Magazine Article


4000 dpi for $4,000


4000 dpi for $4,000
Medium-Format Film Scanner

Text by Richard Lewin

Technical Representative, F.J. Westcott Company


Sensor Technology:
Single Pass RGB,
10K pixel CCD

Optical Resolution:
4000x4000 Optical dpi

Data Conversion:
14-bit A/D per channel, 8-bit
and 16-bit out to host

Dynamic Range:
0-3.9 O.D.

Scan Time:
less than 2 minutes for
6x6 cm @ 4000 dpi

CCD Calibration:
Automatic Uniformity,
true dark calibration,
Automatic Focusing

Light Source:
Cold Cathode-"patented
illumination system"

SCSI-2, IEC 1394 (FireWire)

Power Requirements:
20 W @ 155 VAC, 60 HZ;
100-240 VAC, 50-60 HZ

Operating Temperature:
50-104 degrees F
(10-40 degrees C)

Operating Humidity:
20%-80% non-condensing

10.7 " x 5.5" x 19.2"
(27.2 x 14 x 43.8 cm)

14 pounds (6.4 kg)

Palette lady is an actual scanned image produced by the polaroid sprintscan 120 medium-format film scanner, scheduled for shipment in the U.S. around the end of January 2001.

As I walked the floor of PhotoPlus East in November 2000, I could easily have overlooked the plain-looking blue-gray product at Polaroid's booth. I'm so glad I didn't. What Polaroid seems to have done with an unobtrusive Art Deco box called the SprintScan 120 Medium-Format Film Scanner is set a new standard in its category.
Although the product has not yet reached the marketplace, if this scanner is everything Polaroid says it is, medium-format and 35mm professional photographers will have digital output image quality that is, for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable from the silver-halide original.
The latest model in Polaroid's Professional SprintScan Film Scanner line, the 120 boasts a true optical resolution of 4000x4000 dpi for all film formats up to 6x9 cm, making it the highest resolution medium-format scanner on the market. Incredibly, in the spirit of Polaroid's traditional corporate image as the instant picture specialists, scanning is almost "instant"-less than 100 seconds for a 6x6 chrome or negative!
The dynamic range of the image output is "up to 3.9 with multi-scanning," another incredible technical achievement. According to Polaroid's SprintScan marketing manager, Bill Orlansky, this combination of high resolution and broad dynamic range promises the user blacker blacks and drastically lowered image "noise," especially in dark areas.

In the spirit of interfacing with the latest in computer technology, the SprintScan 120 has both SCSI-2 and IEC1394 FireWire connections. The unit comes packaged with three film holders: one to hold four 35mm mounted slides, one for 35mm strips of six images, and one that can accommodate any of the following: four 6x4.5 cm, four 6x6 cm, three 6x7 cm, or two 6x9 cm. In 35mm mode, the scanner provides automatic film holder advancement, lessening the need for machine monitoring time, thereby increasing work efficiency.

As of this writing, the SprintScan 120 will come with three software packages: PolaColor Insight Pro v.4.5, LaserSoft SilverFast Ai, and Binuscan Advanced. Insight Pro, used exclusively with Polaroid SprintScan Scanners, is described by Polaroid as "advanced enough for the professional, while simple enough for the beginner." It has an elegantly simple user interface and a diagonal split-screen format for "before and after" correction viewing. Among its other virtues:
•Automatic removal of surface flaws like dust, scratches, and fingerprints
•Dodge and burn
•Predefined media selection, which automatically knows the image area that needs to be scanned, based on the user's film format
•3-by-3 pixel area eyedropper sampling
•Automatic energy and lamp conservation
•Support for PC file formats (Tif, JPG, BMP) and Mac formats (TIFF, PSD, JPEG).
•Text edit boxes for all Image Quality Assurance controls.

Additional scanning controls, provided by the LaserSoft SilverFast Ai software, include:
•A ScanPilot that guides the user through the image optimization process
•Options for a variety of user sophistication levels: from automated sliders and buttons to numeric controls and RGB, CMYK, LAB, and LCH densitometer readings
•Optimized preview and real-time processing
•Selective color correction, which automatically picks the correct color for manipulation, either graphical or numerical
•Plug-and-play CMYK, which allows monitoring of color differences between RGB and CMYK directly on the pre-scan.
Polaroid is determined to be a major force in the pro digital scanner market. With its 4000 dpi and $3,995 pricetag, the SprintScan 120, planned for late January 2001 shipment, may very well become the new industry standard.

Watch for the new Polaroid SprintScan 120 at the company website,

Richard Lewin, a photographer, technology writer, and digital imaging consultant, has been retailing photographic products for 30 years.