Epson Perfection V600 Photo flat bed scanner

With the Perfection V600 Photo, in December 2009, Epson introduced a flat bed scanner with a transparency unit into the market replacing the previous model Epson Perfection V500 Photo. The scanner is of a successful and modern design that also looks good in a stylish office or at home. This also seems to be the main difference to the Perfection V500 Photo, as the technical data of both devices are practically identical.

In our filmscanner shop the Epson V600 is available in different variants.

As a flat bed scanner at a cheap price, the Epson Perfection V600 Photo is not priorly designed to digitalize film material in a good quality. Beside the word "Photo" that is contained in the model description, the main target of this scanner is the digitalization of non transparent material as for example paper fotos, graphics or text documents. Despite of this, we are going to have a deep look into the Epson Perfection V600 Photo in order to clarify in this test report what this device is able to perform.

Equipment, accessoires and performance data of the scanner

The Epson Perfection V600 Photo has a scan surface in the A4-format which can be used in its full size for the non transparent originals. Due to the reason the transparency unit is quite narrow, for the scanning of transparencies, only a narrow strip located in the middle of the surface can be used that is barely wide enough to cover some medium format film strips of 120 / 220 and of a maximum length of 22cm. The nominal resolution is of 6400ppi, that is either available for the scannings of film material as also of paper material.

The Epson Perfection V600 Photo

At the front part of the device there are four keys with which some different functions can be straightly activated: With one key it is possible to generate a searcheable PDF-file right away that contains the scanned document and additionally, if necessary, the contained text as as computer readable characters. Therewith, the finished PDF-file can be browsed. Two further keys send the scan right to the e-mail program and/or to the printer, and with the last key, the scan software Epson Scan can be started.

Moreover, there are three small lamps at the front of the device: two small lamps located right beside the scan keys indicate if the device is activated and give a message in case an error occured. A big flat LED runs underneath the four keys and glow and/or blink in a posh blue colour indicating the scanning status.

The scanner has an ICE technology with which dust and scratches are automatically recognized and removed with the help of an infrared technique. Unfortunately, this hardware-based dust and scratch correction only works with the Epson Scan software without detours. Due to legal licensing reasons,this technique is not rightly implemented in the software of SilverFast. But the infrared channel can be also red-out from the SilverFast-software. In order to accomplish here a dust and scratch correction, one has to take the detour over a raw scan that is also containing the data of the infrared channel - in the SilverFast-jargon this is called HDRi-scan. With the SilverFast HDR-software, the raw data can be then processed under the inclusion of the infrared channel, so that the dust and scratch correction takes place afterwards.

The so-called "ReadyScan LED" technlogy provides that one does not have to wait too long before the scanning until the lamp is warmed up. As soon as the scan software runs, one can practically immediately start with the scanning. The cover with the integrated transparency unit can be opened by 90°, whereby it not only catches if opened to the top, very commendably also in an angle of approximately 45°. By this way, it is not needed to fully open the cover for the quick exchange of the originals and one has still both hands free. Moreover, it is also possible to remove the cover completely in order to be able to scan some voluminous documents as for example books without any problem. But the cover is communicated with the scanner by a firmly installed and short cable for the transparency unit, so that it is not possible to simply put the removed cover anywhere but one has to place it somehow close to the scanner.

Installation and startup

As it is the case in most of the USB devices, the first step for the startup of the Epson Perfection V600 Photo is the installation of the provided software. This mainly runs automatically - if wanted, one can choose which components should be installed. Beside the scan software itself, there is also the user manual as PDF document included in the disc as also the text recognition software (OCR) ABBY Finereader 6.0 Sprint Plus, the Epson Copy Utility that is started as soon as one presses the print-key of the device, as also the Epson Event Manager that accomplishes the functions assigned to the keys and that appears in the task bar.

