Canon CanoScan 8800F review
A wide range of features, plus a strong software bundle, should place the 8800F on every photographer's shortlist.
With all the excitement over the new cameras and printers at Canon's recent product launches (web ID: 123010), the CanoScan 8800F was almost forgotten. But it sits at the very top of Canon's range of consumer scanners, and like the EOS 40D and Pixma ip4500, offers plenty for buyers to think about.
The specifications read like a wish list for anyone who wants a scanner for permanent image archiving: a maximum resolution of 4,800 x 9,600 means that top-quality images weigh in at 46 megapixels; the maximum colour depth that the 8800F will output is 48-bit, and Canon claims it can scan a colour A4 source in seven seconds.
Canon's speed claims turned out to be reasonably accurate. The white LED reaches peak brightness almost instantly compared with traditional cold-cathode lamps, and we had a preview image in just under 10 seconds. With the lamp already warm, the time dropped slightly to eight seconds. We struggled to hit Canon's claim of seven seconds for an A4 photo, but nine seconds at 300dpi is still far from sluggish. Even a 600dpi 10 x 8in print appeared in just 20 seconds. Pages of text also appear swiftly - at 150dpi you're limited only by the mechanical speed of the scan unit, and our page was ready to go in just eight seconds.
Image quality is as good as we'd expect from a device that the manufacturer claims is top of the range. Colours are reproduced well, and scans were generally good enough to use without further tweaking in an editing program. It isn't quite the last word in quality, though, as the Epson Perfection V350 pulls ahead for sheer quality when scans are viewed side-by-side. The Epson's colours are richer and more accurate - lush purples look exactly that - whereas the 8800F relies on curve and level adjustments to get colours closer to those of the source. It's not devastating, but archivists seeking absolute colour accuracy should bear this slight weakness in mind.
Luckily, the 8800F has a number of other saving graces. It's a very competent film scanner, for instance. Included in the box is a trio of plastic adapters: one for 35mm filmstrips, one for 35mm mounted slides and, unusually, one for medium-format film. The 35mm filmstrip adapter will be the most widely used, and Canon has gone beyond the normal one-strip-at-a-time approach of other manufacturers. Open the adapter and you can feed in two strips, which in most cases means scanning eight frames.
Scanning these at 2,400dpi (giving scans equivalent to around eight megapixels), the 8800F failed to live up to its initial impressions as a speed demon. We waited for just under 20 minutes for all eight of our frames to be captured, although the quality of the final slides matched that of our reflective sources. Colours are well reproduced, with a pleasing lack of grain. Again, the Epson Perfection V350 trumps it for quality, managing darker, richer colours, leaving the Canon's images looking over-exposed by comparison.
You do get an impressive amount of software for your money, though. The best inclusion is Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 - which was our A-Listed photo editor until this month. It's a powerful, full-featured application, and its inclusion here is an obvious bonus. Bafflingly, you also get ArcSoft photo Studio 5 - which isn't a terrible choice for image editing but definitely surplus to requirements in this company.
The TWAIN interface is one of the better ones we've seen. Everything is kept simple, although there are plenty of options for software image improvement, including dust and hair removal. This proved less effective than simply touching up images with the clone tool, however. Finally, ScanSoft OmniPage 4 SE (web ID: 126873) performs OCR duties capably and accurately for most jobs. But, irritatingly, whenever you try to perform more complex tasks a nag box pops up telling you to buy the full version.