The huge surge in sales of flat-bed scanners in the last couple of years has not been matched by sales of film scanners. Yet, from a technical viewpoint, film scanners are much more desirable for scanning photos. A significant degree of image quality is lost when the image from a negative or transparency slide is transferred to a photographic print. With a scanned slide or negative, everything is better, including sharpness, contrast and colour.
Canon’s FS2710 film scanner is one of the less expensive examples of its type. But at five hundred quid it’s as much as ten times the cost of a cheap flat-bed unit. Therein lies a hint as to the relative lack of popularity of film scanners. This is a great shame as the FS2710 is a superb photo imaging tool compared to even the best flat-bed scanners. As a bonus, there’s even an APS film format adapter in the box.
The FS2710 actually has a maximum optical resolution of 2,720dpi. This makes the full area of a 35mm frame equivalent to a size larger than A4 at a print scanning resolution of 300dpi. It’s a SCSI device and is supplied with an Adaptec PCI interface card. A USB version would be even nicer, but sometimes you can’t have everything.
A small plastic dust shield hides the aperture through which mounted slides, film strips or the APS adapter need to be inserted. Single slides can be fed straight in one at a time. Film strips are fitted into a plastic frame which then loads as if it was an extended mounted slide. The film holder moves internally to its scanning position via a motorised carriage. It takes about 15 seconds to scan a full 35mm frame, but on top of that you need to add the pre-scan process and the time it takes for the film holder to arrive in the correct scanning position.
The supplied CanoScan software is TWAIN* compatible, even though none of the documentation or Canon publicity material mentions this. However, our test application, MicroGrafx Picture Publisher 8.0, was not able to automatically trigger the Canon TWAIN interface. It worked fine in manual mode, though, and results were very good indeed. Scans of both negatives and slides had a superb clarity and depth compared with the same images scanned from prints.
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