I bought the Epson Perfection V500 not too long ago as I needed to upgrade from my all in one printer. As a satisfied customer of Epson this swayed my decision as to the make this model was bought on advice in the shop and I must say that I'm very happy with it.
It was on sale for £180 but they gave me a 10% discount. The price seems quite reasonable, in comparison to web prices.
I really like the look of the thing. It's sleek, black and chunky. It look like a high quality product and feels like a high quality product. It looks really food in my office but I would happily have it in my home too.
It is incredibly easy to use from the computer or from the controls on the actual unit. There is a thing which holds slides and negatives whilst scanning. The quality of the scanned things is, quite frankly, amazing! Even with older fading photos it picks out details that weren't easy to see before.
All in all this is a brilliant machine for use in business or for personal use. I've not had it for long at all and I estimate the cost per use as £1 so far and I've only just begun. More expensive than a multifunction printer but infinitely better quality! Well done Epson for producing yet another high quality easy to use product!
I have been a long time user of Epson products and currently use an RX685 printer, which has a built in scanner. It is only when you step up the mark and use a dedicated scanner that you realise what you are missing.
The Perfection V500 Photo scanner is a very well made unit. It feels very solid. It connects via USB and offers a 6400dpi optical resolution. The important spec of the V500 though, is the density range. The 3.4D density range means that this unit resolves a lot of detail in darker areas.
Another great feature is the built in film and negative scanner. This is situated in the lid and comes supplied with different sized adapters. So you can scan normal photos and negatives too. The front of the unit has short cut buttons, one allows you to scan direct to PDF.
You also get Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 for the Windows, and Elements 3 for the Mac. This is nice to get you started. Whilst on that subject, getting started is extremely easy. Simple driver install and ready to go in under tens minutes on my Mac.
This is just under £200 at the moment. Which sounds a lot, but it is worth spending the extra for the superb quality scans.
I've had one of these for a couple of months now and it's getting a steady workout. My primary reason for buying it was to scan old medium format negs, (and to write it off against my tax liability). I have a Canon Canoscan 2700F dedicated slide/film scanner connected to my Mac for 35mm film and slides so it's interesting to compare the two approaches. The Canon cannot scan the larger medium format negs so I can only do a comparison on 35mm negs.
The V500 is a flatbed scanner with interchangeable parts for print scanning and for negs/ slides, in 35 mm size and larger. It's a perfectly good scanner for ordinary documents too, by the way. So if you've got a little more cash to spare you can scan your old photos and films to a high level of quality.
The V500 scanner uses LEDs as a light source so it's up and running quickly with no need for warming up. Apparently that was a problem with older and/or cheaper machines. Scanning is not for anyone in a hurry so it's not been a problem for me as I'm a slow/lazy b.....
It's a good looking scanner, too much so really. The top is extremely shiny, which means it either builds up dust or you scratch the shiny surface when you clean off the dust. As a result no one is allowed to dust it on pain of death so its the dustiest thing in my study. Rather defeats the point really!.
It immediately comes across as a quality piece of kit, compared with my previous scanner of 10 years vintage, from Umax. But its the image equality and ease of use that counts, and of course the software that drives it is critically important. While my old Umax delivered on image quality it didn't get used too much as the software supplied with it didn't do too much.
The software supplied with the Epson is in a different league.
The Epson has four dedicated buttons on the front, which I haven't used yet. They integrate with the software supplied. Glancing at them now, one is 'scan to pdf', one looks like a 'scan to printer' or 'photocopy' function and the other looks like a flying envelope. Not entirely self explanatory. If you are still reading, hang on while I dig out the manual.Sorry, there wasn't one. After searching for a while I remembered it was loaded onto my machine from the installation CD rom. The instructions come up in your web browser and in an instant I've found the buttons bit and identified the remaining button as 'scan to email'. The online manual is pretty good, and as far as the hardware is concerned it's not really needed after a few minutes.
There's an on/off switch which for some reason is down the back on the right hand side. For me that's a nuisance as it's bang up against the side of my laptop. So I have to move my laptop to switch it on. I told you I was lazy.
Unpacking the thing is a precision job as there are several things that need to be done in a specific order, not least a slider or two that locks the beast down for transport. So if you can't be bothered to look at the manual for your latest 'gadget' then don't buy one of these. It will become the next thing you break.
There's nice long power plug leads and a reasonably long lead to connect to a USB port. The power lead goes to a transformer box, rather like a laptop charging lead. The lid is connected by a lead to the base. As the lid is used to scan slides and film then I reckon it carries the power and data between the two. It can be unplugged for attaching an optional auto document feeder, which I don't have or need.
The lid contains a removable white 'document mat' which needs to be in place for print or document scanning. There is a layer of soft foam underneath the white layer, which I hope will last a long time as some foams can deteriorate. Still, it's far too early to say if it will last. Otherwise it's a fairly robust assembly that's slid in and out, though it needs a little care to ensure the four lugs are in place. It would be pretty difficult to damage the lugs.
When removed a glass panel is exposed in the lid which is used for film negative / slide scanning.
