View Full Version : Epson 4990 Pro
It has been hard to get my work processed and contact sheets made due to time constraints and it is not getting any better for the foreseeable future. I used to have a darkroom but the room was taken over by "other influences". So, with that in mind, I have been looking at scanning processed negatives for contact sheets and also for the web. I have been looking at flatbed scanners and perused past articles on what scanner to get. I shoot 2 14 and 4x5 color neg and BW so it seems like the Epson 4990 Pro version is the one to get and is endorsed by many here.
It seems to fit the bill for what I am mostly going to use it for and also would be good for the occasional print. (up to 4x?) I figure if I want to print larger then I can get it drum scanned for that purpose.
The biggest value to me is that my shooting will increase as my workflow decreases. I guess that is the best thing as time processing and making contact sheets has added to my diminished enthusiasm for getting out with the cameras.
Any thoughts on this scanner?
I have tried many scanner/software combinations (not the Microtek i800). Batch scanning is integral to my business and a smooth, easy, accurate, batch scanning interface makes our life allot easier. The best software by far for batch scanning is Silverfast. The 4990 Pro which includes Silverfast is an extraordinary deal and very effective. We currently run two of them because of our volume.
Kirk or anyone else:
Are there any hardware differences between the 4990 Pro and the 4990? The bundled software packages wouldn't be of any use to me.
Allen, same hardware ... different software.
BTW, Inow have the i800 sitting here to run threough its paces for review and should get it done in the next few days. I will post a summary of the results.
Yes, I figured that since I am new to scanning I would be needing the software that comes with the PRO model. So, I take it that this is a good scanner for my needs? Any other things I should look for? I think I saw one of your posts about testing your scanner and that you had to return a few because of defects? Was that you?
I take it you have the color calibration software that comes with the PRO and thus, you can get the 4990? My understanding is that that is all the PRO model has over the 4990.
Paul, basically I've migrated from Windows to Linux so most software bundles are of no use. I've downloaded the VueScan demo for Linux and am impressed. I think Vue Scan offers a calibration module with the upgraded version. The last hurdle in the migration plan is Photoshop. Gimp doesn't offer CMYK support. I know, I know...buy a Mac!
Paul, yes I have been through a boat load of scanners, but we do a ton of scans. These are amazing pieces of equipment, but not really built for the paces we put them through (50 scans a week, week in week out). I bought a new Epson 4990 a week ago. I paid for it in 2 days with commercial scans......I currently run one 4870 (at my assistants house) and at the studio, two 4990's, a Nikon 8000 and a Microtek 1800f. We are scanning fools.
As per Vuescan, it is a great program with some interesting tricks, but not if you do high volume batch scans (or many contact sheets same thing) and or much correction at the sampling stage (which I recommend making large global color, density and curve adjustments in the scanning software). Vuescan is cheap and gives great scans if you are doing low volume, but SF really shines in a professional volume workflow for many reasons. Plus in the 4990 Pro package deal with the Monaco scanner profiler, it is a superb deal. I run SF on all my scanners but the Nikon where I run Vuescan (because of an odd technical snafu with SF).
A few threads ago you mentioned a friend who is going to offer true drum scans at $20. How's that coming along?
I'll add my praise for Silverfast to Kirk's. Vuescan is a good program, an amazing program for the price but Silverfast is far better if you are interesting in controlling the performance of your scanner rather than letting the software do it.
You might take a look at the series of articles on scanners and scanning basics that Michael Mutmansky and I wrote forthe last three issues of "View Camera." Finally, Michael and I run scanning workshops that might be of interest. The next one will be from March 3-5 at the Valley Photo Center in Springfield, MA. You can download the details from their website (www.valleyphotocenter.com, my website www.fourpointlanding.com, or Midwest Photo's site www.mpex.com.
Feel free to meial me offlist if you have any more specific questions about scanning in general or software or hardware.
I highly reccommend Ted's and Michael's articles in VC!
Are you sure it doesn't support CMYK? I thought Gimp was CMYK compatible since 2000. Have you tried one of the bleeding edge versions (like Gimp 2.3.6)? I have it installed on my BSD machine at work, but I never use it for heavy editing purposes.
I've got 2.2.9 installed and don't think CMYK is enabled. Perhaps next weekend I'll compile the latest edition and see if this feature has been incorporated. What I really wish is that Adobe would port PS to Linux.
John, I will email him. we have lost touch over the holidays.
John Berry ( Roadkill )
I have the 4990. I didn't get the pro version as I already have that color management program. I did however spend the extra for the silverfast full version upgrade. So in the end I only saved about $50.00. If you don't have color management especially, the pro version is the only way to go.
While Kirk had some problems with the Canon 9950, I think these may have been software related. The canon software is not very good for LF. Ed Hamrick has tuned Vuescan for the 9950 and the current version does a terrific job. (I am rescanning my stuff done before the Dec release, and those scans were already good.) As Paul B and I found (with the old version of the software), scans from the 9950 and the Microtech 1800 are comperable, with the microtech having an edge on noise, and the 9950 on resolution. I think the new software might have helped the noise. While I do not have a 4990 to compare, I think the 9950 may do better, and it certainly works well with Vuescan, which is part of your workflow.
