review: HP Photosmart S20 film scannerin Reviews: Accessories
By uccemebug/Michael (1,983)
on March 10, 2003 6:38:49 PM CST
The Photosmart S20 film scanner from HP is a now-discontinued model that sold until early 2002. It is capable of scanning negatives (up to five frames), mounted slides, and prints (up to 5" x7"). While it is no longer available new, and has been obsoleted by newer competitors, it served as an inexpensive consumer model capable of a variety of media, very good scanning resolution, and a good feature set.
Having only used a flatbed scanner for prints before using this model, I was immediately impressed with the quality of the print scans. When I switched to batch-scanning negatives (and started saving $10/roll for prints that just would otherwise wind up in boxes) I was even more impressed. This model is capable of clear, bright, sharp scans from negatives, which it can scan in strips up to five frames in length.
Moreover, the software is easy to use, and comes with many features in pre-scan mode (see the features section). With its good scanning speed and easy-to-use software, I quickly became proficient at scanning rolls and rolls of film, and was done with my 10 years of negatives in no time.
One of the software features that really helps with scanning multiple shots is the ability to save 'filters'. These filters allow you to save transformations such as sharpness and brightness so that those same transformations are available under the 'filters' menu with a single click. I don't view these as real software filters (they're more like macros) but they're very handy.
This model initially cost me $CAD650, so I knew I wasn't getting a pro-quality scanner. It turned out that while I have found the model to be quite good for negatives and prints, it falls down somewhat with slides. Its ability to produce vibrant scans of slides is limited by a low 'density' (of 3.0). This figure expresses the range of tones that the scanner can detect. I find that the scans I get of slides tend to be dark, and lose a bit of sharpness and quite a bit of detail in shadows.
That said, almost all of the photos in my portfolio on photoSIG came from scans of slide film made with the S20; you can judge the results for yourself.
Despite the limited ability with mounted slides, I find its ease of use, its consistent results with print and film, its speed, and its feature set very worthwhile. If this scanner can be found on the used market, I recommend it for producing scans of negatives and prints for printing or for the Internet.
-models exist for SCSI and USB
-hinges open for easy maintenance (cleaning, retrieving media)
-buttons on the front for switching medium type and ejecting media
-small footprint & form (30cm x 20cm x 10cm tall)
-supports Windows 9x, NT, 2K (with a patch from HP)
-allows simultaneous scan of several images from a strip of up to five frames on film
-has controls for: sharpness; high-, medium-, and low-band brightness; orientation (both 90 degree and incremental adjusts); colour; histograms; scanning resolution; and scanning area
-scans to JPG, BMP, FlashPix and TIFF
-supports TWAIN at 36-bit colour.
-capable of 300 DPI scanning
-has presets for black and white, colour, and 'old or faded' prints
-comes with a sleeve for wrinkled/cracked/curled prints
-capable of 2400 DPI scanning
-capable of 2400 DPI scanning
-'frame adjust' allows manual reset of borders between frames if the scanner misinterprets the edges of the frames
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