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Epson Perfection 2450 Photo Flatbed Scanner Review

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo Flatbed Scanner Review - Epson Perfection 2450 Photo test

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Category : Flatbed Scanners
Product : Epson Perfection 2450 Photo
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pson Perfection 2450 PhotoThe Epson 2450 Photo is one of the more interesting A4 flatbed scanners currently available. Epson have aimed it at professionals and enthusiasts and it has quite an impressive specification. It boasts high image quality with fast scanning times and extra film scanning functionality thrown in too. Retailing at around 270 it offers a good specification for the price.

Features

  • 2400x4800dpi scanning
  • USB 1.1, USB 2.0 and IEEE-1394 'FireWire' connectivity
  • 48-bit colour scanning
  • Optical Density of 3.3D
  • Built-in 4' x 9' Transparency Unit
  • Adobe PhotoShop Elements
  • Full Auto Mode option

Bundled Software
For the UK market Epson include a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements which is a cut down but still very useful version of their industry leading Photoshop package. There is also several Epson utilities which are good, but many enthusiasts will expect a higher level of functionality than they can provide. Textbridge Pro 8.0 allows some basic OCR work to be achieved, but we'd prefer to use another application like Omnipage. The speed of the scanner makes this a good office tool for OCR work as well as high quality image scanning.

Scanner installation
Kudos to Epson here for providing three types of connection. USB 2.0 and FireWire allow high speed data transfer, and compatibility with USB 1.1 means people can still use the scanner until they upgrade to one of the two high speed options. Unfortunately we were not able to test the FireWire interface due to our test machine only having Windows 98SE installed. We used Epson technical support to diagnose this problem which proved to be excellent. There is an option on their website to talk to technical support via text-based chat online, and within seconds I was put through to Rishpal who in a few minutes had told me what the problem was. USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 both worked without a hitch however.

Media handling
As well as print scanning the 2450 Photo comes with adapters for for scanning slides, negatives, and film strips.
Epson Perfection 2450 Photo
Epson Perfection 2450 PhotoBefore you get too excited about the extra scanning capabilities, flatbed scanners in this price range are unlikely to ever produce the same quality output as dedicated film scanners. The extra functionality is still appreciated though, and for many people it will fulfill all their needs. The film scanning utilises the built in transparency unit. To use this you have to slide out the covering sheet which is used for reflective scanning shown to the right. This process of changing between transparency and reflective scanning is straightforward and fast.

When scanning using the transparency unit the blue light on the lid lights up, which although doesn't add anything to the image quality certainly adds a nice aesthetic touch. It also serves a practical purpose, reminding you that the TPU is active and that the reflective covering sheet should have been removed. The software neglects to inform you it can't find the film (if you've forgotten to remove the TPU cover) until it's performed a two minute pre-scan.

TWAIN
Epson's latest TWAIN software can be downloaded from their website which is worth doing. The software is straightforward and provides everything most people will need. However, one annoying problem with the software is that when scanning commences if you click cancel it completely closes the TWAIN software, rather than just sending you back to the preview thumbnails. This means that if you forget to set the right dpi, or another setting, you have to start all over again. We've also had reports in our Digital imaging forums here of a gentleman experiencing problems with the software.

It appears Epson USA include the excellent Silverfast software with the scanner, not the case here in the UK. If you are seriously looking for the best quality from your scanner it is worth considering buying Silverfast, and they have a trial demo you can download.

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo

Performance
The performance of this scanner is dependent on the type of connection you are using. We've tested USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 speeds here, as due to technical problems we weren't able to test the FireWire. FireWire has approximately the same bandwidth as USB 2.0 so the results would have been similar. As shown in the table below USB 2.0 can give a significant improvement in speed over USB 1.1, but only at some scanning settings. Generally the performance is very good, though there are a few niggles with the automatic scanning setting which adds several minutes to scans compared to the manual setting. Though the inclusion of this feature is a bonus for those wanting the simplest scanning procedure possible.

Connection type Scan type/resolution Size Time File size
USB 1.1 Prescan A4 7sec -
USB 2.0 Prescan A4 7sec -
USB 1.1 300dpi A4 44sec 26Mb
USB 2.0 300dpi A4 23sec 26Mb
USB 1.1 800dpi A4 4min40sec 182Mb
USB 2.0 800dpi A4 2min 182Mb
USB 1.1 2400dpi 35mm Slide 3min 18Mb
USB 2.0 2400dpi 35mm Slide 3min 18Mb

Black & white negative test

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo
This scan appears a little to dark under the automatic settings, and some tweaking would be necessary for optimum quality. The high resolution of the scanner is evident and with a little unsharp masking work in your image editor you can improve the scan further. Dynamic range is also impressive, showing again this scanner is capable of producing files for large, high quality prints. The same scan by the Nikon CoolScan IV can be seen here.

Colour negative test

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo
Colours appear natural and are well saturated. There is a large contrast here between the automatic scan settings on the Epson and the Nikon Coolscan IV here. The Nikon produces a much more vivid image, making the Epsons scan appear a little pale in comparison. This aspect of image quality is easily adjusted in the TWAIN software, and is also a matter of personal taste.

Sharpness test

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo
This image shows a blue cast not present on the slide. This can be corrected in software, and the detail of the scanner holds up well against the much more expensive Nikon Coolscan IV scan you can see here. Something particularly noticeable in comparing these two scans is just how much more visible dirt and dust is on the Nikon. This is partly due to it providing much sharper scans, but the subtle softening quality of the Epson might appeal to some people.

Print tests

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo
This skin tone, colour, and grayscale test chart indicates the fine level of quality this scanner can achieve. Dynamic range has improved so much on modern scanners it's becoming less and less of an issue and the Epson picks up subtle variations with ease.

Epson Perfection 2450 PhotoThe beauty of high resolution scanners like this one is being able to scan small areas of a print and still obtain high levels of detail. In the blown up section below a small level of unsharp masking has been applied in Photoshop. The TWAIN software does have a sharpening option, but it's better to do it manually in your image editing program.
Epson Perfection 2450 Photo

Epson Perfection 2450 PhotoIn this scan no sharpening has been applied and you can see in the blown up area that it looks a little soft. There is still a lot of information there to enhance however.
Epson Perfection 2450 Photo

Verdict
We have seen a lot of good equipment come through our office, and this is certainly one of the most impressive scanners we've seen. An impressive specification, appealing price, and excellent support make it a hard act to beat.

If you are an enthusiast photographer looking for high quality print scanning this should be ideal for you and is good value for money. It can also be used for occasional transparency scanning and still produce good results.

However should you want the best quality output from your transparencies you will get better quality from a dedicated film scanner, like the Nikon Coolscan IV we've mentioned earlier.

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