Here’s a scenario: you’ve decided to bite the bullet and invest in a ‘real’ scanner for pre-press work in your studio. Or perhaps you’re a jobbing bureau and the time has come to upgrade the high-end scanner you already own. The only problem is that your budget is tiny. The Scitex EverSmarts and Fujifilm Lanovias are just out of reach – and a drum scanner is utterly out of the question. So we suggest you take a close look at the FineScan 2750, a 42bit pre-press flatbed stormer priced like a mid-range unit.
Though not as bulky as an EverSmart, the FineScan 2750 is still a big machine that needs a whole desk to itself. Even the installation routine is a complex drama of removing locking screws here, there and everywhere before hooking it up to the SCSI interface on your Mac and actually getting started. The scanner doesn’t work properly with some of Adaptec’s latest SCSI cards, but is happiest with the commonly installed 2906 and 2930U models. The scanning software requires a USB dongle to be attached to your keyboard.
Opening up the transparency hood reveals an unusually large scanning bed at 470-x-350mm – that’s over 26 square centimetres more than the standard A3 size of 420-x-397mm. This full area is active for not just reflective scans but transparencies too, so you could lay down a lot of trannies in one go for better productivity. In fact, you can fit a good 40 35mm slides on the scanning bed if you try. Usefully, there’s no need to compromise on the quality of those transparencies squeezed in at the sides, because the FineScan 2750
is designed with XY technology. This means that the scanning head can move side to side as well as lengthways down the bed, using its high-power lens to capture images from anywhere within that 470-x-350mm at consistent quality at up to 2,753dpi optical sampling rate.
This is good for transparencies and small reflective originals, but in most XY scanners, the system means that larger images need to be made up from multiple scan strips that are subsequently stitched together by software. The FineScan 2750 avoids this hiccup by building a second lens into the head which is designed to scan the entire width of the bed in a conventional manner at 752dpi. Although stitching has rarely been a major issue in other XY scanners, the dual-lens feature in the FineScan 2750 guarantees you’re never going to suffer alignment errors or directional lighting glitches when capturing large originals, especially textured materials and 3D objects. In use, the switch between lenses is completely automatic: you just choose what you want to scan and let the machine
get on with it in the most appropriate fashion.
Anyone unfamiliar with high-end scanners will
find the FineScan 2750 slow. But performance
pre-press scanning defines speed in a different way to conventional personal flatbeds. For example, you can interrupt the initial overview scan at any point and still be able to mark up the bits it previewed before you stopped it. High-resolution scans can take a long time, but batch scanning is actually more efficient here than in just about any other professional scanner.
This is thanks to Fujifilm’s scanning software suite, ColourKit. The ColourKit Manager utility is not just a scanning driver, but a full batch queue server and post-processor. Instead of marking up multiple areas on the preview scan with different settings before triggering the batch, you mark up the first scan and click Add, whereupon that first job is started. You
can then mark up each subsequent scan in the batch, adding them to the queue in turn while the actual scanning is taking place in the background. You can open the captured images in ColourKit Editor for colour correction and enhancement, and send them back to the Manager for processing. Despite its over-zealous default setting and same-size preview limitations, ColourKit Editor provides the best unsharp masking we have experienced. Anywhere.
Results obtained with the FineScan 2750 are superb. Rated at 3.7D maximum density, it can’t compete with 4.2D drum scanners, but we were blown away by the calibration accuracy, reliability and uncompromising quality of even the tiniest transparency scans. You won’t find a better pre-press scanner at this price.