Review Plustek film scanner OpticFilm 8200i

In February of the year 2012 with the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i a follower for the two and a half year old Plustek OpticFilm 7600i was released on the market. The OpticFilm 7600i was already the third device in the 7th-series, started with the OpticFilm 7200i, followed by the OpticFilm 7500i just up to the OpticFilm 7600i. With the detachment of the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i by the new OpticFilm 8200i the 7th-series of Plustek ended and one could guess that with the 8th-series a whole new generation of Plustek-film scanners was released on the market.

In our film scanner-shop appropriate equipment is available.

While at the switching of the model from the Plustek OpticFilm 7500i to the OpticFilm 7600i still some significant hardware-changes were made, the new OpticFilm 8200i differs from his predecessor just in the scan-Software. While the Plustek-scanner of the 7th-series still was delivered with the "old" SilverFast-Software in version 6.x, for the scanners of the 8th-series the new SilverFast-Software in version 8 is enclosed. This version 8 of the scan-software from Lasersoft Imaging seems to have given his name to the new scanner-series from Plustek.

The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i

According to information from Plustek the new OpticFilm 8200i differs from his predecessor OpticFilm 7600i only in the software, so the hardware is identical.

One immediately gets this impression if one puts both devices juxtaposing. Despite of that we are naturally interested in the question, if quality improvements or speed enhancements are enabled by the new scan-software, because the old OpticFilm 7600i doesn't quite well impressed through picture quality and was a very slow film scanner. Our following test review will show how the new SilverFast scan-software affects the device and so the scanning. To be able to evaluate the effects of a new scan-software, in our review we again and again do direct comparisons with the predecessor model Plustek OpticFilm 7600i.

Equipment, accessories and performance data of the film scanner

Initially it shall be remarked that the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i as well as his predecessor is available in two variaties: In the OpticFilm 8200i SE variant the software SilverFast SE Plus is included, in the OpticFilm 8200i AI the software SilverFast Ai Studio is included. So the last mentioned variant is a matter of the professional full version of the scan-software from Lasersoft Imaging, which enables a color calibration by the help of a IT-8 Target; the first variant is a matter of a downgraded beginner version von SilverFast. The compact box, in which the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i is delivered in, contains the full accessories one needs to directly get started with the scanning. Except the software equipment the delivery contents of the 8200i doesn't differ from his predecessor.

The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i with inserted dia holder

So besides the scanner by itself one each time finds a film holder for film strips with up to six pictures length and for up to four framed slides. Also a power adapter as well as a USB-cable naturally exists, as well as also a merely unnecessary carrier bag. At the software site the Plustek-scanner arrives together with NewSofts Presto! PageManager, the spartan Plustek-QuickScan-program as well as like said the professional Scansoftware SilverFast SE Plus 8 (OpticFilm 8200i SE) respectively SilverFast Ai Studio 8 (OpticFilm 8200i Ai). The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai is delivered additionally with a IT-8 calibration slide, with whom the calibrating function implemented in SilverFast Ai can be used.

On side of the hardware like already mentioned nothing has changed since the direct predecessor model: The sensor of the OpticFilm 8200i offers a maximum resolution of 7200 ppi. That sounds like very much: In absolute terms from a 35mm-image-scan with this resolution an image file with about 70 million pixels results. This amounts to an uncompressed file of about 210 M Byte in size at a color depth of 24 Bit. Such a scan at 48 bit color depth generates a picture file of about 420 M Byte. But the one who already has dealt with topics like film scanners knows, that the resolution mentioned by the producer and the effectively attainable resolution mostly are two very different animals. How it's handled here for the OpticFilm 8200i wo show further down below in the chapter picture quality.

The integrated infrared-light source enables scans with the hardware based dust- and scratch correction iSRD. Both in the SE-Plus- and in the Ai-version the submittals can also be scanned using the multiExposure method, whereby the dynamic range can be lightly increased, in which the slide respectively the negative are sampled with two different exposures and the software after that calculates both scans to one picture.

Because on the hardware side nothing has changed, also the corresponding controls of the OpticFilm 7600i: There is a power-button together with related, green LED as well as an IntelliScan- and a QuickScan-key. A press on the IntelliScan-key starts the SilverFast-software, while with the QuickScan-key one starts the like Plustek-Software, which puts itself after the installation as little tool in the system-tray of the taskbar. This is already known from many predecessor models.

