A few scanning tips


HP PrecisionScan Pro

This section is a look at the PrecisionScan Pro 1.0 software with the Hewlett-Packard 6200 scanner (6250 with document feeder is the same). These two are top end "professional" models with more features than the other HP models. This "Pro" software version retains the automatic settings that HP is known for, but it also gives the user substantial control too.

The HP 6200 scanners have both SCSI-2 and USB ports, you can use either one. Win98 or Factory Installed Win95B is required for USB and the HP 6200 CD (only) provides any necessary Win95B USB update. The USB 6200 is fast and responsive, and SCSI is a little faster. The USB cable is included. A SCSI controller board and cable is NOT included, but you should be able to use your existing SCSI card. There is one HD50 SCSI connector, and so this scanner must be the last SCSI device at the end of the chain. The 6200/6250 units also include PrecisionScan LAN, which allows one PC to use the scanner on another PC on the same network.

Besides PrecisionScan Pro, the HP ScanJet Copy Utility is a convenient "scan and print" copy program. Adobe PhotoDeluxe Business Edition is included, and integrated OCR software from Caere that works when scanning in TEXT mode (and other OCR programs can be used too).

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

Scan modes are:

PrecisionScan Pro does not have the HP "destination" concept where you first select to send the image to one of a list of programs or file types. Instead, you route the scanned image to any destination via one of these ways:

The PrecisionScan Pro menu FILE - PREFERENCES controls the automation, and also has a choice to automatically scan a preview when the program is started. You can also use the PREVIEW menu or toolbar button to do a new preview manually. You can mark the area of a photo on the glass bed by simply clicking on the photo in the preview (another Preference). The ESC key will deselect such a marked area. If you want to scan just a part of that area, you use the mouse to draw a rectangle around the desired area (the dotted line shown on next page). The ZOOM toolbar button will rescan and enlarge the size of the selected preview area to fill the window, and you can make the window as large as you wish.

This screen applies only to the models HP 6200/6250. Other models are different.

This is a busy screen, I showed everything but the kitchen sink at once.   Four of the six tools are shown here. The two small tools can be docked onto the tool bar if desired, or the toolbar can float like the others.

Most features on the 6200 work as expected. The scan resolution is not locked to match a specified output destination like previous HP models with DeskScan. There are automatic defaults for each mode (300 dpi for Line art, 150 dpi for color), but you can easily specify whatever resolution you want for another purpose.   The Scale Percentage works as described in the Printing Basics section.   The lower status bar gives a good summary.

The Exposure tool above is the histogram, which is set automatically, or you can manually move the pointers in the normal way. There is no provision to adjust individual RGB channels, and there is no Curve Tool.   Output Levels are provided, see in A Simple Way.

The Highlight Eyedropper is selected above, it becomes the mouse pointer, and you can find the little eyedropper near the right edge in the image. The color and RGB value of that point under the mouse is shown in the tools window, and the cyan vertical line in the histogram is this point too.   Note that the HP histogram plots the red, green and blue values individually (same as Photoshop Levels), instead of the grayscale values, but the Eyedropper is positioned according to the grayscale value.   When you find the brightest spot by moving the eyedropper over the image, if you click there, that will set the Highlight, or White Point, to be that value. The Shadow Eyedropper works the same to set the Black Point.

An exceptional feature is the triangle exclamation mark icon, which is the Highlight Warning, and this shows which highlights are clipped by the current settings. These areas are displayed as BLACK (the bright spots above near eyedropper, and in flower). Similarly, the Shadow Warning is also on, and shows the clipped portions of the image as WHITE (the lower dark part of the image above). This shows the areas of the image that are clipped by the current settings. That warning alerts you to the specific clipped image areas that would lose detail. The final appearance of the image is seen when the Warnings are Off, the Preview then shows the result of the settings.

There is also a standard color wheel for balancing color casts, and a B&W Threshold control for Line art shown here. In special cases, you can scan color originals as Line art using only one CCD cell. If you scan with the Blue cell, all blue in the image will be greatly lightened, almost eliminating it in some cases. Or using the Red or Green cells will lighten those colors. However, normally you will scan in NTSC mode, which is grayscale luminance, using all 3 cells, to preserve the importance of all colors. Menus are grayed out when not appropriate to the current mode.

A Sharpening tool is available, and it too has defaults for the mode selected, but you can change it to choices of None, Low, Medium, High, Extreme. The threshold is automatic too, but that tool allows override for scanning B&W Line art (not enabled for vector Metafile). There is no separate Descreen tool, but the 6200 does that operation pretty good automatically. If any moiré pattern should remain, see the alternate methods in Descreen Basics6.

The Pro User Guide and Help are very good, but I protest that it emphasizes 75 dpi is always needed for the video screen, when instead you must use whatever resolution is necessary to get the image size you desire. You will never get an 800x600 full screen image from a 6x4 inch print at 75 dpi. And there is heavy emphasis on using 256 colors with a web palette for web images, when in fact, web photos today should be 24 bit True Color for JPG, both better and smaller. However, note that most of the images on this page are 16 color GIF files, small and fast and ideal for such graphics (non-photo) web images.

The installation adds a Scanners icon in the Windows Control Panel, where Properties may be modified.

There is no power switch, but the 6200 scanner turns off the lamp and enters a low power standby mode when idle for 10 minutes. When you access the scanner again, it is ready after about 10 seconds of lamp warm up. You can change the Lamp timeout properties so it will remain on for 10 hours (all day) to avoid the warm ups.

The front panel Green Button can be programmed there too, to start other programs instead of PrecisionScan Pro, such as the Copy Utility.

The HP scanner philosophy is to provide fully automatic operation. Full automation is convenient for many purposes, but I find it very comforting to have more manual control available when I want it, and I wish HP always offered both choices in all of their software. The 6200 Pro software does in fact offer both choices, providing much more manual control than the other models.

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

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