View Full Version : Epson 4870 vs Microtek i900
I want to buy a scanner. Does anyone have experience yet with either of these scanners for 4x5 negatives?
I don't have personal experience with the Epson 4870, but I've been following reports about it. I do have the Epson 3200.
The Epson 3200 is more than adequate for most 4 x 5 work. It can resolve about 30 lp/mm, which should allow for up to a 6 X enlargement, even if viewed fairly closely. It will allow for greater enlargement if viewers stay far enough back, say the diagonal of the print distance away. I should add though that even a 4-5 X enlargement probably will be distinguishable from what you would get with a high quality scan from a drum scanner or an Imacon, when viewed very closely and very critically. The largest print I can make is 13 x 17, and such prints are very good indeed, starting with an Epson 3200 scan.
The Epson 4870 may provide as much as 10-20 percent better resolution of fine detail than the Epson 3200, but otherwise is probably not that radical an improvement over the the earlier scanner. If you scan primarily slides, it does have a higher dmax, so it should do a better job. I scan primarily negatives, bw or color, and for those dmax is not really an issue.
It should be noted that even the Epson 3200 produces files which are too large for many of us to conveniently edit. I scan 4 x 5 at 3200 ppi and edit in the Gimp using 8 bits per channel. I have a 1.4 GigaHz Athlon and 1.5 Gb of ram, but even at 8 bits per channel, I can't do anything but the most basic editing in color. (Bw would be easier.) I usually rescale in the photoeditor to 2000 ppi, and probably 1600 ppi would be adequate. As best I can tell I don't lose much fine detail, if any, doing that. My guess is that the same would be true for the 4870. Even if you have enough ram, you should be able to get by rescaling to 2000-2400 ppi or even less. And if you went much above that, particularly if you keep 16 bits per channel, you should expect very long processing times and perhaps some crashes. Usually the scanning itself can be done at higher scanning resolutions, and there are definite advantages to doing that and rescaling, but I don't know how practical it would be for me (or you) to scan at 4800 ppi.
My guess is that you would find the Epson 4870 more than adequate for scanning 4 x 5.
Leonard, I think there might be something wrong with your setup if you are having problems with those files. I'm running Photoshop on a (woefully inadquate) 750mHz, 256mb RAM windows machine, and editing 2400dpi 5x4 inch files from my Epson 2450 (sometimes at 16 bit depth). Yes, it takes a while, but I can do all the editing I require. Curves, selections, layers, masks, adjustment layers, sharpening, hue/saturation etc are not a worry.
You might have a problem.
On a somewhat related note - 16-bit versus 8-bit Greyscale:
Using recent versions of Photoshop, I have scanned in 16-bit greyscale, and then converted to 8-bit. I have often wondered if I was missing something compared to analog processes, while confined to 16 bits, or 256 shades of grey. That's already around 26 shades for each of the 10 Zones, but not analog.
With Photoshop CS now available, one can get 16-bit Greyscale, which is 256 x 256 shades of grey, or 65,536 shades, or around 6500 steps within each Zone. Sounds close enough to analog for me !
Has anyone noticed a difference in prints, when using a 16-bit workflow ? I use an Epson 2200, and I presume it can accomdate the difference.
I bought the 4870 because it has ICE, which has proved to be very useful in my Nikon LS 4000. However, ICE was a disappointment. It didn't work very well in Vuescan and wasn't even supported in Silverfast AI.
Correction: Silverfast does support ICE, but not the version which is on the CD. One needs to download the latest from the Lasersoft site.
I own an Epson 3200, and have run some tests using 4 x 5 colour negatives on it and an Epson 4870 as well as an on Imacon 848, which only scans 4 x 5 at 2000 dpi. The Imacon gives the best scan but has the smallest file size which limits your enlargement possibilities (unless you rez up). The Epson 3200 is significantly inferior to the Imacon, having a much lower dynamic range (highlights blow out a bit even with negatives). I would estimate its true resolving power to be about 1400 dpi at best. However, it's pretty good for the price and makes quite decent scans of both 4x5 and medium format negatives (although it's not very good for B&W). The 4870 is significantly better than the 3200; its resolution approaches that of the Imacon and its dyamic range is also significantly better. I would estimate the 4970's true resolution to be about 1600 to 1700 dpi. The Imacon at 2000 dpi is resolving slightly more detail than the Epson 4870 at 4800 dpi and significantly more detail than the 3200 at 3200. You would notice these differences by peering closely at very fine detail in a 16 x 20 print (from a 4 x 5 original). In an 8 x 10 you may not be able to see the detail difference between the 3200 and the 4870 unless you looked at it very carefully. So to sum up, the 4870 is a real improvement over the 3200.
I suggest reading some of the recent messages at the Yahoo Epson 4870 group before you make a decision one way or the other...
I had a 2450, and I was able to do most things VERY slowly with a machine which was slower and had less memory. With the 3200 and a faster machine, I also can do many things, but anything involving very complex selections leads to difficulties. If I reduce to 2000 ppit, I don't have problems. I've also tried it with Photoshop 6 under Windows 2000, and it behaves more or less the same way.
