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Amazon Imaging SmartScan 2700 35mm Film Scanner

Amazon Imaging SmartScan 2700 35mm Film Scanner

List Price: $249.99
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Rating: 4 stars
Summary: Even with its flaws, good value for a budget scanner
Review: Amazon boxes the Smartdisk Smartscan2700 (SS2700) 35mm film scanner and sells it under its own label. And Smartdisk's SS2700 is a rebranded (OEM) version of Pacific Imaging's (PIE) Primefilm 2700. So for $200 USD, Amazon delivers you a Smartdisk SS2700 (versus paying $220 if you direct-order from Smartdisk...go figure!) As far as I can tell, the Amazon product includes everything shown/described from Smartdisk's webpage -- scanner, cable, Mac/PC driver CD, and Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 (PC and Mac.)

Cosmetically, the SS2700 looks similar to PIE's older Primefilm 1800u. Mechanically, the film-tray operates *exactly* like the 1800u. This means the following:

1) Mounted 35mm slides are easy to pop-in and pop-out of the scanner-tray, no risk of scratching precious slides.

2) 35mm film strips (negatives, or unmounted slides) require some careful placement to avoid scratching the picture-area (and to avoid getting your fingerprints on the film!)

3) For a budget/entry-level scanner the manual load/unload is fine. But people who need to scan lots of film, the manual tray is a *bottleneck.* Prepare to spend a lot of time manually moving *each* frame (of a strip) over the scanner-window.


Now about the software/driver operation:

Since I have a PC, I can only comment on the SS2700's behavior under Windows 98se (yes ancient, I know.) The SS2700 driver is an old version of the Cyberview 2.50d TWAIN driver. When preparing to perform the scans, Cyberview's preview-window is awfully small, the adjustment/optimization options are hard to use, and the driver has *NO* film presets. All in all, the driver made the SS2700 very difficult to use, and I was ready to return the unit.

But *thankfully*, the SS2700 seems to be fully compatible with PIE's Primefilm2700. Why is this good? From www.scanace.com, I downloaded PIE's Cyberview-X Windows driver (for the Primefilm/2700), ran the update, and the driver successfully upgraded me from Smartscan's ugly Cyberview to PIE's improved Cyberview-X. (The upgrade procedure is a bit tricky. I first installed the SS2700's own Cyberview driver. After Windows recognized the SS2700 USB scanner, I then installed the Primefilm Cyberview-X update. After rebooting, the Cyberview-X TWAIN driver is available to all TWAIN-compliant scanner programs, including Photoshop Elements 2, Vuescan, Paint Shop Pro, etc. If you try to remove the SS2700 Cyberdriver before installing Cyberview-X, the upgrade will fail!)

Cyberview-X is the saving grace for this scanner, because not only is it more user friendly (bigger preview pane, more adjustments with better ability to save/load your custom scan profile), it comes with a bunch of film-profiles. With the 'film-profiles', you pick the exact film-type from a list (Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, etc.), then the scan-driver will autoset the color-profile to match the film's characteristics. In terms of color/brightness levels, the preloaded-profiles will get you in the right 'ballpark.' You'll probably still need to do some fine-tweaking for unusually contrasty, dark, or bright pictures. Believe me, getting the same color-matching with the old Smartscan Cyberview was nearly IMPOSSIBLE!

As expected for a low-end scanner, the unit lacks hardware dust removal. Dust specs and lint are a major annoyance for 35mm film scans, because the dust specs appear 'magnified' over the picture area. It is possible to apply software dust-removal, but that product must be bought separately -- and it is not as effective as a hardware-based solution.

The SS2700 includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. Unfortunately, I have little experience with digital photography, and I'm not qualified to comment on this software. As I said before, I successfully used the PIE's Cyberview-X TWAIN driver to acquire scans inside Photoshop Elements.

As for the scans themselves, 35mm slides have a very wide dynamic range. The SS2700 doesn't seem capable of capturing the entire range of a high-contrast negative. 35mm negatives fare a bit better, but the scanner's limited sample-depth (36-bit) causes a lot of 'posterization.' This means a continuous gradient, say a picture of the sky horizon which gradually transitions from light blue to dark blue, contains a lot of breaks and abrupt (visible) color changes. And finally, the SS2700's sensor seems to be very noisy, much noisier than my Epson Perfection 3170 (48-bit) flatbed.

