Epson Perfection Photo V500 Review
The Epson Perfection Photo V500 is a flatbed scanner designed to capture high-quality images from film negatives as well as more traditional image sources such as photos and documents. It is an excellent photo scanner for advanced amateurs, though it doesn't produce professional-quality images. It can also scan documents and three-dimensional objects like book pages, and there's an optional automatic document feeder. The V500 caters for a wide range of standard and non-standard formats and it doesn't keep you hanging around before it starts scanning. It's designed to be visually cool in jet black with a silver strip around the middle. Controls are kept to the usual minimum: four one-touch buttons at the front for power and sending to PDF, e-mail and conventional printer, plus a USB 2.0 port at the back to connect to your PC. Setting up the V500 is typical for a flatbed scanner. You install the software, plug in the scanner, connect a USB cable, and turn it on. In addition to the Epson Twain driver, which you can use directly or call up with almost any program that has a scan command, the bundled software includes two application programs. Photoshop Elements is a fairly sophisticated photo editor that's appropriate for the relatively serious amateur photographer. ABBYY FineReader 6.0 Sprint is a capable optical character recognition (OCR) program appropriate for basic OCR for personal use. It can save recognized text to a format suitable for editing and can save files in searchable PDF format for document management. The driver has Epson's usual three modes. The default mode is the scanner equivalent of a point-and-shoot mode on a camera, handling virtually all of the settings for you. With Home mode and you can control a few settings, including adjusting brightness after a preview. Professional mode gives you much more control, with settings for color balance, saturation, and more. The two more advanced modes also include Digital ICE, a hardware-based dust-and-scratch-removal tool. Digital ICE does a much better job than any software-based dust removal, but because of the multiple scans, it also takes longer. The V500 offers Digital ICE for film only. That's a common limitation for scanners with Digital ICE, since dust is a more critical issue for film than for prints. It has not one but two film holders. The first can contain up to twelve frames of 35mm film and a maximum of four 35mm transparencies, while the second will hold one frame of 6 x 12cm medium format film,. Once inserted in the relevant holder, you align them next to the appropriate indicated letter on the document table and away you go. Using 6,400dpi optical resolution and 3.4 optical density, the results are impressive. The V500's scan quality for both prints and film is in the top tier for relatively inexpensive flatbed scanners. All of the scans are easily good enough to print snapshots The V500's scan speed is well within the range of typical flatbeds for both prints and slides. More significant, the LED-based light eliminates warm-up time. Another benefit is that, unlike the cold cathode fluorescent lamps that most scanners use, LEDs don't contain mercury, which gives the V500 green credentials, too. The V500 suffers from some shortcomings as an all-purpose scanner; in particular, the choice to include a transparency adapter for film leaves no room for an automatic document feeder (ADF) to handle multipage documents. That limits the V500's usefulness for office tasks like copying, faxing, and scanning documents for OCR. The Epson Perfection Photo V500 is probably the photo scanner that a lot of serious amateur photographers have been waiting for, with a wider range of photo formats, beefed-up software photo enhancements, speedier operation and high quality image reproduction.
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