Dare to Digitize
Large-format, flatbed, film, and specialty-scanner solutions.
No, digitizing files hasn’t completely gone the way of the dodo. There are still those clients that will provide you with photographs, slides, and other types of artwork that need to be scanned. Plus, some jobs just lend themselves to utilizing new scans. Perhaps a history-focused project involving photos or slides that have resided in a shoe box for the better part of 20 years or more, or maybe it’s a case where a fine artist or photographer needs his work scanned for the first time (or was never happy with the scans he had produced a few years ago). Or the client wants to reproduce a particular stone pattern or wood grain for her wallpaper or tiles.
In all of these cases, having a scanner in-house can prove to be a time-saving and profit-making device, allowing you complete control over that process, including any necessary fine-tuning. If you’ve decided that the time is now for a scanner purchase, keep in mind that scanners are of various types, including:
• Large-format: Capable of handling originals 24-inches and wider, these machines are typically sheetfed models that can accommodate relatively thin originals (some can accommodate thicker materials);
• Flatbed or desktop: Standard desktop models, which can usually handle prints/positives as well as slides/transparencies (the largest are typically tabloid sized);
• Film: These units are specifically geared to handle slides and transparencies; and
• Other: This group includes any other type of scanner, including overhead scanners (a camera-like scanning unit is mounted over a table that holds the original), drum scanners, vertical flatbeds, hybrid units, and others.
To help you in your scanner quest, we provide the following product-roster “thumbnails” of manufacturers producing professional-grade color scanners intended for graphics and/or photo reproduction. Keep mind that this sourcelist is intended as a starting point only, so specs are limited here – we’ve generally provided broad brushstrokes as to each company’s offerings.
Aztek’s Digital PhotoLab DPL2054 is a 54-in. wide-format scanner that can scan originals up to 0.6-in. thick. Its Premier drum scanner features a 12 x 12-in. scanning area, 16,000 x 8000-dpi resolution (optical step); it utilizes Photo Multiplier OptiVu technology, allowing the unit to manage and focus variable-scan capture spot sizes down to 3 microns (independent of resolution); Aztek Digital PhotoLab Pro software is included. Aztek also offers its TouchScan scanner line in sizes from 18- to 54-in.
The CanoScan 9000F film scanner features 9600 x 9600-dpi optical resolution, 48-bit input/output, an Auto Document Fix that automatically analyzes and corrects text and images, an Auto Scan mode, and more. The 9000F can scan up to four 35-mm slides or 12 35-mm filmstrips simultaneously. Also available: the CanoScan 5600F film scanner and the CanoScan LiDE 210 and 110 photo scanners.
The company’s SmartLF Gx+ series includes 28-, 42-, and 56-in. models, all available in mono, color, and Express Color versions (in addition, “T” versions are available that can accommodate thicker media up to 0.8 in.). The two smaller sizes offer 1200-dpi optical (9600-dpi max); the 56-in. model offers 600-dpi optical (9600-dpi max). Also available are Colortrac’s line of SmartLF wide-format scanners, including the Ci24 (24-in.), Ci40 (40-in.), and 42-in. SmartLF SC scanner.
Contex enhanced its HD Ultra wide-format scanner series earlier this year, increasing speed, color accuracy, and image processing on all models. The HD Ultra now scans at 8 in./sec in color, offers full 48-bit color processing, and boasts new Adobe RGB and Device RGB color spaces. It’s available in six models; users can choose color or monochrome models with various scanning speeds and width (36- or 42-in.). All models are upgradable and come standard with 1200-dpi optical resolution (9600-dpi max) and GB Ethernet; max media thickness is 0.6-in. An MFP version is also available.
The company’s HD 5400 scanner features a 54-in. design for oversized documents, and also offers 48-bit color and 16-bit grayscale image data capture, 508-dpi optical resolution (9600 dpi max), a Scan-to-Net function, and more.
Also available are the SD 4400 (44-in. scan width, 1200-dpi optical resolution) and SD 3600 (36-in. scan width, 600- and 1200-dpi resolutions), as well as the XD2490, a 24-in., sheetfed scanner with an optical resolution of 1200 dpi and a maximum media thickness of 0.08-in. As this issue went to press, the company introduced its IQ scanner series.
Cruse Digital Equipment
Cruse offers several versions of its overhead scanners, including the Synchron Table ST, which is capable of handling originals up to 59 x 98 in. (295ST); it offers an integrated controller, professional ICC profiles, auto light correction, image-stacking capabilities (optional), and more. Top resolution is 14,000 x 24,000 (pixels).
Also available are the Synchron ST-Portal (59 x 71 in. max), which offers a vacuum board and texture effect; the Synchron ST-C (17 x 24 and 20 x 28 in.), with a top optical resolution of 600 dpi; and the ST E300 Economy, with a top optical resolution of 300 dpi and is available in sizes from 28 x 39 to 47 x 71 in.
