This is our fifth scanner. We’ve always bought cheap ones, but this time we paid for a good one and have no regrets.
After years of frustration at trying to make cheap scanners do for a small business that deals with lots of images, I decided that this time I’d get something better. It turned out that there weren’t too many choices for what I wanted. That made the decision to buy the Canon CanoScan8800F pretty easy, but it has been a positive experience. I’ve had it about 6 weeks and have learned the following:
This is a flatbed scanner that handles documents up to 8.5 x 11 or A4 size (international). As is becoming increasingly common the manual is only available on-line, but you are provided with a short “Quick Start Guide.” This one actually has enough information to get the scanner running with no problems. (I am running Windows XP Home on an Intel Celeron Processor). Connection to the computer is via USB port (cable provided). There is a 2-piece power cord which will allow about 8 feet of distance to an outlet. The USB cord is only 4 feet long.
There are three film guides provided. These allow you to scan, in addition to documents, 35 mm slides, negative strips, and large format (old 120 size) film negatives. Since I have a number of old negatives that I’d been wanting to scan for personal use this was a big plus. To use these you snap out a backing piece on the scanner lid, and snap one of the guides onto the flatbed. This is very easy to do.
The scanner comes bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements (which I chose not to install since I use a different graphics package). Software which installs automatically with the scanner to make it work correctly are Arc Soft Photo Studio 5.5 which controls the scanning and allows some graphics editing, and OmniPage 4.2 which converts scans for OCR (optical character recognition- scan a document and turn it into text rather than an image). There is also software called MP Navigator EX which is used when you choose one of the buttons on the scanner itself.
I have not had the scanner long enough to know everything about every one of these options. I can say that there are many choices for scanning with the Photo Studio
Source choices: Photo, Magazine, Newspaper, Document, Negative film and Positive film (slides).
Output: 50 to 1200 dpi resolution
Output size: from 4x6 inches to A4, many listed sizes, custom sizes can be created.
Image Settings: Auto Tone, Sharpen Mask, Descreen, and Dust & Scratch Reduction
There are several other customizable settings as well. You can select any of these elements and save them as a custom scan setting so that if you have a standard job you don’t have to reset each element every time you do a piece of that job.
It shows a multi-scan mode that supposedly auto crops multiple documents placed on the flatbed at one time, but it has many disclaimers about light colored backgrounds not working well. I have not tried this feature.
There is a setting to correct for “gutter shadow” when scanning books. I’ve tried this once, and it wasn’t perfect, but helped. The back of the cover lifts nicely to accommodate thick books.
It scans about twice as fast as my previous scanner.
I have scanned slides, documents, newspaper photos and text, magazine pages, and photographs. They have all looked very good, even the newspaper photos weren’t too bad. OmniPage 4.2 is a great improvement over older versions, and allows you to edit side by side with a closeup of the original document image so the text clean-up is much easier than it used to be.
I never like manuals that are only available on the computer, but so far everything about using this scanner has either been in the Quick Start Guide, or was fairly intuitive.
There are buttons on the scanner itself (using the MP Navigator EX software) which allow you to make quick scans. I have used some of these. There is a quick scan of color or B&W images immediately to pdf format at full size, or a custom scan which allows you to choose some settings and save as a pdf or jpg.. There is a Copy Button which will scan and send the document right to your printer. This does not work very fast. It took about a minute from pushing the button to sending it to the printer, but if you don’t have a copier it’s nice to be able to send the occasional page directly to the printer without having to go through the graphics software in the middle. The next button scans the image and automatically opens the Photo Studio software. The final button attaches the scanned image to an email. You can choose four standard sizes for the scanned image. Microsoft Outlook, and Outlook Express are given as choices. I had no trouble adding Thunderbird to the list of choices, but it seems to save the image to a file which you would attach to an email the same as you would any other document. So I think the advantage to this button is only in scanning at an appropriate size to send via email.
I have not had the scanner long enough to discover what annoying bugs this one will have or develop, but so far I am VERY happy with its capabilities.
Update On Jul 30, 2008: Now that I've used this for several months, and have created a couple of larger projects, I have more things to say. I was hopeful that I would be able to scan slides taken with older cameras that are not the 35mm size. The slides themselves are 2x2, but the transparency is larger. The software only allows a 35mm space to scan. Bummer. Most of the old slides have the important "stuff" in the middle anyway, but I really wanted the whole thing. I've tried to trick it into scanning the edges, but so far no luck.
Update On Jul 30, 2008: I also have to say that all the things I've heard from people about home scanning of slides is true. It's pretty difficult to get high quality. I think that home scanners just don't project enough lumens through the slide to do a good job. Any slide that is a bit dark, even if it looks great projected, will not scan well. There are settings to brighten the scan, but this is not the same thing, and just tends to wash out the slide.