The Umax PowerLook 3000

sorcadmin's picture

The Umax PowerLook 3000 scanner.

Since I've been answering reader's questions for the Digital Help column, one frequent source of interest is a scanner which can work with all sizes of film. Until now I've had to answer that question negatively and advise getting a separate 35mm film scanner and a flat-bed with good resolution which is capable of scanning film. This report is about a professional quality Umax scanner they describe as, "The Flat-bed Drum Scanner," implying it has the capability to do it all, with high professional quality. Now that's a tall order unless you're talking about equipment well into the five figure price category, or consider film scanners with limited capabilities that are just under $10K in price. But the Umax PowerLook 3000 offers film scanning and print scanning up to 8.5x11" with an optical resolution up to 3048dpi for film up to 3.4" wide, and 1220x3048dpi for larger sizes, and at a list retail price of $7695.

Umax MagicScan 4.3 scanner software control for Mac and Windows provides an easy to learn means to adjust image output specifications and adjust the image values of the scan, as well as supporting batch scanning and 42-bit output to file or application workspace.
Photos © 1999, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved

Unusual in performance and price, the Umax PowerLook 3000 is also unique in its construction and functions. At first glance it seems like just a rather large flat-bed scanner. It can be described as such, but rather than having a fixed bed and a moving scan bar inside, the Umax has a moving, steel framed, optical glass bed, a fixed dual lens sensor array and illumination sources. The dual, distinct optical setups are the secret to the high-resolution, one providing a "picture" of the whole width of the scan bed, the other just one third, and both focused on a 10,500 element CCD array. That takes care of more than adequate resolution at 3048dpi for even film as small as a 35mm frame (higher than the most popular 35mm scanner at 2700dpi), and very high for all 120 size films, and even a slightly cropped 4x5. Larger film sizes like 5x7 and 8x10 at the 1220dpi optical maximum across, is also much more than adequate.

Umax now includes PowerColor 4.0 software for the PowerLook 3000, which is a professional scanner driver including sophisticated control of the operation of the scanner, and particularly favors CMYK output for pre-press purposes.

This great range of scanning resolution and image size/formats supports professional standards, it also scans at 14-bit depth per RGB channel, 42 bits in all, and can be output in 24-bit or 42-bit mode. And finally, the other key dimension of scan quality, dynamic range, is a healthy 3.6. The scanner is also supported with a SCSI 2 interface, and two different scanner driver software packages, MagicScan 4.3, and PowerColor 4.0.

Scanning With The Umax Power-Look 3000. One very distinct advantage of the Umax PowerLook 3000 is immediately apparent as soon as it is unpacked and set up. You can lay out as many as 12 35mm film frames, in the strip holder or six in the slide mount holder, and do a pre-scan of all of them placed in the area that scans at 3048dpi. The advantage is that with just one pre-scan, you can do selection defining to the crop frames of each image. Then make color correction and other adjustments like size, to each, then once all of the images are prepared for a final scan, hit one button and they are all scanned without further attention by you. Resulting in a file for each image on your hard drive. Both the Umax MagicScan 4.3 and PowerColor 4.0 software support this batch scanning method.

I took this picture of a lone Aspen still holding on to its colored leaves, from across a mountain valley in Colorado, shot with an 800mm lens on a 6x4.5 film format. Because the image is not critically sharp scanning it has not resulted in a successful image file until I scanned the film at 3048dpi with the Umax PowerLook 3000.

At the present time multiple image holders are only available from Umax in 35mm size. The 120 and 4x5 size film holders supplied are single units. However, from working successfully with 35mm mounted in Wess Plastic glassless mounts with the scanner, I would assume if they have glassless mounts for 120 sizes they would function equally well for batch scanning.

I selected a wide variety of film images, and a few prints to scan with the Umax PowerLook 3000, and used both software packages provided. Also a sharp 35mm Kodachrome appropriately chosen to test resolution and evaluate the dynamic range ability of this scanner to handle the densities of chrome films. I also chose a number of film images scanned before and found it difficult to obtain good results with other scanners, and particularly concentrated on a number of 6x4.5cm transparencies and color negatives because most flat-beds with film scanning do not have adequate resolution to do justice to this film size.

One fall I was fortunate to be in the Colorado Rockies when the Aspen were in color. This 6x4.5 transparency resulted, and it took the PowerLook 3000's 3048dpi resolution to do the image justice in all the detail the picture contains.

Working with just one image at a time, the PowerLook 3000 is not as fast as some 35mm scanners, but using its ability to batch scan makes up for that and then some. Fortunately I have a number of scanner film holders and was able to put at least three or four 120 size images on the scan bed at a time. For anyone who is using the scanner for archiving, combining this batch ability and selecting output in 42-bit mode, is both advantageous in securing a file with all of the scan data collected by the Umax in it in an archived file, which can then be color corrected for different applications later.

Scan Results From The Umax Power-Look 3000. Even though I deliberately chose mostly challenging images from a scanning perspective, I obtained superior image qualities in just about every instance. The exception I found was with some black and white silver-based film scans. Although I have no information about the details of the light source and optical path employed in the PowerLook 3000, I have to assume that it is less diffuse than a typical flat-bed with a TPU light source replacing the scanner lid, or a 35mm scanner which uses a fluorescent tube light source. The apparent more collimated light of the Umax would result in greater effective densities read in silver film negative images.

I could never obtain a decent silver print of this portrait of my favorite model shot on 8x10 film, because of the fine detail and subtle tonality of the white shawl. The Umax PowerLook 3000 provided the opportunity to scan that big negative and adjust the curve so all of the values reproduce with stunning reality.

