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Canon CanoScan FS 4000 US Film Scanner Review

Canon CanoScan FS 4000 US Film Scanner Review - Our test of the Canon CanoScan FS 4000 US film scanner

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Category : Film Scanners
Product : Canon CanoScan FS 4000 US film scanner
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IntroductionCanon Canoscan FS4000 US
The Canoscan FS 4000 US has an attractive indented case, with a small styled power button and on/status light at the front. The size of the scanner is quite compact, but you should allow sufficient space for cooling around the exterior. It has a simple appearance, which doesn't do justice to its impressive features. What impressive features I hear you ask, well please read on and find out.

Bundled Software
Like most other manufacturers, Canon have provided some applications to make sure you can get productive use from your scanner straight out of the box.
Adobe Photoshop LE is a feature-reduced version of Adobe's superb Photoshop. Most users are unlikely to need the features missing, and Photoshop LE is a great way to learn basic Photoshop operation before upgrading to the full product.
ArcSoft PhotoBase is a simple multimedia management application with a variety of presentation options. The program enables you to create albums of image, sound, video and document files for easy storage, retrieval and management.
Canon PhotoRecord can be used to layout or print scanned images. Using the prepared background and frame templates,you can edit your prints to a wide variety of settings. The program also features an auto-layout function for multiple images.
Adobe's Acrobat reader is provided to read the included electronic manuals, useful if you lose the paper version.

Scanner installation
Canon Canoscan FS4000 USI have to be honest, and say I wasn't expecting such an easy installation, the theory behind USB of it being plug& play really does work in this case, and in both Windows 98SE and Windows 2000 there were no problems. All that was required was connecting up power and USB leads, inserting the driver CD and clicking 'next' on the appearing dialogues. However testing the SCSI interface was not so straightforward, with an error message coming up in the TWAIN software preventing any use of the scanner. I believe the problem is with the SCSI card in the test-computer, and will later try to rectify this, but it highlights the complications of SCSI and the benefits of USB.

Because of the design of the film tray-loading slot, the scanner can be placed close to a wall without having to worry about the tray not having clearance, this is also a blessing if your surrounding desk space tends to get cluttered.

After having a quick read through the printed manual, I felt confident in using the scanner, however the TWAIN driver for the scanner is not adequately covered in the paper manual, instead you must turn to the electronic copy, which includes detailed information.

Features and specifications
At the start of this review I mentioned impressive features, and you only have to look over the scanner's box to see what these are:

  • Optical resolution 4000dpi
  • Scanning pixels 3780x5669 (APS 2457x4315)
  • 3-line CCD
  • Scanning gradation 14-bit scanning for each colour (RGB)/14-bit, 8-bit output Auto/Manual focus
  • USB and SCSI-2
  • FARE (Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement)
  • Cold cathode mercury fluorescent lamp

Now to add more weight to these features, consider the price of this scanner - just 660 - and you should begin to see why it's impressive.

Film handling
Canon have been generous enough to provide an APS cartridge holder in addition to the standard 35mm film and slide holders. Most other scanner manufacturers charge around 80 extra for the APS holder.

Canon Canoscan FS4000 US
Canon Canoscan FS4000 US

All three carriers are of sturdy build and should last a long time if carefully handled. The scanner automatically takes control of the holders once they have been pushed a short distance inside, then, with a few almost musical whirring sounds, you're ready to start scanning.

FilmGet
This is the TWAIN driver for the Canoscan, selected from your favourite TWAIN-compliant image-editing software, in this case Photoshop LE. I started the review using version 1.0 of Filmget and when the SCSI problem occurred I checked the Canon site for updates and found version 1.0.1, which fixes two problems with the software. The Coverage area for the FARE dust and scratch removal function has been extended to the entire frame. The previous version was not effective at the edges of the frame (20 pixel range).
Automatic tone correction for images with dark backgrounds has been improved too. When the background is considerably darker than the subject, an automatic tone correction is applied to provide a more natural gradation.
On loading FilmGet for the first time, I was presented with a quirky calibrating routine, quirky because sometimes it takes only a few seconds, and sometimes I began to twiddle my fingers with impatience as it sat there silently, telling me it was calibrating. The software is quite well laid out and provides the standard settings for you to tweak, as illustrated below:
Canon Canoscan FS4000 US

 

In the Settings menu you can edit the following options: Exposure settings, Clean dust, Set focus, Colour matching, Monitor gamma, Preferences, Power. You can also make the scanner perform a self-test.
In the upper left panel you can adjust the film-type and colour depth. A resolution-setup system is provided, where you can select from presets, add your own presets, or choose from the following options: Scan to file, Scan to text printer or fax, Scan to display and Scan with Photo size mode settings. Setting your own input/output sizes can be confusing, especially when you want to scan to screen res (the lowest it allows is 125dpi).
In the lower left panel you can adjust the histogram, tone curve, brightness/contrast, colour balance and the threshold value. There is also an auto correct tool that seemed to work well on most images, though was not always needed.

