The scanner on the XP-850 can be used for simple everyday copying, double sided copying, sending faxes and scanning high quality photos. The XP-850 incorporates an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) which enables you load multiple documents which are fed in automatically, it will also scan in two sided documents and print on both sides of same sheet. From a photographers point of view, the ADF may not be that useful especially with heavy weight media or old card mounted family photos. I tested the ADF unit with some magazine articles that I have written and it worked faultlessly copying both sides onto a single sheet of A4 media. One word of caution, make sure you are using good quality plain paper, ideally 100 gsm +, in my test I used 80gsm copier paper and on colour copying the inks were seeping through to the reverse side of the paper. The fax function is easy to use, select Fax and load your document, the screen becomes a touch screen dialler, enter the required number and then send. You also have the ability to store up to 60 individual and group fax numbers.
The scanner has an optical resolution of 4800dpi, which is far more than you will need for most direct copying work. However, this resolution is only available when using the Epson Scan application, a large resolution is useful for enlarging small photos or zooming in on a detail. There are several scanning options available, first I performed a simple scan of a post card size photo to PC via the USB connection. This took 42 seconds which is much longer than expected, the scan had captured the whole flatbed area, there isn’t an option to perform a crop or make a selection. This produced a 346K file size at 300dpi, which expands to 24.9 mb, so quite a bit of compression is applied, this would be equivalent to saving a JPEG in Photoshop at Quality 6 or 50% there are no noticeable JPEG artefacts. The image quality is very good with a faithful reproduction of colour. I have also scanned the same photo on a top of the range Epson V750 scanner for comparison, and as you can see there isn’t a lot of difference.
Both scans were produced without any user adjustments. Epson Scan software is included for photographers who want finer control on their scans, this is a stand alone application and not a plug-in acquire module in an image editing application.. Photos are sent direct to your My Pictures folder and this is automatically opened once the scan has completed. Another option is to use the scanners Copy function, this gives you limited editing features such as crop and restore old photos. This feature worked well but also cancelled out any sepia tones that may be on the old photo.
The scanner worked well on all my test scans and compared favourably with those produced on the Epson V750 scanner. However, the XP-850 doesn’t have a film scanning capability and didn’t install any plug in in Photoshop, nevertheless it will satisfy most home users who need to copy or preserve their old family photographic prints.