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Choosing a Scanner Category > Advanced Models - Pg. 64

Choosing a Scanner 64 In this category, you'll find a large number of scanners from vendors you might never have heard of, as well as "house" brand scanners offered by retailers who put their own label on a generic scanner from some unknown vendor. In truth, most of these low-end scanners are made by a few electronics companies in the Far East and marketed here under the names of a variety of importers. You might have trouble getting your scanner repaired, because the importer might have gone out of business or changed its name. But at these prices, scanners are virtually disposable anyway, so repair is probably not a huge concern. You might be able to scan transparencies with one of these using a do-it-yourself lighting arrange- ment like the one described in Chapter 8, but the quality is likely to be so bad that it's not worth the effort. Anyone who wants to scan film should avoid this category of scanner. If you do mostly film scanning and seldom need to scan reflection artwork, a scanner point-and-shoot model might be acceptable as a very low-cost accessory. Intermediate Scanners In the $100 to $300 (and up) price range, you'll find intermediate scanners, which includes both better flatbed scanners and the lowest priced true film scanners. These models are aimed at the average consumer and more serious workers who are on a strict budget. The least expensive in this category are flatbeds that scan reflective art only; at the upper end of the price range, you'll find flatbeds that can scan transparencies as well as the simplest dedicated film scanners. The good news is that many of these scanners come from well-known companies, such as Epson, Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Microtek, Minolta, and others. The claimed specifications for resolution and dynamic range will be as close to truthful as you can expect, and technical support and repair is usually not a problem. Dedicated film scanners in this category are likely to accept 35mm film only. Flatbeds may scan 35mm to 2 1/4-inch wide film, plus reflective art up to 8.5×12 inches. You probably won't find ad- vanced features like Digital ICE (discussed later in this chapter) at this price level. The intermediate category includes some well-made CIS-based scanners as well as scanners that use CCD sensors. You'll find that the quality of images captured by scanners from major vendors are comparable, regardless of the type of sensor. However, it's still a good idea to check whether your retailer will let you make some test scans of your own originals to see whether the scanner does the job you expect. Intermediate scanners are a good choice for those who want high-quality scans of photos and transparencies from their flatbed models, but don't need the absolute best performance and quality. A flatbed in this category also makes a good accessory and backup for a dedicated film scanner. Purchasing one of these in addition to a film scanner gives you the capability of making scans of reflective art, plus an emergency scanner for your film. Advanced Models Serious graphics workers, professional photographers, and others are the key buyers of flatbed and film scanners priced at $400 to $2000 and more. In this category, you'll find flatbed scanners that do a decent job with film in sizes ranging from 35mm to as large as 4×5 to 5×7 inches. Dedicated film scanners in this group boast 4000 spi resolution, or better, and might accept film up to 2 1/4 inches wide (or more, at the high end). When you pay this much for a scanner for film, you can expect to get excellent image quality, automated features (such as the ability to scan batches of slides and film frames), and sophisticated correction tools such as Digital ICE. Look for precision autofocus (with user-selectable focus areas), infrared channels to help clean away dust, and a broad range of accessories for specialized scan- ning needs. The bundled software will be more sophisticated, too. If you're lucky, you'll receive a fully featured scanning software suite like SilverFast Ai.