A few scanning tips


HP PrecisionScan

This section is a look at the PrecisionScan 2.0 software with the HP 5200 scanner. The "Business Series" PrecisionScan software is also very automated like the 4200 PrecisionScan LT, but it has more options for scanning documents than does LT. HP says of the 5200: "Scan an entire page and capture everything on it - images, text, and color or black-and-white line drawings - by simply pressing a button."

OCR is a dominant feature in PrecisionScan, it actually reminds one of OCR software. Photos are certainly scanned too, and if you place photos on the bed, it reacts accordingly. Adobe PhotoDeluxe Business Edition is included too.

There is a button on the front of the scanner, push it and the PrecisionScan startup screen appears. Or you can start PrecisionScan as a regular program from the Windows Start button. Or you can use the FILE - ACQUIRE menu in image programs to start PrecisionScan.

This screen applies only to the 5200. Other models are different.

On this initial screen, you select a destination for the image, typically a program or a file. Most of your image and text and fax programs will be there. If not, you can always output the image to a disk file or the clipboard. All the usual image file formats are offered, plus text, RTF and HTML, and also Flashpix, Windows Metafile .wmf (vector), and Adobe PDF.

The Settings menu allows you to specify that the output page image will be the original size (for photos for example), or scaled to fill a specified size (letter, legal, A4 or B5), or scaled to a given percentage of the original size.   The resolution is automatically set appropriately for the destination and mode that you select, for example, for OCR or fax. The Settings menu also allows you to change the default resolution in most cases.

The Settings Preferences can choose 256 color mode for photos (which it calls "normal", but thankfully is not default, and in my opinion, you would not often want to limit photos to 256 colors). Preferences can configure the front panel button to send the image directly to a specified program, and you never see PrecisionScan at all. The selection interface is much like OCR software, but you can turn off automatic detection of regions, and retention of original page formatting.

This software previews the entire scanner bed, and automatically determines what type(s) of image is present and how to best optimize each part of the page individually (text, B&W drawing, color photo, etc) for the specified destination. If you do NOT select the "Select parts of page, or View page first" choice, the Scan button scans the entire page, determines what is there, and optimizes it and sends it to the selected destination. It does this using the default regions described next below.

If you do select that "View page first" choice, and hit the SCAN button, after a preview scan and some processing, you see a preview scan of the full page. A magazine page is shown here (Australian Digital Camera, number 7).

Each unique area of the page will be recognized and marked with a blue border, as shown (the border is visible only on that screen, and not in the image). These blue boxes are called "regions", and these regions are where the action is. Using the mouse, you can add and remove regions, or move or resize them, as the way to specify what page area is transferred to the destination. Some regions may be text, and some may be drawings or photos, either B&W or color. This mode is the "region type" and is automatically determined by the analyzing software, but you have complete control to override the regions.

As you move the mouse over each region, the cursor shape indicates the type that was detected (below).

You can select a region by clicking on it, and the blue border changes to a black border, meaning you can then change it. Click that black region with the RIGHT (second) mouse button and you get the dropdown menu shown in the first image above. This menu can remove it or change its type.

If scanning a single photograph, there will be only one region, and if only one region, the Settings Menu Size will show the image size (if multiple regions, it shows page size). If there is text present, OCR will be done if the destination can accept it, like a word processor. Otherwise, text will be an image if sent to a photo program. You can always remove multiple regions and create one overall region to be the size and type you want.

There are no user adjustments for image contrast and color balance, this is all done automatically by PrecisionScan. You can disable automatic sharpening globally, but there is no other adjustment. There are very few controls at all that are associated with the image. Any subsequent image changes can be done in the provided Adobe PhotoDeluxe. Even image mode and resolution and sizing is selected automatically in the software, but there are overrides for these fundamentals.

The HP ScanJet Copy utility is common to all PrecisionScan versions/models.

Copyright © 1999-2004 by Wayne Fulton - All rights are reserved.

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