How can you immediately tell the difference between a good scanner operator and a mediocre one?

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Training for the scanner operator is as essential as good hardware and scanning software.

A good scanner operator never has to use Adobe Photoshop for any corrections whatsoever. A professional scanner does all the color correction and all operations within the scanning software, before the scan. The only reason you need Photoshop is to resize the object if you need another size.

A beginner, or a lazy scanner operator (such as myself several years ago), will just use the scanner software to move the scanned image into Photoshop, and will do all the color corrections in Photoshop.

lidded basal slide scan
Maya, A.D. 200, Museo Popol Vuh, Guatemala. Scanned from a 6x6 cm transparency.

If you your scanner accepts SilverFast, then by SilverFast and scan with that. SilverFast is far superior to Photoshop anyway. If your scanner is a Creo or other prepress scanner than your $10,000 scanner software most likely has the features included in Silver Fast. Fortunately SilverFast does not cost $10,000.

A good operator is as important as good hardware. It is crucial that the budget takes into account the need for training and the cost of training.

Even with an idiot-proof scanner, an idiot will get poor results. We have witnessed a case where even a trained photographer and a trained Photoshop person both failed totally to produce good scans with a Umax scanner--they had zero training.

Yet Lance Beck and Andrea David (of our FLAAR team) were able to get professional results, simply because they were willing to learn.

A "low bid" scanner is an invitation to low quality scans. A midrange or high-end scanner, if it has good scanning software, is more cost-effective in the long run than a cheap scanner with no-name software.


FLAAR Premium Report - Series on Scanners

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35mm slide scanner review (gateway to links)

gateway to links and additional reviews of scanning equipment

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Review of Kodak 4x5 format scanner

lots of links to information on desktop publishing hardware/software,

review of the technology behind Photo CD's; reading this will change your opinion

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