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Plustek OpticFilm 7300 Scanner

Plustek OpticFilm 7300 Scanner


The Plustek OpticFilm 7300 is a dedicated film and slide scanner.  That's its only function.  It is not a flatbed scanner.  It can't scan printed photographs or documents.  It only scans slides and film negatives.  It is unusual in that it is relatively inexpensive.  It costs between $200 and $250.  This is about half the cost of the least expensive option from Nikon, and less than a quarter of the cost of the professional grade scanners like the Nikon Coolscan 5000.  
First off, I will discuss this scanner's flaws:  
It does not have any auto-feed mechanism.  To introduce the slides (or negatives) into the scanner, you have to load the negative strip (or up to 4 slides) into a cartridge, and then slide the cartridge into the scanner.  If you have a very large number of slides or negatives to scan, and have only limited time, you will become frustrated with loading and unloading the limited capacity cartridge.  
The scanning process itself is not extremely speedy.  Particularly if you are doing multi-pass scanning (more on that below) at high resolutions you will spend several minutes waiting for the scan to complete.  However, if you are using single pass scanning at relatively normal resolutions (for web viewing as opposed to making prints, for example) then a scan takes a minute or less.  
I have read some reviews of this scanner that stated that it is not possible to use your computer for other tasks when the scanner is running.  I have not found this to be the case.  Even when scanning on very high resolutions, I can surf the internet, run MS Word, and use my computer normally while running scans.  It's possible that the folks who have complained about this simply have older computers without the processing power or memory necessary to multi-task in this manner. 
The 7300 model does not have infrared defect detection.  Defect detection allows the machine to detect and correct flaws in the slide or negative such as scratches, dust specks, etc.  Other Plustek models (the 7500 series) make use of this technology, which Plustek calls, iSRD.  It's similar to the digital ICE technology used by the Nikon scanners.  
For my purposes, this flaw correction technology was not all that important.  I am comfortable using Photoshop to remove scratches, dust, etc. from the image.  However, if you are scanning lots and lots of old slides and/or negatives and need to automate and streamline the process, you may want to look at the more expensive Plustek 7500 scanner series, which incorporates this feature.  
I don't scan a ton of slides or film.  Rather than archiving my entire slide/film collection, I tend to choose only my favorites to scan, so I don't mind spending the time in Photoshop, correcting flaws.  
So, the major flaws of this scanner are all related to speed.  The bottom line is that it is not super efficient at scanning and processing huge batches of slides/negatives.
However, this scanner has a lot of excellent qualities.  
First of all, I have to say that I am quite impressed with the image quality of the scans.  In spite of its mediocre published specifications for dynamic range (only 3.5) the 7300 is capable of turning out very nice images.  According to Plustek's advertising, it uses multiple exposures (you can choose between 1 and 16 passes) to increase the dynamic range of the scanner.  Based on my experience to date, I think it works.  

Multiple exposures allow for increased dynamic range

Here is an example of this scanner's capabilities.  The first picture below was scanned by my local photo finishing store.  The second was scanned with my Plustek 7300.   (There are more examples of this scanner's output in my China picture gallery linked above.) 

This image was scanned by my local shop

This image was scanned with the Plustek 7300

Overall, I am very happy with the quality of the Plustek's imaging.  I don't know if it would be good enough for making poster sized photo enlargements, because I haven't tried to make any posters using scanned files.  However, if I were going to make a poster, I'd have it made directly from the slide anyway, so that really isn't an issue.  I use the scanner to make images I can look at on my computer and post on the web.  For any resolution I can view on my computer monitor, the Plustek's image quality is just fine for me. 

The software that comes bundled with the scanner is called "Silverfast SE Plus."  It is functional and easy to use.  I judge software's ease of use by how ofen I need to refer to the software manual.  I only glanced at the instructions a couple of times when learning how to use this scanning software.  It's easy and intuitive and gives you a great deal of control over the scanning process.   

The scanner is pretty small, and won't take up much space on your desk.  Its dimensions are 4.73"x10.7"x4.7"  It also comes with a nice carrying case.  I don't really plan on carrying the scanner anywhere, but I am using the case to store the scanner in when I'm not using it.  Dust is the bane of photography, and I figure that keeping the scanner in its case will keep dust out of it. 

I have to say that I really like this scanner.  For $240, it lets me transfer my slides and negatives to a digital format.  Image quality is good, and it is easy to use.  For me, it was an excellent, low cost solution that allows me to bridge the divide between slides and digital format.  Now, I can shoot slide film and know that I can easily convert the slides into jpegs for viewing on my computer.  I can also archive my favorite slides from years past. 

If you are looking for a scanner that can deliver good image quality at a very reasonable price, and you don't need to process large stacks of slides or negatives, then I can highly recommend the Plustek 7300. 

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