Perfection 3170 photo, Scanjet 5530

I tested Epson’s $649 Perfection 3170 Photo and Hewlett-Packard’s $599 Scanjet 5530. Both work with prints, slides and negatives. I discovered, however, that they weren’t equally adept at image-fixing magic.

For my tests, I assembled a group of problem images, including old faded photos, colour prints with creases and tears, and 35mm slides with washed-out colour and dust spots. Each scanner offers software with an easy one-click option for activating its photo-restoration features, such as automatic colour restoration. They both did a respectable job of correcting the faded photos and improving the lacklustre colour of the 35mm slides. Each also has features that the other doesn’t.

Epson 3170

The Epson Perfection 3170 includes a dust removal option for film scans; this feature did an excellent job of cleaning up my 35mm slides. It also has the higher optical resolution of this duo: 3200dpi versus 2400dpi for the Scanjet. This feature can be useful for making generous enlargements of small images (such as 35mm slides) without losing any of their quality or sharpness.

HP’s Scanjet 5530 includes an automatic photo feeder. With the aid of the feeder, the 5530 can scan a stack of up to 24 photos (prints either 4x6in or 3x5in in size) at the same time, while applying the scanner’s photo-restoration feature to each image. If you have a large pile of pictures to restore, this feature can be a real time-saver.

HP Scanjet 5530

If you plan to scan primarily prints, either of these units will work well, and both let you scan batches of slides at once. More significantly, the Epson Perfection 3170’s ability to remove dust spots when scanning film enabled it to achieve the best image quality results in my tests of 35mm slides. For those reasons — and because of its high resolution — the Epson earns my vote as the more versatile scanner of the two.

In brief: Epson Perfection 3170 Photo
Better photo-restoration scanner for both prints and slides.
Price: $649
Vendor: Epson
Phone: (02) 8899 3666

Hewlett-Packard Scanjet 5530
This scanner’s built-in automatic photo feeder is more impressive than its overall photo-restoration feature.
Price: $599
Vendor: Hewlett-Packard
Phone: 13 2347

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