View Full Version : First Impression of Epson 4990

Morey Kitzman
24-Mar-2005, 00:55
Wow! For scanning 4x5's the quality is very close to if not equal to the Imacon. The shadow detail is unreal, dmax is very high. No comparison to the Epson 4870, despite what others say, my impression it is a huge improvement. The 4990 no longer using multisampling, you just don't need it. Compusa has the units in stock and they don't have a restocking fee. My two year old Microtek 1800f is for sale.

David Roossien
24-Mar-2005, 06:13
I can't say anything about an Imacon or 4870, but my first 2 scans from the 4990 are revealing.

For a first scan all I did was use a simple bow curve to lighten because the preview looked too dark. The first 2400dpi scan from 4x5 pulled an amazing amount of shadow detail and left plenty of room for adjustments. It was nearly as saturated as the original. With just a touch of color correction it matched the slide.

For a 2nd scan, I placed the emulsion side down, used a bow curve to lighten, 16X multiscanning, digital ice on--let it run overnight and the results were less saturated and it looks less sharp. Digital ice worked as advertised.

First impressions--it seems like the scanner can do a lot by simply using Lasersoft's auto adjustments, or small variations from there. It's time for some test prints to see how much detail there is.

Steve Clark
24-Mar-2005, 06:53
Let it run overnight? ...Woof!

Craig Maxwell
24-Mar-2005, 07:11

What type of film holder does this Epson 4990 use to hold 4x5 transparencise, and how much of the transparency is cropped by the holder. Am I correct to assume this scanner uses a "glassless" 4x5 transparency holder ???


Craig "In the market for a New Scanner" Maxwell

David Roossien
24-Mar-2005, 07:12
16X multisampling takes a long time.... probably 2 hours.

Scott Fleming
24-Mar-2005, 07:35

Takes two hours and produces an unsharp scan? Then what good is it? I have zero experience with any scanner other than that the lab I use seems to do ok.

Leonard Evens
24-Mar-2005, 08:22
Am I right that this is just a film scanner, and it can't do reflective scanning? If so, is it good enough that I can use it instead of my Minolta SD IV for 35 mm. I have limited desk space, and I do need to leave space for a flatbed which can do reflective scanning, such as my current Epson 3200. I don't need the highest quality for 35 mm, but I do want at least what I can achieve with the SD IV.

Lawrence Francis
24-Mar-2005, 08:28
What is the difference between the 4990 and the 4990Pro? I read B&H spec/features tab and the descriptions are identical; but the price is about $75.00 different. Thanks

Bob Douglas
24-Mar-2005, 08:44

The difference is in the software bundle.

Epson Perfection 4990 PHOTO

<li>CD-ROM with LaserSoft Imaging™ SilverFast® SE 6</li>

Epson Perfection 4990 PHOTO Pro

<li>CD-ROM with LaserSoft Imaging™ SilverFast® Ai 6
<li>CD-ROM with ArcSoft® Suite
<li>Monaco EZcolor™ and IT8 Targets</li>

See http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/ProductCategory.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=yes&oid=-8172

Ted Harris
24-Mar-2005, 08:44
AFAIK the only differences between the two 'models' of the 4990 are the software offered with the scanner. For that matter I believe the only real difference betweent he 4990 and the 4870 is its ability to handle 8x10 transparancies.

paul stimac
24-Mar-2005, 09:13
Morey and David,

Thanks for your posts. I need a cheap scanner that can scan 8x10's and I've been going back and forth between the epson 4990 and microtek i900. Because of your input I'm heading down to compusa to buy the epson.

Morey Kitzman
24-Mar-2005, 09:25

There are some 10% coupons out there off a single purchase. I received one in the mail about a week ago. You might want to look around. I think you'll be as surprised as I was. Good luck.


If you are using multisampling on the 4990, please tell me how. This option is missing in my software, as far I can tell. Thanks.

Ken Lee
24-Mar-2005, 10:39
Any sample images online ?

Morey Kitzman
24-Mar-2005, 10:47

Where can I post some sample shots?

David Roossien
24-Mar-2005, 10:58
Scott Fleming: I didn't say unsharp, I said "less sharp" and was comparing the 2nd scan to the 1st scan. I wouldn't start jumping to conclusions about this scanner based on my first 2 scans or general statements here. The 2 scans weren't even apples to apples. I agree with Morey's initial impression that the scanner doesn't seem to need multisampling to produce good results when he said

"The 4990 no longer using multisampling, you just don't need it"

Morey: I bought the Pro version and was using Lasersoft AI. It has multisampling options of 1, 2, 4, 8 or 16. I'm not sure if the standard Lasersoft software has this option, but it would be interesting for others to know.

