Bear with me – this is a long story.
Back before Christmas I started reading about the new Canon Canoscan 9950F flatbed scanner. The reason it caught my interest was it could scan at 4800 dpi and was supposed to be as good as adedicated film scanner and it would replace the company’s dedicated film scanners. Some of the early reviews of the 9950F were mixed but it appeared to me the machine had potential and that most of the problems were related to the scanning software. Manufacturers usually release software updates as those problems are identified and corrected. So I did a “Pleeese, Honey, Pleeese” and, because I was a very good boy last year, Santa left a brand new 9950F under the Christmas tree. I quickly disconnected my 1800 dpi Pacific Image scanner.
I choose a flatbed because I have several thousand 4x5 and 2 ¼ negatives shot over a 50-year period. It would have cost an arm and a leg to get a dedicated film scanner that would handle negatives of that size as well as 35mm. So, I loaded some 120 black and white negatives and fired up the “ScanGear” scanning software that came with the 9950F.
The first thing I discovered puzzled me. ScanGear has a dust and scratch removal option. But, it only works in color mode – it isn’t available in black and white mode. No problem, I thought. I will just scan everything in color mode to utilize the removal feature, then convert the picture to black and white after I get it into Photoshop. But that wasn’t possible – any black and white neg scanned in color mode came through with really weird wide streaks through the picture. If I scanned in black and white mode everything worked perfectly and the scans were excellent. But, I hade to remove scratches and dust manually—and there can be a lot of it on old negatives.
Oh, well, I reassured myself. This is obviously a software problem Canon will correct. I kept checking the download site for a new ScanGear version. But when nothing had showed up by March, I sent customer service an email asking when black and white dust and scratch removal would be available or, at the very least, when it would be possible to scan black and white in color mode. Got the answer in less than 24 hours. It wasn’t “we’re working on it,” or “we’ll look into it.” It was “It does not have that feature.” – end of explanation.
It is inconceivable to me that Canon can present the 9950F and a replacement for a dedicated film scanner that can handle large and medium format negatives and not have a dust and scratch removal option for black and white – or at least make it possible to scan b&w in in color mode.
So, if you are looking for a scanner, be aware of what you won’t get now, and apparently not later, either with the 9950F. It does a great job in my opinion, on color slides and color negs but if your black and white negs aren’t pristine you are gonna spend a lot of time in Photoshop or shell out extra money for a stand alone scratch removal program.
BTW, the 9950F also has both USB 2.0 and Firewire connections, but Firewire only works with Macs (gee, why do I have firewire ports on my pc?).
Guess I shoulda asked Santa for an Epson.