Engage Automatic Warp Drive One, Mr Sulu...With Epson
On another front, I finally got to try one of the features of the Epson V700 scanner this weekend, and can report on the operation.
The V700 is a flat-bed scanner that has been specifically designed to accommodate transparent and solid copy from the tiniest miniature format to the 8 x 10 size. I have owned on for 5 years and have used it extensively to mine the archives of my negative and slide collection. I scan and save the images into the digital bag and then use the Adobe Photoshop Elements program to modify them.
In many case the modification is confined to cleaning the spots and dust from the scan. My negatives and slides have been stored in proper sleeves for the last 40 years but even the best storage is a little subject to contamination. Indeed, the act of taking an old negative out of storage and placing it in the dedicated scanner plates can attract some dust through static electricity. The newest negs have little to bother them, and the big sheet film negs are so big as to render small dust unexceptionable, but the 35mm and 120 ones from the 90's generally need some spotting.
Of course spotting these days is mouse or stylus-based using the spot feature of PSE10 and is very effective - you cannot see where the program has erased the problem. But it all takes time as you navigate around the image at 100% and zap the spots. Then you go out to page size and invariably you have missed one, so you zoom in again...
The Epson V700 has a feature that is designed to relieve this problem. There is an ICE circuit built into the control panel that supposedly removes the dust automatically. I tried it last night with the experiment of doing one scan on a moderately clean image and then spotting it manually - timing myself - and then repeated the scan on the same image with the ICE turned on.
At this juncture let me explain what I think the ICE is doing - if I am right it is science and if I am wrong it is sorcery. It makes a regular preview scan as pre normal - you inspect it and choos the size and crop. When you engage the ICE and tell it to scan it goes down your image once, then resets itself - with an audible click that is distinct to the ICE setting - and runs slowly down the image again. I suspect that it is looking at the surface of the film from a slightly different scan bar angle - hence the click - and then supplying the computer with two images to compare. the computer takes some time to do this before it spits the final image to wherever you have requested.
The time taken to do this is at least double that of the un-cleaned scan, and in some cases it may be more than double. But we are not talking about very long scans here, either. In any case in the end you have an image that is entirely free of dust - and here is the good part: I inspected the manual clean version and the auto clean version side by side and cannot see any loss of resolution. Just loss of dust.
The time taken to do the ICE clean is no longer - and in the case of a heavily contaminated surface can be much shorter - than the business of doing it yourself and then spotting away for 5 minutes.
Tonight I shall make the experiment of deliberately putting a fingerprint on the non-emulsion side of a negative and see if the mechanism can cope with the whorls and spots. I also have several negatives of shame that never received proper washing and have chemical contamination on the surface - it will be interesting to see what it makes of them.