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Reflecta DigitDia 3600 Film Scanner Review

Reflecta DigitDia 3600 Film Scanner Review - Reflecta DigitDia 3600 review

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Reflecta DigitDia 3600 in Film Scanners

Reflecta DigitDia 3600Here at ePHOTOzine we get a variety of photographic equipment in our office. The Reflecta DigitDia 3600 scanner we're reviewing here stands out from the usual type of scanner we review. It is able, thanks to a slide magazine system, to scan up to 100 slides in one go!

Reflecta DigitDia 3600 Specifications

  • 3600dpi optical resolution
  • 48bit
  • 3.8 dynamic range
  • Firewire / USB 2.0 interface
  • Slide viewer with backlight
  • Auto and manual focus
  • Scans up to 100 slides
  • Slide transport controls
  • Firewire and USB 2.0 connection
  • Dimensions: 300x290x125

Box Contents:

  • Scanner
  • Power cord
  • Reflecta CS magazine 100
  • 100 CS slide mounts
  • USB and Firewire cables
  • Instruction manual
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 + album
  • Scan software Cyberview

Design and Operation
Anyone who's used a slide projector will feel at home with the slide holding system used on the DigitDia. Simply fill your slide magazine with slides and slide it into the scanner. Starting the included CyberView X software, the scanner initialises and you are ready to start scanning.

We encountered a number of quirks using this scanner (Firmware v1.10 Software v1.04). Firstly when selecting a preview of the first slide it sometimes instead skips to the second. This can be got around by simply leaving the first magazine slot empty. After asking to preview fifty slides in a magazine, the scanner moved through seven slides during calibration meaning these slides weren't included in the preview! Also, using software we weren't able to move the magazine back to the first slide later, it only wanted to progress towards the end of the magazine. You can easily rack the magazine back manually though should you need too. Lastly, the magazine direction controls on the front of the scanner don't work correctly, with both causing the magazine to move forward one slide.

Reflecta DigitDia 3600

Reflecta DigitDia 3600At the front of the scanner is a slide viewer which cleverly only lights up once you place a slide in it. There's also a slide editor accessible from the top of the scanner which lets you rotate a slide should you need to. We tested the DigitDia with the supplied slide magazine (an LKM model) and also a universal magazine of our own. If you forget to adjust the orange tab on the slide arm on the scanner before putting in a universal magazine the scanner can behave unreliably.

The scanner case is well made although the magazine cover is a bit fiddly at first. When in use the DigitDia is reasonably loud, but is not the loudest scanner we've had in for review. As it will primarily be used for batch-scanning the noise it makes might not be relevant to a large number of buyers who intend to leave the scanner to work by itself.

Reflecta DigitDia 3600

TWAIN software
The driver provided for the DigitDia is from the CyberView range, which is also used by some Microtek and Jessops scanners, though this version is customised for batch scanning. It provides a good range of editing options and proved to be stable. It can be run as a plugin within a program like Photoshop or as a stand-alone application.

Reflecta DigitDia 3600

Reflecta have sensibly included both popular high speed connections - Firewire and USB 2.0. These connection options, together with good scanning hardware enable the DigitDia to produce some very respectable scanning times.

Size (Pixels) Dpi File size (Mb) Time
Indexscan 4 slides NA NA 3min 50sec
Indexscan 50 slides* NA NA 30min
Prescan 1 slide NA NA 18sec
2646x2628 1800 20.3 1min 7sec
2646x2628 3600 46.2 1min 40sec

*Due to the quirk mentioned earlier in the review, the scanner skipped seven slides whilst performing calibration routines. Hence this time is really for 43 slides rather than the 50 it should be.

Test Scans
For a scanner costing over £500, the DigitDia 3600 produces scan quality slightly below what we'd expect. Weak points include unsatisfactory dynamic range, slight image noise and lack of sharpness. The most noticeable of these points is the scanner's inability to finely capture the darkest parts of a slide and at the other end of the dynamic range we also found some highlight details being blown out.

Positive points are the high resolution of images produced and a reasonable level of colour accuracy. Despite the negative points mentioned, the results produced could still be satisfactory for many photographers needs. For example, if you're scanning a lot of slides for the web, then the quality issues may not be so important. Judge for yourself by comparing the quality of the Reflecta DigitDia 4600 against the Minolta ScanElite 5400 Scanner in the examples below. Please note that although the Minolta is available for slightly less money than the Reflecta it doesn't offer the same great batch scanning ability.

Reflecta DigitDia 3600

< Reflecta DigitDia 3600 Scan

With both of these images resized to 500 pixels high, the differences between the two scanners are not so noticeable.

< Minolta Dimage ScanElite 5400 Scan

Reflecta DigitDia 3600
Reflecta DigitDia 3600

< Reflecta DigitDia 3600 Scan

However, when we look at 100% crops of both scans the differences become clearer. The Minolta is noticeably sharper and also displays better contrast and detail.

< Minolta Dimage ScanElite 5400 Scan

Reflecta DigitDia 3600

Reflecta DigitDia 3600

< Reflecta DigitDia 3600 Scan

Again, at a reduced size the differences between the two scans is not so noticeable and for some purposes either scanner would be suitable.

< Minolta Dimage ScanElite 5400 Scan

Reflecta DigitDia 3600
Reflecta DigitDia 3600

< Reflecta DigitDia 3600 Scan

Taking a closer look we can see the darker details of the Reflecta scanner aren't captured as well, in addition the fine gauze of the veil isn't as sharp as the Minolta scan.

< Minolta Dimage ScanElite 5400 Scan

Reflecta DigitDia 3600

The DigitDia 3600 is based around a great idea and we commend Reflecta for developing it. However, it has a fair number of problems that can make it frustrating to use and it also struggles to produce a level of image quality that reflects the price you have to pay for it.

Despite these negative points, if you are looking for a scanner that is capable of being left to batch scan a large number of slides the DigitDia 3600 is worth considering. There are, after all, only a small number of competing devices available.

In summary the main positive points of the DigitDia 3600 are:

Reflecta DigitDia 3600Capable of large batch scans
Reflecta DigitDia 3600Fast scanning ability
Reflecta DigitDia 3600Firewire and USB 2.0 connections
Reflecta DigitDia 3600Good software provided
Reflecta DigitDia 3600Slide viewer

Negative points are:

Reflecta DigitDia 3600Some problems with image quality
Reflecta DigitDia 3600Operating problems
Reflecta DigitDia 3600Noisy operation

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Not just the hardware, software is important for the quality of scans also.
Using SilverFast should solve the quality issues described above.
Tools like Multi Exposure, iSRD or IT8 calibration are indispensable for achieving quality results, like many photographer's reviews state; and I agree.

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