How's about a section for reader reviews? Every time I buy a new piece of equipment or new software (either before or after) I have the urge to look for user reviews of that equipment. After I've used it for a while, I have the urge to tell people what a great thing it is (or how really bad it is, depending). It might make an interesting reader service.<br><br>And yes, I know that reading reviews after buying something is akin to locking the barn door after the horse has flown, but I do it anyway.<br><br>John<br>[color:red]I don't need no steenkin' signature!</font color=red>
#1888 - 07/09/0102:53 PMMy Money Where My Mouth is: example
Primefilm 1800i 35mm Film Scanner<br><br>At a time when digital cameras have become mainstream products, what is the rationale behind the Primefilm 1800i film scanner? Well, for starters, there’s the matter of cost. At a suggested $199.00 US, this little consumer scanner plus a $300.00 35mm SLR makes for an attractive combination: one that produces 4.2 megapixel digital pictures for under five hundred dollars. Try to find an equivalent digital camera for that price! Then of course, there’s the matter of getting all those years-old 35mm pictures into your computer for retouching and printing or publishing on the Internet. I don’t know about you, but I have literally thousands of slides and colour negative frames stashed throughout my house.<br><br>The Primefilm 1800i is the Mac version of a popular new product from Pacific Image. “Mac version” in this instance meaning it has a transparent blue/ translucent white case. Otherwise, it appears to be the same product sold to Windows users. The device itself weighs a bit more than a pound and is about as large as a powered hard drive, so it isn’t hard to carry around.<br><br>This film scanner attaches via the USB port on your newish Mac (pre-USB Mac users have to either forget it or install a USB card — not a bad idea, if possible). This created a minor problem with my first edition iBook SE, which has only one USB port. I couldn’t use a mouse with my iBook unless I bought a hub, which would add bulk and cost to what I had hoped would be a portable scanning station.<br><br>Now, before I go much further, let me emphasize that this product is aimed squarely at the consumer market. If you need scans of 35mm film for reproduction-quality, full-page digital files, you should look at the fine offerings from Nikon, Minolta or other manufacturers who offer higher resolution and more professional software. In its niche, the Primefilm 1800 is an amazing box, considering the low price.<br><br>Speaking of software, Pacific Image provides a slew of little applications, all but one of which aren’t worth much. The exception is the scanning app itself, Cyberview. While the latter is capable, the others are half-hearted ports from Windows whose features are more likely than not to be unavailable to Macintosh users. No matter — the important part works just fine, although at least one feature, the ability to colour-correct in CMY as well as RGB, is missing from the Mac application.<br><br>Using Cyberview with this scanner, you can scan either slides or negatives in either 24-bit colour or (get this!) 36-bit colour. Given the exposure and colour controls in the software, a scan can provide a lot of information to Photoshop for further editing. Having 12 bits of information per channel means you can make fairly substantial corrections to gamma or curves in PS without posterizing the heck out of colours.<br><br>Which is important, since it can be difficult to get a scan perfect using Cyberview. Close is as good as you can expect, particularly using colour negative originals. Assuming you have properly-exposed slides or negs, you can get decent results using the automatic settings in the software. You may even find your scans exceed the quality of prints from your local photofinisher! It is ironic that you might find the cost of Photoshop exceeds that of your scanner/camera combination!<br><br>User reviews on the Net sometimes mention a “grinding noise” when the scanner is operating. My unit was pretty quiet for the most part, but when the scan head slowed down, as it must to allow for a longer exposure, the stepper motor changes its pitch, making for more clicky noises while a scan is in progress. I do not believe this to be a mechanical fault or sign of future problems. Others complain about their units arriving DOA. All I can say is, mine was fine, but be certain, as with all hardware if you are ordering by mail, that the vendor has a reasonable return policy.<br><br>In use, the Primefilm 1800 is reasonably quiet. There is a hinged film holder built in to the unit, which makes loading slides or film strips easy. The film surface itself does not come into contact with glass, so dust and Newton rings caused by touching a glass surface are not a problem. Dust on the film itself, however, can be quite a problem at 1800 dpi, so you’ll likely need a decent anti-static cloth or brush as an accessory. Either that, or be prepared for hours of “fun” retouching.<br><br>Scans take perhaps 45 seconds at the most and previews are a fraction of that.<br><br>There is a one-touch scan button on the front of the unit for those who need to do a lot of scanning automatically. Start the software, centre the 35mm frame in the film holder, push the button and your scan gets done automatically.<br><br>The scans themselves are good, particularly considering the cost. I found them to be slightly noisy when examined at 1:1, but on an 8x10 print, the noise doesn’t show up. (Noise in this case refers to visual noise.) Note that a full-frame scan is 1800 x 2400 pixels, which works out to 6 x 8 inches at 300 ppi. However, I have found that 240 ppi works well on my Epson 1440 dpi printer, giving a print of 7.5 x 10 inches.<br><br>A 36-bit full-frame scan creates about a 24 megabyte file. Since I prefer to hang on to the raw files in case I want to recorrect later, I found that a couple of dozen scans eats up a lot of hard drive space. Fortunately CD-R prices are low these days; you could find yourself doing a lot of archiving to avoid filling up your hard drive.<br><br>Photoshop allows a limited amount of editing of 16-bit per channel files, but no filters. Once you have cropped, colour-corrected, adjusted levels or curves and done whatever you need to get the file looking good, you will probably want to change to 8-bit per channel mode. this will cut file size, print times and processing times down to as little as one half. You will then have access to the full range of Photoshop controls.<br><br>In summary, if you need or want a 35mm film scanner to get those slides or negatives into your system, but you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars doing it, the Pacific Image Primefilm 1800 might be just what you are looking for. If you are looking for a fully professional solution, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you don’t relish the thought of retouching some dust specks on every scan and prefer the clean look of a digital photograph, a digital camera is something you might give thought to. Just prepare yourself for some sticker shock when you price those 3+ megapixel SLR’s.<br><br>John<br>[color:red]I don't need no steenkin' signature!</font color=red>
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