capsule review

Epson Perfection 4870 Photo

At a Glance
  • Epson Perfection 4870 Flatbed Scanner

Epson Perfection 4870 Photo
Photograph: Rick Rizner

The Epson Perfection 4870 Photo has an impressive set of features including exceptionally high resolution, lots of film-scanning options, and a version of Kodak's Digital ICE technology that's capable of removing surface defects from both prints and film. This model also comes with Easy Photo Fix, Epson's proprietary software for restoring faded print and film colors and for reducing the effects of film grain patterns. Depending on the nature of the problems in the image you are scanning, you select the proper option(s) to apply during the scan.

Though other flatbed scanners incorporate Digital ICE, the 4870 is the first flatbed on the market capable of applying this technology to film as well as to prints. In informal tests using Digital ICE, the 4870 did a reasonably good job of eliminating (or at least reducing) the effects of creases, dust, scratches, or tears in scanned images. As with other scanners that offer Digital ICE, the quality of the corrections are arguably better--in terms of blending in with the surrounding area--than what the average user might accomplish with image editing software.

The 4870 is only the second scanner we've reviewed (after the HP Scanjet 8200) to offer the optical resolution of 4800 dpi, which is useful primarily for making enlargements from small originals. Thanks to a built-in transparency adapter and sturdy film templates, the 4870 is capable of scanning up to 8 slides in one pass, or 4 filmstrips of 6 frames each, making it one of the best flatbed models available for batch-scanning multiple images.

This Epson performed well in our image quality tests with color photos, both prints and on screen. It earned Very good scores for reproducing our 2-by-2-inch color photo print at the maximum resolution of 4800 dpi, with our judges giving it good marks for its color accuracy, contrast, and detail in both shadows and highlights. The 4870 also earned high marks for its handling of our black-and-white line art, drawing upon its high resolution to provide fine details in circular moire and crossbar patterns. One caveat: We recommend you set aside plenty of storage space if you intend to scan at the 4870's maximum resolution. A 2-by-2 inch photo scanned at maximum bit depth and resolution produced a file with a whopping 540MB.

The Perfection 4870's performance scores were good overall but not fast enough to rank at the top of its corporate class. Tested using its FireWire interface (it also has a USB 2.0 port), the 4870 was quicker than the Microtek ScanMaker 6800 (also tested using FireWire) in most of the drills, but it lost to the faster HP Scanjet 8200 (tested via USB 2.0) in overall performance. For example, it took 20.5 seconds for the Perfection 4870 to scan a 7.5-by-10.5-inch, black-and-white document at 300 dpi, compared with 11.1 seconds for the Scanjet 8200.

At nearly 15 pounds, the 4870 is no lightweight, but it is also solidly constructed, like other Epson business scanners, and should prove durable. The Epson Scan driver provides different modes for beginners and pros, as well as easy access to its color restoration, film grain reduction, and Digital ICE features. Abbyy FineReader Sprint OCR and Adobe Photoshop Elements are also included in the software bundle.

Powerful software, high resolution, and solid construction add up to a high-quality scanner for demanding users.

Richard Jantz

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At a Glance
  • Epson Perfection 4870 Flatbed Scanner

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