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[filmscanners] Minolta 5400 scan Elite Tests


After hunting everywhere for a proper review of the Minolta 5400, and not
really finding any, I decided to buy the thing. I have been playing around
with it for a short while only, but I thought I'll share my initial
impressions with the group. The scanner was an upgrade to my trusty Canon
FS2710 which have served me faithfully with several thousand scans (and I'm
sure it is fit enough to do several thousand more). I have made several
scans with a Canon FS4000 which I borrowed for a while and therefore can
compare the Minolta with scans made with the Canon.

After opening the box, I was very disappointed to find it had an external
power supply which was an American version only. (110V fixed, with a very
strange looking 2 bladed plug). How can they sell an $800 scanner and not at
least have a 110-240V input power supply included? In fact, why not just
build the Power supply into the scanner like everybody else? Ok, so I hauled
out my old 0-24 variable power supply and connected it to the scanner. I'll
go look for a power supply later.

Compared to the FS4000 on a 2.4GHz P4 with 512Mb RAM on Win2k, I found the
- Scan times: At highest resolution, it is slower than the Canon. Using an
Adaptec SCSi card on the Canon, I was doing 4 scans @ 4000dpi with Fare on
and 3x multi scan (on Vuescan) in about 1 hour. On the Minolta, 4 scans on
Vuescan with Ice on Medium at 3x multi scan took about 1hour 15 minutes
using USB1. I was rather hoping for the Minolta to be a bit faster, but
maybe if I upgrade to USB 2 or get Firewire...
- Image quality - Colour: Looking at the scans side by side, I noticed that
the Canon's colours are much richer and saturated than the Minolta. The
Minolta looked duller by comparison, but I hope I can improve that with some
scan settings. The true colour of the slide (Fuji Velvia) was actually
somewhere in between these two results.
- Image quality - sharpness: The Canon was definitely sharper and more
snappy on the same image. This could be (and I suspect it is) the effect of
Digital Ice vs Canon Fare. I intend to do another test with Ice off
(unfortunately I scanned all my Canon samples with Fare on) The difference
was very obvious and before sharpening, the Minolta scans looked pretty bad
compared to the Canon's.
- Dynamic range: I was very upbeat when I saw the amount of shadow detail
and low shadow noise recorded by the Minolta as compared to the Canon, until
I looked at the highlight detail. The highlights in the Minolta was much
more blown out than on the Canon. I noted that, for example in a landscape
with clouds, I could make out a lot more subtle white variations in the
clouds of the Canon scan than the Minolta. It is clear to me that I have
some exposure settings to tune. I suspect, in spite of the much higher
specification of the Minolta in DRange, there won't not that much difference
between the 2 in the end. I'll do more testing there.
- Other: File sizes are, off course huge (200Mb plus). At high resolutions
the difference in pixel size between the two scanners does become quite
obvious (which is why I bought it in the first place). I also noted that
there were some artifacts visible in one or two places of the Minolta scan
(like a line with a few disjointed pixels running across the width of the
scan) I wonder if that has anything to do with the scan speed (it stops
several times during the duration of a scan). I saw something similar in the
Canon scans, using USB, until I plugged it into the SCSI card and it
disappeared. (With the SCSI, the Canon scanned continuously, without

I don't have any definite conclusions yet, because I would be doing a lot
more scanning and testing with the new Minolta, but so far, I just realized
that that the Canon FS4000 is in fact a remarkable scanner for the money,
compared to the Minolta which is, at least on paper, the best available


         Thys van der Merwe
Portfolio of African Images:
Cell: (+27) 83-441-3108
Tel: (+27) 35-753-3766
Fax: (+27) 35-753-4489

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