Installation and starting up of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i

The installation of the software is done quickly and easy. In the case are two discs: One containing the driver-software and the Presto!-tools and one with the SilverFast-software. You find further information to this in the chapter software.

The plugging in of the OpticFilm 8200i is done easy.

In contrast to most USB-devices for the installation of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i initially one has to connect the device to the Computer and only then install the software. So if one has connected the device to the power supply system and to the computer via USB and then turns on the scanner, the OS automatically recognizes a new device, whereupon the wizard for adding of hardware is started. Now one just has to follow the instructions on the screen, in the course of this one also is instructed to put in the CD with the driver software. And after a short time the scanner is operational.

After this step is complete one nor installs the SilverFast-software. This also is performed fully automatically very easy and conveniently. Finally, one types in the serial number printed on the CD-case and already the scanning can begin.

A look on the included handbook at first happiness arises because of it, to get finally once again a sanitary user guide for a scanner. But when one opens it, the happiness quickly dissolves again because it is just a matter of a short installation guide which is although available in 13 languages. At least this Quick Guide assists in the installation, if questions should arise. One can find a hand book in detail in form of a PDF-file on the CD. Unfortunately this mainly deals with the QuickScan-software, a guide in detail for SilverFast, which actually would be necessary, isn't available. For a way out the expert book SilverFast - the official book is recommended.

Scanning of framed 35mm picture slides with the OpticFilm 8200i

The slide holder of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i is an old fellow which we know already from the predecessor model: It collects up to four framed 35mm picture slides and fixes this by the help of springs under a cover at the right position. The cover gives additional hold to the slides but it reduces the maximum frame size to 3mm. Thicker slide frames can't be used.

The slide holder of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i The slide holder of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i

In each case on the left side of the four slots a spring exists, which one has to squeeze, to put in a slide and on the right side a mutter exists, so that one can reach into the slot with the finger. The putting in of the slide in the slide frame holder is difficult at the beginning, because one yet has to insert the slide and at the same time to squeeze the spring. If one slips off, one easily hits the bull seye, that means to hit the film and even takes the risk of pressing the film out of the frame. In particular at the first tries with the film holder one should implicitly wear cotton gloves so that one doesn't damage the film surface by slipping off. But after one has inserted the first slides one yet deals with the loading of the film holder quite easier.

The inserting of plastic frames proves to be without any problems. But one should exercise caution in case of cardboard frames: Because one has to overcome a spring force for positioning of the slide, one gets into danger of using too much force and folding over the cardboard of the frame. In case of very thick slides with frame made of glass the additional retentions fail but the spring can be squeezed as far, that this still can be inserted into the film holder. It is clear that the springs aren't happy about this compulsory measure.

Because it would seem the thing also to use the included SilverFast-software for good picture results, we shortly want to get on the scanning with the Plusteks QuickScan at this place: A double click on the icon placed on the system-tray opens a dialog window for adjustment of all the parameters needed for the scanning, like say template type (postive or negative), resolution and filter. Also the place for storing respectively the program which shall be used for opening the scanned picture can be chosen here and one can also determine if initially a preview scan or at once a fine scan shall be performed. If one has taken all preferences the dialog box can be closed. For scanning one now just needs to press onto the QuickScan-key at the device and the scan is executed.

The SilverFast-software included with the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i in version 8 offers in form of a professional tool distinctly bulkier adjustment opportunities and delivers a distinctly better picture result also for this scanner. The process of scanning hasn't changed also for the new version of the software: Create pre scan, perform adjustments and start fine scan; the scope of this scanner test would be smashed if we go more further into the functions which SilverFast offers. Just this shall be said: This software offers both the beginner the opportunities to get good results after some time of practice and the professional all opportunities for bring the scans to perfection. You can find further information in detail for SilverFast on our SilverFast website.

