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Epson 1600 scanner - First Impressions

Hi All - I received my Epson 1600 scanner this morning (pro model with trans
adapter, but not FireWire).  Connection to a PC was quick and easy via USB
cable and quick software installation.  The Epson scanning software is not
overly featured, but is adequate.  The scanner itself is heavy and appears
well made, unlike the 1200U which is very light weight and mostly plastic.
The film holders lay on the glass bed and hold the film up off the glass by
a couple of mm., so newton rings will not be a problem. The software knows
to shift focus a bit when transp. adapter is in use.  Now, how are the
scans? First a bit of background to establish credibility.  In the photo lab
where I work, we have 2 Agfa Duoscans, and an Imacon Flextite Precision II
scanner.  The Imacon is a $15,000 unit with quality approaching drum
scanners.  I first scanned two 4x5" Ektachrome transparencies using one of
the Agfa scanners at 800 ppi (which is our usual resolution for 300 dpi
Sienna prints).  Curves were used in the Agfa software to adjust density and
overall color before the actual scans.  After saving these images, I
rebooted with the Epson 1600 connected and scanned the same two transp.
again at 800 ppi. with curve adjustments in the Epson software.  There was
no unsharp masking used with either scanner.  The results - scans from the
Epson were noticeably sharper, with better information in the shadows than
the Agfa scans.  I've had many, many hours of experience with the Agfa
Duoscans, and about 5 minutes with the Epson, so I was immediatly impressed,
as was another technician who works with me. At my place of work, we scan
lots of wood furniture transp., often walnut or dark mahogony finish in
moody lighting - these are very challenging for any scanner.  I picked
another transparency with lots of dark wood in semi-shadow, scanned again at
800 ppi resulting in a very nice scan with good detail in the shadow area.
One more quick test - my 35mm scanner test slide containing very tiny print
from the stock report section of the Wall St. Journal.  I scanned first at
800 ppi, and then again at 1600 ppi to see if more detail would be captured.
The 1600 ppi scan did contain more detail in the form of more readable text
and more generally better definition of the font characters.   I cannot say
if the scanner is really operating at a true 1600 ppi, but I can say that
there was an improvement.  So my quick conclusion as of today - The Epson
1600 is a real winner in its price range.  The Agfa Duoscans were about
$2400 when they were purchased, and I think they still sell for about that.
The Epson at $1100 makes better scans even though the software is not as
full-featured as Agfa's.  I did not compare the Epson to the Imacon scanner
because it wouldn't be fair - they're not in the same league.  I've ordered
the Silverfast software at the bargain price of $99 and will try that on
Thursday when it's supposed to arrive.  Someone asked about the 1200U
scanner compared to the 1600, and I can only say that you get what you pay
for.  The 1200 is a very nice scanner in its price range, but not near as
good as the 1600.  Regards --- John.

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