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Old Nov 20, 2003, 1:24 PM   #1
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Default Scanner Inquiry

About a month ago, I purchased an Agfa Arcus II scanner from a local graphic design firm that a friend of mine works at for $20 CAN. It is in great shape and was promised it works perfectly, it is just big and older and was taking up more space in the office than they had. I have a PC and this is a SCSI interface scanner, so I know I have to buy a SCSI-PCI adapter and install it on my PC for it to work. Those seem like they run around $70-$100 CAN, or I have also seen SCSI to USB adapters that run SCSI devices through a USB port which looks quite simple, however I have only ever seen them available on ebay and they also seem to run around $100 CAN (or $70US).

Now my question is, I had no problem laying out the $20 for the scanner (I read somewhere that it is a professional scanner that cost $1299.00US new), but this scanner is a few years old, probably 1998 or 1999. Now what I really just want to know is before I lay out the money to buy a SCSI adapter and the headache of installing it on my computer, does anyone think this scanner is any good? I am sure it was great in its day and from what I am led to believe, Agfa is a really good name in this sector of the photo industry (ie.scanners, development machines etc.). However, I wonder whether in the past few years, scanner technology has advanced so far that now small cheap Canon scanners can do the same thing that this can and they run on PC platforms (USB etc).

I know very litttle about scanners because all I have now is a crappy all in one scanner fax printer thing that has a feed (not flatbed) so it is useless for books and I do not trust running my good photgraphs through the feeder, plus the image quality sucks so I rarely use it. What are important characteristics that a good scanner should have? Is resolution the main thing? I am lost. ANyways, if someone knows anything about scanners, could you please help me out?

Here is some of the specs that I found on this model:


SCANNER TYPE: Desktop, Flat Bed CCD technology


IMAGE MEMORY: 1MB expandable to 2MB


Built-in transparency module --Moving light source, transparency stable

SCANNING AREA: 8.5" x 14" for reflective media AND 8" x 10" for transparencies
---Minimum Ė line-art: 16 pixels gray-scale and color: 1 line, 2 pixels.
--- Maximum Ė Reflective: 210 mm x 35 mm
--- Transparent-- 203mm x 254mm

MAXIMUM RESOLUTION: 600 Horizontal x 1200 Vertical dpi, optical 3600 x 3600 by interpolation

SAMPLE DEPTH: 12 bits gray, 36 bits for color, 12 bit available for application

SCANNING PERIOD: Short Calibration: 2 s for colors,
---Long Calibration: 4 s pre color
---Line-art: 4ms pre line
---Halftone: B/W 4ms pre line
---Color: 5ms per line per color

Dimensions: 16.1"W x 7.9"H x 23.6"D

Images can be scanned with Arcus II for use in magazines, newspapers, and catalogs

Has an extraordinary "descreening" capability that functions during the actual scan, before the final image created, to produce scans almost indistinguishable from scanning photos
The Arcus has great color, from its ability to reproduce fleshtones, to handling heavily saturated colors, so there is no reason to waste large chunks of time "fixing" the scans

Also, here is a link to a website with a pic of the scanner and some more info. Dont be fooled by that picture, this scanner is REALLY big.

Thanks all.
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Old Nov 20, 2003, 2:38 PM   #2
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That scanner is 600 PPI optical, which is all you would normally ever use except for scanning slides and negatives. And that scanner doesnít do that. This is a good read on the resolution you can get from a photo. Go on to the next page where he runs some tests on a photo he took with a fixed focal length Nikon on a tripod and still couldnít do any better than 300 PPI. http://www.scantips.com/basics08.html

You donít need a world beater SCSI card. This one is more than sufficient Ė maybe you can find a place that delivers to Canada. http://www.c-source.com/csource/news...part_no=101291 You might look around for a used or leftover SCSI 2 card Ė maybe on Ebay.

I ran an older Umax (also cost a fortune but not $1200) on a slower card and it ran to specs. I changed to a faster Adaptec card for other devices and the scanner ran no faster on it. My old scanner had a large outmoded connector. I had to buy an adapter to get it into a standard small connector. If the scanner doesnít come with a cable you can get a cable with the large connector at one end and the standard 50 pin on the other.

One thing I donít like in the specs is the 12 bit color depth. My eight year old Umax was 24 bit and 48 bit is standard now. Most applications will accept only 24 bit except for Photoshop and some other high end programs. But the internal 48 Bit processing still gives better 24 bit color. 12 bit isnít very good. It must be a very old model.

You can get an Epson 1670 online for less than $100US online. It is 1600 PPI and has a built-in film and slide illuminator. It would give much better scans IMO. I have no idea of the Arcusís speed, but the Epson is reasonably fast. If you have no need for slide and film scanning you could find something cheaper still. This one is on sale locally for $60 and comes with PaperPort Deluxe and Photoshop Elements - even has the film adaper: http://www.visioneer.com/Products/flatbed/9020/home.asp I know that doesn't help in Canada, but there are probably similar sales.

I donít like the skinny little Canon scanners. They use CIS sensors which have no depth of field. They are also slow. Any scanner that gets its power from the USB uses CIS. CCD is better and they have them reasonably compact. One example of the limitations of CIS is scanning from a book. It wonít scan properly except where the book is touching the glass, so if you canít get it all perfectly flat it wonít give a good scan. It is also useless for 3D objects, but you have plenty of digital cameras for that.
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Old Nov 20, 2003, 4:32 PM   #3
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My only addition would be to go with the SCSI card. I bet that will be much easier to install and get it to work with. Also, you don't need one with a BIOS. They are handy, but since you aren't attaching disk drives to it, its probably not necessary. Even some of the new SCSI 2 cards are fairly cheap. Adaptec makes very good cards, but they are expensive. This isn't a high performance task (i.e. disk drives or tape drives) so you can get away with a cheaper one. I'd go search the net for the SCSI FAQ, I recall it has a few comments about good cheaper SCSI cards.

Since the scanner is that old, I would make sure that you have drivers for your OS. And see if it has TWAIN support or only it's own propritary driver.

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Old Nov 20, 2003, 4:35 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by eric s
Since the scanner is that old, I would make sure that you have drivers for your OS. Eric
Just figured I should repeat this point!
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