Epson 4990 vs Imacon 646

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by david_rosenbloom, Apr 7, 2005.

  1. Had our lab do a test scan using their imacon 646 on a small area (.8" x .8") of a 4x5 tranny. I find the smallest difference between their scan and the scan made on our new 4990. Both were scanned at 3000 dpi. I believe they applied some sharpening. I used my standard photokit capture sharpener only. Maybe they are not getting the most from their imacon but I expected better. The imacon has slightly finer detail and tonal range but I expected a much sharper scan.
  2. This is a very encouraging comparison, although I am not rushing out to buy either
    machine right away. Maybe they are not getting the most from their Imacon, but it is at
    least possible that the new Epson is better than we all thought it was. I would love to do a
    hands-on test with some 6x9cm or 4x5 in. film.
  3. jtk


    "... it is at least possible that the new Epson is better than we all thought it was. I would love to do a hands-on test with some 6x9cm or 4x5 in. film."

    The 4990's faintly better than the 4870 according to some people who have compared and that I trust. In fact, with 6X6 and up, even the old 3200, which is distinctly less than the 4870, does beautifully in common wall-hanger sizes (my experience to 13X18). I use a Nikon V for 35, and it's far better than the 3200, but even some 35shots do credibly with the flatbed, particularly B&W.
  4. The Imacon sample looks pretty bad. I'm afraid they have done something wrong, because
    I have been doing quite some tests with Imacons and never found such poor results. (I
    don't own an Imacon myself and do not particularly promote the brand, but this sample is
    simply not doing justice to it.)
  5. Heresy David, pure heresy! Smile
  6. I own the 646's little brother, the 343. My previous scanner was a Canoscan FS4000. The
    increased image detail wrought by the Imacon over the Canon surprised me. The Canon
    made what I thought were beautiful scans from 35mm for prints to 12"x18". Re-scanned
    35mm on the Imacon are quite a bit better; printing beautifully to 16"x24". 6x6, the
    reason for the 343, results in scans that will print to 40"x40".

    My expectation would be for much better scans from the 646 than from the Epson. Based
    on my experience, I have to agree that the Imacon scan shown is faulty but not the fault of
    the machine if it is working properly.

    Cheers, Jim
  7. Hey,

    I'm just thrilled that my new epson is up to par with an ill functioning imacon. Or maybe and ill functioning imacon operator.
  8. You're absolutely right. Please tell your lab I will provide them with a spanking new 4990 and relieve them of that crappy Imacon... for free!
  9. Having tested numerous film only scanners (only the Epson 4870 todate) I can say that of all the mid-range brands of professional scanners the Imacon 646 is far superior to almost all scanners under $10,000. The Nikon 9000ED comes close as does the Minolta of the same price range, but the distinction between the Nikon 9000ED and the 646 is still evident- Imacon remains a superlative film only scanner.

    The subtle separation of hues and the numerous color variations of the surface of a single color object (such as a wall) is so far advanced when compared to any Epson multi use scanner (such as the 4870 and now, most likely, the 4990).

    When using other scanners (Umax, Polacolor Sprintscan 120, Nikon 9000ED, Minolta, Epson 4870) the results of these scanners pales in comparison to the noiseless delicate beauty of the color variations the Imacon 646 is able to produce.

    Even when making a traditional 100mb scan from a 4"x5" negative to produce a 16"x20" print. The output far exceeds anything I have used to date.

    I have found that it is typically the user and and the type of software being used that makes many of the comparisons between scanners so different. The Imacon, particularly when scanning color negatives, produces such fine detail in the highlights and shadows (with a D Max of 4.6 and a maximum of 6300 dpi for 35mm) that I find it similar to the delicate separations I obtain when developoing my silver gelatin negatives using Gordon Hutching's PMK Pyro developer.

    Remember "Its all in the scan" yes: but it is "also in the scanner's capabilities and the software selected" - Imacon will not disappoint. Its elegant simplicity of design and internal workings are brilliant. But it is the output of the print that truly shows the brilliance both of the color output and the variation of a single hue that displays the Imacon 646's capabilities.

