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filmscanners: Scanning 4x5 under $500 US?

Not this question again!  But scanners are coming way down in price, their
resolution is going up, and now 12, 14, and even 16 bits per color are
readily available.  I have some 20 year old 4x5s (B&W, negative, and slide)
that I would like to play with again - I haven't worked with them or done
any large format since I no longer have my own darkroom.

I am in the market for a flatbed scanner that can do  reasonable job with 4
by 5 film.  I figure 1200 dpi is good enough for what I want, although I
have nothing against 1600 or 2400 dpi.  ;-)  My main concern with any
flatbed scanner is the noise, particularly in slide shadows.  The scanners I
am considering are:

Epson Perfection 1640SU Photo  -  $299, USB & SCSI, 1600 dpi
Microtek ScanMaker 5700 - $332, Firewire, 1200 dpi
HP ScanJet 7400C - $440, SCSI and USB, 2400 dpi
Canon Canoscan D2400F - $467, USB, 2400 dpi
Agfa - no longer makes consumer scanners

My questions about these scanners are:

1) Has anybody compared the noise or image quality of these scanners.  I
would really like information where someone has tested at least two of these
scanners, using either slides or negatives, and can state that scanner A is
better than scanner B for the following reason...

2) Can anybody verify that these scanners work with VueScan, particularly on
the Mac, either OS 9 or X?  It looks like the HP and Epson run under VueScan
but that the Microtek and Canon will not.

3) Are the outputs of the HP and Epson limited to sRGB?  I have been lead to
believe that this is the case with their consumer scanners.

4) Do all except the Microtek "fake" their high resolution by either
microstepping a single CCD or using a pair of CCDs?  I don't think any are
using CCDs with more than 10,400 elements.

5) The Canon features FARE (similar to ICE).  Does it require one scan or
two in order to read the IR image?  I am concerned about image registration

6) Is the output of the HP 16 bits or is it only capable of outputting 8
bits per color?  With HP's software and with VueScan?

7) Any hidden gottchas?  Like no exposure control, crappie software, etc.

8) How much would I gain by going up to $1000?  I am thinking here of the
Epson 1680 or the Microtek 8700.

Dean Shough


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