Who already has worked with a film scanner, which works on film holders, knows the operating of the OpticFilm 8200i: The slides aren't being inserted directly into the device but one initially loads the holder with them. This in turn then is inserted sideways into the device. It doesn't matter from which side this is done because the scanner doesn't feature an automatically transport mechanism like one would guess for the use of a film holder. So one pushes the holder in the desired position - hereby the index notches are supporting this, which latch the holder at the corresponding right position for the up to four inserted slides - and one manually moves it to the next position after every performed scan. So unfortunately also in the 8000er-series an automatically film transport Plustek hasn't built in. This naturally would be a real innovation, so also with the new OpticFilm 8200i busy hand craft is happening.

To spare some time at the scanning of framed slides, one best immediately buys a second Plustek slide holder, so one can load this one while the other one is currently located in the scanner. Furthermore one also has a spare part at hand, if one of the springs goes belly up.

Also for the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i the following is valid: So the scanning of framed slides stays merely complicated and labor-intensive. The inserting of 4 framed slides into the slide holder takes time and has no advantage compared to scanners in which one can insert single slides directly.

Scanning of 35mm film strips with the OpticFilm 8200i

Also the film strip holder of the OpticFilm 8200i is identical with the one of the predecessor model: It collects 35mm film strips with a length of up to six pictures. These can be available as ether one piece or also in several short strips. Picture jetties at the top and bottom side of the holder assist in holding the film flat. At inserting one has to take care of the jetties of the holder being exactly equal on the picture jetties between each pictures of the film strip. Just for several, short film strips this can be difficult. If these are additionally also curled, one should - to spare one's nerves - best abandon to insert several of such pieces and scan them individually one after another.

The film strip holder of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i The film strip holder of the  Plustek OpticFilm 8200i can only be opened at about 110°

Unfortunately the film strip holder can't be open by full 180°. It ends at about 110° and the upper part rises up into the air. So one has to take care of not to rip off the lid by accident. Furthermore it is in the way at inserting of the film material all the time. Here we wish for a better solution long-since but unfortunately Plustek doesn't enhance its film holder since several scanner-generations, so that this great deficiency also in the 8000er-series is still present.

Like mentioned, it is no problem to insert long, flat film strips into the holder. The problems appear not until the strips are curved or curled because the holder doesn't possess any span- or fixing mechanism. While one can just insert a single flat strip, aligns the picture notches and shuts down the holder, it can be a very tricky case, to align curled strips and to fix them at the same time on several points by hand, so that they not slip off again at shutting with the other hand. One should only torture himself by inserting several short, curled strips at once if he has strong nerves.

At working with film strips one should wear by all means cotton gloves or even antistatic gloves. It's nearly impossible to insert a film strip into the holder by bare hands and to position it exactly without touching the film surface with the fingers. With fine gloves one can conveniently grab the film strip and doesn't have to fear to destroy the film layer. For extracting of the film strip out of the film strip holder we recommend tweezers but implicitly with flat edges, because otherwise one scratches the film.

Furthermore also for scanning of film strips the following is valid: A second Film holder makes the work easier because one can load this calmly while the first currently performs its duty in the scanner. Additionally the flipping construction isn't quite one of the most stabile ones, so that one at once would have a suitable spare part at hand for the worst case.

The scanning of negatives works in the same way like the scanning of framed slides: One pushes the loaded film holder manually through the scanner picture by picture. Also the digitizing of film strips with the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i keeps being a merely inconvenient affair. The one, who has many quite normal film strips, is well advised to use models having an automatically film strip indentation with batch processing e.g. the Reflecta RPS 7200 Professional. But the one who has mixed little film strips with single pictures, can better handle such a film strip holder, even if the inserting is tricky.

The included software of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i

The software equipment of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i is lightly reduced compared to the predecessor model: When for the OpticFilm 7600i still a complete tool set from NewSoft was included, the 8200er besides SilverFast and QuickScan is delivered just with the Presto! PageManager.

Presto! PageManager

At this it's a matter of a simple picture management program, from which one also can scan and perform further functions, like e.g. the OCR. Presto! ImageFolio and Presto! ImageExplorer are not included on the CD any more.

But one can live with the loss of these tools - foremost the scan software is important and here with SilverFast 8 Plustek delivers the best, which is available on the market. Like mentioned the QuickScan-software is just appropriate for quick and easy scanning, but despite of this offers no adjustment opportunities. The one, who seriously wants to scan, therefore uses SilverFast. Also with this scans are generated quickly and easily, but one has essentially more opportunities to define the picture result by himself and one gets always a remarkable better picture quality even without the use of additional functions.