Die Rückseite des Epson Perfection V600 Photo

Once the software is installed, first, the transportation lock of the scanner has to be unlocked. The respective slider for this is placed in a way that in case the security is adjusted it covers the power connection, so that it is practically impossible to startup the scanner before unlocking the security, a thing that could lead to an irreparable damage. thus, one connects the scanner with the power supply, switches the scanner on at the main main switch that is located at the right side of the device and can start scanning. This transportation lock has to be of course adjusted again in case of transporting the scanner, sending it to the repairing or maintenance or selling it. Many owners of flat bed scanners forget that and deliver a device to the buyer of the second-hand device that is damaged during the transportation due to the lack of the transportation lock.

Scanning non transparent documents

The scanning of non transparent documents is also accomplished in the case of the Epson Perfection V600 Photo according to the well-known pattern: one puts the original (s) to be scanned on the scan surface, makes a pre-scan, makes the desired adjustments in the software and accomplishes the fine-scan.

The Epson scan-software has an automatic frame recognition that works well in case of a large original but does not recognize several small originals as what they are but creates a large frame around all of them. Thus, in this case, one has to create the scanning frames manually, a thing that also applies in case one wants to have the frame precisely positioned. In this concern, the scanner and/or the Epson scan software is inferior to many other devices and/or software-programes. Those who only occasionally want to digitalize a sheet of paper or a small image will not be affected by this shortcoming. But those who, for example, want to scan several hundred photographies will have to create a scanning frame for each of them manually; an automatic frame recognition would have been more comfortable in that case.

By clicking on the scanning-button, the fine-scan is accomplished and the file is saved in the selected folder. Thereby, it is possible to serially number the files automatically, so that one can accomplish several scans consecutively without any problem and without having to care about the file name.

Scanning 35mm film strips and framed slides

For the scanning of the transparencies with the Epson Perfection V600, first, one has to remove the aperture of the transparency unit that offers a white background for the scanning of non transparent documents at the same time. After that, one places the respective film adapter on the scan surface. There is a film adapter for the 35mm film material and one for the medium format films.

The film strip / slide adapter for 35mm film material of the Epson Perfection V600 Photo with some inserted slides The film strip / slide adapter for 35mm film material of the Epson Perfection V600 Photo with some inserted negative strips

The holder for the 35mm film material offers, on one hand, space for up to four framed slides, and on the other hand, space two film strips of a maximum length of 6 images. It is sensational how due to the integration of a slide and a film strip holder into the frame, Epson has saved material and therewith spare parts. But if the film strip adapter is damaged, then one does not have one anymore. A letter is assigned to each of both types of the original material (A and C), that is mentioned on the film adapter that has some holding pins on both longitudinal sides that are also provided with these letters. Depending on which of both original patterns are to be scanned, the respective holding pin has to be positioned at the respective place of the scanner. Also these positions at the scanner are also marked with the respective letters.

One example for the illustration: We want to scan some framed slides. On the film adapter we see that the respective slots for the slides are marked with the letter C. Thus, we put the film holder into the scanner in such a way that the holding pin C is located at the position C of the scanner case, whereby the slots for the slides are exactly positioned underneath the transparency unit.

The framed slides are not put right away into the film holder, as it rather has some slots in which the slides are inserted. Thereby, one puts it right on the glass plate, as in this case, the film holder just serves as a position marker. In order to insert the film strip, first, the cover has to be opened at a narrow side. Then, one puts the film strip in and closes the cover again. By this way, the even and straight film strips can be easily inserted, but the thing results to be difficult if the film strips are strongly curved or waved. In this case, one partly has to train oneīs fingers quite well so that the film strips do not roll up again before closing the cover. Thereby, it is highly recommendable to wear some cotton gloves, so that one can savely hold the film material without dirty or damage oneīs valuable film material.

Once the film material is inserted, the rest of the scanning process takes place in the same way as the one of the scannings of non transparent material. In this case, the automatic frame recognition normally works well. Only in case of the film strips with very bright (positive film) and/or dark(negative film) motifs, the software does not well recognize each of the pictures, as in this case, there is no contrast between the picture bars. In total it can be said that the scanning of film strips or framed slides is not a pleasing matter with the Epson Perfection V600 Photo. Those who will use this scanner as a paper scanner and only want to scan occasionally a slide or a negative will be able to do this with some effort; but for the scanning of a bigger film series, this device is not suitable due to the unpractical handling of it.

