UMAX’s PowerLook 2702 Film Scanner; Affordable, And Great, 35mm Scan Quality Page 2

But I had only scanned slides so far, and compared to color and black and white negatives, slides are a walk in the park. I have usually found that negatives can be a real uphill climb to correct and adjust to an ideal final scan. As you have experienced I am sure, scanning any negative involves a certain amount of mystery, especially when the subject image is not fresh in your memory.

Although the fundamentals have not changed, I found the negative scanning to be less of a challenge than anticipated. I suspect a part of this is attributable to LaserSoft, as SilverFast's NegaFix seemed to work best when scanning color negatives on a film for which there is a manufacturer, brand, and speed choice to match. More surprising was one scanner characteristic that soon became apparent. When 2700-2800dpi scanners were first introduced, and until they were superceded by 4000dpi models, scanning negative films seemed to yield an interference effect which exaggerated apparent graininess. With this new UMAX scanner, film grain as an image artifact was more subdued, and consistent with the actual grain size and pattern in the film original. The result was that many of the attributes of the color negative scans were more like those of slower, finer-grained slide scans, while image detail and acutance was at the high level one should expect from the particular color negative film involved. And although using SilverFast to scan black and white films was generally effective, particularly chromogenic C-41 process films, I still found it was an advantage to scan black and white negatives as a raw, high-bit positive file and then do all of the processing and inversion in Photoshop.

On a trip to Maui, driving along one of the mountain roads, I came across a scene of the most unusually colored native grass backlit to contrast brilliantly with the surrounding scene. The new UMAX PowerLook 2702 scanner was able to reproduce the rather extreme values in the scene as well as preserve the striking color contrasts.
Photos © 2005, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved

Evaluation And Recommendation
Although I was eager to test and evaluate this new UMAX PowerLook 2702 because of its very accessible $299 price, and realized prices for all kinds of digital gear have fallen precipitously with under $500 computers, past experience with bargain scanners made me skeptical. Some of that doubt was allayed because the package contains LaserSoft's excellent professional-quality SilverFast Ai 6 software, but that did not entirely overcome my skepticism. However, after filling a couple of CDs with test scans and obtaining at least minimally acceptable results from sometimes dubious quality film images, I would say that the unit tested quite satisfactorily. Of course, the scan results cannot compare with a scanner with twice the resolution, but as long as the final output is a letter-size print it would be hard to say the UMAX PowerLook 2702 is in any way inferior. And even taking the images to 12x18" on 13x19" paper, the print image quality is very, very good.

In the past scanning black and white 35mm film has too often been an exercise in frustration, producing excessive apparent graininess, harshness, and poor tonal gradation. This portrait image was reproduced by the UMAX PowerLook 2702 with smooth tones defining a subtle, fair complexion while rendering the subject's features with sharp, bright contrast and detail.
© 2005, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved

When I was still running a studio I'd take a break between often mundane commercial jobs to do fun experiments in the studio with props and lighting. With the help of SilverFast and this new UMAX scanner I was able to reproduce one of those experiments with the image values as I saw them in the viewfinder and with the effect I had hoped to capture in a photograph.
© 2005, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved

Although digital cameras are taking over more and more of what has been done with 35mm SLRs in the past, what was recorded on film in the past still demands digital access. This means that units like the UMAX PowerLook 2702 have a real place in the digital darkroom for many if not most photographers. This economical package should enable many more people to more fully enjoy their photography and what can be done in a digital darkroom. This is one product that does not require any serious compromises, and it is affordable.

Technical Specifications
Method: Single pass
Element: Color CCD
Light Source: Cold cathode fluorescent lamp
Optical Resolution: 2700x2700dpi
Maximum Resolution: 2700x2700dpi
Maximum Scanning Area: 2mm/3mm mounted slides, 35mm filmstrip (transparency)
Scan Modes: 48-bit (color mode), 16-bit (gray scale mode)
Hardware Interface: USB 2.0
Dimensions: 13.6x6.4x5.9"
Net Weight: 5.73 lbs
System Requirements: Pentium 2 or higher processor; PowerMac G5, G4, G3, or iMac operating system; Microsoft Windows 98/98SE/Me/2000/XP; Mac OS 10.1.x to 10.3.x; USB port; 64MB RAM (128MB recommended); CD-ROM drive; 300MB available hard disk space
PowerLook 2702 With SilverFast Ai 6 Software Bundle: LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast Ai 6, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0
Price: $299

For more information, contact UMAX Technologies, Inc., 10460 Brockwood Rd., Dallas, TX 75238; (214) 342-9799;