HP Scanjet G4050 review

Price when reviewed

Home scanners have shown little technical innovation over the past few years. However, HP’s Scanjet G4050 has broken the mould with the first so-called six-colour scanner, using two lamps to provide RGB feedback plus extra colour information.

HP Scanjet G4050 review

Image quality, as we’d expect on a scanner costing over £150, is excellent. Colour handling was accurate in all of our tests, whether we were scanning reflective photographic media or transparent negatives and slides – results were truly of archive quality. Our only complaint is speed: at 300dpi, there are no problems, with a 6 x 4in photo previewing in seven seconds and scanning in 11. However, switching to six-colour scanning (turned off by default) increased time exponentially to nearly one-and-a-half minutes, with no proportional increase in accuracy or image quality. A 10 x 8in image at 1,200dpi took 3mins 7secs; simply miles off the Epson V350 Photo’s time of 39 seconds. Even worse, scanning five negative strips, comprising 25 images in total, took an astonishing 33 minutes. But then, for long-term archiving, every ounce of quality may well be worth the wait.

The G4050 also comes with a range of scanning features that befit its high price. Open the box and you’ll find three attachments: one for scanning medium-format reflective media, another for scanning plastic-encased 35mm slides, and a third for scanning up to 30 negative frames at once.

Unfortunately, HP’s TWAIN interface is a severe letdown. It’s essentially the same version HP has been using for years, and it shows little sign of improving with age. It isn’t particularly complex, but it’s difficult to use, slow and unintuitive – the only way to select multiple areas of the plate for scanning is to approach the TWAIN interface via HP’s own Solution Center software. Try to import from TWAIN via Photoshop and the option to select multiple areas isn’t there. There are plenty of other features – colour balance and adjustable curves are ideal for advanced users – but with such a clunky interface, using all of the advanced features takes longer than it should.

Even bearing these criticisms in mind, the G4050 will still be attractive to anyone who has important negatives to archive. Where image quality is more important than speed or outright value, and whether you’re scanning reflective or transparent media, the G4050 will generate excellent results.

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