Scann of medium format film strips

The holder for the medium format films can capture a film strip of a maximum length of 22cm : Therewith, it is possible to insert, depending on the recording format, between four (6x4,5) and two (6x9) pictures (in case of wider panorama format one picture) at once.

The medium format film strip holder of the Epson Perfection V600 Photo with an inserted negative strip The Epson Perfection V600 Photo with an inserted medium format film adapter

Therefore, one opens the film adapter at a narrow side, puts the film strip in and closes it again. In case of even film strips this is not a problem. But if the film strips are strongly curved or waved, the inserting results to be very fiddly. As already mentioned above: Principally, for the handling of the film material, we recommend to wear some cotton gloves in order to protect oneīs negatives or slides from fingerprints and scratches.

Also the film adapter for medium formats is marked with a letter: B. Thus, the holding pin B of the film adapter must match at the position B of the scanner. The further scanning process is the same as already described in the chapter scanning of non transparent materials.

With the Epson Perfection V600 Photo it is certainly possible to scan some medium formats of any length, but as we will see in the further text, the image quality provided by the device is not a medium format photography worth, so that the less Perfection V600 Photo will ever see a medium format.

The provided software

The scan software of Epson Scan can be applied in different operation modes: the full automatic modus in which one practically cannot adjust anything, the standard-modus, in which the user can accomplish some basic adjustments, the office modus for the optimal work in the office, as also the professional modus, in which the user can adjust all possible adjustments by himself. In the professional modus, the following tools for the correction of the image are at the userīs disposal: an automatic exposure correction, tonal value correction, gradiation curves, a dialogue box with controls for brightness/contrast/saturation and for the colour balance, as also a colour palette for the colour hue control.

Epson Scan in the professional mode

Beside the Epson Scan software there is the OCR text recognition software ABBY Finereader 6.0 Sprint Plus, the Epson Copy Utility and the Epson Event Manager are contained in the provided CD. The OCR Software ABBY Finereader 6.0 Sprint Plus serves for the conversion of the scanned text documents in a computer readable text. This means that the scanned text is not available anymore as an image file but as a real text that can be read and processed on the computer. The software works well and the main part of the scanned texts is converted error-free.

The Epson Copy Utility is a small program that serves for the use of the scanner as a copy machine together with a printer. As soon as one presses the pushbutton that is located at the front of the device, the program starts that, after a click on the copy-button, forwards the scanned document to the adjusted printer so that one obtains a 1:1 copy.

The Epson Event Manager is a tool that works in the background (it appears in the information area of the task bar), and monitors the function keys of the device. As soon as one of them is pressed, the Event Manager starts the respective function, as for example the recently described Copy Utility or also the forwarding of the scan to the Email Client.

Moreover, Epson Perfection V600 Photo also attachs a DVD with the image processing program Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 7 for Windows and/or Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 6 for MacOS. Photoshop® Elements is a strongly reduced version of the professional image processing software Adobe® Photoshop®. But the range of functions is fully sufficient for the private use so that the home user will not have to miss anything. It is rather the opposite: The software offers countless possibilities for the posterior image optimization, for the issuing of some composings and for the output of different media. Meanwhile, a new version of Photoshop® Elements appeared; with the help of a Photoshop® Upgrade one can update to the current version on the basis of the attached version.

The image quality of Epson Perfection V600 Photo

As it is the case for almost all flat bed scanners, it also applies for the Epson Perfection V600 Photo that in case of the scannings of film material one cannot expect to get the quality of a good film scanner. The focus of the flat bed devices is clearly the digitalization of non transparent documents as the paper fotos, graphics and texts. The maximum achievable resolution is, in case of the scannings of non transparent documents, much less significant than the one of the scannings of film material, as the paper material does not provide sufficient information to justify a scan with more than 600ppi or maximum 1200ppi. It is not a problem for any of the current devices of the market to achieve these resolutions.

A resolution test results in the Epson Perfection V600 Photo to an effective resolution of 1560 dpi.

