In the world of scanners, there's no such thing as one size fits all. The type of the original, the intended output, as well as the discerning demands of the customer all come into play when deciding which scanner is best for the job.
For all of these reasons lab owners, managers and technicians who deliver digital services now employ the full range of scanning solutions to address the varied needs of their customers.
Some are simple flatbed models, as the front end of a solution for digital enlargements and reprints. Others are high resolution drum scanners which promise optimum quality in image clarity and color reproduction. Then there are scanners integrated into the photo workflow for digitizing the images captured by consumers on film for posting to the Web or archiving on CD. And, there are highly specialized scanners for creating fine art or large format digital reproductions that rival the original image.
It's evident that scanning is such an essential component of the digital workflow and modern imaging services, that the range of scanners and what they do best are as varied as the ways customers use their images. In fact, the type of scanners a lab employs is a good indication of what market that lab serves, and what those clients want from digital imaging.
Let's take a look at the current products, market trends and where the scanner market is headed in the future as we move forward in the digital world.
"The strongest trend we are experiencing in the high end scanning market is digital image archiving," says Hanan Gelbendorf, marketing manager for Scanners at Creo Inc. "We foresaw this trend a few years ago, and created the right tools for flexible professional scanning. This trend is driving an increase in demand for Creo's highest-end model, the EverSmart Supreme II with its unmatched productivity and drum scanner quality."
"Professional Photo Labs are finding themselves bidding on archiving jobs which require flexibility that Creo scanners can provide- ancient Glass Plates scanning, original reflective art work, 35mm, medium format, 4 x 5- and even 8 x 10-inch film, negative or positive. The ability to scan any format to any professional requirement at the best quality makes all the difference when bidding on a job," he adds.
At PMA 2005, Creo (www.creo.com) was demonstrating how professional photo labs can convert any size original into superior-quality, high-resolution, poster-sized scans with its award-winning scanners and professional workflow software. Creo was showing professional-quality scanning solutions that produced the images that form the large, high resolution (8 x 15 ft.) posters.
"Creo professional color scanners are especially suited to the professional photo lab where customers require unusually large images that maintain the same color fidelity and sharpness of the details of the original," says Gelbendorf. "Photo labs often need to significantly scale-up images without degrading the quality. Our users tell us that Creo scanners are unique in that they are capable of achieving quality scans from any sized original. By using XY Stitch scanning technology they produce superior full-bed quality, whether the original is a 35mm negative or 8 x 10 chrome. The proof is clear: our'users achieve top-quality, large-format photographic output day-in and day-out."
Creo's current product line-up includes the iQsmart3'scanner, which has a resolution of up to 10,000 dpi (optical 5,500 dpi) regardless of original photo size, and produces ultra-sharp scans. The company's revolutionary XY Stitch scanning technology assures consistent quality through sharper imaging for any type of original, anywhere on the scanning bed. The inverted CCD improves scan quality by preventing fine dust particles from settling on its surface. Creo's EverSmart'Supreme II scanner is designed for today's scanning-intensive graphic businesses where maximum speed and supreme image quality are essential. It is especially suited to the professional photo lab where customers require unusually large images that maintain the same color fidelity and sharpness of the details as in the original.
Durst's (www.durstus.com) versatile new Sigma 67 Film Scanner, on display at the recent WPPI trade show, produces crisp digital image files from non-perforated films up to 6x7cm. It is an economically priced unit that's ideal for people and commercial labs, as well as organizations with archiving needs such as museums and libraries. The Sigma 67 features highly developed image analysis for rapid color correction and exceptionally short scan times (200 MB per minute) at a range of optical resolutions. It requires only 15 seconds to create a 75mb file from a 6 x 7cm-format film image. Durst's newest film scanner runs on any Windows-based PC. It features innovative software tools including 'softproofing' with ICC profiles, Digital Ice for automatic scratch and dust removal, an auto-image enhancement algorithm for color negative film images, automatic frame detect, and several film feed options. Together these tools provide new ease and precision to editing images, and produce impressive true-to-life images. "The Sigma 67 brings high-precision, high-productivity scanning capabilities to photo professionals at an amazingly reasonable price, meaning that many more people can now afford Durst technology to digitize their finest film-based images," reports Ron Waters, president and CEO, Durst Image Technology U.S., LLC. "And it's backed by Durst service and support."
"The scanner market today is somewhat limited at the high end, because that segment is nearing the saturation point for the volume needed. However, it's a different story in the consumer segment. As the majority of printing capability moves from analog to digital, the need for high quality and appropriate productivity in a cost-effective unit is very high," says Waters. "It's something we've paid attention to, and it's why Durst designed the Sigma 67 Film Scanner, which is a high-quality, midrange-productivity scanner at an appropriate price point. The need for archiving film images in a digital format is still considerable. The number of images captured on film is enormous, and there are still a lot of them out there. But the greatest growth is in the consumer segment, where the need will continue to get higher over the next couple of years as consumers transition to 100 percent digital output," Waters concludes.
Luminus Systems Inc. (www.luminussystems.com) unveiled two new products at PMA guaranteed to provide practical, high-quality digital solutions for the independent photo lab. The Luminus DPF Mini Lab Media Creation, Version 5, is a software upgrade to the company's popular DPF Mini Lab system already in operation in more than 1,000 labs worldwide. And the sleek new MS10p multi-format scanner will enable labs to scan APS to 120 film, single frame and uncut rolls, and automatically convert scanned images tofully corrected digital files in a matter of minutes.
"We're very excited about these two new products," says Gary Mueller, president and CEO of Luminus Systems. "We have a very devoted customer base for the DPF ML system, and we expect to gain many more clients with the Version 5 upgrade.