While some mainstream flatbed scanners do a great job handling photos, slides or negatives, photographers – or those who require professional image quality – need even greater fidelity. For these users, the best choice is a flatbed scanner designed specifically for scanning photos. Typically found on the high end of the price scale, these scanners offer higher resolutions than most flatbed scanners. Most of them also come with premium features and software, such as image retouching and scratch removal capabilities, to improve scan quality.
Reviewers say the Epson Perfection V800 Photo (Est. $675) is the best choice for professional photographers and advanced amateurs looking for the ultimate in photo, slide and film scanning. This scanner is the successor to the discontinued Epson Perfection V700 Photo, our Best Reviewed photo scanner in the last edition of this report. Like the V700, the V800 has a dual-lens system in which one lens scans at 4,800 dots per inch (dpi) and the other scans up to 6,400 dpi for larger files. Both scanners also have a 4.0 Dmax rating, meaning that they can reproduce gradual changes in shading from white to black and fine shadow detail (details of images in dark areas) better than most scanners.
However, according to M. David Stone of PCMag.com, the V800 is even better than its predecessor. Its image quality is better by a small but noticeable margin, and it also works faster. In Stone's tests, the V800 took 38 seconds to scan a single slide at 2,400 pixels per inch (ppi), 2 minutes and 28 seconds to scan 4 slides at the same resolution, and 1 minute 25 seconds to scan a slide at 6,400 ppi. Film scans take about the same amount of time. Adding the digital ICE feature increases the scan time for a single frame to 2 minutes 51 seconds. One reason the V800 works faster than the V700 is that it now has an LED light source that makes warm-up all but instantaneous.
The Epson Perfection V800 Photo can reproduce both prints and transparencies up to 8 by 10 inches in size. It also offers a variety of scan modes, from fully automatic to fully-controlled by the user. Owners who review the scanner at Amazon.com and B&H Photo appreciate the variety of options and say the scanner and its software are intuitive to use. Stone finds the scanner's SilverFast utility has a bit of a learning curve, but says it offers good control once you overcome that. If the V800 Photo has a downside, it's the fact that its relatively high price tag doesn't get you a bundled photo-editing program.
If you need to make high-quality photo scans but are put off by the V800's high cost, the Epson Perfection V600 Photo (Est. $200) offers a good alternative. It doesn't have the dual-lens system found on the V800, but it can scan at resolutions up to 6,400 by 9,600 dpi. It also offers a good selection of scanning modes, from fully automatic to fully manual, and options for touching up images. There's digital ICE for editing out dust and scratches, color restoration, and a bundled ArcSoft PhotoStudio program for editing images.
Despite these benefits, however, the V600 doesn't fare quite as well in reviews as the V800. Stone, in his review for PCMag.com, says it produces high-quality scans for both prints and film, and it's only slightly slower than the V800. However, its image quality isn't quite a match for the V700, which in turn isn't quite up to the standards of the V800. Also, editors at Imaging Resource found that while the V600 did a great job scanning prints, its results with color negatives were "unreliable."
The V600 has thousands of reviews from owners at Amazon.com, B&H Photo, and OfficeDepot.com. Most of them agree that the scanner is easy to set up and use and produces clear images, with good color and resolution. They also note that its OCR works very well for searchable documents. On the downside, Epson's quality control and customer service comes in for some knocks from users. We also saw warnings that the V600 does not work with the latest version of MacOS and that the digital ICE software can sometimes yield strange results.