VueScan 9.7 Scanner Software Review

If you want to scan your negatives, then you'll need a scanner, but you'll also need software, VueScan is constantly updated so that it works with the latest PCs and Macs.


|  Hamrick Software VueScan 9.7.11 in Other Software
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Vuescan Splash Screen
 

If you've got a film scanner, the chances are that it was purchased a long time ago. While most of these continue to work for many years, the software that came with the scanner may no longer work on your latest computer. This is where VueScan from Hamrick Software fits in. It will work with your scanner, giving new life to your old hardware, as well as letting you get negatives, photos, and documents on to your computer.

Updated regularly this software works with the latest PCs, Macs, and even Linux, whilst also supporting all old scanners (as well as new), which have long become unsupported by their manufacturers. Scanning yourself also takes away any concerns about sending off precious negatives and photos to a scanning company, as well as the risk of items potentially getting lost in the post. It also gives you control over how you process the photos for the best results possible.

 

VueScan 9 Features

Basic1
 

The latest version of VueScan is 9.7.11, and as we've been using this software over the last month, it's been updated two or three times. You can also find other versions of VueScan so that you can use the software on older versions of Windows as well, so, for example, the 32-bit version will work with Windows XP 32-bit machines and up. In fact, when you buy VueScan, you can use the software on up to four different computers for personal use! 

The recommended system requirements for VueScan software (version 9.7.11) is not listed on Hamrick Software's website, but as the software is designed to work with any version of Windows from XP onwards, the software should work with any computer that can run this version of Windows. Windows XP's minimum requirements are really rather low, so you could even run this software on an old PC if you wanted.

The software is designed to work with all film scanners, as well as flatbed scanners, automatic document feeders (ADF), and more, with output options of JPEG, PDF, TIFF, and even raw. If you're scanning documents, then Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is included, converting the image to text, with output options including PDF, text, and RTF, with support for multi-page documents.

There's a list of supported scanners on Hamrick Software's website, and we tried the scanner with a range of Nikon Coolscan scanners, as well as a generic USB film scanner (from Aldi), and we also used the software with a flatbed scanner, the Epson Perfection 3200 Photo flatbed scanner.

If you have a scanner with a slide/film feeder, such as the Nikon Coolscan 4000 and Nikon Coolscan SA-21, then VueScan makes it easy to scan a photo and then move on to the next one quickly. The software also lets you save your 35mm (or other size) scans as raw files for later processing, with the Professional version. 

 

35mm Film Negatives
35mm Film Negatives

 

VueScan 9 Handling and Performance

Installing the software is straight-forward, you can go to Hamrick Software's website, and it will automatically detect what system you are running and what version you need. You also get the choice of 64bit or 32bit versions, with the software working with the latest versions of Windows and MacOS - including the new Catalina update.

Hamrick Drivers Install
Hamrick Drivers Install

When installing the software, part of the process will install "Hamrick Software Imaging Devices" software drivers, and when prompted you can accept the install. This is the magic part of VueScan software, that means your computer can communicate with your scanner, even if you can't get drivers for your scanner and computer combination.

 

Running VueScan...

Starting up the software, if you haven't powered on or connected your scanner, then you'll get a troubleshooting message helping you get the scanner started and working, and for the quickest and simplest use, make sure your scanner is connected and switched on before starting the VueScan software.

Standard1
Standard, with the Basic screen shown earlier.

The interface may look "basic" to some, but it has been designed to give "function over form" - and can quite quickly be understood. Particularly in the basic mode, simply preview the image, crop where you want, and click scan.

 

VueScan Modes

There are three different use options, including Basic, Standard, and Professional. You can select this on the first screen, or you can use the "Options+" button at the bottom to get the extra options or toggle between the modes when you are on a different tab.

 

Infrared Clean None
Infrared Clean - None
 

If you're using a scanner with support for dust and scratch removal, then you'll find "ICE" film scanning options, in the Filter section, as "Infrared Clean" with options of off, light, medium, and heavy. The results from this are impressive, and it's well worth using these settings, with a scanner that properly implements this, such as a Nikon Coolscan.

 

Infrared Light1
Infrared clean: Light

 

Film types

There are numerous controls that you'll find interesting, particularly if you're scanning film, as there are options (in the Colour tab) when you use the Standard or Professional modes, to let you specify the film type you are scanning.

 

Advanced Colour Options Film Selection
Advanced Colour Options Film Selection

So you can select "Kodak" and Gold or T-Max, or Fujifilm and "Reala", although surprisingly Velvia isn't there. You can get Kodachrome, and Ektachrome, when you select that you're scanning Slides instead of Negatives. Ilford XP2 is also available. If you don't know the film type, you can simply select Colour Negative / Generic. If you just have the negative and can't remember the film type, then you can look up the codes on the internet, with a great list of Kodak films on this website.

 

Scanning Restore Fading1
Scanning Restore Fading

Selecting the specific film type doesn't appear to make too much of a difference. However the "Fix fade" (for older films), and "Fix Colour" options can have an impressive effect, making your photos look great. Sometimes these options don't have the desired effect, and you can tweak colour settings, with settings for both black and white points, so that you're capturing as much detail and dynamic range as possible, for later colour adjustments in another program like Photoshop.

 

Cropping and rotation

You can quickly and easily rotate the image when needed with buttons at the bottom right of the screen, as well as zoom in, and adjust the crop area.