Performance
One important note to remember in considering these performance results is that our test system only has 96Mb RAM, an AMD Duron 750 processor, and Windows 9SE, if your system is faster than this you may find your times substantially reduced. In addition, I used the USB interface, SCSI is also provided, however as mentioned earlier I was unable to get this to work, but it's quite safe to assume the SCSI interface will be faster. The speed of scanning is of varying importance to different people, those with a lot of images to scan, may find this scanner too slow, as at the highest settings, a time of over 20 minutes will really add up when you have several rolls of film to scan.
Calibration when first loading the FilmGet software, or inserting a film tray took between 48sec and 1min 55sec. Scanning thumbnails was comparatively quick at between 12sec and 15sec.
To give an impression of how fast the scanner will be for various types of use I performed the following tests:

Size (Pixels)

Bit-depth

Fare

Dpi

File size

Time

800x600

24-bit

None

125dpi

2Mb

35sec

800x600

24-bit

Fare 1

125dpi

2Mb

38sec

2807x1985

24-bit

None

2220dpi

16Mb

5min 50sec

2807x1985

24-bit

Fare 1

2220dpi

16Mb

6min 24sec

5534x3646

42-bit

Fare 2

4000dpi

118Mb

20min 7sec

These times are from the moment scanning was started to when the image appears in Photoshop, manufacturers tend to quote actual scanning time, which doesn't take account of prescan time and the transfer into Photoshop and both can add a lot of time to the process.
FARE 1, the automatic retouching and enhancement technology, didn' t add much time to the scan, especially considering how well it works, and most users will probably want to leave it on all the time. The scanning times overall are not fast, but the scanner was limited a little by the USB interface and the lack of memory and processor power on the test system.

Black & white test
Canon Canoscan FS4000 US
The scanner copes quite well with this test, maintaining high levels of sharpness over the entire picture. The Canoscan shows a high level of detail, and there is little visible noise. Tonal range is also good with the varying levels being obtained well.

Colour negative test
Canon Canoscan FS4000 US
The CanoScan shows how well it can capture colours accurately, with excellent levels of saturation and tonal range, again little noise is visible, and the image is crisply sharp even to the corners. No colour casts are visible, and detail in the darker areas is picked up well. Notice there's also little grain which has been a problem with older scanners when digitising negative film.

Colour transparency test
Canon Canoscan FS4000 US
In this image, I selected the auto correct tool, which helped create a more colourful image, as the original scan appeared dull. Sharpness, as with all the other images, is exemplary; with the full-size scan showing incredible detail on the bird.

Skin tone test

Canon Canoscan FS4000 US Skin tones here are captured well; the full scan showed again how sharp this scanner is, with the fine gauze of the veil being very well reproduced.

FARE test

Canon Canoscan FS4000 US I was impressed by the quality of dust removal using Fare in both its settings of standard and strong, there is no apparent softening - a criticism that has been directed at other dust removal systems. The system uses infrared light to detect dust and scratches on the films surface, which it then removes on the resulting scan. Unfortunately, like ICE that's used by Nikon and Minolta, this method does not work on black& white film or Kodachrome.

Sharpness test
Canon Canoscan FS4000 US
As seen in the blown up portion of this image on the right, the scanner resolves the fine detail on the post box notice well, with little visible noise.

Consistency test
Canon Canoscan FS4000 US
By scanning the same area of an image four times, we checked for any variations. This image is substantially blown-up and any differences would be impossible to spot on the full-size image without a magnifying glass, however it is still interesting to note the slight changes in pixel colours on each result.

Verdict
The CanoScan shows very good performance levels in most areas. It would have been nice to see shorter scanning times,but the scanner is aggressively priced for the resolution, so it's fair to expect some drawbacks. Anyone considering buying a scanner at this price point of 500 to 700 will want to carefully consider the alternative products from other big manufacturers such as Minolta and Nikon. Several features on this scanner, such as the great Fare dust and scratch removal system and high resolution mean it can stands up well against the competition, and is well worth a look.

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