Epson Perfection V700 Photo

One tends to associate Epson’s Perfection family of scanners with home users who simply want to import a few old snaps or slides for archiving or printing purposes. So the latest addition to the range, the Perfection V700 Photo comes as something of a surprise, aimed as it is at a much higher-end scanner user. The different target market is reflected in the price. At a shade under £400, the V700 will be well beyond the budget of the average user, but this price point represents good value for money at this higher end of the market. Epson has firmly aimed the V700 at photo enthusiasts and advanced amateur photographers, a more expensive V750 scanner that adds extra scanning features is also available for more demanding, professional users, but we are still awaiting review units.

The V700 scanner is primarily designed for advanced transparency scanning, supplied with adaptors for 35mm film and slides, as well as medium and large-format film.

The Perfection V700 is a bulky unit, but with good reason. It uses an advanced Dual Lens technology system to provide very-high-resolution scanning. This features a Super Resolution Lens offering up to 6,400dpi film scanning at width of up to 5.9in, and a High Resolution Lens offering up to 4,800dpi reflective and film scanning.

Because the V700 features two lenses instead of the standard single lens, Epson can bring high-resolution scanning to a wider audience, by dopping the price to a more affordable level. Also, despite bulking out the scanner, the Dual Lens system doesn’t increase the A4 scanner footprint so it won’t take up any extra desk space.

The main unit itself is very deep – approximately 10cm – and so is the 5cm hood, which accommodates a full-size additional light source, so you can scan a large number of transparencies at the same time. This makes the scanner look slightly odd but, as we said, doesn’t add to the area it takes up.

The large scanning area measures up to 8 x 10in and has four film holders that support 35mm film strips plus slides and medium and large format film. You can also batch-scan multiple originals to save time. For example, it can take four strips of 35mm film, twelve 35mm mounted slides, two 6 x 20cm, 120/220 frames, and two 4 x 5in frames. The appearance of the device is suitably professional – stylish yet subdued, with a black and brushed metal finish. Unlike consumer scanners, it doesn’t have a huge array of unnecessary “one-touch” buttons on the front of the unit – just one scan button to activate the scanning software. Another nice touch is a blue LED embedded in the hood, so you can see at a glance how the scan is progressing.

It’s exceptionally fast for such a high-quality scanner. Scanning a 35mm slide at a substantial 2,400dpi takes a mere 45 seconds. Performance for reflective media is equally impressive, at just 33 seconds for a full A4 page at 300dpi. But where a scanner such as this really has to be judged is on its image quality. And the V700 doesn’t disappoint. Colour accuracy is spot on and consistent across the entire scanning surface. Clarity and accuracy are as good as you’d expect from a much more expensive scanner.

For non-professional users, the V700 comes with Epson’s standard scanner driver software, Epson Scan. This has three different user modes, depending on your level of expertise. We can’t imagine many users of the V700 will have much need for the simplistic Full Auto or Home modes, but Professional mode is advanced enough for most photography enthusiasts.

Using Professional mode you can adjust the levels histogram, tone correction, colour balance, and so on. You can also apply a number of advanced tools, such as grain reduction, automatic colour restoration, and Epson’s piece de resistance, Digital ICE. This stands for Image Correction and Enhancement, a one-click tool for repairing dust and scratches on old photos. Using Digital ICE adds a lot of time to scanning, but the results are impressive.

For the more demanding user, the V700 also comes with SilverFast SE, a cut-down version of the industry-standard software for professional scanning. SilverFast is designed for automating the scanning workflow, which will appeal to those users who need to apply filters and operations to multiple images. This is ideal, considering the V700 can scan up to 24 frames of 35mm film at a time.

OUR VERDICT

The Perfection V700 Photo is everything the aspiring professional photographer or serious enthusiast could want. Scanning speeds are fast and quality is superb. It allows you to scan in multiple transparencies and , thanks to the Dual Lens technology, brings high-resolution scanning within teh budget of semi-professional users for the first time. However, we did feel that it caters to a quite small niche in the market. While the price may bet excellent value for such a high-quality scanner, it's still by no means cheap. This puts it out of the reach of most home or small business users who would rather forgo the higher resolutions in favour of a lower price tag. On the other side of the coin, the quality may not be sufficiently high to live up to the stringent expectations of serious professionals, such as repro houses and professional photographers.

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