In all other dimension applied to all color media, the Umax PowerLook 3000 provided distinctly superior image quality to any flat-bed scanner I've worked with, and a close match or better than the professional larger format film scanners. In other words the visual qualities of the images scanned in sharpness, and detail is everything and sometimes more than what you would expect based on the visual appearance of the film image. The range of tones captured by the scanner provides fine separation of values, and color saturation and the delineation of tints and hues is a precise representation of the original image.

Evaluation And Recommendation. After 40 or so scans, all of which were improvements over previous scans of many of the film images, working with the scanner on a Mac and a Windows PC, I was quite convinced the Umax PowerLook 3000 is indeed a thoroughly professional all-in-one scanner. The clincher was a completely successful scan of a 6x4.5cm transparency shot with an 800mm lens of an off-shore oil derrick. This piece of film was one of the few I was successful reticulating, as modern color films are quite resistant to that affect. However, the reticulation pattern is quite fine, and it took the Umax's 3048dpi resolution to record it clearly.

This photograph of a dancer taken in my daylight studio with a combination of ambient and electronic flash lighting at a slow shutter speed, captured many subtle tonal variations. These slight variations in tone distinctions were accurately preserved scanning the Ektachrome 6x4.5 frame with the Umax PowerLook 3000.

Umax supplies two software drivers with the PowerLook 3000, the MagicScan 4.3 which is supplied also with less sophisticated scanners in their line, and is quite capable and easy to use, but is not as sophisticated as this excellent piece of hardware demands. That is probably why the PowerColor 4.0 package was added, which is a much more complex, and powerful scanner control application. Both are available for the Macintosh and Windows. PowerColor 4.0, unfortunately, is designed more for pre-press and CMYK output than for RGB photo purposes. This does not mean that it does not function well for RGB output, but that it is difficult to use it well, because the operation paradigm is quite alien to what a user of Photoshop would find familiar.

So, consider the Umax PowerLook 3000 for all-in-one versatility at about $2000 less than the most popular 35mm to 4x5 film scanners, and it provides really excellent scan image quality, it should be on any list to consider for serious, professional-level photo scanning. You can do better only by spending twice as much or more. For more information contact Umax Technologies, Inc., (800) 562-4000, or visit their web site at: www.umax.com.

When I was driving on a trip from Eugene, Oregon early one morning, the light coming through the clouds over the river was an incredible sight. So I stopped to capture the view on film. With the PowerLook 3000 I was able to scan this image and reproduce all of the minute color differences in the clouds and still pick up some detail in the dark foreground.

Technical Specifications

Type: Moving carriage flat-bed reflective and transmission scanner
Resolution: Lens 1. 1220x3048dpi; Lens 2. 3048x3048dpi
Sensor: Single pass 10,500 element tri-linear CCD
Focus: Automatic
Dynamic Range: 3.8
Scan Depth: 14 bit per RGB channel (42-bit RGB)
Output: 24 or 42-bit
Film Masks: Auto slide holder and film mask detection
Interface: SCSI 2
Compatibility: Macintosh and Windows
Dimensions: 21.6x16.8x8.6"
Weight: 40.7 lbs
List Price (SRP): $7695

This scene taken in late afternoon had the sun illuminating the treetops, and the rest of the scene lit by sky light. Fortunately with this 6x7 color negative, shot with a 180mm Fujinon Soft Focus lens, I was able to eliminate the blue caste caused by the skylight while keeping the coloration of the subjects true and unaffected by the elimination of the color caste.

LaserSoft SilverFast Ai For The Umax PowerLook 3000
I happened to be on the phone with LaserSoft about another matter and mentioned I was working with the PowerLook 3000. So, they sent me a copy of their software for the scanner. I soon found I could get much more scanning done in a given space of time, and obtain much better control of the output image values, to the extent of not having to do any post-scan tweaking in Photoshop using SilverFast Ai with the PowerLook 3000.

SilverFast Ai 4X is an independent alternative to a scanner's proprietary software. It offers the best in color technology including support for ICC calibration and color management. SilverFast is both an advanced professional scanning application with all of the most sophisticated tools to adjust every parameter of image quality including making selective HSL adjustment to a segment of just 1/12 of the color spectrum, just to alter skin tones for instance and not affect any other colors. In addition it is easy to learn and use. SilverFast's ScanPilot is a guided method which helps the user through the scanning process in easy steps in the correct order. SilverFast also includes automatic image adjustment, with the option of choosing one of many different types of images, like portrait or landscape, and the software does it all. Then if you want to make slight adjustments to the result of the automated adjustment, you can apply the manual tools to change any one or more dimensions of image characteristics.

The SilverFast Ai computer screen interface provides a large, sharp preview of the scan automatically sized to your workspace. The tools for sizing output and image adjustment are readily accessed. A special pop-up window aids to select sharpening on a visual basis, as well as identify the values of any pixel in an image and make the process controllably easy.

The Olympic Rain Forest was one of my favorite places to photograph when I lived in Seattle. Although the light in the forest is soft there is a great contrast range between the dark and light tones, yet a very fine distinction between many similar color tones. The Umax PowerLook 3000 was able to capture all of these very faint differences in color quite precisely reproducing an accurate representation of the scene.

 

For more information about SilverFast contact LaserSoft Imaging at (941) 383-7496 or visit their web site at: www.silverfast.com. The software package for the Umax PowerLook 3000 scanner is $1119, or $1284 for IT-8 calibration. SilverFast is available for a wide range of scanners from very high-end professional models through inexpensive consumer versions and priced accordingly. As well as an independent of any scanner means to process high-bit image files in the HDR version, Photo CD access and correction Photoshop plug-in.
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Comments
mastereed's picture
Attractive machine. I'm quite

Attractive machine. I'm quite intrigued with its features. Checking it out... Authorhouse

davesquivel's picture
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