• Price: 169

  • Company: HP

  • Pros: Six-colour scanning. Excellent colour capture.

  • Cons: Slow. Mediocre dust-&-scratches/anti-fade technology.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Though the world and its mum have moved from film to digital photography, there’s been some innovative launches for creative pros in the scanner market in the last six months. Epson’s Perfection V700 and v750 included two lenses – one for film and one for reflectives – and now HP has introduced six-colour scanning with the Scanjet G4050.

The six-colour system uses two lamps tuned to different colour spectra to capture a wider range of colour information than traditional three-colour scanning. The G4050 has an internal colour depth of 96-bits per pixel, twice that of the Perfection V700 and V750 – though this is rounded down to a similar 48-bit depth when brought into software.

What this means for the user is more accurate colour representation and the appearance of more colour depth in the output image, even when it’s rendered down to your usual 8- or 16-bit colour space. That’s the principle, and in practice we did prefer the colour representation of the G4050 to that of Epson’s V700 or V750.

With a higher maximum optical resolution of 6,400dpi to the G4050’s 4,800dpi (the 9,600dpi value publicized is enhanced), Epson’s scanners produced more detailed film scans. However, none can match the quality of output you’d get from a dedicated film scanner such as Nikon’s CoolScan range.

For film scanning, the G4050 had two notable flaws. There’s no way to clip 35mm slides into the division tray, so you have to place the tray on the scanner’s glass and then drop your slides in afterwards – often ending up with fingerprints on your slides and scanner glass.

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As with the rest of the G4050, the built-in dust-&-scratch-removal and anti-fading technology was developed in-house by HP. However, when using our test set of 35mm slides from 1976, we saw better results from the Kodak Digital ICE system used by the V700 and V750 – though none of these had the major damage that HP says its hardware excels with.
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The software is HP’s own and though it runs as a Photoshop TWAIN driver, it can be fiddly to use. There’s no version of SilverFast included.
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Scanning can be slow too – taking over two and a half hours to scan a full set of 16 35mm slides at 4,800dpi using dust-&-scratch removal when attached to a 17-inch MacBook Pro (reviewed in Digit 110).
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We can’t complain about the G4050’s performance with reflective media though. The lid has a heavy metal handle that helps to hold media in place, and a flexible lid that allows you to stick all manner of objects into the device.
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This performance – along with the low price – makes the G4050 a great option for designers or illustrators who want to scan media for incorporation into your work. Those working with photographs or film will want to look to Epson V700/V750 scanners or a dedicated film scanner.
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<b>Specifications</b>
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<b>Scannable area:</b> 216-x-311mm<BR>
<b>Optical resolution:</b> 4,800dpi<BR>
<b>Internal colour depth:</b> 96-bit<BR>
<b>Interfaces:</b> USB 2.0<BR>
<b>Size:</b> 303-x-508-x-108mm<BR>
<b>Weight:</b> 5.3kg<BR>
<b>Standard software:</b> HP Premier<BR>
<b>Silverfast:</b> No<BR>
<b>Hardware dust/scratch removal:</b> Yes (HP’s own)
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