Microtek have aimed this scanner at the Home/Small office market. Priced competitively it is suitable for those people wanting to take their first step into digital imaging at a low cost. Rather sleek in appearance it is the second lowest entry-level model Microtek produce. Sharing similar styling to the lower-end 3800 it offers improved resolution which is an important advantage. The main features that distinguish this scanner are listed below.
- 1200x2400dpi optical resolution
- 48-bit colour depth
- New Sigma-6 CCD
- A4 scan area
- USB interface
- Macintosh and Windows drivers
- 5 smart-touch buttons
- Optional transparency adapter
- Two year swap out warranty
- Recommended price is 99.99 (Recently reduced from 119.99)
- Optional transparency adapter
Packing impressive specifications for a price of just under 100 this doesn't necessarily mean impressive real-world performance. It's good that a swap-out warranty is included as this should speed the resolving of any problems, also nice is that this is a two year period rather than the standard one year.
Included in the box is Adobe PhotoDeluxe 4 for Windows users and Adobe Photoshop 5 LE for Mac users. There is also OCR software ABBYY FineReader Sprint 4. Although not the best software packages available they do make the price more appealing for those that don't have any alternative software.
An optional transparency adapter will allow you to scan in transparencies and in theory increase the functionality of this scanner. This sits on top of the glass and is carried along by magnets which are attracted to the CCD bar. The problem with this design is that the adapter doesn't move as smoothly as the CCD bar and consequently we had some strange results. It is also bad practice for film to be placed directly onto the glass of a scanner which is necessary with this system. Considering the poor performance of this extra we can't recommend it and would instead advise considering a stand-alone film scanner device.
Buttons on the front of the scanner allow you to speed up common tasks, a small touch that can help you get work done faster.
When first loaded up the software presents a rather simple interface. Dissapointment at this basic software was replaced by a feeling of relief when switching to the advanced mode. This dual mode approach offers the best of both worlds satisfying those new to scanning and those who are more confident and experienced. Although only an aesthetic point you can chose to change the 'skin' appearance of the simple mode.
We had to set white/black points manually to get the best results but other than that the software works well and even the advanced mode isn't hard to use. There's some quite advanced options included for this level of scanner and the software shares a similar interface to that provided with Microtek's higher-end scanners.
For a budget scanner, the scanning speed was sufficient at lower resolutions but crawled at a snails-pace when asked to scan at resolutions over the 600dpi mark. Compensating slightly for this the more commonly performed tasks such as prescans are fast. Some people may be put off by the noise of this scanner which although not loud could become annoying if left running for long periods.
|300dpi 48 bit
||1 min 40 sec
||2 min 34 sec
||Over 10 minutes
Considering this is on the cheaper side of the Microtek scanner range we were very pleased with the results acheived. Comparing the Scanmaker 4800 to the 1000+ Scanmaker 5 the results were suprisingly close. The Scanmaker 5 does offer a lot of additional benefits that the cheaper model can't match however, such as far superior transparency scanning.
After the dissapointment with the optional transparency adapter it was a relief to see very clear and colourful scans. Resolution was impressive considering the competitive price point, almost matching scanners costing twice as much. Picking up the various tones throughout test scans wasn't a problem and colours were on the whole pleasingly reproduced.
Looking closely at the blown up area from the above photo of the bride to the right, it is clear that the scanner can produce good levels of detail. The image does however show the more minute details being softened. As a result of this, grain from your photos can be slightly disguised, a possible bonus for some.
On this statue photo, changes in tone were recorded well but colours appeared very slightly subdued. Finer details of the statue display enough sharpness to produce a good quality print.
Looking closely at a high resolution version of this image small details in the background crowd were suprisingly clear. This backs up the Microtek's claims of high resolution. Colours appear an almost imperceptible amount less accurate than the same image scanned on the Scanmaker 5.
We found the 4800 to be let down slightly by slow speed at high resolutions, noisy operation and dissapointing transparency options. However in the most important area of image quality, it is well above average and very good value for under 100. The fact it faired well when compared to a scanner costing ten times as much speaks for itself.
Providing you can live with the flaws we pointed out and want good value print scanning on a small budget, this is a great scanner and very worthy of your consideration.