Comments on my setup for scanning and printing:

Update May 2000:

I sold the X6 flatbed described below, and bought a Microtek Scanmaker 3600, which attaches to the USB port. The color is much better out of the box than the X6 was. The software is not as extensive, does not have the one-button scan nor built in functions for copier and FAX, so I will do these manually after capturing documents.

Comments circa Jan 2000:

Microtek Scanmaker X6 flatbed with LightLid35 accessory

This scanner is connected to the parallel printer port.  It has software that mimics a SCSI interface, apparently.  I do not have anything else connected to this port.  My Deskjet is connected to a USB port.

I had color problems out of the box with the MICROTEK ScanMaker X6.  In photos I scanned, the face tones were captured as too red and too dark (on both the CRT and the HP Deskjet output).  I had access to a Colortron photospectrometer system, and bought a standard print to work on calibrating the scanner.  I was getting prepared to try to write my own color profile for the scanner, a big job. Microtek indicated on the phone that their color calibration software would not work on this model, although their web site was unclear.  I downloaded the software and ran it anyway, since I had the standard print - no effect.  Then, after a convoluted trip through their web site, I found instructions to delete certain configuration files if there was a problem with colors all black or washed out.  Voila!  The files were automatically rebuilt upon next startup and the color improved 1000%.  PC magazine had noted in their scanner review that the colors seemed too red and dark, but didn't offer any attempt to fix it.  Is the unit shipped with the wrong configuration files? Who knows?

The LightLid 35 accessory is a small backlight unit for use with negatives or slides. It was included in the special BestBuy box of the Scanmaker.  Unfortunately, it makes it almost impossible to get good results.  One main reason is that the light inside the flatbed is not turned off when you connect the LighLid.  Microtek confirms on the phone that it is not designed to turn off.  As a result, any dirt on the negative or slide or on the scanner glass is brilliantly illuminated,and turns up as bright white in slides, or black on negatives.  Also: the only means for holding the film in place is by means of a slit on one edge and tape on the other; the unit slides around on the glass so that it is impossible to maintain squared-up alignment; also the unit must be placed for scanning lengthwise (the time consuming direction), or the light inside the scanner makes a terrible reflection on the surface of the slightly curved negative.  In summary, I wouldn't pay any extra to get this unit.  

There is a somewhat tedious procedure you can use in Adobe Photoshop to get rid of the dirt:  you need to scan twice so that the dirt shows up in different places.  You then register and combine the two images, taking at each point the darker one (if trying to eliminate white spots) or the lighter one (if the spots are dark).

I have had some occasional crashes with the ScanWizard software.

HP Photosmart S20 Film/Slide/Print Scanner

This unit plugged and played on the USB port with no trouble whatsoever.  Color is good, and I find it convenient to scan a strip of four negatives instead of putting the prints on the flatbed.  I wish the software would hold the base name of images in a sequence - every scan gets tentatively named "scanxxx.tif", where the xxx is an incremental number, and you have to manually retype each one before saving if you want descriptive names.  The software has color correction and gray scale adjustment, rotation, etc. built in - convenient for initial adjustment before going to some other image manipulation software. ( I also suspect you get the best quality this way, since the adjustment should be made at full bit resolution, where later software may only accept 24 bits.)  I have had some occasional crashes of this software.  

HP Deskjet 895Cse

Comparison of Deskjet 895 Cse printer output to on-screen appearance and to Alps printer output appearance:

I noticed that the Deskjet output seemed to enhance the contrast of very light colors compared to the CRT monitor.  This is apparently due to the minimum amount of ink that the unit can produce in a given area.  Nothing objectionable, but noticeable.  A friend who bought an ALPS was kind enough to print the same picture for comparison, and it showed more fidelity to the CRT view in the highlights, although there were some slight differences elsewhere.

In experimenting with the Deskjet, I accidentally used plain paper while it was set for glossy photo paper. This gave a neat demo showing that apparently much less ink is applied to the glossy paper, as the result on plain paper was washed-out.  

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