Flatbed scanners are fine for paper documents and photo prints, but unless they have a built-in transparency adapter in the lid, they’re of little use for negatives or slides. Specialist transparency scanners usually cost several hundred pounds, but the Veho VFS-004 comes in at just under £50.
This standalone device, powered directly from its USB connection, comes with two film holders: one for three 35mm transparencies and the other for negative strips of up to six frames. Before you connect the scanner, though, you need to install its driver and the copy of Arcsoft PhotoImpression that comes with it.
The scanner needs calibrating, which is a simple matter of scanning an empty frame to get a white level. After that, the Veho software displays a live preview image of whatever’s being scanned. When you’ve framed the slide or negative, the scanner transfers it, at up to 5-megapixel resolution, to PhotoImpression or any other photo software which is TWAIN-compliant.
The software automatically inverts negatives, so you get a positive image as a result, and you can select to scan at 1,800dpi or 3,600dpi and at colour depths of 24-bit or 48-bit. A complete scan at the lower resolution and colour depth takes under a second, but even with the top settings it finishes in under five seconds.
Resulting scans, which can be saved directly as TIF or JPG files, are pretty good. Images are well defined, with the details in the originals reproduced reasonably accurately. Colours are also good, with the scanner able to react well to subtle pastels as well as brighter, vibrant colours.
PhotoImpression is a good applet for a hardware bundle and includes both photo management and editing facilities. It provides standard enhancements like red-eye removal and straightening, retouching with clone and heal brushes, and clip and selection tools.
As part of the package, Veho includes 2GB ‘me play’ account, where you can upload your scanned photos – or any others, of course – for online storage and viewing. This site is run by Veho exclusively for its customers, but there are plenty of other photo-sharing repositories, perhaps the best known being Flickr.