Sunday, September 23, 2007

Epson vs. Canon scanners: who has better OS X support

I'm thinking of getting a flatbed scanner that will do at least 12 35 mm negatives in one batch job. I want to pay under $600. It seems my choices are Epson and Canon.

I could check review sites, but they're almost always worthless. There's another way to make a choice. Which driver software is most compatible with OS X? The first place to check is the relevant support sites.

Epson has some dated material on their site, but they at least have a page outlining scanner support that was current as of 10.4.4. I liked the long list of scanners that work out of the box with OS X Image Capture. The current V700 PHOTO has universal drivers tested through 10.4.9 and is directly supported by VueScan without drivers.

Not bad. Now lets look at Canon. I've previously written about the horror of a CanoScan install, and Canon's printer drivers are notoriously ill mannered. (HP? You're joking, right?)

So they're off to a bad start, but let's try Canon's 8800F page. They have software, but nothing about Intel, Universal, OS versions, etc. Not good. Vuescan won't work with the 8800F unless the Canon drivers are installed. Not good. OS X support page? Minimal.

Gee, that wasn't so hard. I didn't have to look at a single product review.

BTW, if you want a review, this is the best I found for the V700. Scanners aren't changing very much, so I'm comfortable buying at the high end. The Nikon slide scanner I bought 3-4 years ago is still current today.

Update 9/24/07: Product Recommendations from Ed (vuescan) Hamrick (emphases mine):
Best 35mm film scanners: Nikon CoolScan (all models) - good color, good quality, fast

Best low-end flatbed scanners: Canon LiDE 20/25/30 - small, inexpensive, get power from USB [jf: but horrid OS X drivers]

Best high-end flatbed scanners: Epson Perfection 4990/V700/V750 - fast, good quality

Best A3 document scanners: Epson GT-15000 and GT-30000 - reliable, good quality

Best raw file software: Adobe LightRoom - reads VueScan's Raw DNG files (Apple's Aperture doesn't)
Another point for the V700. So Canon is out completely, but Epson isn't completely unchallenged, because now I'm adding the Microtek i900. BTW, I found this bit of the review very useful:
If you scan a 35mm film frame at that resolution, your maximum enlargement for a 300-dpi dye sub printer is 4x6. To get an 8x10, you have to be able to scan 2400 dpi...
That's a nice reference to ahe at hand. To do a 35mm scan comparable to a modern dSLR the resolution would have to be at least 10,000 dpi, which probably exposes the limits of film.

Update 9/24/07: I was very tempted by the Microtek i900, but it turns out that they have a serious customer service problem ... They sound like a pretty small company. So if the device has no problems it might be the best scanner on the market for its price range, but if anything goes wrong you're out of luck. (I do love Amazon's reviews, esp. the 1 star reviews ...)
... Microtek customer "service" was anything but helpful. In fact, they have ONE technical support person on staff--I know because I spoke to him several times.

...I contacted the service department for Microtek who send you to an online repair service that will give you an email response in 48 hours. Turns out that the unit that I paid over $500 for is out of warranty and there is NO repair service for Microtek in the United States!

... I almost bought the i900, but wound up buying the i800 instead. You can read my full review under the i800 page, but basically I've had a pretty terrible experience with this company. My scanner suddenly broke after a couple of months, and the only way to contact their tech support is to wait until they email you back which seems like it takes anywhere from three days to two weeks. My replacement scanner had very dirty glass on the inside surface...
Update 1/6/08: The Epson V700V750 is still their flagship product. This technology doesn't change much any more! An excellent UK MacUser review summarizes strengths and weaknesses. After market negative holders might be indictated.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

After reading the text already posted, I would have to disagree with what is here. The drivers you seek are in "preview" for most Canon. The Epson was a hassle. The Canon was no problem. Mac already has the drivers installed on their OS. Just purchased a new Canon Scanner Canoscan 5600f onto my old Mac intel loaded with Tiger 10.4.11 using their install disc. Couldn't have been any easier. Works great.