A few scanning tips


Polaroid SprintScan 4000

The Polaroid SprintScan 4000 is a 4000 dpi 35 mm film desktop scanner. This is a top end leader. It has a SCSI interface, with Windows and Macintosh software. (There is to be a new SprintScan Plus model to be available soon, 42 bits with IEEE1394/USB interface).

The speed is quite impressive, especially considering the huge data size. Installed on my Adaptec 2910C card, I measure 25 seconds to position and preview frame 4, most of that was calibration. And 70 seconds to scan full frame at 4000 dpi (25 seconds calibration, 35 seconds for scan, 10 seconds processing). It is fast, even for 60 MB.

The 4000 dpi scans are impressive. These large images can indeed contain more detail than lesser resolution. Perhaps not always true in lesser images, sharp images are necessary, but ISO 100 film on a tripod in bright sun can help a lot. These images contain twice as many pixels as from 2700 dpi scanners, up to 5600x3600 pixels, and up to 55 to 60 MB images (up to 120 MB if 16 bit mode).

System memory is a concern. 256 MB is necessary, and 384 MB made my AMD 1.1 GHz computer and Photoshop much happier with the largest 120 MB images. Don't underestimate the memory requirements, especially with Photoshop 6, or if you open multiple images.

2700 dpi images work very well for printing A4 or 8x10 inch size, but the whole point of 4000 dpi is that this very large image size makes printing A3 or 11x17 inch prints at 300 dpi be pretty easy (see the settings below).

The scanner features include Auto Focus, Batch scanning, and an optional APS film adapter (about $130). It comes with 35 mm film holders for a filmstrip of six frames, and for four mounted slides. Batch scan means it has a frame motor, and can scan those 4 or 6 images unattended after setup.

The Polacolor Insight Pro 5.0 software, shown below, is the native driver, and it runs standalone and saves to disk file. It is a little different than other TWAIN drivers, in that the normal TWAIN Acquire menu can start it, and then its File - Save box has a selectable choice to have the image file passed to the photo program. The net effect is about the same as TWAIN, but the data goes to file first.

The histogram is shown from the View menu, and its controls are enabled when on the Curve Tab, where the Auto buttons are, which work well. For manual adjustments, instead of sliders, the eyedropper tools are used to click at the base of the histogram curve to set the Points, and then the Curve tool and the Preview image show this result. The Preview is automatically as large as the window size allows, your choice, and it zooms too. The Preferences menu can enable Auto Exposure, which seems to center the histogram data very well. There is a main reset on the menu, and individual tools reset with a Right mouse menu.

Several film types are offered, including some professional films. Kodak Advantix, Ektapress, Gold, Max, Porta, Royal Gold, Supra, Vericolor. Fuji NPS, Smart Film, Super G, Superia, Fujicolor Press. Agfa Futura and Optima. And Kodachrome and a few generic slide, negative, B&W and Raw.

This Insight 5.0 is an updated version, it offers all the standard features, and I rather liked it. The scanner software includes dust removal filters, which work pretty well (but it has no infrared channel).

LaserSoft SilverFast Ai 5 is also bundled with the scanner. It operates as a replacement scanner driver, and works as a Photoshop plugin, or as a TWAIN driver from other programs, see www.silverfast.com.

And VueScan is another excellent choice (not included, see VueScan), it's very popular with Polaroid SprintScan users. Most of my experience is with VueScan, and the results are very good.

This is very definitely a first class scanner.

It's difficult to think of what else to want.

Copyright © 2000-2004 by Wayne Fulton - All rights are reserved.

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