinking £300 (ish) but cost is less of a consideration.

    Also how best does he deal with photographs taken from an album where self-adhesive photo mounts were used. Getting them off is easy enough with a sharp knife but then the reverse of the photo is all sticky. Any practical suggestions would be appreciated.

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    Re: Flatbed scanner recommendation

    clean sticky tabs with lighter fluid..

    scanner wise, Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner

    the V500 is the next step up from the 4490 (which i have)
    scanned these slides from the '60's







    i was able to batch scan them - the scanner takes upto a medium format tranny

    i was just asked to scan the pics in, so i've not dust busted or taken out any scratches..

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    Nothing runs like a Deere cotswoldcs's Avatar
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    Re: Flatbed scanner recommendation

    Thanks for your response Bobster.

    The v500 looks an excellent product. The next step up appears to be the v700 which is quite expensive. If the v500 is suitable for a professional then it looks excellent value. I've seen it on eBuyer for £175.13 but will have to scour the net to see if it can be had for any less.

    Is it worth getting the optional document feeder? Do you have it and if so how does it work?

    What quality (dpi) would you scan a 5" x7.5" photo or a 35mm negative at? Would you save files as TIFF or JPEG?

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    Re: Flatbed scanner recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by cotswoldcs View Post
    .....

    The v500 looks an excellent product. The next step up appears to be the v700 which is quite expensive. If the v500 is suitable for a professional then it looks excellent value. I've seen it on eBuyer for £175.13 but will have to scour the net to see if it can be had for any less.
    I saw a detailed comparison, some time back, between scans done on the 700/750, and professional high-end scans (done on about £20,000 of drum scanner), and the results (according to that review) were so close as to be all but indistinguishable. And if I remember rightly, the 700 and 750 are both capable of taking a fluid mount, enabling images to be wet-mounted on the scanner ensuring (if done right) an absolutely flat surface to scan.

    Quote Originally Posted by cotswoldcs View Post
    .....

    What quality (dpi) would you scan a 5" x7.5" photo or a 35mm negative at? Would you save files as TIFF or JPEG?
    It depends what you want to do with them.

    JPEG is a "lossy" format, so ideally, you only use that at the last stage of production, and depending on use, perhaps not even then. If you save as JPEG, then come back and do some more editing and save again, you lose more quality. Quality degrades every time you do that. So you're better off saving in a non-lossy format like TIFF, and doing any editing that's necessary before deciding on a final format for saving. Then, is the space saved by saving to JPEG worth the fact that you'll lose some quality when you do - thereby limiting further work?

    Personally, I scan at the highest quality I think I'm ever likely to need, do any basic edits (like trimming) etc, and save that as a "source" file. I then do whatever adjustments I need for the current project and save that, too .... lossless. That's because my work volume isn't huge, and with the cost of space on DVD-R (or often DVD-RAM too in my case) being what it is, it isn't an issue saving the space that JPEG implies. But I tend to use PSD personally. Habit, I guess.

    As for the resolution to scan at, what are the images used for? If you're going to use them on a website, it'll be fairly low. If you're going to print, it'll depend on the resolution of the output device, and if you're scanning an archive, well, as I said before, scan at the highest resolution that you can, limited only by the resultant file size and your storage requirements.

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    Re: Flatbed scanner recommendation

    Thanks for your comments.

    Having spoken again with my father I think the V500 looks excellent, although he would be willing to pay the extra for the v700 if it were worth the extra money. Scanning 10-20,000 photos will take a massive amount of time (after all it is 45 years worth of photography!) so when you factor in the time element, an extra £170+ on the scanner isn't a lot.

    I understand what you are saying about saving as TIFF, although I am concerned about the amount of space 10,000+ files will take up!!! He has been digital for 3 years now and has 78,000 digital files on his PC already! I imagine that he will adjust each photo individually at the time of scanning and then save. Due to the number to be done I can't imagine him going back to adjust them a second time!

    He will want to take prints from the files. Will 600dpi be good enough quality for this? However, he also wants to make use of technology (digital photo frames, web albums & a HTPC & 37" HD TV to view photos. Obviously the quality wants to be excellent as you never know what might be around the corner in years to come.

    Thanks for reading - I'll come back with more questions in time.

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    Re: Flatbed scanner recommendation

    Well, with that kind of volume of work, I think I'd be inclined to scan at high resolution and just save. I'd then edit only when I needed the edited photo.

    Another option for storage is to use hard disks. An extra LARGE hard disk inside the machine for primary storage, and then probably a NAS (Network Addressable Storage) box, something like the Qnap 109 Pro, externally, connected via network. Alternatively, a USB2 or e-SATA disk would do the job if he doesn't already have a network. You can then use some kind of backup software to keep a copy of all the files on the hard disk, and if you (he, I mean) use a master backup and then a daily or weekly differential, the regular backup process should be fairly fast and easy because he'll only be backing up the new or changed files.

    As for resolution, you really need to work backwards from what the output device needs, and take into account any image resizing and/or cropping you want to do. That tells you the resolution to scan at.