Morey Kitzman
24-Mar-2005, 11:06

Thanks for responding to my question on multisampling. It seems clear that the standard software version does not have this feature.

Ken Lee
24-Mar-2005, 11:30
Morey - If you send me a few JPG files, I can put them on my server on their own page.

For example, see here (http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/scan.htm" target="_blank) where I have a few comparisons between a dedicated Minolta scanner, and a Microtek ArtixScan 2500

JM Woo
24-Mar-2005, 15:57
Anyone have access to both a Microtek i900 and Espon 4990 for a head-to-head comparison?

Daniel Geiger
24-Mar-2005, 16:16

you say that you put your Microtek Artix 1800f up for sale because of better shaddow performance of the Epson. The Epson 4990 has a Dmax of 4.0, whereas the Artix 1800f has a Dmax of 4.8. The Microtec scanner is close to an order of magnitude better, or roughly 3 f-stops better. Resolution is lower in the Microtec, so I wonder what you are seeing. Do you scan color or B&W? Or are advertised Dmax values misleading?

I am in the market for a 4x5 scanner as well, for color transparencies; I thought that Dmax is more important the resolution. I have a Nikon Coolscan 4000ED (Dmax 4.2) for 35 mm slides, and shaddow performance could be better. Any learned opinions? Thanks.

Morey Kitzman
24-Mar-2005, 16:24

It has me wondering as well. I purchased the 1800f when it first came out, was it improved at a later time? In any case between the 4990 and the 1800f there is no comparison as far as sharpness and dmax are concerned, the 4990 is far superior. I compared a scan from the imacon, the 1800f and the 4990. The 4990 is 99% as good as the Imacon, the 1800f is around 60% both in dmax and sharpness. This is all the more curious in so far as the 1800f involved 8x multisampling and the 4990 was a straight scan, both around 200 mb to match the imacon. A couple of months ago I tryed the 4870 and the scans are considerably inferior to the 4990. I wonder now what scans the 4990 would produce with multisampling. Cheers.

Michael Chmilar
24-Mar-2005, 16:37
You should just ignore the manufacturer's specifications for resolution and dmax. The numbers they publish are nothing short of fiction. Perhaps they can produce some very contrived test situation where the numbers actually come true, but in real-world situations, the scanners do not perform to match the specs.

User tests and benchmarks must be made to reveal the true capability of a scanner.

Brian Ellis
24-Mar-2005, 18:06
I've always understood that manufacturers' d max numbers were useless, that there's no accepted industry-wide standard for how d max is obtained and then measured so everybody just does whatever produces the best number for their particular product.

Brian Ellis
24-Mar-2005, 18:12
Maybe the effects of multi-scanning vs a single pass depend on the particular scanner but I've tried up to 12x or so on my Linoscan 1400 and saw no difference at all in the results as compared with a single scan. It's my understanding that multi-scans actually can produce worse results if the scanner motor, head, etc. don't repeat each pass in perfect registration (or whatever the correct term is in scanner terminology).

Michael Chmilar
24-Mar-2005, 18:41
The most useful purpose for multi-pass scanning is to deal with noise in the scan of the densest part of the film.

The presumption is that the CCD noise is random. On each pass, the noise pattern will be different. By sampling each pixel multiple times, with each sample having a slightly different amount of noise, the noise will be "averaged out".

If a scanner has low noise (or if the noise is extremely consistent), multiple passes will make little or no improvement. Indeed, as Brian points out, in this case, multiple passes may degrade the scan quality due to alignment factors.

Morey Kitzman
25-Mar-2005, 08:51

I downloaded the demo version of Lasersoft Ai and it includes multisampling like you noted. The multisampling does help reduce noise in the shadow areas as Michael alluded to. Just to make it clear, the software included in the non pro version of the 4990 does not include the multisampling feature, but you can upgrade to the Ai version.

25-Mar-2005, 13:17
How do you manage NOT TO GET NEWTON RINGS scanning 8x10's?

I've tried without success. There must be some solution. Otherwise this scanner
is useless for a LF photographer.

Donald Hutton
25-Mar-2005, 22:21
The solution to no Newton rings - order a sheet of anti relex glass from Jensen Optical (Durst Pro USA) and you place the Anti Reflex glass directly onto the scanner, then the negative onto that. No more Newton Rings ever....

