June 11, 2006

Epson V750-M doesn't live up to expectations


I patiently waited for the Epson V750-M scanner to hit the market, so I can scan my Xpan slides. I got it last week from B&H and ran some scans on them.

The package contains a bunch of software goodies in it. It has the Silverfast AI version 6, Adobe Photoshop Elements 3, Epson Scan, and Monaco EZ Color for calibration. It does not have a printed manual however, which was a surprise to me since the number of accessories and options is quite high. I usually don't resort to the manual unless I have no choice, and this time I really felt the need. After looking more carefully into what was installed on the computer, I did find an HTML version of the manual installed in the same directory with Epson Scan.

The first thing I did was to calibrate the scanner using targets from Wolf Faust. Then I scanned some slides made with the Xpan, using the 45mm lens with the center filter attached. The camera was placed on a tripod, so the image should have been as sharp as possible. I used the provided strip film holder, the film was not mounted. This film holder looks quite wobbly, and the film doesn't stay completely flat.

The results were quite unsharp. I scanned the slide using Silverfast, VueScan and Epson Scan, all gave pretty much the same result. On the film holder, the film strip doesn't stay flat on the glass of the scanner, but rather it's raised few millimeters above it. Taking it out of the film holder and laying it directly on the glass doesn't improve the situation either.

Unlike on my Nikon Coolscan 5000, the software doesn't have any option to adjust the focus of the scanner's internal lens. My guess is that this contributes quite a bit to the lack of sharpness in the final image. Epson provides some additional plastic tabs that can be used to replace the existing ones in the film holders. This solution however seems like a cheap way of fixing a fundamental problem.

The result is that I'm not satisfied with the results of the scanner, and I'll be returning it. I'm seriously thinking of getting the Nikon Coolscan 9000 with the FH-869GR film holder.

Posted by ovidiu at June 11, 2006 05:12 PM |

Interesting. I also have a Coolscan 5000ED and an XPan, and stitching scans gets really old fast, even if VueScan makes the acquisition of the two halves less painful than Nikon Scan.

I am not surprised that the focus is not adjustable. Most of the time, these scanners have what is essentially a pinhole lens in front of each linear CCD sensor element. The V750-N is advertised in a way that suggests it has X-Y capabilities and a zoom lens, but I doubt that implementation is equivalent to a Fuji Lanovia or Creo scanner.

Supposedly, the scanner's focus is adjusted to be a few millimeters above the glass in any case, as it is intended to scan film in film holders, not flat documents. All flatbed scanner manufacturers shamelessly overstate resolution, but I would think the 750-M would give you at least 2400dpi resolution, since my lowly 3170 is essentially equivalent to my old Coolscan IVED in the sharpness department when scanning 35mm.

Posted by: Fazal Majid on June 11, 2006 11:10 AM

They state the resolution is something that amounts to 6400dpi, but I seriously doubt the way they measure that. Even so, having higher resolution will not help if you can't focus precisely.

As to the zoom lens, the only claim I found in Epson's literature is that it uses two lenses, one for low resolution, the other one for high resolution.

Posted by: Ovidiu on June 11, 2006 01:17 PM

Did you try the fluid-mounting tray? The Nikon 9000 doesn't suit my needs as I sometimes have to scan 6x17 negatives. Rayko in San Francisco has an Imacon Flextight you can rent time on, maybe that's what I'll end up using.

Posted by: Fazal Majid on June 11, 2006 02:45 PM

Oh, and you might want to contact Doug Fisher. I have his MF film holder for the 3170, it works quite well, even with 6x17 slides. His site mentions he has a V750 holder in the works.


Posted by: Fazal Majid on June 11, 2006 02:49 PM

You might want to look at Vincen Oliver's review of the V700, apparently adding 1mm with the height adjusters (not sure if they work with 35mm or only MF) makes a big difference in sharpness: http://www.photo-i.co.uk/Reviews/interactive/Epson%20V700/page_13.htm

Posted by: Fazal Majid on June 11, 2006 03:16 PM

Fazal, thanks for the pointers! I haven't tried the wet mounting, I don't have the fluid. I doubt however the results will be a substantial improvement. As for raising the height, I haven't noticed any difference in the focus quality.

Posted by: Ovidiu on June 12, 2006 01:11 AM
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