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Plustek OpticFilm 7200i Film Scanner Review

Plustek OpticFilm 7200i Film Scanner Review - Plustek OpticFilm 7200i review

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Category : Film Scanners
Product : Plustek OpticFilm 7200i
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Plustek OpticFilm 7200i
The Plustek Opticfilm 7200i created quite a stir when it was announced. It is currently the highest resolution dedicated 35mm scanner available, and one of the cheapest. In this review Gary Wolstenholme will take a look at whether this budget film scanner can live up to expectations.

Specifications
Interface USB 2.0
Technology Colour CCD image sensor
Hardware Resolution 7200 x 7200 dpi
Dmax 3.3
Max. scanning area 36.8 x 25.4 mm (1.45 "x 1")
Preview Speed Approx. 5.6 sec
Scan Speed Approx. 36 sec (3600 dpi), 68 sec (7200 dpi)
Colour Depth 48 bit/pixel
Dimensions (D x W x H) 272 x 120 x 119 mm (scanner only)
Net Weight Approx. 1.5 kg / 3.1 lb (scanner only)
Scan Mode Single Pass
Lamp Cold Cathode
Film Holder Mounted slides, up to 4 slides - Filmstrip, up to 6 frames
System Requirements IBM Compatible PC, with Pentium II or faster CPU
CD-ROM Driver
One available USB Port
128 MB RAM (256MB recommended)
160 MB free HDD space (300 MB recommended)
High Colour graphic card (VGA or higher)
Microsoft Windows XP, Me, 98 SE, 2000
Price £249.99

Scanner Installation
The OpticFilm 7200i comes bundled with the latest version of Lasersoft's Silverfast Ai Software which, supports the scanner's infrared dust removal system, iSRD. Installation is straightforward, just run the installation CD, then connect the scanner using the USB cable. Windows auto detects the scanner immediately and you are ready to scan.
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i

Film Handling
Two film holders are included with the scanner, one for slides and one for unmounted strips of film. The slide holder takes up to four slides at once, the film strip holder has enough room for six frames of film. These accessories are made entirely of plastic but are robust enough to last a long time if handled carefully.
To scan your film, simply insert the film holder into the side of the scanner until it clicks into place; and to advance to the next frame, simply push the holder further through the scanner. This system is fairly crude compared to those
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i
employed on more expensive Nikon or Minolta scanners. There is no facility to adjust the position of the film once it is placed in the scanner apart from removing the film and starting again. This can be quite frustrating, especially when scanning unmounted strips of film.

Performance
Scan speed is often the achilles heel of cheaper scanners, depending on your requirements this scanner turns out scans at an acceptable rate.

Scan Resolution iSRD Enabled File Size Time
7200dpi Yes 178MB 38mins 3secs
7200dpi No 178MB 1min 50secs
2700dpi Yes 24.4MB 3mins 29secs
2700dpi No 24.4MB 50secs

For scans with no dust and scratch removal, the scanner produces images quickly right up to the maximum resolution of 7200dpi. However when the iSRD facility is enabled the scan time increases dramatically, especially when scanning at 7200dpi. At almost 40 minutes for a single frame scanning an entire roll 36 exposure of film would take approximately 24 hours!

Detail
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i Plustek OpticFilm 7200i Plustek OpticFilm 7200i Plustek OpticFilm 7200i
Plustek
OpticFilm 7200i
Microtek
ArtixScan 4000tf
Minolta Dimage
Scan Elite 2
Jessops
PF 3600 Pro

The OpticFilm compares well against other scanners. It's only second to the better dynamic range and more accurate colour reproduction of the Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 2, although the OpticFilm does capture more detail.

If you compare the OpticFilm to the similarly priced Jessops Primefilm 3600 Pro scanner, you can see just how good value this scanner is. The OpticFilm not only shows better detail, but better dynamic range, more accurate colours and sharper detail.