SilverFast Ai Studio 8

According to the equipment variant, one gets the version SilverFast SE Plus 8 or SilverFast Ai Studio 8. With the last one mentioned among others a IT-8-calibration of the scanner is possible, which takes care of a true to color playback of slide material. You find further information about SilverFast and the different versions at our web site about SilverFast.

For the one who has to decide if he buys his Plustek OpticFilm 8200i in the SE-version or in the Ai Studio version, the following essential differences shall be summarized here shortly: The SilverFast Ai Studio version has a much broader scope of functions than the SE Plus-version; In this numerous color adjustments and filters can be applied, to get the best possible result out of the film. Additionally with the Ai Studio version a IT-8 color calibration can be done, so that the scans contain better, purer colors. For the IT-8 color calibration one needs a 35mm IT-8 Target, that is available for Kodak-, Fuji- and Kodachrome-films.

In summary the Plustek 8200i comes along with a sufficient software package. SilverFast Ai Studio is the ultimate scan software and also the PageManager can be used quite comfortable. The one, who wants to edit and optimize his scans after wards, additionally needs a picture processing program. For this for example Adobe® Photoshop® Elements in a version starting from number 8 is appropriate (higher versions jus differ marginally) or the freeware Gimp.

The picture quality of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i

Because the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i on hardware side doesn't differ from his predecessor, naturally we are now interested in the question, in what range the picture quality has changed by the new software SilverFast 8.

The effective attainable resolution like expected hasn't changed: It still is at about 3250 dpi. Because of this we aren't go into detail at this place but refer to our test review for the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i. Only this shall be said: With this effective resolution the OpticFilm just delivers some more than 50% of the nominal resolution mentioned by the producer. Despite of this 3250 dpi is an acceptable value: With this prints up to a size of DIN A4 (21 x 29,7 cm) can be realized at good quality .

Naturally the high nominal resolution has the same disadvantage like the predecessor. One has to scan with 7200 dpi, to get the effective 3250 dpi. This leads to very long scan-durations and to swollen picture files, which afterwards again have to be edited/ compressed. A scan with 7200 dpi delivers a picture file of 210 Megabyte, but indeed only 42 Megabyte of picture information are existing; the remaining nearly 170 Megabyte contain doubled picture points and can/have to be removed after the scanning in the picture processing program.

Ein Beispielbild zur Beurteilung der Scanergebnisse des OpticFilm 8200i

But because the resolution isn't the only thing and also by far not the most important criterion for evaluation of the picture quality, we now look at the density range of the scanner. For this we use an example scan of a motive having a very high contrast that we already have used for the test of the predecessor model.

This slide we have done both with the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i and also with the Reflecta ProScan 7200, to give you the opportunity of a comparison of both of these competitive scanners. We have digitized the slide also with the professional scanner Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED, to see, how both cheaper models fight for themselves compared to the top-model among the 35mm picture scanners.

Comparison LS5000 - ProScan 7200 - OpticFilm 8200i

For this let us look at the upper red marked picture extraction in the lower, dark area of the slide: Like one can clearly see, nether the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i nor the reflecta ProScan 7200 are able to approach the shadow drawing, which the Nikon-Scanner delivers. Because of this it can remarkable be recognized, that the ProScan 7200 delivers sensible more drawing in the dark picture areas than the OpticFilm 8200i. This one takes on the bottom-placed club in this event; In the scan result with the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i one can barely guess, that this fabric at the bottom picture border is the matter of a picket fence. Click on the thumbnail, to open a picture window, in which the showed extract switches about every 3 seconds between the scans of the three devices.

Also if we further investigate the bright picture parts, for example in the area of the mountain top, we recognize, that the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i doesn't deliver sufficient drawing, to show the fine details in the rock formation. Instead bigger areas blur in a uniform white-/grey-stew.

Another important aspect in the matter of picture quality is the dust- and scratch correction. When it was quite useless at the OpticFilm-scanners from the generations before the 7600i, luckily this has changed with the last generation. So let us look for changes at the 8200i.

