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Re: Which scanner do you recommend?

>I'd like to buy a scanner, one that will make good impressions of woodcuts
>with very fine lines, that can then be played with in Photoshop and printed
>on an Epson 1270.

Many advice sources - magazines etc. - will say that you don't
really need a scanner to give more than 300 dpi resolution for
same size reproduction. But this is only true for continuous tone
images. When it comes to line art, like woodcuts, and especially
with thin lines, then you need plenty of resolution. I don't know
what your Epson printer is, but essentially you need the scanner
to give the same resolution as the printer is capable of for same
size reproduction. Inevitably you'll want to enlarge things
sometimes, and that means multiplying the scanner resolution. If
you want to double the size of the printout, on a 600dpi laser
printer, then you'll need 1200 dpi optical resolution on the
scanner. Don't ever take any notice of any scanner publicity that
quotes 'maximum resolution' unless it says 'optical' too. Other
figures will be the interpolated resolution which can go up to any
figure they choose, but is no better than resampling in Photoshop.
It certainly won't help to capture those fine lines.

I agree with Annette that the Epson Perfection 1200 is a good
machine - I have one and I'm very happy. I bought the 'Photo'
model which comes with a pretty usable film scanner attachment.
The scanner has an optical resolution of 1200 x 2400 dpi (ignore
the 2400, it works out as just a bit better than 1200 x 1200), which
is up with many professional scanners, though Epson have even
higher res. scanners now - 1600 x 3200 I believe. The Perfection
1200 is very reasonably priced (unless it's obsolete now! - but
Epson seem to lead the field in high-spec, decent quality,
moderate price scanners - oh yes, and they're often the fastest
in their class), though not at the very bottom end. It's less than a
tenth of a good professional scanner's price. Where the
professional scanners score much higher is in their lack of visual
'noise' and in their colour purity, as well as the optics, which
partly comes to the same thing. But if you're scanning line-art,
you won't be bothered about those much. The Epson scans line-art
very well - that's exactly what I use it for and since I'm dealing
with finely printed miniatures I'm very demanding. I find the 1200
dpi resolution absolutely necessary - although I'm reducing the
output size I print via a high resolution Linotronic printer of at
least 2400 dpi - a basic resolution for proper offset printing.

One other consideration is the scanning software. It's pretty hard
to find out much about the drivers and their features, yet this is
crucial to one's enjoyment and effectiveness at scanning. The
Epson TWAIN driver is pretty good and has plenty of advanced
control, or an alternative simple interface that gives practically
no control. Higher end scanners have lots of control, lower end
tend to assume you are an idiot with no idea of how to scan and
some simply don't give you the software to make a scan to your
individual needs - so check.

Finally, you might be interested in a Photoshop 'action' that I
have that enhances the clarity of fine lines when scanning
engravings that have been photographically reproduced and offset
printed. Such sources tend to scan as blurry greys, or very muddy
line-art. But I have the answer! It's an ingenious process that
effectively multiplies the resolution significantly and gives nice
sharp lines from non-sharp reproductions. I'll be happy to email
the action as an attachment if anyone is interested - it's small.


Tim Sheppard                    tim@lilliput-p.win-uk.net
Lilliput Press   -   Publisher of fine books in miniature
England                         http://www.lilliput.co.uk
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