The Microtek ScanMaker i900
Professional Flat-Bed Scanner Features At A Consumer Price Page 2

After satisfying myself of good black and white 120 film scanning performance I moved on to color 120 film images. With color I was equally impressed, but for a very different reason. The Microtek ScanMaker i900 sensor apparently has an advantage in its response to color image information by pulling up and recording more of what is available in the film image. This enhanced color sensitivity actually makes any color correction and adjustment, like removing a color cast, easier and more effective with SilverFast.

Moving on next to scanning color slides, the SnapTrans holder is a really distinct advantage because it holds 12 slides, all of which are easily loaded and then removed after scanning. Even compared to dedicated 35mm scanners, the i900 reduces the physical effort involved in loading and removing slides, reducing the frequency of the task to a third and making the entire scanning task noticeably more efficient. I also obtained the same color response advantage I experienced making 120 scans with 35mm scans. All of the above made the entire film scanning capability a positive one, establishing for me the value and versatility of this new Microtek scanner.

In addition, I should not forget reflective or print scanning. The unit has an advantage with a 3" longer scan surface compared to most other flat-beds in the consumer scanner field. With both color and black and white prints, the print scanning experience was as easy and quick and produced as fine a quality results as with film.

On a shooting trip in the eastern part of Washington state I came across this unusually tall, isolated grain elevator. I had a new lens for a 4x5 camera with me and thought the elevator would be a good test subject. Not familiar with the lens I obtained an uneven exposure of the film top to bottom due to the camera adjustments necessary to correct for perspective distortion, and was never able to obtain a good print from the negative. Once scanned however, capturing all of the incredibly sharp subject detail with the Microtek ScanMaker i900, I was able to use Photoshop to correct for the uneven exposure to get a completely satisfactory print of this ubiquitous monument to America's wheatlands.

Evaluation And Conclusions
The Microtek ScanMaker i900 offers users an unusual combination of hardware features in a dual purpose (print and film) flat-bed scanner, including their EDIT glassless film scanning with convenient and efficient to use SnapTrans film holders, which support scanning all standard film sizes. The scanner also has very high operating specifications such as 6400x3200 optical resolution, 4.2 D-max, and 48-bit depth A/D conversion. Additionally, Digital ICE Photo Print Technology, as well as a very complete and generous software bundle at an estimated street price of $599, makes it an exceptional value.

But this positive experience begs the question: is it comparable to a more expensive scanner of the same type, like Microtek's own ArtixScan 1800f I reviewed last year? My experience is that it is close, but does not match the higher-priced scanner in all respects. For example, even though the resolution specs of the 1800f are lower, the i900 does require more software image sharpening, especially when the original size becomes smaller, and does not capture as much fine detail. This is due to the i900's six-line CCD compared to the three-line CCD of more expensive professional scanners. To some extent this one shortcoming can be overcome by careful software sharpening that is done in stages using different sharpening tools. This should avoid creating artifacts that are common to using too strong a setting with Unsharp Mask sharpening.

Although anything but an artful composition, I couldn't pass up this photograph of a wall covered with stamped steel ceiling plates. The Microtek ScanMaker i900 was able to both capture the intensity of some colors alongside the muted subtlety of others to a rare and most effective degree, resulting in a print that did full justice to the subject.

My recommendation is that if your scan needs include scanning prints and a variety of large- and medium-sized film, and your budget is limited, you cannot do better than the Microtek ScanMaker i900. If the only film you have to scan is 35mm, you are best served by getting a dedicated 35mm scanner, like the Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf, which is now selling for close to the same price as the i900.

Technical Specifications
Bit Depth/Optical Density: True 48-bit color/4.2 max. optical density
Optical Resolution: 6400x3200dpi
Max. Interpolated Resolution: 25,600x25,600
Scan Area: 8.5x14" Reflective; 8x10" Film/Transparencies
Interface Type: FireWire and Hi-Speed USB
Platforms: Windows and Macintosh
Included Software: LaserSoft Imaging's SilverFast Ai 6 (PC/Mac); Adobe's Photoshop Elements 2.0 (PC/Mac); Adobe's Photoshop Album SE version (PC); Microtek's ScanWizard Pro (PC/Mac); Microtek's Scan, Copy, Email, OCR, Scan-to-Web utilities (PC/Mac); Microtek's LANShare: LAN scanner sharing utility (PC); ABBYY's FineReader Sprint OCR (PC/Mac); Kodak's Digital Science Color Management (PC/Mac); Ulead's Photo Explorer (PC/Mac); Adobe's Acrobat Reader (PC/Mac)
Included Hardware: FireWire and Hi-Speed USB cables; power adapter
Included Accessories: SnapTrans film holders: 35mm slides (for 12 slides), 35mm filmstrips (for 12 frames), 4x5" (for two); medium format (for four), and additional glass tray for scanning film transparencies up to 8x10"; Kodak reflective and transmissive IT-8 targets
Optional Accessory: Additional SnapTrans film holders
Image Sensor: 24,480-element Sigma Six CCD
Scanner Weight: 24.7 lbs
Scanner Dimensions: 23.6x15.2x6.3"
Estimated Street Price: $599

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