Epson’s F-3200 film scanner is a mid-priced model aimed to appeal to both keen amateurs and experienced pros by marrying ease of use with sophisticated features. Think of it as a photo lab in a box.
Most of us will be looking to scan 6-x-4-inch prints and tidy up dirt or scratches, and that’s what the F-3200 offers at its most basic, bundling Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, the pared-down version of the exemplar image editor. Aimed at the more-advanced user is the ability to digitize batches of 35mm and medium-format film, while a built-in LCD screen allows users to preview scans. Interestingly, the F-3200 claims to be the first dedicated film scanner to feature a memory-card slot for direct scanning – of note because the latest generation of cards are now cheap enough to offer an alternative format for archiving. Compatibility is offered for CompactFlash, SD, SmartMedia, Memory Stick and xD-Picture Card.
If you’re looking to re-print re-touched scans or colour positives of negatives, the F3200 can be linked directly to the Epson Stylus Photo 2100 or R800 printers (the later requires a Firmware update, provided on a 16MB CompactFlash); for other models simply print via a Mac. Since printing is Epson’s primary business, a dedicated ‘PhotoPrint’ button is given prominent position on the front of the device.
However most of us will want to scan our images via USB directly into Photoshop (File?Import?Epson F-3200); bundled Epson Scan software allows you to do this almost at the press of a button. Five trays are provided in all for a variety of neg and print formats. A pop-up window gives you the choice of selecting ‘Home mode’ for those who need hand-holding or ‘Professional mode’ for those who want to effect manual tweaks. Default resolution is set at 300dpi, though you can go up to 12,800dpi, and 24-bit colour. As expected, preferred settings can be saved in the pro mode. In operation the F-3200 is relatively quiet and commendably swift: a preview scan of reflective media takes all of six seconds, while a second full scan still comes in at under ten.
Allow space on your desk top both in front and behind the machine for loading the tray holding the media, which disappears into the device and protrudes from the rear when scanning is in progress.
The photo hobbyist or pro who’s shot a variety of film formats over their career and now wants to create a digital archive will probably get the most out of the Epson F-3200. Although the price might daunt non-enthusiasts, that’s about the only minus: build quality is good, the device is compact (if weighty) and generally you get what you pay for; I don’t want to give it back.