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Canon FS-4000 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: (406k) The main image here was scanned at 1297 x 865 pixels, and minor tonal adjustments were made, using the histogram controls to adjust the highlight and shadow values, brightening the image a bit overall, and removing the slight yellowish cast in the default scan. Here (377k) is a version scanned with the FS4000's default settings, which is darker overall and a bit yellowish. Even the unaltered image shows excellent color accuracy, tonal range, and saturation though. Our final adjustment had a bit too much blue in it, which we just couldn't seem to totally correct using the histogram controls. Fine adjustment in Photoshop(tm) would have provided a perfect result in a few moments, but we left the image here as we captured it with the scanner, so our readers could see what the scanner did on its own.

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

"Musicians II" detail clip: (1088k) The FS4000's 4000 dpi maximum resolution is at the upper end of available desktop film scanners: When we reviewed several 2700-2800 dpi scanners previously, we'd said that more than it's 2700 dpi would be wasted on 35mm film, since we felt more resolution would just increase image noise. We confess that we've changed our minds on that score, after working with the FS4000 and several other 4000 dpi scanners: There's clearly detail available in most 35mm film that's revealed by a 4000 dpi scanner, but not seen by a 2700 dpi one. Our musicians slide is getting a little grundgy from several years use now, so you can see some very fine-grained dirt on the image here (1044k). Compare this image, scanned with Canon's dust-removal feature engaged. The dirt and a few minor scratches completely disappear, with *no* decrease in sharpness, at least as far as we could determine. The lack of any visible tradeoff associated with Canon's dust-removal technology puts it ahead of similar features we've seen on other scanners we've reviewed.  
Kodak Royal Gold 25 "House" detail clip: (984k) This is a detail clip from the same negative used to produce the original "house" poster for our digital camera tests. (Now superceded by one shot on 4x5 transparency film.) It was shot on Kodak Royal Gold 25 film (sadly, no longer manufactured), which is extremely fine-grained, but which has very different color characteristics from most normal color negative films. Most scanners we've worked with have difficulty with RG 25's color balance, and the FS4000 is no exception. The default scan (780k) was quite weak and washed-out. A quick adjustment in the Curves tool produced this result (1016k), with much-improved color and tone. This negative has some sort of emulsion defect or chemical/dirt flecks all across it though, which show up quite prominently in the default scan. We tried scanning this film with the dust removal feature enabled, both in normal (1012k) and strong (984k) settings, but with relatively little effect. A scratch near the center of the image was largely (but not completely) removed, but the white specks from the emulsion defects remained. As noted above though, there's *no* visible loss of sharpness from the dust removal function, in either the "normal" or "strong" settings. Since there's no loss of sharpness from the dust removal feature, and at least a little improvement in the film "crud" from it, we used that scan for our main selection for this category.  
"Train" Shot (Extreme shadow detail): (1590k) (These images saved at very low JPEG compression, to preserve shadow detail as much as possible.) This slide is an extraordinarily tough test of scanner dynamic range: The slide contains areas of moderately bright highlight, but the shadows are exceptionally dense. (And the Ektachrome emulsion has a bluish cast in the shadows that's difficult to deal with, without losing shadow detail.) The FS4000 did a very good job of dealing with this difficult subject, although it fell short of the best performance we've seen to date. Noise in the shadows was a little high for a 14-bit scanner, limiting the detail that could be extracted.

The FS4000 incorporates a variable gain control that assists with difficult subjects like this, boosting the brightness of the illumination source (or the gain of the amplifier circuitry) to get more light through the dense areas of the film. We did essentially all our scanning of this subject with the "auto" gain option selected: We could pump more signal into the shadow areas by manually setting the gain control to its +2 level, but only at the expense of blowing out the highlights. (We suspect you could do some interesting things with the gain control, multiple scans, and compositing of the highlight and shadow detail in Photoshop, though.) A scan in 8 bit mode with the auto gain setting produced this image (392k). Playing with the Curves control resulted in this version (812k) at 8 bits, and this one (916k) at 14 bits. (The 14 bit image has been reduced to an 8 bit high-quality JPEG for web display here.) The image at 14 bits is cleaner and more detailed as you'd expect. Finally, we opened a 14 bit/channel TIFF in Photoshop and played with the Levels control to produce this (1590k) version, which we used for the main selection for this test section. Overall, the FS4000 extracted a fair amount of detail, but in this respect wasn't in the top tier of scanners we've tested. (It does beat anything else in its price range, however.)

