Convert photo film and slides into computer files
While most scanners can be used to convert photographic prints into computer files, if you want to scan film negatives or transparencies (slides) you will need specialist equipment as most scanners cannot cope with them directly.
Slides and negatives tend to produce better results than prints, so if you are scanning old family photos for posterity and you have access to both prints and negatives, you are better off scanning the negatives.
The Plustek Opticfilm 7600i scanner is a small box about 5in square and 11in deep, with a USB connection to attach to the computer and a separate mains power ‘brick’. Two holders are supplied, one for four mounted slides and one that holds six negatives in a strip.
While more expensive scanners can automatically feed film strips through, on this one you will need to scan each picture and manually move it along. A flatbed slide scanner such as the Canon 8800F can scan six at once, but quality from this device is higher.
It uses an LED light to illuminate the picture while it’s being scanned, an improvement over older scanners that use a cold cathode light – the LED provides a more even light that makes for a better scan.
There are two software programs included: a quick-scan tool links to one of the buttons on the front of the scanner – press this and it will scan images without any more intervention. That is useful if you are doing lots of pictures in one job.
Alternatively, if you want more control there you can use the impressive Silverfast software (pressing the other button starts this). There are two versions of the scanner available, the 7600i SE, which costs £270, and the 7600i Ai, which costs £405.
The only difference between the two is the Silverfast software – the more expensive one includes extra features that professionals might find useful. General users will be perfectly happy with the cheaper version, though.
Both versions include iSRD, which stands for Infra-red Smart Removal of Defects. This uses infra-red light to scan the image a second time, increasing the scanning time but allowing it to better remove scratches and dust.
Scan times were fair. A small image, good for the web, took 17 seconds, increasing to 45 with iSRD on, and a larger image for printing took 31 seconds, or 77 with iSRD turned on. An even larger archive-suitable scan took 57 seconds as standard which increased to nearly three minutes with iSRD.
Image quality was very good, with sharp, colourful and well-lit results. The defect-removal feature worked well with flecks of dust, but was less impressive on scratches.
The Silverfast software is daunting at first and if you are not used to scanning film and slides it can take a couple of hours to master. Almost all scanned film and slide images need some kind of processing in a photo-editing program, which adds to the overall processing time.
That said, and although it’s not cheap, the Plustek Opticfilm 7600i is a very impressive scanner. If you are going to be scanning lots of pictures, especially if you want to archive them, it’s hard to beat.
Read more reviews
A superb film and slide scanner that produces excellent results, though it takes a while to learn to use to full effect Good points Excellent results; good dust-removal feature; software is powerful Bad points No automated feeder; complicated to use software at first; can be slow to scan
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