Opinions on Epson Expression 1600 Scanner

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I have been looking for an affordable scanner to enable me to scan 4X5 trannys suitably for printing up to A3 size on my inkjet (Epson 1270 at 300 DPI).I have recently read of the Epson Expression 1600 Pro and it appears suitable. The specifications - 1600 DPI Optical,3.3 DMax and 36 Bit colour - appear fine, and the price $A2000 is within budget. A friend whose opinion I sought was secptical as to whether I would get a suitable scan, he has no faith in film adapters on flatbeds. I would appreciate advice from anyone that may have seen one,or has used it.

-- John Quinn (jaqu@bold.net.au), July 30, 2000


I purchased the 1600 and the focus was very soft (the 4x5 slide was not soft). I might have gotten a bad one, but you never know. So, I returned it. The Umax powerlook III was far sharper with better detail at 1200 dpi then the epson showed at 1600dpi for the same 4x5 slide. You can always return it if you don't like it. I got mine through buycomp.com

-- Jon Miller (jmill@cybertime.net), July 31, 2000.

I bought the Microtek Scanmaker 5, aka the Agfa Duoscan (same hardware, different software), a year ago after comparing it with the Lino Saphire II (aka the UMAX Powerlook III) and Minotla Multi -- I'm scanning 6cm x 9 cm. Although the dpi is only 1000, it was much sharper in the test scans of the same slides I did compared to the other two. The advantage is that it has a separate bed WITHOUT GLASS for slides. The software is very good, and especially shines when you are just doing 48 bit scans that you're importing into Photoshop for further manipulation. It comes with an excellent color calibration utility so that my scans are 98% of what's on the original before I do any manipulation. It's very sharp. The few 4 x 5s I've scanned are even sharper because the film base on the 4 x 5 is thicker than 6 x 9. For this reason, the film holders are the best I've seen for 6 x 9; and they're even better for 4 x 5. I think that 1000 dpi will give you enough resolution to print out a good A3 (is that letter, legal or the tabloid? -- regardless it should be enough) at 300 dpi, but you should do the math. They recently came out with an upgrade to the Microtek Scanmaker 5 and Agfa Duoscan that is for the Agfa version called the Agfa Duoscan HiD (I think) and Artix 11000 (?? or Artix something) for the new Scanmaker 5 version. It upgrades the DMAX from 3.4 to 3.7, which would be very nice. Good luck. I'd highly recommend that you buy a monitor calibrator soon (it was my best digital investment; I bought the Monitor Optimizer and Optical), and you should also probably buy a software package that allows you to build color profiles of your printer. You'd be amazed what a pleasure it is to do digital prints when you've got a well calibr

-- Howard Slavitt (info@naturelandscape.com), July 31, 2000.

Hi Jon, Howard:

I'm also looking for a scanner for 4x5 slides. Could you post a couple sample 4x5 scans from the scanner you have? These scanners are not cheap. I hope I can see some real scans before purchase.


-- Aaron Rocky (ar7786@hotmail.com), July 31, 2000.

I don't have 4 x 5 samples; I've only scanned a few 4 x 5s. 6 cm x 9cm sample scans are on my website: info@naturelandscape.com. About half the scans were done with the Microtek; the other half with a Tango drum scanner. For web purposes, I can't tell the difference. I don't think looking at them on the web will give you a real good idea anyways of what quality you can achieve. You really need to see the machines in operation if you want to get a good sense of their capabilities. I researched the issue for about 3 months. As soon as I tried the scanners out myself (which I did with all 3 I mentinoed above), the choice was easy. I strongly advise getting a scanner that does not have any glass between the slide and the optics and also one that has excellent film holders to hold the format that you want mostly to scan. For this reason, if I was looking at scanning mostly 6cm x 7cm I would be strongly tempted by the Lino Saphir Ultra II (the Umax Powerlook III but with infinitely better software, or so I understand) because it has nice 6 cm x 7 cm film holders, but no 6 cm x 9 cm film holders. Although there's glass in the optical path, I think having nice film holders negates that problem.

-- Howard Slavitt (info@naturelandscape.com), July 31, 2000.

