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Epson Perfection V700 photo scanner review: Epson Perfection V700 photo scanner

I had no problem surrendering precious desk space to the V700 and tend to use it for everyday jobs as well as digitizing the family slides. I most often use its scan-to-PDF function, which always operates seamlessly. You can use the button on the front of the scanner to launch the operation. My one big gripe here is the lack of an automatic document feeder (ADF) option, as if the thought of common office tasks were beneath the notice of such a high-class product.

Scanning can be as slow or fast as you make it. Two slides, using autoexposure and unsharp masking on medium, scanned at 48-bit color and 9,600dpi--a pretty typical job--takes only about 44 seconds. There's some overhead, however: it takes about 44 seconds for the scanner to warm up, and oddly, it pauses to warm up in the middle of scans--or at least it claims to be doing so. If you load on the works, such as turning on Digital ICE postprocessing at its highest quality, a single slide can take as long as nearly 11 minutes. Keep in mind that these are on my oh-so-real-world work system, a 2.4GHz P4 with 1.25GB RAM, via the FireWire connection. Your mileage may vary.

Overall, the scan quality was excellent across a variety of reflective and positive originals. (Test negatives were unavailable at the time this review was written. When our film scanning tests are completed, that information will be added to this review.) It produces scans with a broad dynamic range, decent color accuracy, relatively neutral grays, and sharp line art. It even managed to produce printable photos from some 50-odd-year-old Minox slides, tiny 8mm-by-11mm originals. The color restoration isn't terribly accurate, but the scans are pleasing, and if you have only light damage to your photos, the automatic tools should suffice.

The $549 price tag may seem a bit steep to a market used to sub-$100 models and everything-to-everyone multifunctions, but a good slide scan still requires an excellent optical system and a low-noise sensor. Furthermore, the Epson Perfection V700 Photo is completely sealed for a dust-free inside. Serious pros with thousands of slides may still be better served by a dedicated slide scanner with a batch feeder, but most of us can probably be happy with this multipurpose maven.

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