Producing big photo prints from small pictures used to mean a trip to the photo lab, but now Epson claims you can do it at home with its new Perfection 4990 Photo scanner.
The 4990 is a 48-bit colour flatbed model capable of scanning both film and reflective prints at a maximum optical resolution of 4800dpi. I used it to digitise 35mm slides and other small images and the results were hugely impressive. Aided by a quality printer, the excellent scan colour quality, realistic contrast and crisp detail made some prints good enough to hang. On-screen image quality was excellent, too.
Of course, it takes more than high resolution to create good-looking enlargements. You also need clean and colourful images to scan, especially since small imperfections (like dust and scratches) become much more noticeable in huge blowups. Fortunately, the 4990 has image-enhancement features such as colour restoration, grain reduction, dust removal, and Digital ICE (for automatically removing scratches and other surface defects). Epson also includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.
When I tested the scanner via its USB 2.0 interface, it scanned a 35mm slide at 4800 dpi in just over two minutes, matching the performance of the best models in its class. It was also proficient at scanning text documents, creating PDF files, and other common tasks.
Verdict The 4990's ability to produce high-quality enlargements makes it a good choice for photographers and other users who want to generate big prints from important photos, especially smaller ones. Richard Jantz
Epson Perfection 4990 PhotoPrice $899 Vendor Epson PHONE (02) 8899 3666 URL www.epson.com.au SPECIFICATIONS Flatbed 48-bit colour scanner; 4800dpi; A4 documents; film adapter allows transparencies: 35mm film strip (24 frames); 35mm slide (eight frames); USB 1.1; 2.0 and FireWire, supports Windows 98 SE through to Windows XP; one-year warranty (two years optional)
FEATURES 8 VALUE 7 OVERALL 8