Canon's CanoScan FS4000

Version 1.4 (Oct 2001), ©2001 by Dale Cotton, all rights reserved

Updated October 13, 2001

My FS4000 lurks in the mess

My FS4000 and protruding film holder lurk amidst the mess on my desk.

I've had the FS4000 for more than a month now and am exceedingly happy with it. I originally wrote this review to provide clarifications regarding the few points that I did not feel clear on after reading the other fine reviews already on line.

Here are all the (more extensive) information and review sources that I am aware of:

Consider this document as a supplement to these.

Where I'm coming from

I do mainly fine art landscapes from 35mm neg film. I've been doing scanning quite extensively for the past year. I've shot several rolls of slide film, and I've scanned dozens of slides before writing this, but I am far from an expert in slide work.

Installation

The FS4000 comes with a USB cable, while offering SCSI ports for faster performance. Not having SCSI on my computer I installed for USB. Frankly, I've never had a simpler installation experience with any hardware device. Canon actually USE the Windows' Add New Hardware capability instead of fighting it. (My system is a 533 MHz Presario 7479 with 512 MB RAM and Win98SE). The printed USB installation instructions are very clear, just be sure you follow them to the letter rather than trying to wing it!

Also note that the warning in the installation instructions that the FS4000 must be connected directly into one of you computer's built-in USB ports. It will not work reliably when plugged into a USB hub. I think this is fairly common with printers and scanners, but it's something to keep in mind if you already have other fussy devices.

Resolution

This is one area in which there is little disagreement among the above sources. The first question most of us have when considering a scanner is does it have enough resolution for my needs? You have only to download and print the fabulous, 6.4 MB, full scan that Taylor Hively provides to settle that matter for yourself. The FS4000 is an outstandingly sharp scanner.

Do you need 4000 ppi?

My previous scanner was the HP PhotoSmart S20, which had a maximum optical resolution of 2400 ppi. If I take an S20 scan and use resampling to enlarge it to the same size as an FS4000 scan the results are noticeably inferior. But I am usually working with photos taken with prime lenses or pro zooms, using fine-grained film, and with the camera mounted firmly on a tripod. Plus I often print at the full 13" x 19" maximum print size of my Epson 1270 inkjet. So, unless your images are very sharp and you are working towards very large prints, the answer is: no, you don't need 4000 ppi.

In fact, in that case you likely don't want 4000 ppi, either. A 4000 ppi scan of a full 35 mm frame is roughly 69 MB at 24 bits and twice that at 42 bits. These huge file sizes will both drastically slow down your computer during image editing while rapidly exhausting the capacity of even the largest hard disk. Last year's higher-end consumer film scanners topped out at 2700 to 2800 ppi, as do this year's economy models. If the truth be known, this is probably more than adequate to recover all the detail in the vast majority of 35 mm frames.

The FS4000's resolution choices are 125, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 ppi. 125, 250, and 500 ppi are fine for e-mail and web posting. 1000 ppi will give you 4" x 6" prints. 2000 ppi will give you 8" x 11" prints. 4000 ppi will give you 13" x 19" and larger. What is missing is an option in the vicinity of 3000 ppi for 11" x 17". Note: (Oct 13, 2001) This threw me for quite a while. I finally realized that you can type in any intermediate resolution, such as 3000 ppi and the scanner will follow suit. To judge by the rate at which the scanner moves the film holder forward and by the total scan time, it physically scans at the custom resolution rather than scanning at a standard resolution then cribbing via software interpolation.

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