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LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast 6.5
Scanning software saves time, detail & color accuracy


Aerial view of Guanajuato, Mexico
John Barclay


Saint James Beach huts in South Africa
John Barclay


Staircase in Guanajuato, Mexico
John Barclay



Whether traveling to capture the bold colors of San Miguel, Mexico, or the Saint James beach huts in South Africa, when I scan my chromes back home, the process will always be easy with SilverFast scanning software.

I am a big fan of the Hasselblad XPan and its panoramic format. I love the chromes I get back from the lab, but I need a workflow that lets me bring those chromes into the digital world easily and with as much detail and color accuracy as possible.

This is where the LaserSoft Imaging products shine. SilverFast Ai provides a calibrated workflow with its IT8 color-calibration capability. Simply using a target slide to calibrate my scanner, I'm assured that my scans will be as close to the originals as possible.

With SilverFast, I scan my images using the 48-bit HDR mode. Think of a 48-bit HDR file as the equivalent of a digital RAW file. Creating an HDR (High Dynamic Range) file produces a 48-bit file instead of the 24-bit file created using most scanning software, which discards the extra data. When scanning in this mode, you won't be able to make any adjustments to your scan since the software is capturing as much "RAW" data as possible and creating a file for you to work with.

To work with the file, you need to open it with SilverFast HDR. In this program, you will be able to make any adjustments required then finish the scanning process by either sending a file to disc or opening it in Photoshop.

SilverFast HDR looks and feels just like the Ai interface, but it works with files and does not need the scanner attached.

I create 48-bit HDR files using SilverFast Ai, which then allows me to work in the HDR module even when I'm traveling. I can work on my "RAW" scans in the hotel room without a scanner!

While SilverFast is not a new program-it was introduced by physicist Karl-Heinz Zahorsky in 1996-it has been upgraded several times since then. Recently, the Multi-Exposure feature was introduced. Now SilverFast scans the image twice: once to capture the highlights and once to capture the shadows. These scans are combined using a special algorithm, creating a scan that produces a significant increase in resolution, less noise, and a greater DMax.

Scans using the Multi-Exposure feature rival those made on a drum scanner. In fact, in an independent test done by Dietmar Wueller of Image Engineering, using a Nikon LS5000, the DMax increased from 3.53 to 4.24. Whereas a 3.53 DMax has 3,388 shades, a 4.24 produces 17,378 shades-a significant increase in data quality.

LaserSoft has also upgraded its IT8 capability. The process is automated, eliminating mistakes in setting up calibration. Setup takes one click of a button. The new AutoFrame allows for multiple reflective or transparent images-on a flatbed scanner-to be selected, scanned, and optimized automatically.

AutoFrame Alignment with Auto-Rotation is terrific for use with a flatbed scanner when you are scanning multiple images at the same time. The software not only finds and frames the originals, it aligns them in a rectangular order, so manually cropping and aligning images in another program is no longer necessary.

SilverFast offers several versions of its scanning software. The pro products are Ai, HDR, and DCPro. The expert versions are Ai Studio, HDR Studio, and DCPro studio. I have used SilverFast Ai Studio and HDR Studio for many years. Both are excellent scanning interfaces with robust features that are constantly updated and improved.

If you are scanning your chromes or prints, I recommend you try one of LaserSoft Imaging's SilverFast scanning software products. You'll be surprised how well the interface simplifies your workflow and enhances the quality of your prints.

For more information and to download a free trial version, visit www.silverfast.com

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