Epson Perfection 2450 Photo/Film Scanner
From Open Requirement to Trusted Workplace ColleagueReview by Keith Krebs, Editor
Persistence of Vision Image Service
Every so often, we all have to upgrade those workhorse standby products we depend upon everyday to accomplish basic office home or home/office tasks. Several weeks back I was faced with one of those unexpected and unwelcome replacement/upgrade tasks when my trustworthy UMax flatbed started having obvious problems producing decent scans. It looked like a problem with the stepping motor and given the relatively low cost of the original unit (approx $100) and its age (3 years+) it was obviously time for a new unit.
My old UMax flatbed had not been able to produce scans of transparencies, but I already had a Polaroid SprintScan 4000 on hand. Therefore, the ability to produce high quality scans from 35mm slides or negatives was not a consideration, but I still was hoping for an option around a few hundred dollars that might enable me to do the scans of larger transparencies and objects a unit like the Agfa DuoScans had enabled me to do in the past. No small task, but, I figured that given the steady march of technology, such a solution should be out there somewhere.
That brings me to the EPSON Perfection 2450 Photo Scanner ($399 list, approx $370 street). In looking for units, another key factor for me was compatibility with Ed Hamrick's marvelous and always up-to-date VueScan scanning software; the last thing I want to do is learn new software for every scanner I use. At the time, Ed's software was not compatible with the comparable Canon offerings and a comparable compatible HP scanner was nearly double the list cost of the EPSON unit. Had using a smaller transparency footprint been an option for me, I might have more seriously considered the EPSON Perfection 1650 Photo Scanner (the Photo designation here indicating it comes with a transparency adapter).
I had read some reports from early purchasers of 2450's complaining that the unit had numerous dust specks on the underside of the flatbed glass and hesitated a bit before going ahead with the purchase (not all reviewers get free toys to play with, nor are all the reviews based upon testing demo units) and ordering a unit from Mwave.com. The unit arrived on time and in great condition. After all the reports I had read of ubiquitous dust on the underside of the flatbed glass, I was pleased to find only one very small dust mote on mine. Assuming my unit is representative of currently shipping units, either EPSON has taken extra steps to control/avoid the kind of dust that was appearing, or simply that early production runs may have suffered from some issues that EPSON has since resolved.
For full specifications, you can see the end of this piece: the short version is the 2450 is a 48 bit, 2400x4800 dpi reflective flatbed scanner with an ability to scan transparencies up to 4"x9". The unit is USB and FireWire enabled. It comes with a USB cable (nice touch but why a USB 1.1 cable when the scanner is USB 2.0 ready?), but not a FireWire cable, as well as PhotoShop Elements (a nice bonus for those not already using PhotoShop).
The 2450's TPU (transparency illuminator) is built into the lid.
Shown here with the 35mm slide template on the scanner bed.
Unlike many of its own siblings (the 1640SU for example) and competing products, the 2450 integrates the transparency adapter/illuminator directly into the scanner lid. To scan a transparency or slide, you simply remove the standard reflective background pad from the lid, place the transparency into the appropriate included template and scan away
Initial setup was a breeze following EPSON's included Quick Start Guide/Poster. Just make sure you install the software and hardware in the order specified by the guide. The scanner basics guide was a bit more informative, but some basic questions were left unaddressed by either guide. As an example, until I actually used the unit, it was unclear to me how it recognized transparencies once the template was in place. (It turns out it does so automatically by recognizing the template)
Epson's TWAIN software in automatic mode
For basic everyday scanning use, a user can choose the EPSON Smart Panel, which will walk novices through basic scanning by task (image to e-mail, image to print, etc.). For those unversed in scanning and digital imaging it will certainly help them along. Although, I might question some of the assumptions made by the software for more advanced users, it will keep the unschooled out of any real trouble while giving them good scans..
Epson's TWAIN software in manual mode
For more serious scanning, EPSON bundles LaserSoft SE and a TWAIN interface. For some tasks (primarily capturing test target images when profiling printer inks/media for Profiler Plus , which recommends a gamma of 1.5) I actually find SilverFast easier to use than my generally preferred VueScan, while TWAIN interfaces tend to be quirky on my dual-cpu machine. EPSON's twain interface for the 2450 was no different, and would not work from within PhotoShop 6 or any other TWAIN enabled applications I had running. I generally find myself using SilverFast with the 2450 when I need a specific non-standard target gamma image and VueScan for the balance of my scanning at gammas of 1.8 and 2.2
Lasersoft's SilverFast AI v5.5 software for Epson 2450
Scans from the unit are fast! Even on a USB 1.1 port, usable previews of the flatbed took about 6 seconds each (excluding initial scanner warmup time). A 600 dpi scan of a 4"x5" original took about 1 minute and 15 seconds, but when cranking up to the full 2400 dpi resolution, be prepared to wait... A full resolution scan of a 120 Slide took over ten minutes. Keep in mind, however, that most reflective scans stop achieving additional useful data after about 600 dpi and one need not worry about waiting if transparencies are not the central scanning task.
Reflective images and transparencies are very well color balanced as they come from the scanner. It's a pleasure not finding oneself doing extensive color correction on each and every scan. Flatbed scans of color, as well as B&W, prints were consistently outstanding from the very first scan I made with the 2450. I was easily able to scan in 8x10 prints to rework as a component of a model's composite card.
Here's the 35mm film strip template with color negatives
Scans of slides and transparencies were as good as one might reasonably expect from a dual use unit like this. Although dense areas of negatives and slides are beyond the capabilities of the unit (and not up to those of a dedicated film scanner), one should be able to easily produce quite good 8 x 10 prints (depending on their printer) using a well exposed 120 slide that follows the rules of the Zone System (I did). Even brooding slides of scenics shot in typical Irish weather reproduced well. The scanner will not be the weak link in that workflow. The integration of the transparency adapter directly into the scanner lid is significantly more elegant and dependable a solution than is the all-too-common separate transparency adapter one often struggles with. on competing units and EPSON siblings.
When scanning slides or negatives with the templates, the Epson TWAIN software will automatically detect the template in use and generate the appropriate thumbnails. You can select one or all of them and then scan the selected negatives or slides in an automated batch fashion.
Epson includes three film templates with the 2450 scanner: One or two 35mm film strips (up to six frames long), four mounted 35mm slides, and a combination template for 120/220 and 4x5" film.
This is a 1200dpi (2621x1892) scan of an old 120 color negative. I used SilverFast AI 5.5 and brought it into PhotoShop for color balancing. No sharpening has been applied. The 14.8MB image was saved to JPEG using quality 85 to make it more download friendly (980KB).
This is a 1:1 crop from the original scan in uncompressed TIF format (547KB).
The EPSON Perfection 2450 Photo is probably an ideal solution for a photographer or graphics person needing a flatbed unit to complement a 35mm film scanner. It gives the ability to scan larger transparencies as needed and performs as an exemplary flatbed unit. For professional photographers or serious amateurs in need of a flatbed scanner, the EPSON 2450 gets my vote. It also would be my first choice for individuals needing a flatbed scanner, who can derive benefits from the ancillary transparency scanning -- such as a hobbyist / amateur photographer with medium format transparencies.
Overall, I would rate the unit at 4.5 out of a possible 5.
My congratulations to EPSON on producing a unit that does an outstanding job in its designed role. For all but dedicated film scanning, I unreservedly recommend the 2450. I would anticipate it will be a long term work partner in my office and in the studio.