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Thread: Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

  1. #1
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    For whatever it is worth. I have spent the better part of the summer in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute using their Imacon 949 scanner. I have to say that it is an impressive piece of equipment compared to the Epsons. Its sharpness is absolutely superb and it is incredibly fast. It does suffer from mediocre software and there is more noise in color scans than I would like at this price point. If Silver fast were available for it this would be for me the ultimate scanner package. This Imacon is not an incremental advantage over the Epsons but in another class by itself. As I have said many times before you can get an acceptable scan from the Epsons that will give you a good 11x14 and an acceptable 16x20 with intelligent sharpening, but the Imacon far exceeds this "16x20 acceptability". If I owned one I would never get another drum scan or use the Epson again. Of course I cannot begin to afford one so that is an idol threat and since I live in New Mexico I won't be using this one very often either so by and large I will continue withe the 4990.

    There has been some buzz here that these Imacons were only marginally better than the Epsons and not worth the much higher price, but my experience with this one leads me to believe otherwise. I actually flew home one weekend and brought back a ton of film that I want to work on this year solely so I could scan them here on the Imacon.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  2. #2

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    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    Kirk, would you say that the Imacon is a great compromise to a good drum scanner of that the Imacon is not a compromise at all but infact stands on its own?

    Also, how do you sharpen? What software do you use?

    Thanks.

  3. #3

    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    Same here Kirk. We use an Imacon 343. I couldn't afford the model that scans 4x5....but a freind of mine has one so we trade off work once in a while when I need a 4x5 scan. I've taken 6x7 scans up to 32x40 from a 16bit scan to Lightjet. The Imacons hold up very well. Since we obtained ours, we have not had one drum scan done. I'll echo you on the noise....but I felt it was minor.

    Kirk, were you using the new V4 software for the scanner?

  4. #4
    Doug Dolde
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    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    For the price they ought to be good. A less expensive and very high quality option is one of the Creo iQsmart flatbeds which can be used with their oil mounting station. Even with the iQsmart1 you are looking at $10K with the mounting station. Unfortunately the iQsmart1 only does 4x5 at 2100 dpi max. Still that is as good as the Imacon's resolution for 4x5.

    I had them do a test scan of a 4x5 transparency (on an iQsmart2) that I had also previously had scanned on a Heidelberg Tango. It was as good as the Tango to my eye.

    I am still in the mode of Epson 4990 for proofs then sending out the ones I want to print for a Tango scan. I use Photokit Sharpener for the 4990 and particularly like the high pass sharpener ar level 3 for that scanner. You can reduce the opacity of the sharpening layers if it's too strong.

  5. #5
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    You can buy a used drum scanner with all the trimmings for less than an Imacon 949. In most cases, for much less.

    As to quality, drum scans still can't be beat. CCDs continue to lag behind PMTs for sharpness, dynamic range, and noise.

    So if what you are after is the biggest bang for your buck, you really should to consider buying a used drum scanner and doing your own scans. It's not nearly as hard as people who have never done it would like you to think. If I can do it, anyone can.

    Bruce Watson

  6. #6
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    We do a ton of scans in my business. If we were to spend money on an upscale scanner, I would by the Imacon because of the ease of use and the speed of the scans and it would give us all the quality we would need.

    I prefer SilverFast scanning software and find it superior to anything else out there native or aftermarket like Vuescan. It really helps maximise the potential of the 4990.

    I use two sharpening plugins PhotoKit Sharpener for capture and selective sharpening aand OPTIPIX "Safe Sharpen" for final output sharpening. The "capture" sharpenining is unneccessary on drum or Imacon scans but is on the 4990 scans.

    Bruce, I have gotten allot of drum scans over the years and these are comparable.

    Dave, I am not sure. I do know the scanner is less than a year old and they keep the software updated.

    I have to say that I was pleasently surprised by these results. I did not expect the Imacon scans to be this good! I only initially used it to humour a freind at the school.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  7. #7
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    Also, This may mean something to some of the architectural photographers out there. Hedrich Blessing is scanning everything they shoot in house on the same scanner and delivering files these days to all but a few book publishers and magazines.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  8. #8
    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
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    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    In fact, a used Tango goes for less than the 949, and they even sometimes a 848. One thing that bothered me about the Imacons was that the resolution drops with film size. So if you have a piece of 5x7 film, the largest file you can produce is about 230MB... this might suffice in practice, but it is not very satisfying for a scanner of that price. Of course, the Imacon won't scan 8x10. For smaller formats, they seem convenient, though.

  9. #9
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    I have had a 5x7" slide scanned on an Imacon 88 scanner. The file is 322Mb, lagre and sharp enough for a 40x54" print without showing scanning artefacts or loss of sharpness at a noselength's distance. That's good enough for me

  10. #10
    Eirik Berger's Avatar
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    Imacon 949 vs. Epson 4990

    If I just could get rid of that annoying banding effect in the shadow areas of the image, I would be very happy with my BW scans from the Epson 4990.

    I scan 8x10" Fuji Acros with Vuescan. I scan them with the emulsion side down and flip the image in Vuescan. I did this to avoid Newton-rings and it looks as it helped. I Have tried with 16-bit, multisampling, "Long exposure pass" and made greyscale file from only one sensor.
    Best regards,
    Eirik Berger

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