Comparison LS5000 - ProScan 7200 - OpticFilm 8200i: Dust- and scratch correction

For this we scan an extremely dirty test slide again with the three devices mentioned above. Also here the ranking keeps being the same: The best results is implicitly delivered by the Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED, virtually no dust corn can be seen. The dust- and scratch correction of the reflecta ProScan 7200 provides quite remarkable service and just here and there leaves a very big fuzz untouched respectively generates artifacts at this place. At scanning with the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i on the other side also rests from many little dust corns are recognizable, which weren't completely removed. So here the new software SilverFast 8 doesn't attain better results at processing of infrared scan-data compared to the predecessor model.

Conclusion: The picture quality of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i practical hasn't changed compared to the predecessor model. It is acceptable but still leaves something to be desired.

A real improvement of the picture quality compared to the OpticFilm 7600i one couldn't really expect if the hardware hasn't changed but only a newer version of the SilverFast scan software is included. Finally the changes of the SilverFast-software mainly affect the control of it, but not the picture processing algorithms deep in the inner parts of the software.

The scan-speed of the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i

For determiniation of the scanning times showed in the following table the scanner was connected to a computer with a Intel Core i3 2.1 GHz processor and 4GB Ram via USB 2.0. The following table lists our measurement results:

Process Duration without iSRD Duration with iSRD Duration with iSRD + MultiExposure
Preview 0:16 min 0:16 min 0:16 min
35mm picture-scan with resolution of 2400 dpi 0:36 min 1:22 min 3:02 min
35mm picture-scan with resolution of 3600 dpi 1:27 min 3:06 min 5:25 min
35mm picture-scan with resolution of 7200 dpi 3:59 min 09:16 min 13:36 min

The scanning times of slides and negatives doesn't differ wherefore we here doesn't present both separately. Other scanners commonly have remarkable longer scanning times for negatives than for positives. The OpticFilm 8200i is slightly slower for scans with lower resolution than his predecessor but the scans at the highest resolution are done more quickly. Because we used a quicker computer for this velocity test having a 64Bit operating system it can be guessed, that the shorter scanning times at 7200 dpi foremost are reasoned in the quicker data processing of the software. Finally according to the producer Lasersoft Imaging the new SilverFast scan-software is said to be optimized foremost for the usage of modern processor-computer performance. But the 8200i still is no speed wonder.

A scan at full resolution and activated iSRD-function still takes nearly 10 minutes with the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i also at a popular computer. The Reflecta ProScan 7200 takes for a scan at the maximum resolution implicitly less time with only about 2 minutes. For this is has to be mentioned, that the maximum resolution of the ProScan only amounts to 3600 dpi, but the scanner delivers the same effective resolution of 3250 dpi with it, which the OpticFilm only attains if one scans using 7200 dpi. So the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i belongs to the slower scanners on the market.

Conclusion: The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i takes nearly 15 minutes per scan in the multi-exposure operation mode. With this the device merely belongs to the slower devices on the market than to the sprinters.

At highest resolution one attains at turned on automatically dust- and scratch correction as well as multiexposure no more than 4 scans per hour. To this the time for the editing after the scans has to be added, because implicitly one has to compress them to a reasonable size. So if one has a big photo collection that shall be digitized, he has to plan some month or years for this operation.

Summary, conclusion

The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i differs from its predecessor Plustek OpticFilm 7600i just in the new scan software: The scanner is now delivered with SilverFast 8. Correspondingly in the matter of picture quality nothing has changed: Both the resolution and the density range correspond to the OpticFilm 7600i. Resulting from the new scan-software the operation is more comfortable; in the opposite of the predecessor version 6 SilverFast 8 has become remarkable more user friendly and clearer.

Unfortunately also the performance of the hardware based dust- and scratch correction hasn't improved. Admittedly it generates no picture errors, but frequently little and bigger dust particles won't be removed. Here other scanners attain in better results, also in the same price class.

With the long scan times and the manual operation without automatically film strip indent the OpticFilm 8200i is no scanner, with whom one can digitize quickly and conveniently a big slide- or negative collection. Here for the user has to come along with much patience and has to be aware of frequent manual interfere.

A better, even though some more expensive, alternative is the Reflecta ProScan 10T. The scanner is built similarly like the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i, is implicitly faster and delivers a better picture quality. But the purchase price amounts to about 100 € higher.

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