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Faced with the task of selecting a professional scanner? Few things are as daunting as the mountain of hardware specification sheets with which potential buyers are often inundated. Whether the secret to finding the best scanner lies in those sheets is the subject of some debate. Some believe a scanner's true quality is revealed in its specifications, whereas a growing number of experts feel that a scanner's worth lies in its added value.
Although you might like to, you cannot simply ignore hardware specifications when shopping for a high-end scanner. Specification sheets have long provided buyers quick access to a wealth of information about scanner hardware. Yet, when comparing scanners, buyers often find that they boast nearly identical specifications. In other cases, buyers are faced with a trade off in which they must sacrifice one specification for another, such as choose between a larger imaging area and a higher maximum density. So, which specification is most important?
"Actually, a number of important characteristics go hand in hand," says Ray McAllister, senior manager of product development at Screen USA. "If I were looking for a scanner, would see what the scanner offers in optical resolution. Typically a higher optical resolution gives you more versatility. I want to have the best optical, rather than interpolated, resolution." The higher the resolution the better the results, right? McAllister cautions, "Some people might think that because, for example, the maximum optical resolution is 5000dpi, the scan would look better than at 4000dpi. This is not necessarily so. A higher resolution enables you to make a bigger file."
McAllister also gives weight to the maximum density or dynamic range. He cautions, "Some people will quote a maximum density but they don't start from zero, so they're not telling the whole truth. Buyers need to investigate and be sure the measurement starts at zero and covers the entire range." Screen's SG-8060P Mark II drum scanner boasts a 4.3 maximum density. "If it's anything less than that, it would be my second choice, I guess," McAllister says. "I would look for …