Black & white test
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i

The scanner turns out very detailed scans from black & white film, producing a good range of tones. It does struggle to reproduce extreme tones from the darkest areas of the film because of its limited Dmax, but this problem doesn't detract much from the overall quality of the scanned image. The iSRD function will not work with black & white film and has to be disabled. This is common for most scanners employing an infrared dust and scratch removal system, only Digital ICE 4 available on the Nikon Coolscan V has overcome this problem.

Colour negative test
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i
With help from the bundled Silverfast AI software the OpticFilm reproduces colours accurately, with plenty of saturation and contrast. The sharpness of the image is uniform across all of the image, also there is absolutely no noise visible in the image which is fantastic for a scanner of this price.

Colour transparency test
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i

The Opticfilm produces respectable results from colour transparency film rendering colours accurately and reproducing plenty of detail. Contrasty slides like this on show how the limited Dmax can cause problems. The back of the gull's head is burnt out and the darkest shadows have lost detail as well.

Skin tone test
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i Plustek OpticFilm 7200i
The image above is a 100% crop from the veil in the image to the left. This shows just how much detail can be reproduced by this scanner, each individual circle of the fine gauze has been rendered.

When Silverfast is set to automatic, the OpticFilm tends to produce slightly oversaturated skin tones. The Silverfast software has an excellent user interface which makes correcting this very simple.

Dust and scratch removal test
The Silverfast software bundled with this scanner gives you two options for automatically removing dust and scratches from your images, the iSRD infrared dust and scratch removal and a software based dust and scratch removal tool.
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i This is the image with no dust or scratch removal applied to it at 100%.

It's worth taking note of the sharpness of the image. Even the grain of the film has been resolved.
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i  
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i With the software based dust and scratch removal activated, images take on a blotchy appearance similar to the effect achieved by using on of the pixelate filters in photoshop.
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i  
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i With the iSRD infrared dust and scratch removal activated the image retains its sharpness much better. Scratches are not completely removed, only dulled down, and are clearly visible in the final scan.

The iSRD system performs reasonably well, although I have seen better results with other scanners.
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i  
Because the effectiveness of the dust and scratch removal function depends largely on the software processing, I also tested the dust and scratch removal using a scanner utility called Vuescan.
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i This is another 100% crop of a plain section of an image with a severe scratch. No dust and scratch removal has been used on this image.
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i  
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i This is the same part of the image but with Silverfast iSRD dust and scratch removal used. You can clearly see where the software has tried to patch over the scratch, but it seems to have missed it.
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i  
Plustek OpticFilm 7200i And finally here is the same part of the image scanned using Vuescan. The infrared dust and scratch removal performs much better with viewscan, if you look very closely you can see where the scratch has been cloned out.
   
Verdict
The performance of the Plustek OpticFilm 7200i is excellent, especially for its price. It produces detailed scans and accurate colours that aren't too different from the results you would expect from a scanner twice the price. There are a few limitations though, the length of time it takes to produce a scan when using the infrared dust and scratch removal, at the maximum resolution, is impractical. Also the limited dynamic range of this scanner shows, when compared to more expensive opposition.

When compared to similarly priced opposition the OpticFilm really shines, in fact I find it really hard not to compare it to much more expensive 'professional' scanners, it really is that good.

The high resolution and overall quality of the scans really does make this very good value for money, especially for someone who may only scan film occasionally, or who can live with its few limitations.

In summary the positive points are:
Plustek OpticFilm 7200iLow price
Plustek OpticFilm 7200iHigh resolution
Plustek OpticFilm 7200iSoftware is easy to use
Plustek OpticFilm 7200iInfra-red dust and scratch removal
Plustek OpticFilm 7200iQuick scan speed without infrared dust and scratch removal
Plustek OpticFilm 7200iNo noise visible in images

The negative points are:
Plustek OpticFilm 7200iLimited dynamic range
Plustek OpticFilm 7200iScan times with infrared dust and scratch removal enabled
Plustek OpticFilm 7200iSilverfast may not produce the best results

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Comments


22 May 2011 12:09PM
I am looking and researching for my first scanner, knowing very little about the apparatus. I have found this review of the Plustek very good and informative.

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