Imacon ColorFlex software provided with the FlexTight
Precision scanner offers easy to learn precise scan control
on the Mac or Windows platform.
Photos © 1999, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved
There is a very real difference
still between professional scans and what the individual user can achieve
even with the latest and best personal scanners. To a large extent this
professional level of scanning remains the realm of drum scanners and
their highly accomplished professional operators. Imacon with their
FlexTight Precision scanner is an exception to this with an unusual
CCD scanner design which performs at a high professional level. This
alone would be significant, but the FlexTight also supports very efficient
operation for high productivity, and its software makes accurate perceptually
adjusted color correction as quick and easy as the best of the newest
personal scanners currently available.
That the Imacon FlexTight scanner is different is evident at a glance.
Besides an unusual shape, its configuration only takes up about half
the desk space of a typical flat-bed scanner. The FlexTight design advantage
also includes a small "light table" that makes loading film
images into the patented holders a simple, rapid action with immediate
visual assurance of precise image alignment. The "tower"
that rises above the base and loading stage house the CCD element and
lens assembly. This provides a straight optical path to the image surface
as the film holder is moved by a drum housed in the base. The film holders
are made of fine, thin steel, with a magnetized rubber overlay holding
the film firmly in place. It is grasped magnetically by the scanner
for transport around the drum and past the "scan window"
illuminated from below. Depending on the film size as set by the user
in the software driver in relation to the holder used, the lens assembly
is positioned precisely and appropriately between the drum and the CCD
young Constantua women in their finest apparel. From the
file of the James Chen collection.
This system supports scanning
all film sizes from 35mm, including all 120 formats from 6x4.5cm through
6x12cm to 4x5, as well as up to 8.5x12" reflective art. The FlexTight
scanning light source is adaptive and combined with the 3.9 density range
of its sensitivity enables making full range scans of even underexposed
chromes. This is further aided with 35mm slides by selecting the landscape
aperture of the film holder which supports the greatest light transmission
through the film. The resulting scans are 14 bit per channel, and the
full color depth is displayed in the ColorFlex software preview. The color
accuracy of the preview for making precise perceptual color correction
in the ColorFlex software is assured by a comprehensive guide to do an
optimal monitor calibration as part of the Imacon FlexTight Precision
setup. The scanner's power supply is from normal 110/120 AC, but
the power supply module is external, removing the effect of heat and electromagnetic
noise from the scanner itself.
couple on a stroll in Korea. From the James Chen collection.
The Imacon FlexTight Precision Scanner. Once installed and set
up, which was accomplished easily and simply following the well documented
instructions, I did a few initial test scans with familiar film images
I use for evaluation. I then embarked on an ambitious scanning task feeling
confident I could us the ColorFlex software's very straightforward
color correction tools effectively. This involved scanning a dozen black
and white 21/4x31/4 from a collection of photographs a colleague, James
Chen, had acquired from the estate of a world traveler. These images were
made in Asia and the Middle East 40-60 years ago, and many were film-pack
negatives which had obviously been tray processed. I won't get into
how much retouching of dirt and scratches these images required, but once
that work was done, the quality of the image files was astoundingly fine
especially considering the originals were all over the place in exposure
and development. Test prints confirmed the qualities the Imacon FlexTight
Precision was able to record, which were particularly rich due to the
fact the originals were scanned as if they were color negatives resulting
in full 24-bit RGB files.
The rest of my testing was somewhat more conventional, but also included
a selection of my own 35mm Kodachromes of low-key subjects I had previously
not been able to scan satisfactorily. Using the landscape window in the
35mm film holder of the FlexTight, I made scans of most of these images
which were entirely satisfactory in replicating the values visible in
the slides. Then, with more conventional transparencies and color negatives
in various 120 roll film sizes, as well as some of my own 4x5 black and
white negatives and transparencies, I acquired a diverse range of experience
using the Imacon FlexTight Precision scanner. All of these images were
opened in Photoshop and few required even minor tweaking before I was
satisfied that I should make a test print with Epson's latest Stylus
Photo ink jet printer model.
Evaluation And Recommendation. The high-end professional competence of
the FlexTight Precision indicated by Imacon's high-performance specifications
were well born out in the image files I made with the scanner. The physical
ease and efficiency of using the scanner loading and unloading film images,
as well as the direct and straightforward design of the ColorFlex software
controls and image adjustment tools, assures getting an exceptional quantity
of work done in the time invested working with the scanner. So, even though
the list price of $16,995 is also at the high end of the professional
film scanner market range, I would recommend this unusual scanner to any
professional photographer who has a sufficient volume of work, or to a
photo lab or service bureau that needs to provide quality scanning of
photographic originals efficiently and effectively.
For more information, contact Imacon, Inc., 4109 Clipper Court, Fremont,
CA 94538; (888) 462-2668, (510) 651-2000; fax: (510) 445-3988; or web
site at: www.imacon-usa.com.
Sensor: CCD Single pass (3x8000 pixels)
Scanning Sizes: Transparencies: from 35mm to 4x5"
(single original and strips); Reflectives (1mm thick): up to 8.5x12"
(A4 oversize), positive and negatives, in color, gray scale, and line
Software: ColorFlex stand-alone for MacOS and Windows
with image sharpening (USM); color gradation; cropping/size; Dmin/Dmax;
autorange; interpolation; selective color correction; standard "artificial
intelligence" settings; load and save image settings
Scan Modes: Color (RGB 24,48 bit, and CMYK 32 bit), gray
scale, line art, and TIFF Batch scanning/ Batch image processing
Resolution: From 72 to 5760dpi; True Optical at 20-2400
Image Quality: 14-bit A/D 0~4.1 Dmax
Interface: Standard SCSI
Size And Weight: 9.7x13.8x 25.6"; 27 lbs
Electrical: 100-240v, 50-60Hz