The new Epson V700 Photo/V750-M Pro Perfection scanners remind me of the very
first Epson professional scanner I got to know over 10 years ago. The resemblance,
however, is largely superficial. Even though the new V700 and V750 have a shape
similar to the Expression of over a decade ago, these new Perfection scanners
reflect an entirely different era of scanning performance. While this report
will concentrate on the V750 model, you should know that there are two new models
from Epson, the V750 and V700. They share the same primary specifications, but
the V750 goes a step beyond with a fluid film mounting capability, something
new to consumer scanners. It also includes the most advanced LaserSoft SilverFast
Ai 6 scanning software as well as MonacoEZcolor.
These new scanners represent a design break from recent Perfection scanners.
Epson has foregone styling for a utilitarian shape and configuration with a
box-like, straight-sided exterior. They have a slightly concave-sided TPU lid
housing the film scanning illuminator that provides more efficient physical
handling when making scans.
But it's what's inside that counts. The units support film scanning
across most of the scan area, allowing scans of film sizes as large as 8x10",
and also as many as 12 35mm slides in mounts, and even more 35mm negatives in
strips. Excepting larger than 4x5 sheet film sizes, film scanning is accommodated
by a dual lens design that supports a spectacular 6400dpi optical resolution.
A full range of clean, noise-free information is read and recorded at the scanners'
48-bit color depth and 4.0 dynamic range, producing much better shadow information
in positive transparency scans, and virtually eliminating highlight blocking
in scans of silver-based black and white negatives. The dual lens design, which
provides the higher 6400dpi optical resolution, does so with a larger diameter
lens and higher f/stop for a better modulation transfer function, backed up
by a high-pass filter and a coated CCD lens with a more efficient mirror in
the scan-head assembly.
From one of two dozen different slides scanned with both the Epson
Perfection V750-M Pro (on left) and the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Scan
Elite 5400 II dedicated 35mm scanner (on right), outputting to the
same 16x24" by 300dpi file size, the definition and sharpness
of detail, as well as density range and color were virtually identical
and definitely competitive in quality.
All Photos © 2006, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved
Physically, film scanning is supported with new film holder designs with pins
that assure precise alignment to the scan area, as well as tab adjustments to
raise the film holder focus plane to accommodate bowed and droopy film. The
new film holders include one for 35mm slide, 35mm filmstrips, 4x5 sheet film,
and a 120 medium format holder that holds two strips of film. The latter is
of course a compromise, with its shortcoming being poor support for 120 film
cut in individual frames. Epson, I think, would be well advised to offer optional
120 holders for each of the standard medium format frame sizes from 6x4.5 through
6x9cm. Even if relatively expensive I am sure many photographers with a library
of 120 film would purchase extra cost holders for these specific frame sizes.
Epson's new Perfection V750-M Pro with SilverFast Ai 6 can
scan 12 35mm slides in one batch at a phenomenal 6400dpi. The printing
performance from these high-resolution files is as impressive as
the files are large.
The V750-M Pro has a rather unusual capability--a special holder to accommodate
a fluid mounting technique that is well established in pro drum scanning. The
fluid mount holder is a frame around a piece of optical glass about the same
overall size as the other film holders. It has a handle at each side and a loading
base with a white grid against black, which marks the scan area and provides
grid lines to align film placement. Besides providing a more effective holder
to support film cut in individual frames, fluid mounting also assures completely
flat support for the film that remains in place during scans. Some of the thinner
120 films in particular are known to "pop," changing focus plane
position during a scan, a problem familiar to anyone who has done enlarging
in a wet darkroom with glassless film carriers.
Medium and large format transparency scans produced by the new Epson
Perfection V750-M Pro are clean, exquisitely smooth toned yet distinctly
sharp, and will reproduce in large professional quality prints.
The fluid used in this mounting technique used to be a special kind of mineral
oil, which was rather messy to clean up afterward. For the V750, Epson recommends
a newer scanning fluid made by Kami, as well as the other consumables like Mylar
sheeting, wipes, Kami tape, etc., that are distributed by Aztek (13765-F Alton
Parkway, Irvine, CA 92618; (800) 472-7455, (949)770-8787; www.aztek.com).
The mounting fluid and consumable supplies are not included with the scanner,
nor are they available from Epson, but Aztek does offer a starter kit that can
be purchased directly if you call in an order or go to their website. Although
I had some experience with a drum scanner many years ago, loading a flat surface
with film to scan using mounting fluid was really a new experience.
format silver-based film scans have always been a challenge to scan
successfully with affordable consumer flat-bed scanners. But with
the new Epson Perfection V750-M Pro be prepared to be blown away
by the image quality of the scan files. In this image detail of
the paint peeling on this meandering ranch fence was sharply defined
even though so fine it would be barely visible in a 16x20"
Testing The V750-M Pro Scanner
With such a comprehensive range of capabilities, testing and evaluating this
new Epson Perfection V750-M Pro was going to be a big job. To have a basis for
comparison necessitated scanning a lot of photo images I had scanned before
with other units. In fact, I even dug out a stack of CD-Rs from 1996 and '97
with stored TIFF files from the first two Expression models I tested, as well
as those of more recent models, including the Perfection 4990. I must beg your
indulgence if you have seen some of these images before, but it was essential
to making an accurate assessment of the performance.