Plustek OpticFilm 7300 film scanner
Plustek may not be the first scanner name on your lips when you start to cast your eye about when researching the market for a machine to digitise all those old negatives and slides stashed in shoe boxes under the bed. But, it has a steadily growing range of models out there and the new OpticFilm 7300 is the new base model within the companies dedicated film scanners updating the OpticFilm 7200.
The new OpticFilm 7300 lacks a lot of the bells and whistles more advanced scanners have but includes Smart Removal of Defects processing (SRD for short) and shows the budget end of the market is well served by this new, dedicated 35mm film scanner. The diminutive unit features some advanced scanning options as we’ll see and a simple set up plus a great software package that includes LaserSoft Imaging’s SilverFast SEPlus 6.5 ME image editing software.
This provides some powerful image editing tools; SilverFast Basic and NegaFix are there too so you have plenty of tools to play with to quickly get your scans made and stored on your PC. Other software includes NewSoft Presto! PageManager 7.10, an excellent little picture management package that allows you to quickly organise images on your computer. NewSoft Presto! ImageFolio 4.5 is a multimedia image processor allowing you to create new images and edit exiting shots via a powerful set of tools.
48-bit scanning depth and a maximum optical scan resolution provide accurate colour reproduction and enough resolution for very detailed scans indeed. You get a built-in illuminated slide viewer (basically a small light box) too, which is very handy for checking slides or negatives are free of blemishes before scanning.
The supplied negative and slide holders are made of fairly robust plastic but seemed more than up to the job and hold any originals firmly in place during scanning. The machine itself is equally well made and easily up to the job, though the price and the fact it is a dedicated film scanner means that those with broader scanning requirement might be tempted by some of the very good flatbed or All-in-One scanner options available.
The scanner is fast to use and while the higher resolution scanning options mean longer scan times, that’s the price you pay for the extra detail. However, tools such as the very neat multi-exposure feature and some very clever multi-sampling software to help reduce noise all make this machine a neat and accomplished little package.
To reduce the scan noise a frame is scanned four times (with inherent lengthening of scan times) each pass reading any noise levels and then calculating an average for the final high quality scan making it excellent for some of the more grainy shots you may stored in your shoe boxes.
But the 7300’s most problematic feature is simply that you can not batch scan (the film holders house four mounted or six unmounted frames) so only scan one frame at a time making the scanning of a large collection of negs or slides something of a marathon. However, if time’s not an issue and you’re on a tighter budget or you’re content to scan as you find great shots so you need something sat on your desk until you come across the image, then perhaps the Plustek is for you.