Epson scan software in the Full Auto and Home modes, picture
wizards guide you while the scanner does the work. In the
Professional mode, shown here, you have the option to take
full control with many adjustment options including these
dialog boxes for tone correction (curves), image adjustment,
and histogram adjustment.
Are some of your prints or film faded and scratched? Epson Scan software
can help revive and restore them with Digital ICE image correction and
enhancement technology built into the hardware and software. While this
feature can increase scan times considerably, it may be well worth the
wait considering the time you'd have to spend fixing these problems
manually in your image-editing program. Easy Photo Fix is another included
digital tonic to restore faded color, remove dust, and reduce grain. While
Easy Photo Fix works with all films and prints, Digital ICE works with
all except conventional black and white negative film and Kodachrome.
The rest of the software that ships with both the standard 4870 and 4870
Pro includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 image-editing software, which
incorporates many of the features of its professional older sibling, Photoshop
CS. For anyone who needs to scan text (from a report, book or newspaper,
for example) and then use it in a word processor, Epson includes ABBYY
Fine Reader Sprint 5.0 OCR, an optical character recognition program.
While Epson's own scanning software works extremely well, for those
who want to dig deeper, LaserSoft SilverFast SE 6 scanning software ships
with the standard 4870.
The 4870 Pro includes all the software above and upgrades the LaserSoft
SilverFast to Version Ai 6, a program that offers pre-scan control over
highlights, shadows, tonal range, color, descreening, and scaling. For
superior control of your color and tone, the Pro version adds Monaco EZcolor
2.5 color management software. With its included reflective print and
4x5" transparency IT8 targets, you'll be assured that the
true colors of what you scan appear both on-screen and in the prints that
you make. When you go for the Pro, Epson also gives you three programs
from ArcSoft: PhotoStudio image editor, PhotoBase media manager, and Panorama
Maker to stitch together two or more photos. The 4870 scanner and all
software work with both Windows and Mac, including OS 9 and X. To connect
to your computer, you can choose from USB 2.0 or 1.1, or FireWire (IEEE
Setup And Controls
It took me less than an hour to get the 4870 up and running, a good portion
of that time spent in unpacking all the carefully wrapped components.
The software installed rapidly on my Mac, and when I connected the scanner
via FireWire and opened Photoshop, "Epson Perfection 4870"
appeared as one of the choices under File>Import. I decided to try
the default Full Auto mode on a color print. The software immediately
detected the subject, adjusted the color and exposure and scanned it at
300dpi for the best quality output on an ink jet printer. I was very impressed
with the exposure and color, although the latter was a bit saturated--not
unpleasant but punchier than the original. Most people would probably
prefer this. If you need to tone it down, just add a Hue/saturation adjustment
layer in Elements or Photoshop and nudge down the saturation, or adjust
the saturation in the scanning software. Both the Full Auto and Home modes
display pictures to guide you through the scanning process.
Next, I tried the Professional mode, where you have the option to take
full control with many adjustments. First, you click a button to do a
Preview scan, then use a crop tool to select just the area you want to
scan. Next, you can choose the Autoexposure button, or click on icons
to open dialog boxes for histogram adjustment, tone correction, and image
adjustment. My first scan, with no adjustments, was very close to the
original. Scan times were fast, less than a minute for an 8x10"
original at 300dpi.
In the histogram dialog, you can view the composite RGB or the individual
red, green, and blue channel histograms and adjust them. Here you'll
also find a tone curve viewer and gray balance intensity tools, used to
remove color casts. In the large preview in a separate window, any changes
or adjustments you make are applied to the preview scan image in real
time. At the bottom of this preview window are displayed the pixel dimensions
and file size of the final scan.