Having attempted 35mm scans (negatives and slides) on both the Epson 3170 and the SS2700, and in my opinion, I think the SS2700 beats the 3170. The SS2700's 2700dpi scans are consistently *sharper* than the 3170's 3200dpi scans. (I suspect the flatbed's resolving-power is greatly limited by the sensor-arrangement: a dual staggered 1600dpi sensor.) In terms of detail-level, the 3170's 35mm film scans were on par with the 1800dpi Primefilm1800u, which isn't saying a lot. However, the SS2700's scans contain more picture noise. I'm not sure whether that's due to the SS2700's better sharpness (and consequently, greater sensitivity to film grain), or if it's electronics-related -- the Epson 3170 flatbed is rated at 48-bit color and the SS2700 is rated at 36-bit. The 3170's noise-level (for film or prints) is visibly lower than the SS2700. Overall, in comparison against the Epson 3170 flatbed, the SS2700's extra-detail outweighs its greater noise.

The next step up is the Minolta Dual Scan III (2800dpi, USB2, 48bit), which is widely regarded as the best $300 film-scanner. The DSIII gives you better color-depth, faster scans, and an (optional) APS-film holder.

In conclusion, the Amazon Imaging SS2700 (which is really a rebranded PIE Primefilm2700) is an good value at $200 USD. It won't win any awards for picture-quality, but it makes usable scans. In terms of detail/resolution, the SS2700 is sharper than any *flatbed* scanner costing up to $400 USD. In terms of noise-level, a good 48-bit flatbed scanner (like the Epson 3170) is superior.

Apparently, SS2700 is a rebranded Primefilm2700
*REAL* 2700dpi 35mm film scans for $200
(...don't be fooled by 3200dpi flatbed scanners doing 35mm scans!)
bundled Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 OEM, a $50 retail value
Compatibility with Pacific Image's Cyberview-X driver and Vuescan

no 'multisample' mode (for reducing picture noise)
high picture noise/grain (limitation of 36-bit sample depth?)
manual/mechanical film loading tray (single frame)
no hardware dust-removal, no autofocus
USB1.1 (slower than USB2.0)
For a litte more money ($275 USD), Minolta DSIII is better
35mm film only, no APS/110/126 film adapter

Rating: 3 stars
Summary: Watch out with this scanner
Review: Let me start by telling you that I first has a PIE 1800U scanner, when it stopped working after 2,5 years I contacted Primefilm *the same brand as the Smartscan 2700.

They simply answered me that the CCD stopped working and that happens....

I thought I would have a good deal by buying the Amazon 2700 because I trusted the scanner for what it did.

But here it comes, the same prblem as the 1800U it stopped working, CCD failed. Warranty??? Where??? Till now I am waiting for a response. They only answer I had is the following:

It just depends on how much you use it and if its left turned On by accident. This is the cause of a "lamp or CCD failure". Since you have voided your warranty , your looking at spending between $85 - $100 just on the repairs, parts, and s&h itself so its really up to you if you want it repaired or not.

How much I use it??? Well according to the company up to 3 hours can give problems...

And than the fact if you keep on scanning it seems that it doesn't want to adjust anymore, I mean in better words you have to adjust every picture over and over and keep on adjusting... takes hours to scan a film...

I think if you think about a low price scanner and your not a profesional by the Epson 3170, with the unsharp mask in Paintshop or Photoshop you can adjust enough sharpnes. Scan up to 5 negatives at once and much more option and you also have a good flatbed scanner for the same price.

Look at this page (NOT MY PAGE) http://www.billkee.com/Epson3170/
for an idea about the quality of the Epson

Going for a cheap scanner for nothing???
Only 69 dollars and you get a scanner with reasonable quality for small pictures, slides, negatives and more.

If you go for 35mm scanning and want something realy good?
Go for the Minolta Dual Scan III http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/DSEIII/DSEIIIA.HTM , Nikon Coolscan http://hardwarecentral.dealtime.com/xPR-Nikon_Coolscan_IV_ED~RD-78434569860 or Polaroid Sprintscan 35 http://www.cix.co.uk/~tsphoto/tech/filmscan/pol35plus/pol35plu.htm
All 3 are on the market around 300 dollars, the Nikon is just a little bit more the lowest price I saw is $389.99 Try to look for the previous model.

More ideas at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN1.HTM

Questions? I like to help I scan a lot of pictures and negatives daily. redsfotografie@yahoo.co.uk

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