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HP PhotoSmart Scanner Test Images

A word about our scanner testing philosophy: Some publications have taken the position of scanning everything using the scanner's default settings, believing this to be most fair, neutral methodology. The problem with this approach is it may show unacceptable results for an otherwise perfectly usable scanner. (Most users are willing to engage in some tweaking of the scanning parameters to get the best result.) For our part, we believe the most accurate representation of real-world performance is to allow for a reasonable level of twiddling of the scan parameters. In the interest of objectivity though, we also show scans performed with default settings, to provide a completely neutral reference point.

Also note that all images here have been JPEG compressed for compatibility with 'web browsers. This will degrade image quality somewhat, but we used a very conservative compression setting ("8" in Photoshop) to minimize this.

 

"Musicians II" image: (455k) The main image here was scanned at 1200x800 pixels (maximum res is about 3300 x 2200), and tonal adjustments were made. We adjusted both the overall ("midtone") and shadow exposure controls downward somewhat, tweaked the color balance slightly toward red/magenta from the default, and boosted saturation very slightly. The result is quite good color, although the yellow in the black model's headband and necklace are somewhat washed out. This image (425k) shows the results of the default scanner settings.

(NOTE that this is NOT the identical "Musicians" image as used in our digital cameras test! It's very similar, but the models are different, and the digital-camera version is a couple of reproduction generations removed from this particular version.)

 

"Musicians II" detail clip: (389k) The PhotoSmart's 2400 dpi is solidly in the mainstream of high-resolution film scanners. This clip was taken from a maximum-resolution scan of the Musicians II image. Note how easily you can see individual strands of the model's hair, and how completely free from pixelation the overall image is!  

Kodak Royal Gold 25 "House" detail clip: (554k) This is a detail clip from the same negative used to produce the "house" poster for our digital camera tests. It was shot on Kodak Royal Gold 25 film, which is extremely fine-grained, but which has very different color characteristics from most normal color negative films. Thus, even the adjusted color of the main shot is somewhat deficient, with a slight yellowish overall cast, and weak shadows. This image (606k) shows the results of a few seconds (literally, about 30 seconds) of playing with the image using Photoshop's "level" controls. Note the dramatic increase in contrast and how clearly the pine cones are resolved on the tree limbs in the background. This version (441k) shows the results using the scanner's default settings. Print scan sample: To see just how far superior film resolution is to that of printed pictures, check out this scan (150k) of a (pretty sharp) mini-lab print from the same negative scanned above. (You'd be hard pressed to tell they're pine trees, let alone distinguish the individual pine cones!)  

"Train" Shot (Extreme shadow detail): (515k) We recently added this slide to our test suite: It's a tough test of scanner performance in extreme shadow regions. The PhotoSmart did fairly well here, but benefited both from post-scan manipulation in Photoshop, as well as from Ed Hamrick's VueSmart software (see the main review) that permitted full 30-bit data capture. The main image shows the results of heavy post-scan "levels" adjustment in Photoshop, while this version (203k) is the unaltered image from the scanner directly. (This was captured with the shadows slider control pushed all the way up, to pull out whatever detail was possible.) This shot (143k) shows how well the scanner did when controlled by VueSmart, and this one (234k) shows the result of "levels" adjustment in Photoshop, starting with the VueSmart-captured image. We used the option in VueSmart that doubles the per-scanline exposure time, and pushed the gamma control to its limit (4.0). The results are pretty impressive, with significantly lower noise than in the original scan made with the HP software. (VueSmart provides only fixed magnification ratios, so the size of the HP and VueSmart versions of the images are slightly different.)  

Q60 Color Target: (115k) Kodak's "Q60" color target (formally adopted by the ISO as part of the IT8 color standard) is a good test of color accuracy and tonal rendition. The main image here was scanned with about the same tonal settings we used for the Musicians II shot above, while this version (69k) was captured using the scanner defaults. Tonal range is excellent, with even step 22 of the grayscale showing some differentiation from step 21. Color accuracy is very good as well, but saturation in the brightest primaries is slightly low relative to the original. As noted in our main review, the deepest shadows (dark end of the tonal scale) took on a pronounced reddish hue. This is easily corrected in Photoshop, but not with the basic scanning software.  

"Davebox" test target: (375k) As we've commented on in the past, color negative film is weird, but the PSS seems to handle most common types remarkably well. The main image here was shot on Kodak Gold 100, and captured with a few minor tweaks of the scanner settings. This version (410k) is the same film, only with the default settings. This version (87k) was shot on Agfa HDC 200 film, and this one (86k) on Fuji Super-G 200. We were surprised at how similar the resulting images were, give the various films' very different color characteristics. Print Scan sample: This image (170k) was scanned from a print made from the Kodak Gold 100 negative used above. It shows the lighter bands in the dark areas we noted in the main review.  

WG-18 Resolution Target Horizontal Clip: (98k) The full WG-18 target is very large (see below), so we cropped-out these snippets to show the scanner resolution on this familiar target. The original shot here was taken on Kodak Gold 100, a relatively fine-grained color negative film, but is definitely not to be considered a laboratory-grade standard. Nevertheless, this will give a fair indication of maximum performance with the upper end of consumer-grade film emulsions. The horizontally oriented target (vertical resolution) shows a visual resolution of about 1400-1600 line pairs/picture height, and essentially no color artifacts whatsoever.  

WG-18 Resolution Target Vertical Clip: (83k) Here's the corresponding vertically-oriented clip of the WG-18/Kodak Gold 100 target. Visual resolution and lack of color aliasing are virtually identical to the horizontal clip. Very impressive resolution performance!  

Full-Size WG-18 Resolution Target: (2,867k!) For the real masochists, here's the full-size WG-18 target, scanned at the maximum resolution of 2400 dpi. A side note: We didn't explicitly set up a test for frame coverage by scanners, but our WG-18 shot goes right to the edges of the 35mm frame. This shot shows that the PhotoSmart Scanner can scan all the way to (and even slightly beyond) the edges of the 35mm frame.

 

USAF 1951 Resolution Target: (200k) (Elderly technoids only ;-) Old-line lens and film testers will be well-familiar with the "USAF 1951" resolution test target. (1951 is the year it was created, giving you an idea of what we mean when we say "old-line".) This was scanned at the maximum 2400 dpi from a laboratory-grade target (chrome on glass slide) before being cropped down, and would normally give an excellent view of the scanner's ultimate capabilities. In this case though, the exterior-surface test pattern falls slightly outside the optimum focal range of the PhotoSmart's fixed-focus optics. The results are still impressive, with the last distinguishable feature being group 5, element 5 vertically, at 50.5 line cycles/mm (1290 line pairs/inch); and group 5, element 2 horizontally, at 35.9 line cycles/mm (912 line pairs/inch). The short extent of the USAF pattern targets doesn't permit the sort of visual interpolation our eyes do naturally on the more extended WG-18 pattern. As a result, the USAF target should yield much more conservative resolution numbers.  

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