The Epson Expression 10000XL flatbed is offered in Graphic Arts or Photo versions. Both scanners can handle originals up to 12.2 x 17.2 in. and boasts resolutions up to 2400 x 4800 dpi; the Photo version also has a transparency option. Included software: Epson Scan with Epson Easy Photo Fix technology, Adobe Photoshop Elements, FineReader Sprint OCR, and Monaco EZcolor.
Epson’s Perfection V700 and Perfection V-750M Pro photo scanners offer 4800 x 9600-dpi resolutions (4800 x 6400 optical) and can accommodate 8.5 x 11.7-in. media (the V-750 also feature a high-pass optics system and fluid-mount accessory). Both units feature Digital ICE for auto surface-defect and dust removal.
Graphtec’s 42-in. IS210 Pro LC is a high-performance large-format scanner featuring 600-dpi optical resolution (9600 dpi max), CIS scanning technology, and scanning speeds up to 3 in./sec (at 400 dpi).
Also available are the 24-bit CS510 and CS610 models, which are 42-in. scanners that can hit 600-dpi optical resolution. The CS610 can accommodate thick, rigid originals up to 0.8-in. thick. The two models are available in Base and Pro versions.
Its CSX500 series of scanners offers scanning widths up to 37 in., and can accommodate media up to 1.6-mm thick. Optical resolution is 600 dpi (1200 dpi on the top model in this series).
The Flextight X1 and Flextight X5 scanners feature vertical optical systems. The X1 boasts a resolution up to 6300 dpi and has batch-scanning capabilities. The X5 can reach 8000 dpi, features dust removal, and can also accommodate prints. Both Flextight units have a 3F Auto Scan button that scans with a single click.
HP’s ScanJet 8300 Professional Image Scanner features an optical resolution of 4800 and 48-bit color, and it can handle originals up to 8.5 x 14 in. It also includes a transparent-materials adapter, one-touch task buttons, and Adobe Photoshop Elements software. Also in HP’s scanner roster is the ScanJet G4050 Photo Scanner, which offers 4800 optical dpi and can scan up to 16 slides or 30 negatives simultaneously.
Itek Colour Graphics
Itek’s ICG 369 and ICG 380 are vertical drum scanners. Both models can hit 12,000-dpi optical resolution, ICG reports; the 369 has a drum speed of 1750 rpm, while the 380 has a drum speed of 2000 rpm. The 369 and 380 have maximum scan areas of 12.6 x 18.7 in. (external drum) and ship with ScanXact XL software.
The Kurabo K-IS-A1FW flatbed color scanner features a 24 x 36-in. scanning area, CCD sensor technology, an optical resolution of 400 dpi (800 dpi max), and Kurabo scanning software. Optional software is also available, including Aupier-Gigastitch for image-editing and stitching and Aupier-Gigalay for stitching together multiple images. Paradigm Imaging (scantopia.com) is Kurabo’s exclusive US distributor.
The JumboScan III overhead scanner features a scan area of 6.5 x 16.4 ft., and a resolution up to 20,000 x 12,000 pixels, the company reports. It’s available in RGB and GIS models (both three channels).
The ArtixScan 3200XL is an A3-sized (12 x 17-in.) specialized prepress scanner offering 3200-dpi optical resolution, 48-bit color, and scan-to-CMYK; it can accommodate reflective originals as well as transparencies. Software includes Microtek ScanWizard. Pro, SilverFast Ai IT8 Studio (including Multi-Exposure and Auto IT8 Calibration), FineReaders Spring OCR, and more.
The company’s ScanMaker 10000XL with transparency adapter also features a 12 x 17-in. scan area as well as 6400 x 3200-dpi optical resolution, 4.0 maximum optical density, and dual FireWire and Hi-Speed USB interfaces. ScanWizard software is included.
Mustek’s ScanExpress A3 USB 2400 Pro features a 2400-dpi optical resolution and 48-bit color scanning. Also available: the A3 USB 1200 Pro flatbed scanner (11.7 x 16.5 in.), which offers 24- and 48-bit scan modes and an optical resolution of 1200 dpi; and the A3 1200S, featuring 1200-dpi resolution and a 10-sec scan, Mustek reports.
The Scanera TopFace Pro scanner provides high-resolution scanning of 3D objects and is capable of accommodating fabric, wood grains, materials, food, artwork, and more up to 4-in. deep. The TopFace Pro features a 23 x 33-in. scanning bed, a variable light source to bring out shadows and highlights, and a proprietary video circuit designed to interpret scanned data and create a realistic replication. Optical resolution is 400 dpi; output resolution is 100-800 dpi. The scanner comes bundled with Scanera Eyes high-speed viewing/editing software Also available are Flatbed Scanera models (from 16 x 23 to 23 x 33 in.), museum scanners, roll scanners, and more. Distributed in the US by A-Lex International Consulting.
