Last year’s fad in scanning was the lightweight, sub-£100 flatbed. This year, companies such as Epson look like setting a trend for professional-class scanners around the £200 to £300 mark. As a case in point, the Epson Perfection 2450 Photo is small and easy to use, not to mention affordable, but performs like it belongs in a studio.
It’s a 48-bit, A4 flatbed built with Epson’s Matrix CCD technology, supporting a maximum optical sampling-rate of 2,400-x-4,800dpi. In practice, you can’t scan the entire surface of the A4 plate at this top resolution: it’s really there just for enlarging crops and, of course, transparencies.
Although the Perfection 2450 Photo is sluggish by Epson’s own speedy standards, things are helped by dual support for backwards-compatible USB 2.0 and FireWire connections. The scanner is wonderfully quiet, unlike practically all other professional scanners on the market.
The lid over the scanning plate doubles-up as a transparency light hood with a limited 4-x-9-inch illuminated area. The machine comes supplied with a set of transparency holders for 35mm mounted slides and film strips, plus 6-x-9cm and 4-x-5-inch format originals. Although it’s possible to simply drop a tranny roughly in the right area, the Epson TWAIN driver insists that you use one of the guides, so
it can preview and scan complete frames.
If you don’t, it tends to auto-recognize it as a 4-x-5-inch original, and attempts to scan the whole area without letting you crop in. At 2,400dpi, you’d end up waiting half an hour, and getting a 600MB scan.
Otherwise, the driver and software bundle is mostly helpful and friendly. Beginners and lazy users can switch on the Full Auto mode, which recognizes not just the crop around your original, but its type too, and sends the scan to the appropriate program on your Mac.
Manual mode lets you set-up each scan in the conventional manner, although the image-enhancement tools are limited: even descreen and unsharp mask are non-adjustable on/off filters. Despite all this, scan results are excellent, and our calibrated-target test produced scores comparable to scanners costing twice the price.
The 2450’s scanning software Epson Smart Panel, which makes most scanning tasks a no-brainer – except for Scan To OCR, which keeps popping-up resolution and colour warnings that beginners are unlikely to understand. Another disappointment is the lack of support for Mac OS X, or even Classic Mode. Also, the one-touch button at the front of the scanner simply won’t work – nor, will any of the software install – correctly unless you boot-up in Mac OS 8.6 or 9.x. Epson is promising Mac OS X drivers this year.