Last week at work I was told by a member of the IT department that there was a load of hardware which was going to be disposed of as no one was using it. They asked if any of it was useful to me, so I went and had a look.
Sitting in amongst the many, many leads etc there sat an A3 flatbed scanner. Working as I do as a print designer and photograph restorer I thought this might be useful. I checked the connections, which included USB and made sure it had the correct power lead andaway I went with it.
When I got home I did some research and it turned out that the scanner was an Epson GT15000 (it said it on it) and that to buy one new would have cost me in the region of £1200, or a refurbished second hand one would cost around £400 or so...I had managed to get hold of a total bargain...assuming it worked.
I went to the Epson website and managed to download driver software for the scanner. I installed this, hooked up a USB lead and the power lead and gave the scanner a go...it worked perfectly!!!
The first thing to say about the scanner is, it is a big piece of kit, the user manual I also downloaded from the Epson website told me that it is about 26inches long by 18 inches deep and about 6 inches high. Much larger than your average a4 scanner!
On top of this it needs a fair amount of room at the back to allow for connection to the computer (especially if connecting via SCSI as the connectors are fairly large) or if using the optional auto document feeder attachment.
As with the flatbed scanners most people will be familiar with, the scanner has a lid which lifts up to reveal the scanning bed where you put the document/photo etc to be scanned. Naturally this scanner has a large bed in order to fit an A3 sheet for scanning. Around the size of the a3 there is a good inch or so to allow for the scanning of an entire a3 sheet with no cropping. If you have ever used an a3 photocopier, you will have a good idea of the size of the scanning bed.
The lift up lid is basically the same length and width as the scanner so plenty of room is required over the scanner to allow it to open.
On the back of the scanner are the connection choices. As standard there are two SCSI socket (allowing the scanner to be hooked into a SCSI chain...I don't really know much about this but mentioned it in case anyone is looking for that functionality) and a USB socket.
There is also a slot for the optional network adapter which allows the network to be hooked up and used over a network, mine does not have this functionality sadly but for those that need it, it is an option.
I have only used mine with the USB connection which operates as you would expect, install the drivers, hook up the USB lead and you're ready to go.
On the front of the scanner is a power button and two lights, one which lights up when the scanner is ready or is operating. The other lights up if there is an error.
Also on the front is a start button which can be setup to open either direct scanning software for scanning to a file, or can open up your favourite software for scanning into.
Onto actually using the scanner. I opened up my chosen image editor (Photoshop) and selected the import options, to select my Twain32 device, and selected the scanner. Then I selected to iomport from Twain32, very quickly the scanner software loaded up and the scanner came to life.
My girlfriend is an artist and for my test I decided to scan one of her water colours which was on paper rather larger than A4. In the past in order to get a digital copy of such paintings I have had to photograph them, which is always a bity difficult, trying to ensure that there are no reflections or shadows, and trying to get the whole image in without any perspective distortion etc. This is not the easiest thing to do.
Anyway, I had put the painting onto the scanning bed, (with room to spare!), the scanning software did a quick preview scan and displayed the image, It put up an automatic selection of the area to be scanned, I tweaked it a bit and had a look at the scanning options, which are much the same as any other software I've used, giving you all the tools to adjust exposure, colour balance, brightness and contrast to ensure the scan is as close to the original as possible to minimise any work to be done after scanning.
Before I clicked scan I wondered what sort of speed this scanner would scan at, in the past I have used a variety of different scanners and found them to vary hugely, some taking ages, and others (including an A4 Epson SCSI scanner) being very quick indeed.
It turns out this scanner is very quick indeed, I was very impressed with the speed it scanned and processed the image and put it into Photoshop.
I then closed the scanning software and took a look at the image it had scanned. I was very impressed! The colours were great, the detail excellent (the texure of the watercolour paper was captured really well) and the whole thing looked pretty much perfect.
I scanned several more images and each and every time I was very impressed with the speed of the scan and the quality. I tinkered with the scan resolution settings and was able to capture huge (like A1) scans of the paintings, which would have been perfect for large format printing!
Overall I would say this is a very impressive piece of kit, which captures brilliant quality scans nice and quickly. If you have a need for large format scanning, this would be a very good investment!!
This A3 flatbed scanner was purchased to compliment an older Epson GT12000 Scanner. The initial setup was very straightforward, being both SCSI and USB, with the USB being the preferred method mainly for the convenience of being able to switch on the scanner without having to reboot the machine (which has to be done with SCSI if it wasn't on at bootup), and also not having to take the case off the PC to install a SCSI card. It is also possible to connect it with an optional IEEE 1394 (Firewire) card, which can transfer data at up to 400Mbps, but I can't say how much it costs or if its easy to set up, apart from the fact that you have to remove the back of the scanner to insert the card. Another optional extra available is an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), which allows you to scan in up to 100 sheets. The only downside is that it is quite large and therefore makes what is already a large scanner even bigger. Small price to pay though if you have lots of scans to do. The software that comes with the scanner is very good,with full copies of Adobe Photoshop Elements (a cut down version of Adobe Photoshop), Scansoft Paper Port Deluxe (a very good program for storing and sorting files). You also get a copy of ABBYY Finereader 5 Sprint Plus (one of the best OCR programs available). You also get a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader (a program that you can get from nearly anywhere). The actual scanning software covers three different levels of complexity, from home ( with very basic functionality) through Office (more than good enough for the average scan jobs) to professional (with more options than office, covering things like descreenin
g etc). I have it connected to a 2.4Ghz PC with USB 2.0 ports, and the scanner is very quick, with a full A3 scan at 300DPI with lots of the post processing options turned on taking approximately 30 seconds. The scan quality is very good, having a resolution of 600 dpi x 1200 dpi, but with software interpolation, it is possible to scan at up to 9600 dpi x 9600 dpi. Dont forget though, that with the higher resolutions, the file sizes shoot through the roof, and the time it takes to actually scan increases dramatically. The time it takes to do anything can also take forever (even on a fast computer). From experience, you would very rarely need to scan anything over 300-400dpi anyway. The colour reproduction is one of the best I have seen from a flatbed scanner. With a bit if fiddling with the settings, excellent results are possible. As for the price, they can be found from lots of different places on the web for around the £1400 price mark brand new, but there are regularly available on places like ebay for less than £500. The only downsides I have come across so far are that the glass can get scratched quite easily, but that is common with all flatbeds, and that the scanner is quite heavy (13Kg), but after all, it is large being capable of A3 scans.