The tone correction box is like the curves dialog in Photoshop, but with
some preset options in a drop-down menu, pre-defined curves for linear,
lighten, darken, flat contrast, high contrast, or open shadow. It's
both fun and illuminating to cycle through these choices and see what
might improve your scan. Again, you can select the composite RGB channel
or individual color channels. Finally, the last dialog is image adjustment,
which has sliders for brightness, contrast, saturation, and three-color
balance sliders for cyan-red, magenta-green, and yellow-blue. Using these
dialogs and the preview you can really fine-tune your image to get it
just the way you want, all before you do the final scan. Descreen, Color
Restoration, Dust Removal, Grain Reduction, and Digital ICE controls are
located on the lower section of the Professional mode interface.
Objects (In 3D)
Now it was time to try what I had envisioned when I first read Epson's
announcement of this extremely high-res machine. I love to scan 3D objects--leaves,
stones, seashells, jewelry, flowers, coins, found objects--using
the scanner like a camera. With the 4870, I can now blow up a flower scan,
for example, to a 4x6 ft digital print with very high quality and tonal
For other 3D scanning fans, here are some suggestions and a word of warning.
To keep your scanner's glass pristine and free from scratches, put
a thin piece of clear plastic over it and then lay the object on the plastic
before scanning. This will keep dust, dirt, hairs, fibers, etc. from your
scanner's bed. Try the clear plastic cover of a CD jewel case, or
a sheet of clear acetate from an art supply shop. For backgrounds for
3D objects, try white, black, or gray cloth, colorful and/or patterned
fabrics, and art and wrapping papers.
Be sure that your scanner glass, the subject, and the clear plastic you
place on it are all very clean. Especially with small objects, any dust,
hairs, or threads become enormous in your final print. Use a cleaning
cloth and/or canned air to tidy them up before scanning. It's easy
to completely remove the scanner's cover, so you have plenty of
room to work in arranging both your object on the scanner's bed,
the cloth, or other material you're using as a background. If you
use no background material with the cover off, the background of your
scan will be black. When you're scanning 3D objects, try placing
them at different angles on the scanner to see how the lighting will vary.
the crop tool as shown, the tiny eye area of the slide I
selected measured only 0.27x0.17". At 4800dpi, the
scan was completed in less than a minute with quality easily
rivaling that of dedicated 4000 and 5000dpi film scanners.
I made one levels adjustment to correct color and sharpened
the image slightly, as described in the text. If I'd
scanned the entire slide at 4800dpi, I could have printed
it 16x24" at 300dpi.
Most scans (from any scanner--film or flat-bed) can benefit from
slight sharpening. This scan was quite good, it hardly needed any, but
as magazine reproduction can soften the image as well, I decided to sharpen.
I chose Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp mask with settings of Amount: 150;
Radius: 1.5; Threshold: 3. Converted to a resolution of 300dpi (with no
interpolation) for magazine reproduction, the size became 2.5x4.25".
If I'd scanned the entire slide at 4800dpi, I could have printed
it 16x24" at 300dpi!
Now, how can the 4870 help eliminate scratches, tears, cracks and dust?
Digital ICE for prints uses a two-lamp scan to examine your photo for
defects on the surface. Digital ICE for film uses an infrared channel
along with the usual red, blue and green channels to detect dust, scratches
and fingerprints on the film surface. Once the defects have been detected
and mapped out, software in the driver repairs them in the final image
data. Since Digital ICE requires multiple passes and processing, it increases
scan times considerably. Note, too, that you may still have to do some
retouching after ICE. It all depends on the size and extent of the flaws
in the original. Digital ICE for prints cannot detect tape, fingerprints,
pen or maker ink as these usually appear as part of the image, not surface
Size And Price
The scanner fits easily on a desktop, measuring 12x18.7x5.3", and
weighs 14.8 lbs. Estimated price for the Epson Perfection 4870 Photo is
$449 while the 4870 Pro goes for $599. While this is not cheap, the many
features and powerful software provide professional level quality with
the option of automatic scanning for the beginner, or advanced control
for the more experienced user. Furthermore, if you have a collection of
negatives or slides to scan, the quality of the 4870 rivals that of many
models dedicated exclusively to film.
Epson America, Inc.