Konica Minolta’s DiMAGE Scan Dual IV; Make Superb High-Resolution Scans From 35mm Slides And Negatives

Flat-bed scanners are remarkably popular and they outsell dedicated film scanners by a wide margin. That's understandable because flat-beds are affordable, simple to operate, and can produce excellent scans of photographic prints, art work, and even small objects. Many of the latest models are even more versatile, capable of scanning frames of film as well, using a transparency adapter unit (TPU). While film scanners can produce even higher image quality from "tiny" 35mm slides and negatives, such models have been substantially more expensive and more complicated. That's changing rapidly. Today you can buy a high-resolution film scanner for under $250 and it will produce excellent scans with great ease of use.

A perfect example of this trend, the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual IV ($239, street price) boasts a full 3200dpi resolution and other impressive specifications. Take advantage of its advanced capabilities and you'll get several benefits over flat-bed scans of 35mm film: more detail in bright highlight and dark shadow areas, fewer optical aberrations such as Newton's rings (a rainbow-hued circular pattern), less digital noise (colored specks) in shadow areas, and superior definition of fine detail.

Convenience And Ease Of Use
Although this is a pro-caliber scanner in some respects, the 15-minute setup and installation process is quite easy, guided by the instruction manual and on-screen recommendations. The kit includes holders for four slides and for a six-frame strip of negatives; these are sturdy and well-designed. After reading the step by step instructions, I loaded some negatives and launched the Easy Scan Utility software that allows for virtually decision-free scanning. In a couple of minutes, I made my first high-resolution scan, with 12.5-megapixel resolution in a 35MB TIFF file.

Start with a sharp 35mm slide or negative without obvious technical problems, and the DiMAGE Scan Dual IV will generate a beautiful digital image using the fully automatic Auto Image Correction feature. (A 3200dpi scan; no further adjustments made.)

Although Konica Minolta also provides the DS Dual 4 Utility software, with numerous user-selectable features, the Easy Scan Utility is a fine starting point. It's simple and intuitive to use, perfect for anyone without much experience with complicated image-enhancing tools. Easy Scan Utility is also great when you need to work quickly and do not have time for making many pre-scan adjustments. Start with a slide or negative that does not exhibit any serious technical problems, and you can make good scans quickly, using the automated features.

After a brief warm-up period, insert the film holder and identify the film type, as prompted. Click on the [Next] button and the software will generate a thumbnail preview. Select the "Auto Image Correction" feature and decide whether you want to apply the fully automated "Dust Removal" tool (recommended) and the "Reduce Grain" tool (necessary only for ISO 800 or 1600 film). Autofocus and cropping will be completed automatically.




The screens available in the Easy Scan Utility software (A and B) were designed for great simplicity of use while the options available in the DS Dual 4 Utility (C) include more sophisticated tools to satisfy the advanced imaging enthusiast. (Not all screens and options are shown in these illustrations.)

Click on the [Next] button, and select one of the options for the scan: for a specific print size that you plan to make, for a 3- or 5-megapixel image file, or the "highest resolution" scan that's ideal if you want to make large prints. Click the [Scan] button, provide a file name and a "Save To" location in your computer, and specify TIFF as the file format. If you selected the "Save at Highest Resolution" (3200dpi) option, the DiMAGE Scan Dual IV will generate a 4300x2900 pixel image in about one minute with a fast PC with USB 2.0 connection for high-speed data transfer. In the lower resolution settings, the scanning speed is much faster.

Open the TIFF image in Photoshop Elements 2.0 software (included) and you should find that it's quite pleasing. Be sure to sharpen it with Unsharp Mask or another filter, because the Easy Scan Utility offers no option for adjusting sharpness. If you want greater control over your subsequent scans, try this: Check the "Adjust Image" box in the Easy Scan Utility and the software will provide convenient slider controls for correcting brightness, contrast, and color saturation (richness). Make adjustments until the small preview image appears to be just right and you should be even happier with the resulting scans.