Canon CanoScan 9950F
The Canon CanoScan 9950F gets our vote for one of the coolest flatbed scanner designs on the market. Its blue-backlit power button and shiny, black body make it look more like a BMW than an office machine. Alas, looks aren't everything. The 9950F's speed, scan quality, and feature set are solid but not spectacular.
You won't have to give up much desk real estate for the 9950F; its 11.4-by-20-inch footprint occupies relatively little space. Setup is simple. Just install the necessary drivers and software, and connect the scanner to a USB (PC) or FireWire (Mac) port; you'll be ready to scan in about 5 minutes. Four buttons for accessing basic scanning options (Scan, Copy, PDF, and E-mail) line the front panel. From within ScanGear's interface, you can select between two scanning modes, Simple and Advanced. In Simple mode, you can choose the type of original (reflective, positive, or negative), pick from a few output sizes, and select 150dpi or 300dpi output resolution. Advanced mode gives you more control; you get tools to adjust brightness/contrast, gamma, and a pair of tone-curve palettes, with scan resolutions available from 75dpi to 4,800dpi. If you have a group of originals that need the same corrections applied, just save the settings in the Favorites box and reapply to subsequent scans.
Unlike some manufacturers that license Kodak's Digital ICE technology for restoring prints, Canon uses its own technology, which is simply called Dust And Scratch Removal, from within ScanGear's option menu. While much faster than the Digital ICE implementations--about 3 minutes for an 8x10-inch scan compared to about 10 minutes for the same scan with ICE--it doesn't work as well, removing fewer specks and costing you some sharpness. A 300dpi 8x10 scan took 1 minute, 10 seconds.
Our tests delivered somewhat mixed image-quality results. The 9950F reproduced a wide range of tones and handled highlight and midrange details especially well. However, our scans looked washed out, which could be the result of tweaking to deliver maximum tonal range in the midtones, which decreases contrast. Still, the contrast issue isn't so horrible that it can't be fixed in an image editor such as. Film scans were on a par with those of the other flatbeds we've tested recently: soft but good for refrigerator prints or Web work. Overall, the Canon CanoScan 9950 is moderately versatile, but it doesn't do anything particularly well. You have better options for the money.
You'll find well-organized FAQs, tutorials, downloads, and accessory information on the Canon Web site. You can download complete manuals in either HTML or as a PDF. Canon also offers an interactive troubleshooter to help you isolate and solve your technical issues. You can submit tech-support queries to Canon via an online form or try your luck with toll-free phone support, available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until midnight ET, or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.