Konica Minolta's Dimage Scan Elite 5400 II film scanner offers performance and specs that at one time were available only with considerably higher-priced professional film scanners, including a maximum optical resolution of 5,400dpi and a rated optical density of 4.8D. Its ease of use makes it a good choice for consumers or photographers with libraries of old slides and negatives, as well as for pros who still shoot film but at times need to go digital. Unfortunately, the lack of a high-capacity slide-feeder option limits its usefulness for higher-volume work.
The off-white scanner is housed in a sleek, durable plastic case measuring 2.8 by 6.6 by 13.6 inches and weighing 3.3 pounds. It accepts carriers for 35mm film and slides through its highly polished black front panel, which is also made of durable plastic. You can connect to either a Mac or a PC via an included USB 2.0 cable.
Two carriers are available; one accepts four slides, and the other accepts six-frame filmstrips. Loading originals into the carriers is easy; they fit snugly and snap shut to prevent any movement during scanning. Though most film scanners accept film facing either direction, the 5400 II requires that the film face emulsion-side down. You push the carrier in just far enough for the scanner to recognize it's there; the scanner then pulls it in. The spring-loaded dust door keeps dust and grime from settling on the scanner's mirrors and lenses when the scanner is idle. Accumulated dust may never become a problem with the Scan Elite 5400 II, but from our experience, it's helpful to be able to periodically clean a scanner's mirrors and lenses, especially in dusty, smoggy environments. The Scan Elite's inner workings aren't accessible to users.
For the simplest operation, you can either press the Scan button on the front panel (which starts the Scan Elite's Launcher application) or run the Launcher from the computer. The company overhauled the bundled software, which we complained about in our review of the 5400 II's predecessor, the, and added Kodak's Digital ICE4 technology. The software will fit the needs of most photographers, whether beginners or experienced pros. The Easy option, meant for first-time users, is a remarkably good choice for all but the most difficult slides and negatives. It doesn't require users to tweak any of the optimization settings, but it does let them select the kinds of optimization they want. That includes the Pixel Polish option, which automates the basic brightness, contrast, and saturation settings, and Kodak's Digital ICE4, a quartet of technologies that remove dust and scratches, restore faded colors, adjust highlights and shadows, and reduce grain. All four Kodak applications work very well, especially the dust-and-scratch removal. Though the manual says it won't work with Kodachrome, we turned the feature on, ran some Kodachrome slides through the unit, and came up with good results. Despite the warning, we turned the feature on, ran some Kodachrome slides through the unit, and came up with good results.