PowerLook 1120 is an upgrade of Umax’s mid-range 1100 flatbed scanner, with the dynamic range boosted from 3.4D to 3.7D. It’s also supplied with three software bundles intended to appeal to professional designers, publishers and photographers who can’t justify the £3,500 price of the high-resolution PowerLook 3000 model. Like its predecessor, the PowerLook 1120 is an A4 format scanner with twin FireWire ports. Macintosh users can daisy chain the FireWire to link it to several computers. It’s attractively styled in grey and blue, and is respectably compact and quiet.
The dynamic range figure is logarithmic, so the 0.3D increase roughly doubles the 1120’s range to see more tones and detail in highlights and shadows. Output can be 42- or 24-bits per colour. It’s good for the price, but unfortunately the scanner’s relatively low optical resolution of 1,200-x-2,400dpi limits it.
Only film has that sort of dynamic range (colour prints rarely go above 3.0D), but the resolution is rather low if you want to do magazine-quality A4 enlargements from the common film sizes of 35mm or 2.25inch square. We tried enlarging 35mm to A4 sizes at magazine resolutions, but the details are much softer than a dedicated high-res film scanner. Apparently in recognition of this, Umax only supplies two auto-detect film holders, for 120 and 4-x-5-inch format film. Other sizes can be placed directly on the scan bed.
The Graphic-level bundle is the base configuration, for £699. This ships with Umax’s own MagicScan 4.6 software – an adequate application, but lacking some of the adjustment and colour-management tools of the other two options. You also get Photoshop 5LE and the OmniPage LE OCR. The £849 Pro level adds Binuscan PhotoPerfect (RGB+CMYK) to the other programs. PhotoPerfect has a lot of built-in intelligence to give good printed results with a minimum of user understanding, but it discourages you from overriding its decisions. The £849 1120 Photo level, tested here is aimed at photographers who may want more control at the scanning stage, so it includes Lasersoft’s SilverFast AI 5.5 scanning plug-in instead of Binuscan.
Lasersoft is on the verge of releasing a Mac OS X version of SilverFast whose plug-ins run with Photoshop 7. Unfortunately, we received a pre-release version that refused to run under OS X and had calibration problems in OS 9. All of the scan software options support batch scanning, where you can fill the bed with several images, set them up differently and scan the lot either to disk or screen. The scanning area is different for print or film originals, measuring 215.9-x-297mm for reflective and 203-x-254mm for transparencies.
Scanning speeds are good both for previews and high-res scanning – a 4-x-5-inch transparency scans to a 20MB file in just under two minutes in top quality multi-pass mode, or about a minute in single-pass.
The SilverFast software is supplied with built-in calibration and Kodak IT8 transparency and reflection scanning targets, which are used to generate internal, and ICC profiles. For some reason we could calibrate for either reflection or transparency, but not both.
The auto-exposure was unreliable on most transparency samples, so we had to manually set the end densities and mid-tone points. Having said that, the final results were good from medium-format film and print originals – though fine-tuning was usually needed. The dynamic range works well with shadow and highlight detail, though the best results came from scanning in 48-bit colour and fine-tuning in Adobe Photoshop.