Epson Perfection 2450 Photo Review

 

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UPDATE - Four way comparison with 1640SU Photo, Scanwit and Canoscan 2700

A number of people have emailed me asking for a comparison between the Epson 2450 and 1640SU Photo. After extensive no-expense-spared testing in the Virtual Traveller labs, I have some results for you.

I took the opportunity to add the Canoscan 2700 dedicated film scanner to the comparison, so what you see below is a four way comparison between two filmscanners and two flatbeds. To keep things in context, the Acer Scanwit 2720S and Epson 2450 are current models, the 1640SU Photo has recently been replaced (by the 2450) and the Canoscan 2700 has been replaced twice since it was a current scanner (by the Canoscan 2710 and then the most recent Canoscan 4000). The only reason for including the Canoscan is that I had one handy!

The test slide is on Fuji Velvia 50ASA, taken at King's Canyon in Australia.

 

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo

 

Epson 1640SU Photo

 

Canon Canoscan 2700

 

Acer Scanwit 2720S

 

The above 4-way comparison serves no other purpose than to show you the whole slide I'm using as a test, and to show the colours produced by the respective scanner software. Ken Rockwell has posted a "review" of the 2450 in which he claims that flatbeds produce poor colour in comparison to "proper" film scanners. I must say that before reading this "review" (I use the word with caution as he hasn't acutally used the 2450!) I had never thought of colour rendition as being a problem for flatbeds in comparison to dedicated film scanners. Now that this has been pointed out to me... I still don't think it's a relevant observation. The above samples haven't been messed about with by me in the colour department. The only one which stands out colour-wise is the Acer, which is making Australia's red centre look more like the orange centre. This could be easily corrected in Photoshop, so not to worry. The Acer's rendition is perhaps the closest to the real location, but it's not the most like the projected slide. It seems to have lost some of the extreme (and some would say unrealistic) colour saturation which is evident in the original Velvia slide.

Resolution

The Acer and Canon are both 2700dpi scanners. The Epson 2400 comes third with 2400 dpi, and the Epson 1640 last with 1600dpi. Are these figures borne out by the results?

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo - detail

Epson 1640SU Photo - detail

Canon Canoscan 2700 - detail

Acer Scanwit 2720S - detail

The Epson 1640SU sample has been enlarged to 2400dpi and re-sharpened, so that the image is a similar size to the others for comparison.

My conclusion is that the Acer is the sharpest, and the Epson 1640SU the least sharp. Whilst there is quite a gulf between the 1640SU and the Acer in the right hand column, there is less of a gulf between the 2450 and the Canoscan in the left hand column. The 2450 seems to sit about half-way between the 1640SU and the Canoscan in sharpness.

I projected this test slide with a very sharp Rollei slide projector, and my impression was that the original slide was sharper than all four of these results. To get the absolute best out of this slide, a 4000dpi scanner would probably be needed.

Shadow detail and noise

Epson Perfection 2450 Photo

Epson 1640SU Photo

Canon Canoscan 2700

Acer Scanwit 2720S

My conclusions from the above are that the scanners resolve shadow detail in this order, with the best first - Acer, Epson 2450, Epson 1640, Canoscan.

Considering that this is a Velvia test slide, and that hardly any shadow detail can be seen when the slide is projected, I think all the scanners apart from the Canon did a good job. The Epson 2450 doesn't seem to extract any more shadow detail than the 1640SU, but there is definitely less noise in the scan. The Acer appears to extract a tiny bit more detail than either of the flatbeds, with no additional noise. With the Canon it is difficult to see how much detail is extracted, as all that noise gets in the way!

Other Thoughts on the 2450

I like the design, which incorporates the transparency light source into the lid. I like the fact that it has USB and Firewire connectors. Styling is quite far down my list of important qualities for a scanner but the Epson looks quite nice too. It has some quite cool design features such as the single "scan" button on the front, which causes a window to pop up asking whether you want to do a photocopy, photo scan etc.

Software-wise, you get the latest cut-down version of Photoshop, Photoshop Elements. This is my fourth cut-down copy of Photoshop (I got one with the Acer, one with the Epson Stylus Photo 1270 and one with the Perfection 1640SU!) I don't much like the look of it, as it won't even let you import a 48 bit file. Its predecessor, Photoshop 5.0LE, would at least let you import a 48 bit file and adjust the levels but insisted on converting to 24 bit before you did much else with it. You also get various other software such as Textbridge for doing OCR (converting text on a page into editable text).

There are 3 film holders which come with the scanner. One holds two 35mm filmstrips of 6 exposures each. One holds 4 mounted 35mm slides. The third holds 5x4inch film and 120 roll film up to 6x9cms. The software quite cleverly looks to see which film holder you are using and can automatically create thumbnails and do batch scanning - useful for scanning 12 35mm shots in one go from film strips. You can also switch to manual and scan whatever size or shape you like from the 4x9inch transparency scanning area, so this scanner could be used for 6x17cm panoramics, or for scanning 10x8inch film in two (or three) goes then stitching them together.

Links

Epson's own website - goes into detail on the specification, although none of it meant much to me.

Chris Butler - another user review, with similar conclusions to mine. Includes some interesting comparisons with other scanners.

Update 18 August 2002

Since I first published this review in November 2001 many others have reviewed the Epson 2450 online. I'm pleased to say they all seem to agree with me! Here are a couple of notable reviews:

Norman Koren - interesting review, includes some thoughts about the point of sharpest focus

Steve's Digicams - review by Keith Krebs - another comprehensive and well-written review

If you spot any other reviews or useful info on this scanner, please email me so I can link to them from here.

The bottom bottom line

I know I put the bottom line at the top, but the more I test this scanner, the more I'm impressed with it. I'm still glad I've got my Acer Scanwit for doing sharper 35mm slide scans, but considering it is only a dedicated film scanner and costs the same as the Epson, it seems very bad value for money in comparison. If you're in the market for a flatbed scanner I'd certainly recommend the Epson, and the only reason I can think of for holding back is that in a year's time they will almost certainly have come out with a better model for even less money!

Update: Read what I have to say about Silverfast Ai for the Epson 2450

 

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