A troublesome 2020 that has blended right into a troublesome 2021 has made it more durable for many people to get outdoors and shoot, however that does not imply you need to neglect your pictures. When you’re like me, you most likely nonetheless have years’ price of unscanned slides and negatives ready to be tended to some wet day, and a COVID lockdown provides you a golden alternative.

However are you higher off utilizing the software program that got here along with your scanner, or must you shell out for a third-party different to get the perfect outcomes? Earlier than I rolled up my sleeves and began scanning, I needed to reply this query for myself.

To take action, I in contrast Epson Scan – which comes bundled with the corporate’s Perfection-series picture scanners and appears properly consultant of manufacturer-supplied software program – with two of the preferred third-party options, LaserSoft Imaging’s SilverFast SE Plus 8.8.0r22 and Hamrick Software program’s VueScan Skilled Version 9.7.35.

All three functions have been examined with Home windows 10 model 1909 on a 2018 Dell XPS 15 9570 alongside an Epson Perfection V850 Professional scanner.

Since I am this from the angle of movie scanning, I am limiting my comparisons solely to scanning of constructive and adverse strip movie and slides, and will not be contemplating options like doc or picture print scanning, copying, OCR, and the like.

Let’s begin off by interfaces.

Epson Scan feels a bit dated and lacks some options

Epson Scan proven in Skilled mode with all home windows open besides the configuration dialog. As you’ll be able to see, there’s not a lot area to your pictures.

As is commonly the case with software program from {hardware} producers, Epson Scan’s Skilled Mode consumer interface feels fairly dated and considerably unintuitive. It is cut up throughout 5 floating management panels that, collectively, do not go away a lot room to preview your slides, but nonetheless gives fewer controls than its third-party rivals.

Regardless of how I set Home windows 10’s decision and scaling, I could not entry the reset button on this non-resizable configuration dialog.

Non-compulsory Full Auto and Residence modes simplify issues, but additionally cover many options altogether. And it is also generally just a little buggy. For instance, regardless of how I configured Home windows’ decision and scaling, its un-resizable configuration dialog overflowed its borders, stopping me from having the ability to do issues like reset app defaults.

Total, it is fairly usable however not nice.

SilverFast is highly effective, however overly dense and complicated

SilverFast has solely two working modes: WorkflowPilot or Handbook. WorkFlowPilot solely permits single-photo scanning, and takes you thru the method step-by-step. Some decisions really feel odd, although: For instance it will not help you merely scan a normal JPEG.

SilverFast’s consumer interface is filled with buttons and controls, not all of them intuitively named or labeled. (And fairly a number of are duplicates, rising the litter.)

Handbook mode provides entry to all the things without delay, however is very busy and unnecessarily complicated. Button colours differ for no logical motive, and lively capabilities are indicated solely with a tiny pink dot. Assistance is supplied all through, however the many (and sometimes redundant) buttons linking to abbreviated PDF manuals and quite a few prolonged tutorial movies make its interface much more cluttered.

I additionally discovered it susceptible to creating me look forward to preview scans greater than its rivals, and cancelling a batch scan could be extraordinarily tedious because it makes you individually cancel each remaining body, one after the other. This was my least-favorite interface of the bunch.

VueScan’s interface is quicker and cleaner

VueScan’s consumer interface largely revolves round intuitively named and well-categorized dropdown menus. It is the cleanest and most responsive of the bunch.

VueScan’s UI has Fundamental, Customary or Skilled modes, all three principally utilizing drop-down lists very logically organized in two to 5 tabs. It is cleaner, sooner and extra fashionable than its rivals, and leaves extra room to preview your photographs. Its single PDF consumer handbook can also be unusually detailed and useful.

That is hands-down my favourite of the trio.

Epson is quickest, however there is a catch

Efficiency will, clearly, differ relying each on the velocity of your scanner, and what {hardware} options it gives. With that proviso, I discovered Epson Scan had a slight edge in scanning velocity, however with a major catch.

Epson Scan took just below 59 minutes to scan 18 negatives at 6400 dpi with mud discount and sharpening lively, whereas VueScan took 67 minutes, and SilverFast trailed the pack at 84 minutes. However Epson Scan’s mounted crop for batch scanning threw away a major quantity of picture information.

Epson Scan is simply fractionally forward of VueScan performance-wise. SilverFast trails each its rivals by far.

Calculating backwards from the picture dimensions as scanned, Epson Scan managed round 14.Eight Megapixels/minute, simply fractionally sooner than VueScan’s 14.5 Megapixels/minute. SilverFast managed solely 11.5 Megapixels/minute, making it by far the slowest.

All three apps might use extra correct cropping

Whereas Epson Scan’s auto-cropping was by far the least correct of the bunch, routinely discarding 10-15% of the body top, I used to be stunned to seek out each SilverFast and VueScan additionally struggled to precisely detect body sizes, as properly.

Each apps principally acquired the body top within the ballpark, however had some points detecting the gaps between frames. SilverFast generally incorrectly rotated frames, too. Vital handbook tweaking is required for all three applications if you’d like correct cropping.

Though I discovered its cropping setup the perfect general, I nonetheless thought VueScan might use enchancment each in its body detection and its considerably complicated default UI.

VueScan’s way more responsive interface made these changes simpler than its rivals, although. And Epson Scan was the least versatile, stopping you from batch-scanning until you are keen to reside with its automatically-selected cropping.

I did discover VueScan’s enabled-by-default “multi define” possibility a bit complicated, although. To take a look at the wildly flickering borders beneath you’d suppose the cropping was wildly off, however the precise framing is indicated for just one body at a time by the smaller border seen on the top-rightmost thumbnail within the image above.

However sufficient of the consumer interface. How did they carry out by way of picture high quality? We’ll begin out with element ranges.

Related ranges of element, however SilverFast has increased default sharpening

One in every of my first makes an attempt at a nonetheless life as a youngster now makes for a relatively good gauge of element. Within the 100% crops beneath, observe the pale horizontal strains are wonderful water droplets misted from a backyard hose simply out of body proper.

Maybe not surprisingly, given they’re all constrained by the identical scanner {hardware}, all three applications flip in a really comparable end result by way of their rendering of wonderful element. In all three instances, sharpening and IR mud discount have been enabled.

SilverFast positively defaults to considerably increased ranges of sharpening than its rivals, although, giving the impression of extra element. However VueScan and Epson Scan’s photographs can simply be unsharp-masked submit seize or the default sharpening ranges tweaked equally.

Epson Scan SilverFast VueScan

Epson and VueScan give the perfect shade

All three applications can provide good shade with some work, however I discovered SilverFast wanted tweaking extra typically than its rivals, tending to yield outcomes that have been too heat and with purplish casts, even with its color-cast discount and orange masks growth enabled. Not like Epson Scan, it permits the movie kind to be chosen for higher outcomes, however has a shorter record of movie sorts than does VueScan.

Epson Scan’s automated instruments tended to yield the perfect shade, however have been maybe a bit overly-saturated and heat for my liking, particularly in pores and skin tones, and handbook changes have been considerably trickier.

VueScan’s defaults have been a bit cool and fewer saturated, though switching to auto ranges or white stability modes gave higher outcomes. Like SilverFast, it will possibly appropriate for the movie’s orange masks, however the multi-step course of is just a little complicated, and it incessantly misplaced the correction values, which then needed to be reset.

Discover out extra on how picture high quality compares, and my ultimate verdict on which program is finest, on the following web page.

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