I've seen other comments about having difficulty scanning negatives with the Epson scanners, but I don't understand that. Using Vuescan, you can measure the actual densities as opposed to the RGB values. None of my negatives has a maximum density exceeding 2.00. The Epson 3200 has a nominal dmax of 3.4. I've managed to scan some slides with maximum densities as high as 3.2 with reasonable results, but it is clear that is pushing things. I find it hard to imagine negatives with maximum densities that high.
I just purchased the 4870 last week. I've done some scanning with it over the weekend, and liked the resutls that I achieved. For example, I scanned an old medium format negative, and after printing the enlarged results on a 2200, I was surprised at the resolution of the original lens, the scanner, and the printer.
One thing, the 4870 has it's own dedicated ccd in the lid for transparent material, like negs and slides. For reflectant materials, they have a different ccd in the body of the scanner.
I am also into buying my first scanner for 4x5 and shortlisted the same devices as you. To my knowledge the i900 is not available yet and exists only as a press release for download from www.microtek.com.
What I found interesting is that the Microtek nearly doubles the Epson in weight (25.5lbs) and has no glas plate in the scanning path.
I guess we have to wait some more weeks before first hand opinions show up on the Internet.
Lars Åke Vinberg
I bought a 4870 early February, needed to scan 4x5 and 6x12 for web use. I was impressed with the results, for the price this scanner is a great value. Epson's scanner software is not great but usable.
I did notice that ICE increased scan times by a factor of 2-3 on my (not so fast) Windows laptop. Probably the CPU capacity was the bottleneck.
ICE increases time because the scanner has to do two passes, unlike a 35mm scanner which usually scans simultaneously in visible and IR.
The 4870 can be found at Costco.com for $399 (not the pro version). I don't think you have to be a memeber to buy, they have a liberal return policy, and you can return it to a local store. I bought one and have been very happy. I'm using it for 35mm-4x5. The Epson driver is not bad, very much like the Mira scan I used with an old Acer. I can make very nice 7x10.5 prints from 35mm. Of course the MF/LF stuff looks that much better but I currently don't have a wide format printer so I not really testing the output.
you shoot 5x7 does the 4870 support this format or is the light the same width as the 3200?
The transparency scanning area of the 4870 is 6x9, so unlike the 3200 it scans 5x7. However, film holders are provided only up to 4x5, so you have to make your own.
I'm a little confused about some of the statements here about scanners. One is "true resolution", and another is the estimation another 10-20% increase in resolution from the epson 3200 to the 4870. If my math is correct a 20% increase only adds about 600 dpi, which is far short of the advertised 4800 dpi. Maybe the relatively low dmax compared to film scanners has a more pronouced effect on the appearance of the scan.
Check out this website from someone who compared the Epsons (3200 and 4870) with a flextight precision 2 scanner. He also did scans using a dedicated Nikon film scanner and compared them to the Epsons. Apparently you have to use a fair amount of unsharp mask to get good scans. http://www.photo-i.co.uk/Reviews/interactive/Epson%204870/page_7.htm
Of course there is the FLAAR group who thinks the only scanners (flatbed) worth having cost thousands of dollars. What's funny is that they never seem to even test scanners like Epsons before discounting them. In fairness to them they did mention an Epson 838xl or comparable as being recommended. And the article said a newer, better Epson will be out in 2004. Maybe they are talking about the 4870. This is their web address http://www.flatbed-scanner-review.org/Epson_perfection_professional/Epsonflatbedscanners.html.
Maybe some of you fine folks could encourage them to actually test these scanners instead of just making passing remarks.
Currently, I have photo restorations in the Microtek Gallery. I spoke with a reliable source at Microtek. They stated the i900 scanner is being tweaked right now before it's public release. Technical information is readily available with a google search.
Personally, I use the Microtek 6800 flatbed. It performs reliably and does a great job. If you are using using OS 10.3 you might want to look for drivers at the www.versiontracker.com website. I found an excellent Microtek driver for the 6800 on their UK website.
As far as Digital Ice is concerned I use it for 70% of my scans. Whatever damage it can't resolve, can be fixed in Photoshop CS.
I am also looking to get a new flatbed scanner. I have been using Microteks now for some 8 years, and I wanted to stay with them, however, my 6800 is causing me problems and I'm tired of trying to fix them, so I will be moving on to a different make. I expect a scanner to last more than 18 months, but my Microtek doesn't seem to want to cooperate (this is my second 6800....the first one did the same thing, so I sent it back under warranty and they sent me this one.) I originally started out with a ScanMaker III, but when I upgraded to a new computer and Win XP, it wouldn't run properly, so I bought the 6800.
I'm looking at the Epson 4870 and their E1680 Professional Firewire model. Does anyone know where I can get a review of these models? I don't need to scan slides or negatives, I have a dedicated slide scanner for those, I just want a good flatbed that does a really good job with photos.
I do have a question for those of you who are using the 4870......I scan mostly from magazines, and of course, moire is a big problem. The Microtek software (ScanWizard) allows you to set a custom descreen.....anywhere from 1 lpi to 266 lpi. I've noticed that some of Epson's software allows you to select a fixed descreen setting, like Magazine (133 lpi). Do either of these models have a custom descreen setting, or are you stuck with the fixed settings?
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.0 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.