    If you are truly a professional and require extremely high quality (to prints up to 40"x60" at a mid-range price ($10,000) then the Imacon 646 has no competitors.
  10. Well, my 4990 can't do a scan which would be adequate in my eyes for a 3x enlargement. The Imacon scans I've gotten from my lab are far more detailed. Perhaps there are operator and sample variability issues here. My experience is that the relative prices of the Epsons and the Imacons are justified, though I'd much rather pay less for scans.
  11. Hi there, I'm new to the site so please be easy on me. I have an Epson 4990 running silverfast ai studio. My Epson 4990 has had its glass removed and a piece of 2mm perspex replaces the glass. The perspex has a hole cut in it approximately 3 inches wide by 8 inches long. Over this I have a Dougs MF film holder with Anti Newton glass. I usually scan at 2400dpi with 8x oversampling. I am very interested in comparing this to an imacon scanner of any type, as the results are amazing to say the least. A) Can anyone tell me how to add an image so I can show you the detail? and B does anyone know where there is a link to a good review of the imacon scanners.
  12. Hopefully this will work................ this is an actual pixels crop of the above image in photoshop. As stated Epson 4990, with no glass
  13. third time lucky (tried to do it bigger this time)
  14. This is the most recent information about the Imacon:

    "Flextight 646: The most desireable imaging product of the year!
    The professional American Photo Magazine, PEI, has awarded Imacon a Cool2 Award for the Flextight 646. It is the most desireable imaging product of the year.

    The PEI judges, some of the best photographers, imagers and artists in the graphical industry, wrote: "Imacon has made a habit of releasing high-resolution multiformat film scanners that deliver exceptional scans at prices far below competitive models.

    No other scanners for the professional market received the Cool2 Award."

    For those seriously interested in moving to a digital color darkroom, contact Imacon and ask them for a sample scan of one of your negatives or transparencies on the 646. They will send you the scan on a disc and you can then refine the color using Photoshop or Silverfast (providing your computer has enough RAM and HD memory to manipulate the scan) If not then reduce the maximum scan they usually send you (6300 dpi for 35mm)using Photoshop to a workable resolution for your computer, and then make the refinements and a print. You will be amazed. However most photographers are not willing to pay the $10,000 for this scanner.

    It is therefore understandable to do more research for scanners if you still want good quality film scans for prints up to 13x19. I would recommend the Nikon 9000ED. It sells for under $2000 and will produce very acceptable 16x20 prints from 2 1/4 or 6x7 and very handsome, noiseless scans up to 13x19 for 35mm.
  15. I find that the realistic maximum resolution of the Epson 4990 is 1200dpi. Beyond that the scanner does not extract any real detail and is ridiculously slow. See my comprehensive tests.
  16. Interesting test on the 4990. were you using the supplied Epsonscan software, or the bundled Silverfast? If you were using either of these then you were not getting the maximum performance from this scanner.

    As stated above, the glass has been removed from mine. I scan 6x17 transparencies with Silverfast AI studio with 8x oversample. I never use ICE as I find it degrades the image (and doesn't work with an anti newton glass anyway). As for the scan times, I will agree that the scanner is a little slow (but what do you expect for �300). Digital ICE is very processor and memory hungry. As the Epson has a very small memory buffer compared to your Minolta its actually using your PC and its hard disk for the memory. Therefore you will find a dramatic increase in speed if you use Firewire to start with, then upgrade your ram to 2Meg or more. In addition further increases can be had by using a faster hardrive (ie Sata).
  17. The attached sample above, is a 6x17 tranny scanned at 2400dpi with 8x oversampling. It was scanned as a lab colour 16bit tiff. The resulting file was 503mb and produces a 53inch print at 300dpi. The further samples above show an actual pixels crop of the image of the barn in the centre.

    I think this is a pretty good advertisement of how good this little scanner can be. I only scan 120 film and as there were so few scanners that could handle 6x17, I took the decision to see how far I could get the Epson to go. Removing the glass is a pretty extreme modification to make, but I think the benefits speak for themselves.

    I'm gonna actually go to pay a visit to a company who have an Imacon 949, and scan the same tranny myself over the next few weeks, so will post a comparison.
  18. What is the advantage of removing the glass of the 4990? Are the scans getting sharper?

  19. Dear Ian Scovell, exceptional and daring and technically cool modification!

    I use 6x17 also, and now scan the slides on a Epson V700 (marginally better than your scanner) and I wonder:

    1. how is your comparison between the 949 turned out? maybe you could mail me larger samples if not possible to put them on the site here

    2.will ( I think yes!) my V700 with glass moved out and 2 mm perspex placed + hole for the Dougs holder greatly improve performance?

    by the way how does the dougs holder quaranteer filmflatness on our 6x17 trannies??

    I was almost climbing over the fence to buy a Imacon 646 but wonder if maybe my v700 might be as good heavily modified. The Imacon Flextight Photo and the 646 are said to be much much by far much better, and as the original topic poster showed, a regular Epson scanner can equal if not surpass a 646

    Everyone can built a castle for 10 grand. but to perform aswell with 1/20 of the cost of a imacon 646, Epson really does a good job indeed.

    Really curious in your quest for the difference between the imacon and your scan. By the way what camera / lens combination did you use?


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