FLAAR has recently opened a new web site devoted exclusively to testing, reviewing, and recommending midrange and high-end scanners for graphics studios, photographers, desktop publishing, and prepress. In preparation for www.flatbed-scanner-review.org we are initiating lists of professional flatbed scanners as well as pertinent drum scanners on the present www.cameras-scanners-flaar.org.

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Drum scanners from ICG, Heidelberg, Fuji, Howtek, ScreenUSA compared with high-end flatbed scannerssuch as Creo EverSmart Supreme.

Imacon (Denmark) is a nice high-end (non-drum) scanner because you do not have to put goo on your precious chromes. This is perhaps technically not a traditional drum scanner, but with 4800 to over 5600 dpi, it sure is high-end enough for desktop publishing. Unfortunately the last two Seybold Reports reviews have given the Imacon low marks for several aspects; Seybold does not rate the Imacon as a serious contender for uses which require precise color such as the fine art market. We used an Imacon scanner at the Center for Advanced Imaging (St Louis, MO) but scanned only a grayscale image. Thus we will have to wait until we can get an actual Imacon unit in-house before we can find out whether Seybold's conclusions are true in actual studio use. For practicality, however, and for its outstanding software, we prefer a Creo EverSmart Supreme as the best flatbed scanner we have used so far.

Of drum scanners, the models I like the most are from ICG, especially since ICG offers an alternative for people who do not wish to smear oil all over their transparencies. Cleaning the oil off is rather time consuming and requires an unusually conscientious lab person (which eliminates many employees nowadays).

ICG drum scanner pre-press

ICG drum scanner pre-press
ICG drum scanner pre-press

Oiling the transparencies, however, has been repeatedly documented to be the best way to avoid dust and scratches. It can take up to an hour to remove dust and scratches from a typical scan resulting from a flatbed scanner. Here is the image from the ICG drum scanner. Only three individual flecks had to be removed with the rubber stamp tool, a total of a few seconds cleanup time. Then we printed the image at 54 inches wide on a HP DesignJet at the ColorGate booth. The quality of this drum scan certainly beat most flatbeds, and I am not sure I would want to trust a cheap entry level drum scanner. After all, if you are going to opt for drum scanning technology, might as well get one that does a really good job, such as ICG, Fuji, or Heidelberg. We have selected ICG from Global Graphics hardware for the FLAAR Photo Archive.

Crosfield, DuPont Printing and Publishing; their drum scanner division is now part of Fuji Electronic Imaging.


Dainippon Screen FT-S700,
Screen USA
They had a booth at IPEX, so the company is still functioning. Screen still offers their Cezanne Elite flatbed scanner and the very impressive looking SG-8060P Mark II color drum scanner.

Eurocore used to make a nice drum scanner. However no movement in web site last time we checked several months ago. In August 2002 we could not even find their web site. Thus we presume this company has not survived.

Eurocore used to make the
Hi-SCAN 141 (3 pass necessary)
Hi-SCAN 143
Hi-SCAN 223

EUROCORE S.A.

In the USA, Eurocore used to be sold by SCANTRONIX. We do not know this company or whether they still sell Eurocore scanners.
We have no information on whether Eurocore has survived. Lots of scanner companies disappeared between 2001 and 2002. We will see who shows up at Photokina 2002.

Howtek Inc.

We are gradually beginning to learn more about these scanners after seeing the equipment at Photokina and then at The Big Picture trade shows.

Unfortunately the test scans did not print well at all; indeed we had to throw the scans away. We do not know whether the originals were bad (in which case the bad scans were not entirely the fault of Howtek or Aztek). However since they did the scans, and we don't have the scanners to repeat the test, we are unable to say much more about these products.


Beware of flatbed scanners masquerading as drum scanners. A flatbed is still a flatbed even if sold by a company previously known for drum scanners. Don't be duped by claims that an upright scanner is thus a drum scanner! Whether the scanner is designed to sit upright, or flat (or upside down like an overhead scanner) does not change the insides. If your scanner has a CCD it is a flatbed, no matter whether it is cleverly shaped to stand upright and hence masquerade as a drum scanner. If your scanner has a PMT system, then it is a drum scanner, no matter what size or shape it is.

Also be careful of low-priced drum scanners...you may find that a really good flatbed is better than a cheap drum scanner.

Why? in part because the scanner software of a Creo, Fuji Lanovia or Heidelberg Topaz or Nexscan may be superior to the software of a drum scanner.

