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© Vincent Oliver 2005

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Page 1

EPSON 4990 scanner - interactive review

For those people who have joined this review or photo-i for the first time, this is how the interactive review works. I review the scanner on a daily basis and update or add pages as the day progresses. Generally I aim to publish up to 20 pages per review. If you have any questions or things you would like me to test, then please use the Forum (link on the bottom of each page). Let your friends on other forums know this review is in progress. You can support photo-i by purchasing items through the photo-i shop (link on bottom of each page), or by clicking the picture in the left column. ENJOY!

It seems like this is becoming an annual habit, one year ago I reviewed the Epson 4870 scanner, the year before it was the 3200. Both scanners produced high quality scans that were close if not better than most dedicated film scanners. Although having said that, good quality film scanners are thin on the ground. This is mainly due to the fact that most people are now shooting digitally. Film scanning is rapidly becoming passe', but is often the only option for film based photographers and there are still many people who want to convert slides and negatives into digital files.

The Epson Perfection 4990 follows in its predecessors footsteps by offering a higher resolution of 4800dpi, and has also raised the Dmax factor to 4.0, The scanner includes, multi format film scanning, DIGITAL ICE for both film and print scanning. The 4990 scanner is supplied complete with a Transparency Unit and film holders for film formats from 35mm to 5 x 4". Previously flatbed scanner transparency units were sold as an optional extra and could often cost as much as the scanner. Now we are spoilt and we have come to expect it as a standard fitting. With an optical resolution of 4800 x 9600, the 4990 is one of Epson's most eagerly awaited items. You've waited long enough for this review so lets get on with it!

What's in the box?

1. The Epson Perfection 4990 scanner
2. Quick start guide
3. Silverfast 6.0 (SE)
4. Power cord (will vary according to country
5. Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0
6. Scanner software Disk (software contents may vary according to country)
7. USB 2.0 Hi-speed cable
8. 4 Film holders -

  • 35mm strip (x4 strips of 6 exposures)
  • 35mm mounted (x8 slides)
  • 120/220 (6x12 max, x3 strips)
  • 5 x 4 inches. (x2 sheets)
  • Film scanning guide mask

The scanner is securely packed and easy to remove from the packaging. The 4870 and 3200 both had a shinny black plastic surface, the 4990 has a smart matt silver surface. This is a much better option as it hides both dust and fingerprints. At the side and on the rear there are two bright yellow caution stickers. The side label tells you to unlock the Transportation lock, this locks/unlocks the scanner's carriage which should be in the locked position when you unpack. Unlocking is a simple matter of turning the lock 90' clockwise with a coin. The label at the rear tells you to install the scanner software before connecting to a computer. As this label covers the Firewire and USB ports you shouldn't miss it. The film holders were well packed in polythene bags, which were a pain to open, sorry Mr Epson, the bags now look my dog has been chewing them. The sticker on the top of the unit is one of the stickiest stickers I have ever come across, fortunately it pulled off in one piece, but was on par with trying to rip up a telephone directory. The Transparency unit also has a sliding lock

Great glue on this label
Use coin to unlock scanner (coin not included)
You can't miss the warnings, well at least I didn't
Use finger to unlock scanner lid (finger not included)

Driver and Software installation

Before connecting the scanner to your PC, you have to install the scanner software, it says so on the yellow label. Make sure you close all open programs and turn of your anti virus software. Under Windows XP insert the Software CD and choose Install Software. Seven components are installed under the Easy install; Epson Scan, Reference guide, Epson EasyPrint module, Abbey FineReader 5.0, Epson Copy Utility, Epson Creative Suite and Epson Online Registration. If you don't want any of these items then click the Custom button and deselect the items not required. I chose to install all the Epson software. SilverFast Special Edition version 6.2 is also included as a separate CD, I will install this at a later stage. There is also a full version of Photoshop Elements 2.0 included, this is an excellent application. However, you should note that the latest version is now Elements 3.0, as I have the latest version I will not install version 2.0 in this test. The entire installation took about 5 minutes

The full version of Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 for both Mac & PC compatible computers is included. Contrary to what I originally wrote, Mac OS X users can access EPSON Scan from all Twain compliant applications. You can also use Epson Scan as a stand alone application and save the scan as a file (BMP, TIFF, JPG, EPS or PICT).

Turn off your antivirus software first
All the above are installed by default
Rear view with, FireWire, USB 2.0, Transparency adapter and power socket

Getting Connected

You have a choice of using either the Firewire (IEEE 1394a) or USB 2.0 port, a Hi-speed USB cable is included with the scanner but no Firewire cable. It should be noted that you should not connect the scanner to two computers at the same time using both USB and Firewire cables. As with the 4870 there is only one Firewire port on the 4990, which relegates the unit to the last in any chain. there is a socket at the rear to connect the transparency lid - I don't know why Epson hasn't made a direct connection system whereby fitting the lid also connects it to the power.


25 April, 2005

© Vincent Oliver 2008 www.photo-i.co.uk
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