High above my desk, a 2ft-wide shelf runs along the walls of my cabin. It carries the weight and memories of around 6,000 rolls of colour transparency film that I shot for Man’s World, a magazine that I co-founded eight years ago this month. All this was shot until a scant four years ago, when I was pulled headlong, kicking and screaming, into the world of digital photography and gave up using film.
In this age of digital photography, it is easy to forget there was once a time when photos meant a set of prints along with negatives, or slides. But many people, including me, still have vast collections of either or both of these and the Canon CanoScan 8800F scanner offers a convenient way to preserve those pictures. It is becoming increasingly rare for most people to want separate printers and scanners, which is why multifunction devices such as a combined printer/scanner/copier are popular. But separate scanners still have their uses, and the CanoScan 8800F provides much better scans than any combined unit I have seen. It also includes a transparency adapter, which no multifunction device I have seen yet has included.
The spec sheet reads like a wish list for anyone who wants a scanner for permanent image archiving: A maximum resolution of 4,800x9,600 means that top quality images weigh in at 46 megapixels (MP); the maximum colour depth that the 8800F will output is 48 bit, and Canon claims it can scan a colour A4 source in seven seconds. The white LED lamp reaches peak brightness almost instantly compared with traditional cold-cathode lamps, and a 600 dots per inch (dpi), 10x8-inch print appears in just 20 seconds. Pages of text also appear swiftly—at 150dpi, my test page from The Royal Enfield: The Legend Lives On was ready to go in a far from sluggish 8 seconds.
Image quality is as good as we would expect from a top of the range Canon device. Colours are reproduced well, but a little tweaking of curve and level adjustments is required to get colours closer to those of the source. It is not a deal-breaker, and I don’t mind it, as I love dabbling in the digital darkroom.
One of the top draws for me is that the CanoScan 8800F is a very competent film scanner. Included in the box is a trio of plastic adapters: one for 35mm filmstrips, one for 35mm mounted slides and, unusually, one for medium-format film-making. The 8800F is a dream for photographers such as me who still like to cart their 120mm film cameras on occasion. The 35mm filmstrip adapter, I suspect, will be the most widely used, and Canon has smartly provided for 12 negatives in two strips to be held in the guide. The supplied software automatically detects the frames and scans them as separate images. Scanning times are not as startling as scanning paper images—it took around 12 minutes to scan 12 frames at the default high quality settings, but this is faster than most film scanners, and there’s no need to manually feed the strip of negatives through after each frame.
New world: For all the old-school film photographers, the CanoScan 8800F offers a quick way to format the film to fit the digital world.
Scan quality was impressive, with a pleasing lack of grain. Scanning these at 2,400dpi gives scans equivalent to around 8MP. Colours are just slightly overexposed, and scans can benefit from a levels and curves adjustment for deep, rich blacks and vibrant colours. If you simply want a fast scan of acceptable quality, there is no need for extensive use of Photoshop. But then, I have yet to meet a photographer who is satisfied with the very first scan he gets.
The software is quite user-friendly, and can be used through your normal paint program as well as the supplied programs. The package includes a copy of the excellent Adobe Photoshop Elements (for both Mac and PC); this rounds off the package nicely at a reasonable Rs15,995, considering the quality, speed and features that the CanoScan 8800F provides.
48-bit colour CCD, 16-bit grayscale, 4,800x9,600 optical resolution, USB transparency scanner for 35mm film strips, mounted 35mm slides and medium-format film. Bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements 5, ArcSoft Photo Studio 5, and ScanSoft OmniPage 4.
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