As the latest innovation in photo printers is to move up from four colour cartridges to six, it was perhaps inevitable that the next technological advance for photo scanners was to reflect this change.
So HP has introduced the ScanJet G4010 (and its slightly bigger brother, the G4050) as the first six-colour, 96-bit machines which effectively split each image into red, orange, yellow, green, cyan and blue. The result is claimed to be much greater depth, range and richness of colour than has been possible before and the final product reflects this all the way up to the highest resolution of 4,800 x 9,600dpi.
HP once again includes its ‘Real Life Technologies’ to correct errors such as red-eye, restore faded colour and bring out the detail in dark corners using Adaptive Lighting. What hasn’t been seen before, though, is HP Adaptive Sharpening, developed specifically for this new range and taking into account the resolution of the scan as well as the actual sharpness of the scanner. Hence you can now get notably improved clarity and detail at higher resolutions.
Further enhancement for originals damaged by dust particles or scratches are built into the hardware, which works by scanning the photos twice; once with the standard lamp to gather colour information and then with an infra-red LED to map the defective areas. This scanner is also optimised to scan ancient Kodachrome slides and Ektachrome film so it is worth having a rummage in the attic for granddad’s old snaps.
Yet for all the undoubted advances in picture quality, there’s a number of frustrating features about the ScanJet G4010. Chief of these is the TMA – the Transparent Materials Adapter – which is on the underside of the lid and can hold five 35mm slides or six negatives. The negative holder is so tight fitting that it’s a major chore to slide the negative strip down without touching the film. Curiously, the G4050 uses a more traditional plastic template instead, which is much more user-friendly.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the software is equally complex. The HP Solution Centre is clearly misnamed as the number of tasks that have to be performed to, say, scan and save a 35mm negative frame is daunting. Although the scanner comes with four operational buttons on the lid (scan photo, scan film, print and make a PDF), you still have to overcome this hurdle.
If you’re starting with a small negative strip, the software defaults to the unused section at the top and you have to manually highlight the frame you want to copy using a crop tool before sending it to its final destination.