In other words, if you feel that your clients demand a drum scan, then you need to bite the bullet and get a real drum scanner (in other words from ICG, Heidelberg, Fuji, etc...but not from low-end drum scanner companies).

What about buying a used drum scanner? Don't buy any model from a company that has gone out of business....how can you get spare parts or technical help? Drum scanners require technicians to keep them calibrated. If you inside on a used scanner try this place, but we do not have experience, we just saw their stand at a trade show.


ICG drum scanner
ICG drum scanner

ICG drum scanner

ICG North America Inc. (formerly Itek Colour Graphics, then part of Global Graphics hardware)
QuickMount drums, ICG 350I Sentinel (Camino in the USA) or (330i Deskside, Camino)

Centrifugal force holds the originals firmly and evenly against the drum surface. If this means no mounting goo, I am all for recommending this manner of scanning. I hate the thought of putting chemical goo over my expensive photographs and wasting the time cleaning it off (hopefully getting most of it off).

Callisto 308I, Mac software. Nice photos of product in office setting, but no movement (no 3-D object movies), no inside views.

ICG Limited; used to be affiliated with Global Graphics hardware. However this hardware division was sold off during 2002 and has disappeared during reorganization. If the new company survives, and if they produce their same nice ICG drum scanner, we will re-list them.



Isomet used to make drum scanners such as the 405HR or smaller format less costly 405HR digital Drum Scanner. However their web site no longer lists or otherwise discusses drum scanners, so probably another causalty.



Juno Enterprises Inc., rather hard to find out about products when their web site is blocked. They finally went out of business, small wonder if they couldn't even keep their web site open to the public.
Linotype-Hell, Heidelberg, German efficiency, specialists in color management and professional prepress and desktop publishing equipment. We review their midrange Saphir Ultra2 flatbed scanner. Heidelberg still makes high end drum and flatbed scanners, but they abandoned the entry-level and mid-range of flatbed scanners during 2002.

Kodak, Ektaplus Image Drum, probably another extinct dodo bird of a drum scanner. Kodak has not fared well in the digital era. The few Kodak flatbed scanners do not have an impressive track record, and their software such as Kodak Photo CD is not at a professional level when compared with prepress scanner software from other companies.

Optronics
We recently received a report that one prepress shop was unable to achieve good scans with an Optronics drum scanner (they said they reverted to using a Umax flatbed). This is a mute point since Optronics was sold recently and I am not sure whether they still sell their scanners or not. But why bother with a company going out of business; stick with drum scanners from companies that are healthy, such as Heidelberg or Fuji..

ScanView Inc.
So many scanner companies have disappeared it is hard to keep track.

I visited the ScanView headquarters in Copenhagen five years ago and liked the quality of their high-end scanners such as Scanmate. Subsequently ScanView was sold in the USA by Howtek. Don't confuse the entry level Howtek drum scanners with the ScanView flatbeds. ScanView makes nice flatbeds (though we happen to know the Creo EverSmart scanner better since we have one in our office). Our favorite flatbed scanners are the Fuji Lanovia C-550 Sprint, the new Fuji 2750, and the Creo Supreme.

I am not sure of the fate of ScanView or ScanMate products. My impression is they have not been updated recently. We will check to see at Photokina 2002.


Warning: Umax claims their model 3000 is as good as a drum scanner. Not so. It is slow, very very slow. It has a sweet spot down the middle, the only pace you get full dpi. You do not get full-bed dpi. Furthermore we received a complaint that the scans were not all that inspiring.

If you want drum scan quality, get a real drum scanner. Neither Umax, not Imacon can approach the output of a real drum scanner.

Creo offers full optical resolution across the entire flatbed surface. Keep in mind that most other scanners (such as two of the ScanView models) offer full resolution only down a narrow band down the center.

Also, be wary of "interpolated" dpi. Any company that features an enlargement percentage based on interpolated dpi in their web site or in their ad brochures is, in my personal opinion, possibly attempting to dupe a naive buyer into believing that this interpolated dpi will actually allow a serious enlargement at those grossly inflated figures.

If your scanner is good, the true optical dpi will be more than enough and you won't need any phony interpolated dpi anyway.

Conclusion:

SG-8060P Mark II color drum scanner from Screen as well as the drum scanners from Heidelberg and Fuji get our top ratings for truly professional hardware and software.

If you can't afford these top three, then consider a good 5000 dpi flatbed such as from Creo, Fuji, Screen, Heidelberg, or Agfa. Creo, is a flatbed not drum scanner, but quality is of professional prepress quality. Creo scanners are so well known worldwide that you can find plenty of information.

 

 
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