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Minolta Scan Dual III Film Scanner Review

Minolta Scan Dual III Film Scanner Review - Minolta Scan Dual III test

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Category : Film Scanners
Product : Minolta Scan Dual III
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Minolta Scan Dual 3 reviewIt wasn't long ago we added the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 2 review to ePHOTOzine and we were impressed by it too. The Minolta Scan Dual 3 we're looking at here, is placed lower in Minolta's range. It's competitively priced, appearing in shops at just under 300. Yet despite the relatively low cost, the specification list reads like that of a much more expensive scanner.

Minolta Scan Dual 3 Specifications

  • Scans 35mm or APS (with optional adapter)
  • 2820 dpi resolution
  • 3-wave cold-cathode fluorescent lamp
  • 2x,4x or 8x Multi-Sample scan option
  • 16 bit A/D conversion
  • 4.8 Dynamic range
  • Autofocus and Manual focus
  • USB 2.0 (USB 1.1 compatible)
  • 145x100x320mm dimensions
  • 1.5kg weight

Comparing this list of specifications to the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 2, the most obvious difference is the lack of Digital ICE3. This is a sophisticated system for dust and scratch removal. However the Minolta Scan Dual 3 has some tricks in this department too, more on that later.

Scanner installation
Fitted with a USB 2.0 connection, the Scan Dual 3 should be easy to install on most computers with a USB port. The computer we used to test the scanner had a USB 2.0 port so later in the review we'll be noting any difference in performance between USB 2.0 and USB 1.1. If you're not sure which connection you have, as a rough estimate, if your computer is more than six months old, it probably only has a USB 1.1 port. Windows XP had no problems detecting the scanner and the drivers were installed without a hitch.

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review Minolta Scan Dual 3 review

The Scan Dual 3 has a very similar case to the more expensive Dimage Scan Elite 2, except it's a dark grey instead of white. Build quality is at a high standard and the scanner is reasonably quiet during scanning.

Film handling
Holders are provided for slides and film strips. These are both handled automatically by the scanner and offer an advantage over some other scanners in that you can batch scan several slides at once. Unlike some holders we've seen provided with other manufacturer's scanners, these are well constructed and should last well.

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review

The door at the front of the scanner can be pulled right down to allow the optional APS film adapter to be installed. Overall, the scanner is very simple to operate, with a power switch and eject button being the only exterior controls you need to use.

TWAIN
Minolta have obviously thought carefully about the possible type of people that will buy this scanner. They have two versions of software for scanning, a quite sophisticated version with a variety of options and a simplified beginners version.

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review

The easy version, shown above, is very straightforward, and if you wait five seconds the picture will show the various screens it takes the user through.

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review

Click on the above image to load an animated version of the advanced driver screen shots.

A slight problem with this software is stability. After scanning has been performed, the scanner often needs to perform manipulation to the image, for the various options the user may have enabled. During this time, there is no progress bar and the scanner software appears to hang. Once you've got used to this quirk, you realise there's no need to panic and the problem is sorted.

Performance
We expected the Scan Dual 3 to be fast as it has a high-speed USB 2.0 interface. However we didn't quite expect it to be snapping at the heels of its more expensive brother the Dimage Scan Elite 2, but that's just what happened.

Size (Pixels) Auto Dust Pixel Polish Dpi Multi-sample File size (Mb) Time
Indexscan 4 slides No No NA No NA 26sec
Prescan 1 slide No No NA No NA 7sec
800x600 No No 72 No 1.2Mb 11sec
4032x2688 No No 2820 No 31.0Mb 50sec
4032x2688 No No 2820 2x 31.0Mb 1min 3sec
4032x2688 No No 2820 8x 31.0Mb 3min 45sec
4032x2688 No No 2820 8x 31.0Mb 6min 15sec (USB 1.1)
4032x2688 Yes No 2820 No 31.0Mb 1min
4032x2688 No Yes 2820 No 31.0Mb 1min 33sec
4032x2688 Yes Yes 2820 No 31.0Mb 1min 42sec
4032x2688 Yes Yes 2820 No 31.0Mb 2min 34sec (USB 1.1)

Comparing the time for the full frame scan with the Scan Dual 3 to the Dimage Scan Elite 2 time, the Scan Dual 3 is faster by four seconds. Although this difference isn't important in the real world, it's great that a lower cost scanner hasn't had its speed sacrificed to save money.

With the USB 1.1 connection being used, speeds slowed considerably and if you're going to buy a scanner like this, it's well worth investing in a 20 USB 2.0 card.

Test scans

Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 2 vs Scan Dual 3
The first comparison we're going to do in this section, is comparing a crop from the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 2 to the Scan Dual 3. The crops below are from the image shown below of a post box.

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review
Minolta Scan Dual 3

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review
Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 2

Both scans have good colour accuracy. Though the Scan Dual 3 image could have done with some adjustment. The Dimage Scan Elite 2 image does look slightly sharper, but the Scan Dual 3 images sharpen up well too.

 

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Pixel Perfect and Auto Dust Brush comparison
The following images highlight the difference between the Auto Dust Brush and Pixel Perfect options.

First of all, here's the default scan quality without any extras:

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review Default Scan
The slide isn't in the best condition and the various spots and marks show up clearly in the sky.
Minolta Scan Dual 3 review

Auto Dust Brush
This tool aims to reduce the number of dust particles showing up on your scans. This can be done manually in digital-imaging software, but this automatic option should save you a lot of time.

Although not as sophisticated or as effective as ICE3, which is featured on many more expensive cameras, the Auto Dust Brush does the job well.

There's still a few spots left, but the majority have been removed.

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review

Pixel Polish
This allows automatic image corrections, or selection of custom presets that should improve your scanning results.

Although the difference in this example to the original is subtle, the custom presets can quickly rectify common problems such as colour casts or underexposed scenes.

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review Auto Dust Brush and Pixel Polish combined
This is simply both tools combined. Which as shown in our previous performance section, does increase the scanning time.

Black and white

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review
The high dynamic range of this scanner allows it to produce scans with good 'depth'.

Colour negative

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review
Colours are rich and accurate and there are a reasonable amount of colour settings available in the scanning software should you need them.

Colour transparency

Minolta Scan Dual 3 review
By default after installing the scanner software, the Auto expose for slides and Autofocus at scan options aren't enabled. With the Auto expose option on, slides were often dramatically better scanned.

Verdict
Considering the price of this scanner, we didn't have all that great expectations. Yet Minolta did a great job with the Dimage Scan Elite 2 and they've continued this high standard with the Scan Dual 3. It's truly an excellent scanner for anyone who wants quick, easy and high quality scanning on a tight budget.

More expensive scanners can offer the very attractive benefit of ICE3 technology, which has a better dust removal facility, but for many the premium paid for it will not be justifiable. We did find a few quirks with the TWAIN driver but overall there is very little negative to say about this product.

In summary the main positive points of the Minolta Scan Dual 3 are:

High image quality
Fast scanning speeds
Good dynamic range
Multi-sampling and 16-bit options
Competitive price

Negative points are:

Dust removal can't compete with ICE3
TWAIN driver software stability could be improved slightly
Auto exposure should really be enabled by default (minor niggle)

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