    For instance, suppose the optimum output resolution of your colour inkjet is 200 dpi (*see note below). If you have a 7.5" x 5" photo and want to reprint at that size, scan at 200 dpi. If, however, you want to reprint at 15" x 10", scan at 400 dpi. If you scan at 200 dpi, and then print double the size, the output will be at half the resolution.

    I can give you a link to a much more detailed explanation of what this is all about if you want, but that's the basic logic.



    * Note : When I talk about optimal printer resolution I am not, repeat NOT talking about what the manufacturer quotes as "resolution", such as 1440, 2880, 1200 dpi etc.

    On an inkjet, each "pixel" comprises a matrix of little colour dots. The manufacturers of inkjets will not tell you exactly how that matrix is made up (it's commercially sensitive quite how they do it, and it's a very complex algorithm anyway). It's just enough to know that when you actually print in cyan, yellow and magenta inks, with sufficiently small dots, the human eye sees a much wider range of colours than that, despite the fact the the only colours actually printed are cyan, magenta and yellow. When a manufacturer talks about 2880 dpi, they're talking about a grid within which the fire little droplets of ink, but not about the relationship between that grid and pixels. The 2880 is, really, pure marketing hype ... tech-speak.

    However, there will be an image resolution, such as 200 to 300 dpi, beyond which you won't get any visible increase in print quality if you go above it. Precisely where that optimum point is has been the subject of pretty intense speculation and debate, and differing opinions, for years. But typically, even the most demanding of judges will tell you it's no higher than 300 dpi. Many will say 200dpi. -ish.

    And, the precise point will vary according to a stochastic dithering algorithm the printer uses to lay down those ink droplets, and that will certainly be different (though in practice, not by much) from manufacturer to manufacturer, and quite possibly from printer model to printer model.

    And, if you use a printer with a technology other than inkjet, the resolution may be fixed and known. I have a dye-sub printer, for instance, with a 312 dpi resolution, but an Epson A3 inkjet with an (optimal) resolution that's unknown, but seems to be about 200 dpi.

    So ..... what I'd suggest is that your father does a test print at 300 dpi, one at 250, one at 200, one at 180 .... and compare them. That'll give him a fair guide at to the resolution that he's satisfied gives him the output quality he's after. Then use that as the intended result, and allowing for any cropping and/or enlarging, work out the scan resolution from that.

    That's why I said I scan high and archive at high resolution. Unless you KNOW, in advance, what you're going to be using the print for, it's safer to scan high and reduce image resolution later, if you don't need it, because if you scan too low you either have to rescan or accept a reduction in quality if it later turns out not to have been high enough.

    To put that another way .... there isn't such a thing as a perfect scanning resolution. There just isn't. It all depends on what you're going to do with the image, and if you don't know in advance, you've got to either scan high or risk making a compromise with the image.

    Oh, and you asked about sheet-feeders. Personally, I won't use one for photos, or for any sensitive or delicate original. I do have an ADF on one of my scanners, but it was bought specifically for office-type scanning, and specifically for the ADF. Others may disagree, but personally, I'm not letting an ADF anywhere near original photos. They consist of rollers, and you risk damaging the surface of the photo, in my opinion, if you use them. Sure, they'll save time , but at what potential risk?

    Autofeeders on mounted slides, or film (whether tranny or reversal) if it's in a holder ....? That's different. But on prints (or unmounted film)? Not me, thanks. Suppose you get a bit of grit on a roller? Suppose the rollers malfunction? Not worth the risk, IMHO. But it's your Dad's call - maybe the risk is justified by the time saved?

    Oh, and most decent flatbeds will scan multiple source images at a time. If you can get three (or whatever) 7.5" x 5" prints on the flatbed, you can then select each, multiscan, and end up with three files.

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    Re: Flatbed scanner recommendation

    Also, when looking at scanner specs, don't just look at resolution. The optical density is arguably just as important, because high resolution is fairly easy to achieve (and commonplace). But a high optical density speaks to detail in highlights and especially shadows. And that can be the difference between a decent photo and a stunning one. Does he want to risk losing the detail in his originals because a scanner can't tell the difference?

    I'm not knocking the V500, by the way. I've not used it. I'm talking about general principles. But you do tend to get what you pay for. It's just a case of the fact that the marginal improvement you get, each time you go up a grade in quality, gets smaller and the cost of it gets larger. There comes a point where the level of improvement doesn't justify the cost. Exactly where that point is probably depends on what the images will be used for. A scanner to archive a personal snapshot library will probably be less demanding than an enthusiast preparing images for photo competitions, which will be less demanding than a pro selling "corporate artwork" at poster size at several grand a pop.

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    Re: Flatbed scanner recommendation

    u should also ask your dad to go through the photos again and pick the definate keepers, i'm sure there are some that just don't cut the grade now.. this will help bring the amount of photos that need scanning down..

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    Re: Flatbed scanner recommendation

    nice thread I've been eyeing up the epson 4490-ish region of flatbed scanners for some time, meaning to archive old photos. Good to see some scans in. Some useful stuff on persuading the uninitiated that the digital version will actually be quite good!

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