But how does it look like with the higher resolutions that are important for the scanning of the film material? In our testscan done with the USAF test chart with the V600, the vertical lines of the element 5.2. and the horizontal lines of the element 4.5 are barely recognizable. According to our resolution table, an effective resolution of 1560ppi results from that. This is less than a quarter of the resolution of 6400ppi declared by the producer. This is much too less for high quality scans of negatives or slides! For the 35mm format, some image files of only approximately 3,6 megapixels result. Any modern digital camera performs considerably more. The Canon CanoScan 8800F achieves approximately the same resolution. But there are also good news: In order to achieve the maximum resolution of 1560ppi, one does not have only to scan the with the highest optical resolution but it is sufficient to digitalize the original with 3200ppi. The effectively achieved resolution does not differ, no matter if one scans with 3200ppi or with 6400ppi - in both cases, an effective resolution of 1560ppi will be achieved! By this way, it does not make sense to scan with the Epson Perfection V600 Photowith 6400ppi.

The range of density is also within the margin of the CanoScan 8800F: This is a very good value for a flat bed scanner, but not comparable to what some real good film scaners a able to perform. In case of scanning some film material, the hardware-based dust and scratch correction ICE provides some useful results: A large part of the dust is removed but individual dust spots remain and have to be retouched manually afterwards.

The possibility to scan film material should only be considered as an emergency solution of occasional use, as due to the low effective resolution, the high quality results cannot be achieved . Moreover, the scans of film material done with the V600 appear to be rather blur and unsharp.

The quality can be increased by using the SilverFast software, but unfortunately, the hardware-based dust and scratch correction does only work over a detour of a HDRi scans and the processing of the raw scan afterwards with SilverFast HDR. In the case of the scans of non transparent material, the Perfection V600 Photo provides in total some good results with powerful colours and enough sharpness. Unfortunately, the ICE function only provides some poor results in case of non transparentust materials: Many dust spots were not removed and those which were removed leave anyway some ugly image interferences.

Scan speed

For the detection of the scan speed, we have connected the Epson Perfection V600 Photo via USB 2.0 to a computer with a DualCore processor with 2.39 GHz and a main memory of 4GB. We abstained from listing the scanning times with 6400ppi as this does not provide any advantage as we already explained in the chapter image quality. In the following table we present our measurement results:

Procedure Duration with ICE Duration without ICE
Pre-view film material 0:27 min 0:27 min
35mm-slide-scan with a resolution of 3200 ppi 1:45 min 3:35 min
35mm-negative-scan with a resolution of 3200 ppi 2:01 min 4:05 min
MF-Dia-Scan mit 3200 ppi Auflösung 5:52 min 9:14 min
Medium format-negative-scan with a resolution of 3200 ppi 6:02 min 9:35 min
Pre-view non transparent material 0:08 min 0:08 min
10x15 cm scan of non-transparent material with a resolution of 300 ppi 0:20 min 1:20 min
10x15 cm scan of non-transparent material with a resolution of 600 ppi 0:45 min 1:46 min
DIN A4-scan of non-transparent material with a resolution of 300 ppi 0:35 min 2:56 min
DIN A4-scan of non-transparent material with a resolution of 600 ppi 2:27 min 4:49 min

With the Epson Perfection V600 Photo, the non-transparent originals can be digitalized in an acceptable speed. A pre-view scan takes approximately 8 seconds and an A4-original is, with 300ppi and without ICE, ready in 35 seconds. But compared to the competing model Canon CanoScan 8800F, this is relatively slow, as this device only needs approximately 8 seconds for the same scan (A4 / 300ppi / no ICE).

The times needed for a scan of film material are within an acceptable range, as fortunately, one can abstain from scanning with 6400ppi. In our test, a scan with this resolution and activated ICE function took 6:37 min.

Resume, conclusion

All in all, the Epson Perfection V600 Photo is a flat bed scanner that is characterized by a beautiful design and a simple handling. In case of the scans of non-transparent material, the image quality results to be good, but in the case of the scans of film material, specially the low effective resolution and the low range of density compared to real film scanners make it impossible to digitalize film material in a high quality. In this concern, the straight competitor Canon CanoScan 9000F offers the same performance to a cheaper price.

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