Two film holders are supplied. While these are lightweight, as I would have expected, they seem pretty robust, being made out of a tough black plastic. There are lugs on them that match up with markers on the scanner body. The lugs and markers carry matching letters that are quite large making it easy to match them up. It takes a while to get your head round which way to put them in, and which way to mount the slides, but once figured out it soon becomes second nature. If you put the slides or film in the wrong way around you can soon sort it out with the scanning software supplied.
The carriers have opening or removable flaps to mount the firm / slides. At first these may appear flimsy but my Canon has something similar and that has proved well tough enough for this job for many years. Just don't let the dog get at the carriers.
One carrier can take upto four mounted 35mm slides OR 12 35mm film/slide frames in two strips of upto 6 per strip. The other carrier, the reason I bought this machine, can handle a strip of upto three medium format frames though only two can be scanned at one pass. The media can be a little tricky to place in the carriers, the medium format film being the trickiest. 35mm film strips seem to lock in place quite well.
The software does a good job of locating the individual frames within the strip.
The glass can get dusty and soon picks up greasy fingerprints, so I use a clean hanky each session to wipe it clean. As supplied, the glass was very clean, unlike my Umax which had dirty glass from new, inside where it could never be cleaned.
The machine is rated in the ads as able to scan at 9600 but I never get anywhere near that. For most photos 300 is quite adequate. For a small old black and white I go up to 600 and to zoom in on a face 1200 or maybe 2400. But above that the scanned images can get far too big and for old emulsions there is not enough detail in the print or film to justify using such a fine scan setting.
My older scanners rely on software such as photoshop for finishing the scan as required. This is OK if you are used to photoshop, as I am, but it can be very slow. The Epson comes with a handy piece of print software that has three available modes: fully auto, home or professional. For repetitive scanning of prints I mostly use the 'home' setting. The 'professional' setting provides buttons that open up the type of functionality that a photoshop user would be looking for.
The software is far from infallible but I'm always amazed at what it can do. In the middle level 'home' setting there are options to correct for backlight problems, to restore faded or 'incorrect' colours, and to remove dust marks.
For most of my scanning I switch on 'Colour Restoration' and 'Dust Removal' and it does a very good job. If the picture is important I rescan with them 'off' to make a comparison and pick the result I like the best. For instance the 'dust removal' worked very well on an old Black & White picture of my dad, but it gave him a scar on his chin! The 'colour' restoration' took an old picture of my parents house that had an overall green sheen and restored it to give far too much red in the result. Neither was quite right! So it was in to photoshop to get it just how I wanted it. Two hours later.....
The scan quality for 35mm negatives is good, and virtually indistinguishable my Canon. It is far easier and quicker to use the Epson V500 and the colour rendition is very good at the first pass. The Canon always requires photoshop manipulation, but its getting old now and I suspect the bulb is on its last legs. However on a side by side detail comparison there is something missing in the detail of the V500. A neg I scanned on both, where the subject had a 'tweed' tie, the 'tweed' was sharp on the Canon, but the detail was lost on the Epson.. but both scans had to be well blown up to even see the tie had a design on it. So if the scan is critically important and you have plenty of time, you might get a better result than the V500. But then, a dedicated 35mm scanner connected to a Mac using the full version of photoshop to match the Canoscan would cost a lot lot more than the Epson V500. As it did for me. When my Canoscan is eventually retired I doubt it will be replaced as this Epson is very good.
The Epson V500 comes with a copy of Photoshop Elements 6.0 plus a software CD-rom for the scanner software, for both Macintosh OSX and Windows.
So far I've only used the Epson scanning software for scans made on the Epson. I find it quite useful to load up a couple of 35mm neg strips, load them onto the scanner and run a preview. The scanner locates the images very accurately. I keep the settings to 300dpi and leave the default to 6 X4. For colour negs Digital Ice is set to on for dust removal. You can preview the negs as thumbnails or 'full' size, which is big enough to check the operation of the colour correction and switch it on/off as required. Usually I leave it on. You can step through the preview images quite neatly using the forward and back arrows. Switch off any you don't want to scan. There is a small cropping frame that marks where the 6X4 image will be cropped and I generally slide this around to get the images how I want them. The whole set up and preview process takes me 3 to 5 minutes for 8 negs. You don't need to be an expert to do any of this!
Then press 'scan'. The scanner clicks and whirrs for 18 or so minutes, making what sounds like multiple passes over each negative as I've got Digital Ice switched on. The results are excellent...and for eighteen minutes I can be doing something else...which was never possible with my dedicated one at a time Canoscan.
Aonther nice feature is that if one image is not quite right you can rescan just that one image by switching the others off. So it doesn't take another 18 minutes if you want to do just the one again.
So for at most couple of hundred pounds I'm well pleased with the Epson V500 connected to my very ordinary laptop. I get a very acceptable output and very quickly. Allow 30 secs per print scan and a couple of minutes for a negative / slide scan. 3 minutes if using ICE.
Update September 2010: I've been using this scanner quite heavily for a year now. It is still going strong. I've retired my Canon unit and switched wholly to the Epson. I've every reason to contiune to give this unit a full 5 star rating. The photoshop version supplied is excellent. I use it to manually remove dust from scans made from B&W negatives as the scanner software tends to introduce 'artifacts'.