26-Mar-2005, 11:51
Looks like the Epson 4990 is a real winner.

I moderate a drumscanning Yahoo list- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ScanHi-End/messages - and one of the members who just happens to be the founder of the list compared the Epson 4990 against a Howtek 4000 drumscannner. The Epson held it's own very well.

Here's a copy and paste of his post with links:

"Recently I repeated a test with - wait for it - a new
Epson 4990 flatbed, a scanner with an optimistic sounding claimed Dmax
of 4 and 4,800 optical resolution so I thought I see how the shiny new
£300 Epson wonder matched up to the D4000 in a real world test.

The following is the image with the red rectangle indicating the test


This is the Howtek unsharpened scan


And this is the Epson after using FocalBlade to sharpen.


I think the Epson does a remakably good job - the scan can take quite
a lot of sharpening and detail does appear to be there. However,
there is some blooming on high contrast areas, and the Howtek of
course gives a much sharper initial image.

However, the relevance to Imacon is that, in my opinion, the Epson is
as good as my old Imacon Photo used to be, and with Ice noise removal,
its a lot more convenient. I was surpised by how good the Epson was,
but the D4000 still runs out the winner of course."

Doug Dolde
26-Mar-2005, 21:02
Just got mine today. While my experience is so far limited to a few 4x5 scans, I must say it's damn good. It replaced a 2450 which was pretty good also, but the difference is immediately obvious. And it's much faster.

I have to agree as a previous Imacon owner, that there is not much advantage to an Imacon over this Epson. If anyone has a good wet mount method, I'd love to try it and even have a bottle of Kami on hand.

Using Vuescan so far works well. I have yet to use the Epson scan software, but may try it as the ICE feature sure would be nice if it works well. Spotting is a drag.

Leslie Gordon
27-Mar-2005, 08:12
How is the focus of this scanner on 8x10 film and transparencies?

For 8x10, my concern would be the lack of proper film holder. 8x10's are put right onto the glass, whereas all other formats rest inside plastic holders. Does the scanner focus on the film before each scan, or does it focus to a fixed point (presumably at the distance of the film within the film holder)? An 8x10 would rest at a noticeably closer distance to the sensor.

Lars Åke Vinberg
28-Mar-2005, 00:57
I would be interested in hearing about experience scanning 8x10 - does Digital ICE work scanning 8x10, does it work well, what is the memory requirement for scanning 8x10 with Digital ICE? Also, the focus issue is interesting, as well as how to avoid newton rings.

The online manual for the Epson software states that Digital ICE is not supported for scans larger than 4x5, is this correct?

Silverfast does not support Digital ICE, unless I am mistaken?

Noshir Patel
29-Mar-2005, 07:10
Someone should recategorize this message as "digital" instead of "anouncements". I almost missed this post...

Kirk Gittings
29-Mar-2005, 08:41
Silverfast AI does support Digital Ice. I use it every day on my 4870. For reasons that I am not quite clear, DI is more effective with SF than the Epson Software and it takes a bit longer as a result. The SF program must be doing some serious and superior number crunching.

Kirk Gittings
30-Mar-2005, 10:26
Johnny V. What was the format you were scanning, resolution etc. and was that with Digital Ice on?

Diane Maher
30-Mar-2005, 10:31
I am also curious as to the performance of the Epson with 8x10 film and transparencies.

30-Mar-2005, 22:20
kirk gittings wrote:

>Johnny V. What was the format you were scanning, resolution etc. and was that with Digital Ice on?

Hi Kirk,

The test was done by the owner of the Yahoo list I moderate - ScanHi-End. I'll send an email off to him with your question.

Here's his original post...you'll need to register to read it:


Quentin Bargate
31-Mar-2005, 10:43
John, Kirk, everyone

Hello there. Johnny V mentioned the debate here about the Epson 4990. I am the guy who did the comparison test between a Howtek D4000 drum scanner and a new Epson 4990 .

As John has said, joining the ScanHi-End group will gain you access to a lot of great information about professional scanning - all excellently moderated by John. I also posted my comparison on Vincent Oliver's Photo-I site - here is a direct link to the message thread - this is also a good way to get the info on my tests, and I included the image comparisons later in the thread. Also check out Vincent Oliver's very thorough review of the Epson on his site.


As you will see from this thread, the comparison weas done using 4x5 Velvia