Apple's Color OneScanner 600/27

This page might grow some in the future. Right now it's just for folks who read about my Artec scanner meltdown and are curious about the scanner I got to replace it. The following note gives a pretty good summary:

To: Curtis Olson 
From: [Marcus Brooks' old email address]
Subject: Re: Artec
Cc: 
Bcc: mbrooks
X-Attachments: 

>
>What scanner have you decided to go with since your [Artec A6000CM] page? 

We got Apple's Color OneScanner 600/27.  It's more compact and apparently 
better-made than the Artec.  It gives much better color, even first crack 
out of the box, and it has a Xenon lamp that will probably last longer 
(for our purposes) because it only comes on during scans.  (The Artec's 
fluorescent lamp is on all the time, and, per the scanner's instructions, 
you have to leave it on whenever the computer is running.)

On the other hand the Artec provides for an (extra cost) transparency 
scanner, it handles legal-size paper, and even at three passes it's 
faster (except maybe if you always scan full pages).  The Artec's control 
window isn't as pretty, but it is more convenient because it keeps your 
last preview.  You can lay out several photographs and scan them in 
sequence off of the same preview.  Much faster than Apple's, which forces 
you to preview every scan. 

Apple's control window is also really annoying because it always changes 
your last custom resolution setting back to the default for the selected 
printer, and all the defaults are much lower than I like to use.  Why buy 
a 600 dpi (optical res) scanner if you only scan at 180 dpi?  More than 
anything else, I hate having to make the same [darned] selection over and 
over and over again.  True, the OneScanner software has some neat Desktop 
integration-style features, but that came at the cost of really slipping 
up on the basics.

And another thing, the Apple control window's highlight and shadow 
settings are artificial: I hoped they would set the bright and dark 
sensitivity of the scan (for ideal tonal resolution) but they just set a 
high and low threshold for brightness values: no better than setting 
levels in Adobe PhotoShop LE, which is easier to use and gives much 
better control.

In fact, the best thing about the Artec is it comes with PhotoShop LE.  
PhotoShop's wonderful Levels dialog gives much better control over 
brightness levels, contrast, and gamma (midtone brightness) than the 
ordinary brightness and contrast controls provided in Apple's OneScanner 
software.  PhotoShop also works much better in my 20 Meg RAM 
configuration (given plenty of disk space), and it has a passel of other 
photo touch-up and painting tools that literally blow away the Apple 
software.  

In an ideal world, I would like to buy PhotoShop LE separately to use 
with the OneScanner (which at least has a driver plug-in for PhotoShop).  
Unfortunately, the LE version isn't separately available: you have to buy 
the full blown version, which is so costly you could buy the Artec 
cheaper and throw it away, just to get PhotoShop LE.

>Also, 
>do you have any suggestions for a novice, like myself, in deciding what 
>scanner to buy and ultimately how the scanner relates to output?

Well, I've only really tried the two scanners, although I've dinked with 
imaging for quite a while (I even wrote a nice 3D ray-tracer/animation 
manual once).  But the fact is, I'm learning all the time. 

I think Apple is more-or-less correct that you need roughly half the dpi 
resolution of your final-copy printer.  That's because the printer's 
halftone screen "trades in" dpi resolution for shading.  But I like to 
start with at least a little more resolution than I need, to allow for 
enlargement, touch-up, cropping, and so forth.  Really there is an art to 
the whole halftone-screening and printing process that I have yet to 
learn adequately.

One thing: most scanner ads publish "interpolated" resolutions, the 
actual optical resolution is in fine print, if anywhere.  Interpolation 
is OK for some things, I guess, but I don't trust it for comparing 
scanners.  The quality of interpolation is bound to vary.

I think color accuracy and software are more important in selecting a 
scanner than resolution or interpolation quality; unless, perhaps, you 
are doing posters or enlargements.  Unfortunately, resolution numbers are 
much easier to publish.

>
>I plan to "in-house" publish a manuscript with graphics this Fall and 
>would appreciate your comments if you have the time.

Study up on brightness, contrast, and gamma matching and, if you're using 
color, color matching from scanner to monitor and from monitor to press.  
Then make test prints of your art anyway--on the _final_ printer.  I've 
had lines that looked great on the screen or on a laser printer but 
nearly disappeared on the production printer.  Photos that look bright 
and clear on the monitor can turn dark and murky on the page.  

A lot depends on the software you use, and unfortunately the only WYSIWYG 
software I've published with in a few years is a big-business monster 
called Interleaf.  Even in that, what you see is not _necessarily_ what 
you get.  Don't fret, though, any WYSIWYG software beats "markup 
languages" like BookMaster every day of the week and twice late Sunday 
night.

Visits to this page since 9 February 2002:
Original page established: 12 August 1996
Marcus Brooks -- 12 August 1996