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Microtek ArtixScan 4000TF Film Scanner Review

Microtek ArtixScan 4000TF Film Scanner Review - Microtek ArtixScan 4000TF test

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Category : Film Scanners
Product : Microtek ArtixScan 4000TF
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Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf reviewThe ArtixScan 4000tf is Microtek's flagship 35mm scanner. It features an impressively high 4000dpi optical resolution and Microtek say it will allow "enlargement of 35mm film to full A3 size with pre-press quality output".

Main features

  • 4,000dpi optical resolution
  • 42-bit bit depth
  • 5,300 element tri-linear array CCD
  • Cold-cathode lamp
  • Single colour pass
  • Multi-sampling support
  • Maximum Density 4.3D
  • Firewire and USB 1.1
  • SilverFast Ai Pro 6 software
  • Microtek ScanWizard Pro TX software
  • 324x175x150mm (LxWxH)
  • 3.63 Kg
  • Two Year Total Support
  • Around 810 to 830

Included hardware:

  • 35mm mounted slide holder
  • 35mm filmstrip holder
  • PCI FireWire card
  • Firewire, USB and power cables
  • 35mm IT-8 target
  • Internal cleaning brush and dust cover

Specific technological features mentioned in the press release that stand out are:

  • The Auto Focus System adjusts the scanner carriage and APS film holder (instead of the lens position) to automatically achieve the most accurate focus. This robust design should keep the optical mechanical assembly system precisely calibrated at all times, enhancing the scanner's reliability and ease of maintenance, as well as minimising scan times.
  • Motion Correction Control, was developed by Microtek to address problems with scanner motor deviation arising over the course of the scanner's life. The scanning module, located at the scanner carriage position and driven by a stepping motor and other guiding mechanics, is subject to deviations for any number of reasons, causing certain tolerances to build up. As deviations and tolerances accumulate the scanning module gets increasingly "off" in its position, which if left uncorrected negatively impacts the quality of subsequent scanned images. Through Motion Correction Control, the scanning module is moved accurately to a precise position on a well-calibrated stepping control table, compensating for any misalignments that may occur. The scanning module can thus move smoothly and precisely during the scanning process, registering mechanical steps with ultra-fine precision for superior, accurate scans.
  • With Multiple Sampling, the ArtixScan 4000tf is able to reduce the random image noise that adversely affects the quality of scanned images. With this technology, each scanned line is sampled multiple times (the frequency determined by users in 2, 4, or 8 options) to optimise signals, with the samples then averaged out to distill top-quality data. Multiple sampling effectively minimises signal fluctuation and artifacts, resulting in a purer image output and enhanced optical density range.
  • ArtixScan 4000tf provides a fast and easy way to handle film. The scanner can detect the type of medium being scanned to increase scanning productivity and shorten scan times.

Scanner installation
Although there is a choice of USB or Firewire connection, Firewire is the obvious choice, especially as the scanner comes with a Firewire card included. Besides offering a speed advantage we've also found Firewire to be a more reliable interface in general.

Installation went without a hitch, and we were soon ready to do some test scans. Switching on the scanner we were suprised at just how loud it is. It's probably the loudest scanner we've ever had in the office in fact.

Film handling
The film-strip holder was a bit too fiddly, requiring quite a bit of prying to open. The transparency adapter was straightforward and problem-free.

Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf review

The scanner passes the holders right through it, sending them out the back, so you can't position the scanner against a wall.

When not in use, it's important to cover the scanner in the included jacket. This will protect it from dust, which it is otherwise very susceptible too with permanently open doors.

TWAIN
The images below can be clicked upon to see a larger version. This is the ScanWizard Pro TX scanning utility, which is provided together with the excellent SilverFast Ai Pro 6. We hope to be reviewing Silverfast in detail soon so we've left the details out of this review.

The ScanWizard software has a lot of potential, certainly offering the features most users would require. There are a large selection of image settings, batch scan settings and the usual preview window.

This software proved to be very stable, with no crashes experienced during testing. It can be run as a stand-alone application or from within Photoshop, in which case you are locked out of Photoshop till the scanning has finished.

Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf review Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf review
Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf review

Performance
The times shown below are all using the Firewire connection, apart from the last one, which is USB. This is a fast scanner, as you'd expect it to be paying close to 1000. When combining this high speed with the good batch scanning capabilities of the included software, the AS 4000tf should allow a fast workflow.

Size (pixels) Ppi File Size (Mb) Time
Index scan 4 slides     1min 1sec
Prescan 1 slide     35sec
5984x4724 1000 5.1 48sec
5984x4724 2000 20.7 53sec
5984x4724 4000 80.9 1min 13sec
5984x4724 (usb) 4000 80.9 2min 56sec

Test scans

Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf review
Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf reviewThe high resolution of this scanner meant the 100% crop to the left from the above image still has a lot of detail.

Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf review
Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf reviewAlthough it might not look terribly impressive, the crop to the left is actually the sharpest scan of this slide we've seen yet. Looking at the above image as a whole, it appears pin sharp.

Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf review
Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf reviewThe large dynamic range of this scanner helps to produce realistic skin tones with all the background details being well portrayed too. Details of the veil shown in the crop to the left are good, though there is a touch of blue fringing, it is not enough to worry about.

Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf review
Colours are certainly vividly reproduced and the provided software provides a lot of flexibility for changing them to your tastes.

Microtek ArtixScan 4000tf review
The high dynamic range of the scanner helps it to produce good results with this black and white shot.

Verdict
The Microtek AS 4000tf offers users a fast, high quality scanning capability. It has certainly got the specifications for most demanding users and backs most of these up with excellent performance. The two minor problems we have with this scanner are the noise (sound rather than image) of scanning and the lack of any hardware dust and scratch removal. Silverfast does include software removal and we'll be testing the effectiveness of this soon.

Despite these minor flaws, the AS 4000tf is capable of stunning results, certainly living up to the claim that it is capable of "enlargement of 35mm film to full A3 size with pre-press quality output". So considering this, we'd suggest it should be high on the priority list of anyone wanting the best possible film-scanner for under 1000.

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