The program will automatically try and select the correct area to scan/crop, so that the borders aren't unnecessarily scanned, however, you can't move the whole selection, instead you need to either grab the corner of the selection or the edges of the selection and adjust. It could speed up the process if you could just move the whole selection, however, it does make it quick to draw a new selection. The auto-selection is a bit hit and miss, often needing slight adjustment, other times it worked brilliantly. There's also an auto-rotate option, although this doesn't always work out.

 

Preview and scanning

If you set your preview resolution to the same as you want your final scans to be, then this can also speed up the process, so that it doesn't need to scan the same negative again. If you have negatives that are basically just snapshots, then you might not need the full resolution of your scanner, and in my case, using a Nikon Super Coolscan 4000ED, I don't really need 4000dpi (and a 20mp image), when I can get perfectly suitable 5mp images (2000dpi, 2784x1829 resolution). The Nikon Coolscan IV ED gives a nice in-between resolution of 2900dpi (and a resolution of 10mp). You can also set a custom dpi.

 

Scanning1
 

If you have a scanner compatible with batch scanning, then this is supported by the software, with a simple forward and backwards button (bottom right) to go through the frames. You can leave this on Auto, or have it switched "On" and a preview will then preview (scan) all images, speeding up the process.

Once you've got everything set up the way you like, with the best options for your photos, it's as simple as loading the film, previewing / scanning, and saving the photos to a folder, or rather, you set the folder before scanning, and VueScan saves all your photos to that folder.

If anything goes wrong, VueScan recommends going back to "Default options..." and this worked when we had some preview issues. If you have further problems, then you can contact support, and it's quite likely you'll get a reply directly from Ed Hamrick, of Hamrick Software with help on how to resolve the issue.

The software lets you set the options, and crop settings before scanning, with colour, and other adjustments set before scanning. This should leave you with photos that need little other work. Post-processing raw files is possible, giving additional controls, as well as letting you edit images further at a later date. These can be saved as TIFF or .DNG raw files.

However, if you've been using digital cameras for a long time, you may be surprised by the levels of noise (and film grain) in images, and thankfully there are options to reduce the grain (default is none, with light, medium, and heavy available - if the options are missing you will need to enable professional mode), although as with modern noise reduction, it does give you a softer image, and surely grain in film scans is part of the charm?

There are a number of keyboard shortcuts, so if you're a heavy user you can speed up your process. Regarding speed, a lot of the speed depends on your scanner, and connection type and an older scanner is likely to be slower, especially if it's using a slow USB 1 connection, rather than Firewire, or USB2.

 

Flatbed scanning

When using the software with an Epson Perfection 3200 Photo, we connected up the scanner, and ran the software, without any problems. The software detected the scanner type and was ready for use almost instantly. It was particularly impressive how we could simply connect up the scanner (from 2002) and simply use it, without having to worry about trying to install or download drivers.

Vuescan Trying To Select Multiple Images To Scan
VueScan - Trying To Select Multiple Images To Scan

If you're trying to scan multiple images at the same time from an A4 scanner, then the multi-crop options can be a bit awkward to use, however, if you make your selection, then click save, you can then quickly select the next image, then save that, without having to click preview or scan again. If you're using standard size 6x4 photos, then the software can be set to divide the scan into four areas, making multiple photo scans simpler. With odd-sized photos, like these Instax prints, auto crop options are best avoided.

For the quickest result, you can look at using a document feeder to scan multiple photos in quick succession.

Hamricks Vuescan Flatbed Scanning Multiple Images
Vuescan - Flatbed Scanning Multiple Images

 

Here are a selection of scans...

Hamrick Software VueScan 9.7.11 Sample Photos

 

Value For Money

VueScan Professional is available for $89/99 for a life-time license, which can be used on up to 4 computers, this makes it great value for money. A cheaper version is available from $39/49 but does not support film/slide scanning. VueScan is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Alternatives include SilverFast which starts at $49 for the basic SE version (which doesn't include Kodachrome support), with a more advanced SE Plus version available for $119, and is available for Windows and Mac, but not Linux. The software is specific to a scanner, which you enter at the point of purchase, in comparison VueScan will work with any scanner you have, useful if your scanner stops working (which has been known to happen considering the age of some scanners now).

 

VueScan 9 Verdict

Your scanner may have come with free software, which may still work on your PC, but also may not work without you jumping through hoops. If it does work, it's likely to be old. Nikon's Scan software for their range of film scanners was last updated in 2004, a whole 15 years ago!

The software may not look as fancy as other software, but the software works extremely well, with an incredible number of different scanners, and systems. Support is extremely rapid, and updates are regular with additional scanners added regularly.

Buying this software feels like you're actually getting a great deal, with support for installation on up to 4 computers, and support for all of your scanners, even if you change your scanner, with free life-time updates. In comparison, buying other software, you feel like you're either tied to a subscription service, or left wondering how long it will be supported for, and whether it will ever be updated to support a new camera or device when / if you buy one at a later date.

 

VueScan 9 Pros

  • Works with a vast array of scanners
  • Supports batch scanning
  • Supports multiple scanning options
  • Works with the latest versions of Windows/MacOS/Linux
  • Quick to download (around 11mb)
  • Excellent support

VueScan 9 Cons

  • A draggable selection box could be nice
  • Scanning multiple photos from a flatbed scanner can be tricky (initially)

 

Features4.5/5
Handling4/5
Performance4.5/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

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Comments


pablophotographer 9 1.7k 384
5 Dec 2019 6:27PM
Perfect. Lots of work to do in 2020...
I don't know what their tech support was before the virus, but right now it's abysmal. I have bought the software twice and can't persuade them to send me an activation code.

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