Acer ScanWit 2740S
An Affordable 35mm Scanner With Digital ICE

For the Microsoft Windows operating systems Acer supplies the MiraFoto driver with a contemporary, well designed, and easy to use interface. Clearly and logically symbolized buttons activate the primary controls, and a pop-out tool bar provides access to manual adjustment tool dialog windows with before and after comparison thumbnails for easy image correction.

Acer is not a familiar brand within the digital photography realm, but it is an internationally established maker of personal computers and computer peripherals, including an extensive line of scanners. This newest model Acer ScanWit 2740S is a well designed and produced 2700dpi slide and 35mm film scanner that features the latest version of Digital ICE technology for dirt and scratch removal. At $649.99, the affordable ScanWit is not short on scan performance, with 12 bit per RGB channel color depth, optional 48-bit output, and a dynamic range of 3.2. The image reproduction quality is assured by an unusual straight-through optical design that eliminates reflections and enhances definition. The included Applied Science Fiction Digital ICE is a dust, dirt, and scratch removal that is both a hardware and software solution. It involves a separate sensor in the scanner at an angle to the film surface that uses infrared to identify dust, dirt, and surface scratches. This information is placed in a separate data channel where the software removes the imperfections from the output image data.

For the Macintosh platform the Acer driver is MiraScan, a Photoshop plug-in, which has a parallel set of tools with MiraFoto, but with the advantage of a larger, scalable preview window that is interactive with the tool adjustments. The Test Leica focus slide provided with Leitz projectors is the best test target I've found for evaluating scan sharpness, and was used to evaluate the difference in image detail when Digital ICE is used for cleaning compared to when it is turned off.

Because of the straight-through optical design, the ScanWit 2740S is somewhat wider than many of its competitors, but is still compact enough so that it takes up a small space on a desk top. The two film holders are rugged, well designed units. One holds six film frames for filmstrips and the other holds four mounted slides. The computer interface used is SCSI, and both a cable and a SCSI PCI card adapter are supplied for use with both Windows PCs and Apple Macintosh computers. In addition, software drivers for both the Windows and Macintosh platforms are provided, as well as Adobe Photoshop 5LE. The driver software is quite comprehensive, offering both fully automated image adjustment and a full complement of manual image quality adjustment tools.

Working With The Acer ScanWit 2740S Scanner
Installing and setting up the ScanWit 2740S is fairly simple and straightforward. However, I assumed a bit too much from having done this with dozens of scanners. Because I have a SCSI adapter already on both my Mac and Windows PC, I did not use the provided adapter. With the Acer SCSI adapter, the SCSI termination for the scanner is built into the adapter, and I did not think to terminate the scanner, so at first it did not work on my systems. After a call to Acer support, I learned to my embarrassment I needed to add a terminator to the second SCSI connector on the back of the scanner because I was not using the Acer SCSI adapter, something I should have known. This was easily remedied, and I got to work with no further difficulties.

This shot of California poppies was made on one of the first rolls of Fujichrome E-6 film I had for testing some years ago, and since then had acquired a lot of hard-to-dislodge dirt and a few scratches that were very apparent. The ScanWit 2740S with Digital ICE turned on produced a scan with clean and accurate colors representing the original.
Photos © 2001, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved

To begin my tests I selected from my archives a variety of E-6 process slides, some C-41 process color negatives and also some chromogenic C-41 process black and white film. The reason for this limited selection is that Digital ICE does not function with either Kodachrome or silver-based black and white films, which for me is limiting because most of my library is Kodachrome and silver black and white. My intention was to use Digital ICE for most of my scans, turning it off occasionally for comparison purposes. Both the Windows PC and the Macintosh software provide essentially the same tools, even though the interface look of each is quite different. I used the ScanWit with my Windows machine most for testing, however, assuming that a greater number of interested Shutterbug readers will be using the Windows platform rather than the Macintosh.

Overall, the experience of working with the Acer ScanWit 2740S was quite comparable to some of the best I've had with under $1000 slide scanners, both in terms of how the scanner works mechanically and handles the scan material physically, as well as the variety of software tools available to accomplish a well-adjusted scan of ideal as well as mediocre film images. Although the internal design with its straight-through optical path is unusual, the act of making scans is quite conventional and comparable to other scanners. The software tools involve an interface design that is consistent with long established image-editing software practices. This makes accessing the scanner's capabilities easy for an experienced user, and easy to learn for the novice.

This picture of a pair of Monarch butterflies in a fir tree was captured with a 400mm lens and flash illumination, and resulted in a rather underexposed color negative. I did not have any difficulty adjusting the Acer MiraFoto driver to compensate for the poor negative quality to achieve a scan with a full range of values and colors true to the Monarchs.

Scan Results And Recommendations
One of my first questions was how effective Digital ICE worked with this scanner in cleaning dust, dirt, and scratches from a scan without adversely affecting image sharpness and definition. On both counts the results were positive. The scans with Digital ICE turned on were as sharp and defined in a print as when it was not used. And, most of the dust, dirt, and scratches were removed effectively. I say most, because if a slide or color negative has defects that are due to a foreign element causing a stain in the emulsion itself, Digital ICE does not sense that and does not remove such stains. This new Acer ScanWit 2740S is a speedy scanner for its class, and Digital ICE does not add much time to the total scan and image processing.

Although black and white chromogenic C-41 process films have been available for a number of years, they are now increasing in popularity. They are easier to scan than silver-based films, and with the ScanWit 2740S's Digital ICE dust and scratches can be eliminated from the image as part of the scanning. Incredibly faint, fine detail was captured in this scan of an Ilford XP negative made with an 800mm lens.

Although not providing the most sophisticated image adjustment tools, the ScanWit software did support making quite well-adjusted scans requiring little or no post-scan adjustment in Photoshop. And unlike some economy proprietary scanner software, these quite effective manual adjustment tools are also assisted by a large selection of film terms for color negatives of many brands and types, making negative scanning (including chromogenic C-41 black and white) as easy to handle as slide scans.

Considering the quite affordable price of $649.99, including Digital ICE and Adobe Photoshop 5LE, the Acer ScanWit 2740S is a very effective scanning solution for the 35mm enthusiast. It will produce scans that can result in very good prints up to 11x14, and is ideally suited as a match for a letter-size photo printer. The scan quality is well above that of any flat-bed scanner with a film adapter, unless you're prepared to pay several times the ScanWit's cost. In addition, flat-bed scanners don't offer the image cleaning of Digital ICE--not yet anyway. Although this was not a long-term test evaluation, I found that the Acer ScanWit is well made and should provide good reliability and service. For more information, visit the Acer Peripherals web site at: www.acerperipherals.com.

Technical Specifications

Optical Resolution: 2700x2700dpi
Color Depth: 12 bit per RGB channel equaling 36 bits with software enhanced 48-bit output option
Dynamic Range: 3.2D
Scan Support: Four frame 35mm slide holder, and six frame 35mm filmstrip holder
Interface: SCSI 2
Dimensions: 162x151x347mm
Weight: 2.6 kgs
Power Consumption: 25w
Compatibility: MS Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, and Macintosh OS 8 or higher
Software: MiraFoto driver, Adobe Photoshop 5LE, Ulead PhotoExpress Accessories Included: Slide holder, filmstrip holder, SCSI 2 PCI card
Price: $649.99

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