Q60 Color Target: (104k) 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 (104k) here was scanned with the scanner's "curves" controls adjusted to produce a neutral grey in the slide's background, more or less matching the monitor to what we saw in the slide, although going a more toward neutral "by the numbers". The default scan, shown here (104k), while it does an excellent job of capturing the full tonal range of the subject, with good color saturation, is a bit dark, and has a pronounced red/magenta color cast. The pure white swach on the grayscale at the bottom of the target is very light relative to the rest of the image. This tends to "fool" scanners' autoexposure settings, producing artificially dark scans, as did the FS4000, although it didn't get tricked as badly as some units we've tested. At least one other site on the internet has standardized on the woman's face from the Q60 target as a reference for image resolution, so we include a full-resolution crop of the slide showing that (228k).  
"Davebox" test target: (276k) This is our official "weirdness of color negative film" test target. The default scan (712k) by the FS4000 came out rather light. A quick tweak in the Curves control panel (actually, the histogram controls) gave this result (276k). Overall, not a bad handling of what's proven to be a tricky piece of film.  
WG-18 Resolution Target Horizontal Clip: (236k) The full WG-18 resolution target is very large (see below), so we cropped-out these clips to show the scanner resolution on this familiar target. These scans were made from a target shot on Kodak Technical Pan black & white negative film. This film is extremely fine-grained, with perhaps the highest resolution of any commercially-available 35mm emulsion. The target was shot with a Nikon 50mm, f1.4 lens (a notably sharp lens), at an aperture of f8. Thus, while not a "laboratory" grade target, this represents about as much detail as you'll ever see in a conventional film image. The downside of this target is that the Tech Pan emulsion is a little "thin," lacking density. It is thus difficult to set scanners properly to produce adequate contrast to separate the finest details without losing critical information. The FS4000 had no problem with the scan, producing a very nicely exposed, well-focused scan. This is a LOT of resolution. All of the 4000 dpi scanners we've tested have done very well on this target, and comparisons between them are interesting. We have to say that the FS4000 seemed to rpoduce about the highest resolution of any to date, doing a better job of separating the target lines at the highest frequencies. We felt that the Nikon SuperCoolscan 4000 produced more sharply focused film grain at the center of the image, but the FS4000 seemed to be sharper in the corners of the image. Even in the center of the image, the FS4000 seems to win out, if only by a nose, despite not producing as sharp an image of the film grain. There's a little aliasing starting to come in at that point, and the target itself isn't really ultra-sharp, but the FS4000 seems to resolve the target lines all the way out to 2000 lines per picture height. An excellent performance, 4000 dpi really does make a difference!  
WG-18 Resolution Target Vertical Clip: (152k) Here's the corresponding vertically-oriented clip of the WG-18/Kodak Tech Pan target. If anything, the results here are even more impressive, detail is very clearly distinguishable all the way to 2000 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction. Wow!  

NOTE! ->

Full-Size ISO-12233 ("WG-18") Resolution Target: (4,302k!) For the real masochists, here's the full-size ISO-12233 target, scanned at the maximum resolution of 4000 dpi. A side note: We didn't explicitly set up a test for frame coverage by scanners, but our ISO-12233 shot goes right to the edges of the 35mm frame, and we found that the FS4000 crops ever so slightly. Not likely to be an issue on 99.9% of image, but worth noting. (The amount of cropping is really very tiny.)

WARNING: This JPEG expands into a 60.5 megabyte file, which will almost certainly crash your broswer if viewed directly! To view it, you must first download it directly to your hard drive (right-click in Windows, click & hold in Mac Netscape), then open it in an image-editing application. here is the link to the RAW JPEG IMAGE. (No surrounding HTML file.)

USAF 1951 Resolution Target: (252k) (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 4000 dpi from a laboratory-grade target (chrome on glass slide) before being cropped down, and ideally would give an excellent view of the scanner's ultimate capabilities. The last distinguishable feature being group 6, element 1, both horizontally and vertically, at 64 line cycles/mm (1626 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 ISO-12233 pattern. As a result, the USAF target should yield much more conservative resolution numbers. This target gives many scanners fits, as the thick glass mount diffracts the light a fair bit, and also leaves the pattern offset by nearly a half of a millimeter from the normal position of the 35mm film plane in the optical path. The FS4000 did an excellent job with this target though, albeit with excessive flare, doubtless resulting from diffraction in the slide glass. The 1626 line pairs/inch it resolved currently (June, 2001) holds the record for the highest resolution we've yet seen from a film scanner.  

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