Paul, I'm very pleased with my 4990. I get really nice 8x10 prints from 6x7 film scanned on the 4990 - I think your 4X enlargement factor is reasonable. 4x5 film to 11x14 is great and 8x10 film scanned on the Epson and printed at 16x20 is just amazing. So there's a range of 2-4X enlargements that IMO give complete safisfaction.
I'm not a fan of additional scanning software as I find the Epson software gets the job done just fine. Others have different preferences from their own experiences. But if money is an issue at all pass up the Pro version and go with the standard model. I don't think you'll miss anything.
" Paul, yes I have been through a boat load of scanners, but we do a ton of scans. These are amazing pieces of equipment, but not really built for the paces we put them through (50 scans a week, week in week out). I bought a new Epson 4990 a week ago. I paid for it in 2 days with commercial scans......I currently run one 4870 (at my assistants house) and at the studio, two 4990's, a Nikon 8000 and a Microtek 1800f. We are scanning fools "
Since you are the scanning fool, I was just about to buy the 4990 tonite but stopped and thought about obsolecence. Do you know if Epson is coming out with the next flavor anytime soon? I haven't seen anything about new models and wonder if I should hold off?
Anyone else have an opinion?
My opinion (and that is all it is) is that we will see a slow down in the R&D of film scanners. Where the industry (Fuji anyway) is going is towards color negative films designed specifically for scanning only (i.e. no mask). Some new scanner developements may chase that film, but not right away. Right now all scanners are really designed primarily to scan color transparencies. Epson has pretty well saturated the sub $500.00 pro scanner market with three models released quickly in a row. Not much more they can do unless the price of higher quality chips comes way down.
I did notice that they had quite a few models there. That's why I figured that they would continue with subtle changes to existing models. That seemed to be the history.
I guess waiting is not conducive to anything and the point is to get the work scanned.
Thanks for your input.
Everybody who needs a scanner has already gotten one, and super fussy and critical users spend more to get an Imacon or whatever, so I don't predict they'll be any radical improvements from Epson or Microtek or Canon.
I'd just like them to improve their quality control. The scanners are pretty amazing when they work properly, which seems to be every other one at this point (I'm on my second "new" one).
I remain curious about the focus on Epson scanners. The Canon 9950f was the editor's pick at PC Mag. I bought one after a good experience with the Canon 4000, a devoted film scanner. With the current version of Vuescan, which has been specifically tweaked for the 9950, I am getting terrific scans, at least as good as those of the Microtech 1800. Kirk had a bad experience, and was exactly right that the scans were not very good with the software he had available. Vuescan got much better this summer, and with the Dec 8th release, with specific tweaks for the 9950, it was so much better that I have been spending a lot of hours rescanning and reprocessing all of images I had scanned with older versions. I do not use Silverfast because it cannot do the 4800>2400 conversion that is at the heart of my workflow, so I cannot comment on the results with it.
Quality control is an issue. For a nominal fee, Canon sells a 3 year extended warranty. Not a bad deal.
Well, I did it. Ordered my Epson 4990 PRO and it arrived yesturday. Nice machine. Got it up and running but not getting full preview scans of my 6x9 color negs. They seemed to be getting cut off and show up in the preview as 2 different images. I tried to find the configuration menu and so far I cannot find where to tell the scanner that I am scanning 6x9. The Epson help guide shows that the configuration dialog box has a film size menu but then the help documents say it depends on what model you have. I do not see any menu offered within that configuration dialog box. Am I missing something here?
Is there someplace that a newbie to the Epson 4990 can go for questions like this? I don't want to bore you people with these newb questions.
It sounds like you are using the Epson scan software which I have not look at in years. I wouldn't spend much time on it and as soon as possible get up to speed on the Silverfast.
"It sounds like you are using the Epson scan software which I have not look at in years. I wouldn't spend much time on it and as soon as possible get up to speed on the Silverfast"
Been playing around with SilverFast today and I am now up and running. Got some good scans but have a lot to learn so that is a good thing.
Thanks for all your input here.
Paul keep at it. There is a bit of a learning curve, but it is really worth it. I have been testing Vuescan on my Nikon 8000, because there is a conflict with SF/Digital Ice on the 8000. In all honesty unless you simply want generic scans, SF blows all competition away and it is a huge deal bundled the way it is on some scanners.
> SF blows all competition away
Depends on how you like to scan and how much memory you have in your computer, and whether you are running a PC or a Mac. If you want to scan color 4x5 at 4800 and downsample it to 2400, in the windows world, and are not running Windows XP 64 with a lot of gigs of ram, you need Vuescan. Silverfast, unless it has recently been updated, will not downsample, which Vuescan does. I have been able to get surprisingly good scans from the Canon 9950 with the current vuescan.
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