I own an Epson 1270 printer and use Epson 1200 scanner for my 4x5 chromes. To get A3 prints at 300dpi you need less than 1200dpi scans! Raw scans do not come sharp. Probably because of the glass but also because the film holder do not hold film very flat. But you do not care: using sharpening filter in Photoshop give you prints that are sharper than optical prints from a good professional lab. Besides sharpness question I must say that Dmax can be a little bit limited (low contrast picture render better)and full colour range of the original not exactly matched. But it is very cheap compared to other suggestions here!

-- Jean-Marie Solichon (jardin-exotique@monte-carlo.mc), August 02, 2000.

To clear up some misconceptions that were advanced in the previous reply: All scanners do need sharpening, however, you want to sharpen as little as possible. Sharpening increases local contrast. That means you will have less subtle transitions between tones. For example, I found that the Minolta Multi added too much automatic sharpening that could not be controlled in scans. This created the appearance of grain (digital noise) that was very objectionable. Moreover, the better and original scan, the more responsive it is to sharpening and the less you need to sharpen it. When you start with a very "soft" scan, however much you try to sharpen it, it just doesn't seem responsive. The Microtek/Agfa holders are great for 6cm and 9 cm (in their price range; the Imacon holders look nicer; drum scanners use oil mounting right to the drum which is even better) and for 4 x 5". In either of these formats, they are IMHO the best buy out there. I bought the Microtek for $1500 a year ago. It comes with a great color calibration utility, including a 4 x 5 Kodak IT8 slide(usually costs around $100 just for the Kodak IT8 slide). The color calibration utility is phenomenally effective. I would never buy a scanner without a good one. Also, I would never use a scanner without a well calibrated monitor. These additions will increase your efficiency and enjoyment many fold. The UMAX/Sapphires are reputed to be better in head to head competition with the Agfa/Microtek scanners; better dpi, and according to at least one review I read by Bruce Fraser, sharper. I didn't see it in the test I ran. The problem with the UMAX/Lino Saphires is that they don't have a separate bed for slides; therefore the slides sit on the glass. This means you get Newton rings when scanning at high magnifications. There are two work arounds to Newton rings. First you can use Kami mounting fluid (like a drum scanner) and put the slides right on the glass. This is very messy, time consuming, and makes me nervous that it will affect the slide's longevity. The second, more common work around is to use the slide holders that the UMAX/Lino's come with. These elevate the slides slightly above the glass to minimize Newton rings. This means that the slides are no longer in perfect focus as the focus plane is the flatbed glass, not above it. These scanners do not have autofocus, or adjustable focus lenses. These are some of the tradeoffs involved and that you should consider and explore.

-- Howard Slavitt (info@naturelandscape.com), August 02, 2000.

I'll try to say it in a different way, in order to avoid misconceptions. You do not need to scan at 1600dpi in order to get a file suitable for printing A3 size at 300dpi. Even 1200dpi is too much. Then Epson 1200 scanner (about 350 US$ here in Europe) looks like an "affordable" solution and allow you to get quite decent prints with your Epson 1270. Hopefully more expensive scanners will give you better prints.

-- Jean-Marie Solichon (jardin-exotique@monte-carlo.mc), August 02, 2000.

Wow! That's a great price, $350 for an Epson 1200. Again though, however, much trouble it is, you really need to try one out and see all the mechanics involved, if at all possible, or buy it from somehwere that yhou can return it if you're unhappy. Also it takes quite a while to learn how to play with the setting on the scanner software and then adjust the scan in Photoshop to get good output. Expect to put in a lot of learning time with this whole process.

-- Howard Slavitt (info@naturelandscape.com), August 02, 2000.

I recently purchased an Epson Expression 1600 because the scanner I was previously using (Linotyp-Hell Saphir) was no longer being supported by the windows 2000 platform. The Epson has a USB connection and I wanted to give that a try also. So far, I have not had any problems, just great scans!

-- Dennis Kucharczyk (dennis@hotpod.com), November 28, 2000.

I purchased a 1600 pro 6 months agoo and are very disapointed any scans over 400 dpi are very soft. If any one out ther has any ideas or settings that improve things I would be very pleased. Trevor

-- Trevor Bryan (trevor@castleimages.co.uk), May 11, 2001.

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