SCANTASTIC!: Photography Scanning Software Review

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Photography Scanning Software Review: Silverfast Ai Studio 8.

Got a high-res scanner but getting poor quality results? Then it’s time to think about Dynamic Range. Here we explain how to get the best results when scanning your negatives and slides, and demonstrate a brilliant piece of software that gives top results.



How can you tell if a scanner is really good? Many photographers think it’s all about resolution, but if you need to scan your negatives, slides or reflective originals with the best result possible, you need to think not just of the scanner you use but the software that’s inside it. It’s a common misconception that dots per inch (dpi) is the characteristic that makes your scanned image look superb. Although important, a high pixel count alone won’t give you the result you are hoping for if your scanner can’t pick up a high Dynamic Range.

PRESERVING DETAIL


Many scanners can’t record the full details of light and shadow that are captured in the multiple film layers of a colour negative or a slide. This results in a scan with limited details, such as in the first image to the right. SilverFast Ai Studio 8, an award-winning piece of digital imaging software for scanners, solves this problem with its Multi-Exposure feature; by scanning your image twice, with increased exposure the second time, the final scan will hold remarkable detail in both the light and the shadow areas of your image. 


For example, using SilverFast Multi-Exposure, the Dynamic Range of Plustek’s OpticFilm 120 allows the scanner to capture 10,233 levels of grey instead of just 1,349. SilverFast’s Multi-Exposure feature is one of the most important inventions in digital imaging, and one of the reasons it’s crucial to choose your digital imaging software with care.

No more dust and scratches

Slides and negatives always carry tiny scratches and dust particles that will show in your digitised image. As all photographers know, cloning them out individually is both time consuming and imprecise, damaging the original information in the image. To avoid this you need a more refined tool, such as SilverFast’s infrared dust and scratch removal feature, iSRD. It uses the scanner’s infrared channel to detect dust particles and scratches, tell them apart from the film and emulsion, and then remove only what needs to be removed, leaving the important details of your image intact. As an added bonus, iSRD is much faster than other algorithms because it is built for modern 64bit multi-core systems, rather than the 32bit application which you still find in other software.

FAST AND EASY ARCHIVING

Scanning, calibrating and processing images can be a time-consuming affair, not to mention messy if you haven’t got a good workflow and archiving system in place. The SilverFast Archive Suite is a software package that includes both scanner software and imaging software, meaning that you can speed up your workflow tremendously. Not only do you get the benefits of automated colour calibration, Multi-Exposure scanning and dust removal, the SilverFast HDR Studio allows you to batch process and optimise your images quickly and efficiently, all in one place.

Let’s take colour calibration; with the SilverFast Archive Suite, all you have to do is calibrate your scanner with the click of a button and your images will be calibrated automatically, ensuring that you get consistent scans without having to understand the complicated calibration process. The patented Auto IT8 Calibration feature has been awarded best Colour Management Software by the European Digital Press Association, so you don’t have to take our word for it; SilverFast Archive Suite will save you time and make your images better.

UNDERSTANDING RESOLUTION

The resolution you see on a scanner’s data sheet is not the same as the usable optical resolution your images will get by using it. A scanner records an image line by line with a sensor that consists of many photocells on a row. The more photocells, the higher the resolution will be, but the final resolution of a scanned image also depends on the motor that makes the sensor jump from one line to the next. The more refined the jumps, the higher the resolution. Because the resolution depends on both the amount of photocells in a scanner’s sensor and the motor that moves the photocells along the image, horizontal and vertical resolution is not necessarily the same. So when you see an amazingly high resolution value advertised on a scanner’s packaging, be aware that you might not end up with that value as your usable optical resolution.

The SilverFast Resolution Target (USAF 1951) allows you to measure the actual, usable resolution of a scanner. A simple step-by-step guide lets you determine the scanner’s exact capabilities so you know what you get.

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Photography Workshop: SCANTASTIC!: Photography Scanning Software Review
SCANTASTIC!: Photography Scanning Software Review
Photography Scanning Software Review: Silverfast Ai Studio 8.
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