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Hardly bigger than an external hard drive, the Scan Elite 5400 takes up just 6.5 by 2.6 inches of space and weighs about five pounds. To help move all that data, there's a FireWire and a USB 2.0 port on the back of the scanner. You'll find three buttons on the front of the 5400--Power, Eject, and Scan--and a dial for controlling manual focus. Also in the box are 35mm-film and slide holders, which allow you to scan several frames in one go. Konica Minolta rates the Scan Elite 5400's optical density at 4.8D--exceptional for a scanner at this price. (Nikon rates the similarly priced Coolscan V at just 4.2D.) From within the Dimage Scan utility, you can tweak exposure, hue, saturation, and color. Unfortunately, the software is really disappointing. We experienced significant delays when applying changes. Also, Dimage Scan has one of the worst interfaces we've seen. It's bogged down by too many menus and poorly worded options. Konica Minolta could stand to give it an overhaul.
While the Dimage 5400 produces very good scans, with excellent dynamic range and shadow detail, it isn't capable of the sharpness we saw from the Nikon Coolscan V, which features Kodak's Digital ICE4, the latest version of the technology. (Kodak offers Digital ROC and Digital GEM for Photoshop via its Web site, but you can't get results as good by postprocessing.) The Dimage 5400 features the original version of Digital ICE for dust and scratch removal, but unlike Nikon's Digital GEM implementation, its Grain Dissolver is less effective at removing noise from high-ISO films. It tends to blur images rather than remove grain. The 5400's autofocus isn't extremely precise on the initial scan, but it gets points for the manual control dial. The company even added a feedback slider to help you make finer adjustments.
You'll get a cleaner scan by using the multisampling option, which scans the image numerous times, then averages out some of the dirt and noise, though it'll add more time to your scan. While you can go all the way up to 16X, we found the best balance of improvement vs. time at 2X to 4X. Scan time for a 28MB file came in at around 60 seconds, with a slight increase when using ICE. If you make a lot of exposure and color corrections to the image, you may wait up to 4 minutes for a scan of a similar size. If you scan a file at maximum resolution with Digital ICE turned on, you'll wait about 3 minutes, which is longer than the Coolscan V's time of 1 minute, 10 seconds.
Online technical support is well organized, with easy-to-find links to downloadable manuals and drivers. Konica Minolta offers a product-specific Q&A to help you identify and potentially solve your technical issue. There's also a list of repair shops posted online. If you want to talk to someone from Konica Minolta, however, you're out of luck. There's no e-mail or phone support.