Océ North America
The TC4 standalone color scanner is available in two configurations: standard (for thicknesses up to 0.12 in.) and XT (for thicker media, up to 0.6 in.). Both TC4 models feature scanning speeds up to 16.4 linear ft/min, Color Image Logic technology for automatic quality optimization, and a 600-dpi resolution.
The CS4300 color scanner is available in three scan widths: 36, 42, and 54 in. All boast an optical resolution of 600 x 600 dpi (9600 interpreted) and can accommodate originals up to 0.6-in. thick; includes Océ CopyEasy software.
Designed for CAD studios and GIS environments, the CS4236 color scanner has a 36-in. scan width and boasts 1200-dpi resolution.
Pacific Image Electronics
The company offers five models of CCD scanners including the PrimeFilm 120 Pro, a 48-bit film scanner that supports a variety of industry-standard film sizes (negative and positive); it offers 3200-dpi optical resolution plus automatic scratch and dust removal. Also available: the PrimeFilm 7200 (3600 x 7200 dpi); the PrimeFilm 7250pro3 (7200 x 7200 dpi, Digital ICE3, auto-focus); and the PrimeFilm 7250u (3600 x 7200 dpi, one-button scanning).
The company’s OpticFilm series of film scanners includes the recently introduced OpticFilm 120 film scanner, which accommodates 35mm film strips, slides, and 120/220 film formats from 6 x 4.5 to 6 x 12 in. Its bundled with LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast Ai Studio 8, which includes Multi-Exposure (enhances dynamic range, diminishes noise, and enriches image detail) and iSRD (electronically removes dust and scratches from film using the scanner’s built-in infrared channel).
Also in Plustek’s OpticFilm series: the 8200i Ai (dedicated 35mm scanner, 7200 dpi optical resolution); the 7600i Ai and 7600i Se (film and slide scanners, 7200 dpi); and the 7400 film and slide scanner (7200 dpi).
The company’s OpticSlim series includes the OpticSlim 2420T (1200-dpi flatbed with transparency adapter) and the OpticSlim 2600 (1200-dpi, CIS scanner).
Widecom’s SLC series of color and monochrome scanners are available in 36-, 41-, 54-, and 72-in. widths. Optical resolution: 400 dpi. All models are capable of handling originals up to 0.6-in. thick.
Que Imaging: ‘There Isn’t Much You Can’t Do’
“At one time we had two copy cameras, and we’ve had a film scanner since 1992,” says Bob Abbinanti, president of Que Imaging (queimaging.com) in Houston.
“We were shooting a lot of 4 x 5s and 8 x 10 transparencies, but I thought there had to be a more efficient solution. About 10 years ago, I looked at large-format scanners and realized they offered a way to get original art into our system in just 10 or 15 minutes,” he says.
Scanning from the original art proved to be the superior alternative. “The ability to capture the texture of the original was a big improvement for us,” Abbinanti notes. “That’s something we always struggled with when trying to properly light a painting for photography.”
The advantage arrived via a Cruse large flatbed scanner. It served Que for a decade and was only recently replaced with a new Cruse Synchron table scanner. He says the new unit delivers an improved color gamut, and handles originals up to 4 x 6-feet, and 12-inches thick.
“We can capture original art right through the glass, without removing the frame, something we never really liked doing,” he says.
An active supporter if Houston’s artistic community, Abbinanti is entrusted with scanning all types of originals, for artists and from private and public collections. The scanner’s 3D texture mode has created digitized records of Tibetan rugs and heirloom American Quilts, even granite countertops.
Often, the scanner is a starting point for a wide-format print project. “Scanning original art opens up the idea of an on-demand canvas. We’ve done a lot of fine-art printing,” he reports. “A big part of the business has been printing decorative art for hospitals. We’ll scan an artist’s original drawing or painting, then produce several copies.”
In a current project for the Houston Art Alliance, Que is digitizing a series of rare etchings from its collection, then printing them full-size as watercolor giclée prints. The originals will be stored in a safe place, while the digital reproductions go on display. On another project, the company scanned restored 16th-century oil paintings for the Catholic archdiocese, then produced fine-art prints on canvas from the files. Here again, the public will only see the digital prints made from those scans.
There have been commercial applications for the large-format scans, as well. For redesign of a Woodland shopping center outside Houston, the company scanned a series of standard-sized paintings. These were then printed on 3M Controltac vinyl, laminated, and mounted to aluminum panels installed at the site. The largest of the images now measures 12 x 16 feet.
“Once you have a large-format flatbed scanner, and a film scanner, there’s isn’t much you can’t do,” he sums up.