Photo: ION Up Close
If you need a little extra proof that the ION’s clarity is lacking, here’s a comparative close-up. Depending on what source you read, scholars believe that the Sphinx was aligned to face a specific direction with great astronomical and religious meaning. Today (or at least when I visited it in 1998), it points at a KFC and Pizza Hut. The top-left image shows the ION scanner at 1,800 dpi and the top-right at 3,600 dpi. Scans from Canon’s 8800 and (mismarked) PIXMA 990 are shown on the bottom left and right, respectively.
Here’s an interesting point to remember for when you want to crank up your settings on film scans: my initial scans with the ION at 48-bit/3,600 dpi were generating 65 MB files versus 24-bit/1,800 dpi scans yielding file sizes of only 7.5 MB. Considering a nearly 10X difference in size, I don’t feel there’s an equivalent benefit in quality. Spend some time experimenting with your scanner to learn where its “sweet spot” is in regard to quality vs. size.
As a scanning utility, I’m very unimpressed with Photo Impression as bundled with ION’s scanner. The Live View tool is handy, but otherwise you have zero control over how images are captured. Acquisition involves only four basic steps: pick the scanner, pick the target format (JPG or TIF), select a target location, and finally pick your film type, color depth (24 or 48), and dpi (1,800 or 3,600). There are no other options, and when you’re dealing with scan quality as flimsy as ION’s you need all the help you can get. When I tried the OVT Scanner driver in Photoshop Elements, though, I did get a quality slider for JPEG format as well as an Automatically Fix Red Eyes check box.
Mid-way through my testing with the Slides 2 PC, I developed a new problem—some sort of driver issue. Every time I attempted to use ION’s OVT Scanner driver to capture images, my system would hang. This was true in both Photo Impression as well as Photoshop Elements. Core 4 on my CPU monitor would rocket to 100%, several of my apps would freeze (including the System Monitor), and my LAN would suddenly vanish. Rebooting did not solve the problem, and since the new scans were so visibly inferior to the Canon scans, I let the matter drop. While the Slides 2 PC might be adequate for quick work on something like a school project, I can’t recommend it for archival purposes, which is what we’re really here for.