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Canon’s CanoScan 8000F flatbed scanner has been aimed squarely at the advanced home user who takes their imaging seriously. Like the other flatbed scanners we’ve previously reviewed (see opposite for our associated articles), the CanoScan 8000F features a transparency light source in the document lid and comes equipped with a film adapter unit that enables you to scan up to 12 frames of 35mm strip film or four mounted 35mm slides in one pass. Disappointingly there’s no option to scan medium format film, but when you consider the sub-£130 price tag (at the time of writing) then it’s difficult to complain.
The construction of the 8000F is of the high standard that you’d expect from Canon and I was generally impressed with its overall build quality and brushed metal lid. In my opinion, the only aspect of its design that falls a little short is the flimsy removable protective sheet that covers the light source in the lid. This basically hangs in place by way of four picture hook-type eyelets that look as if they’ll become worn over time. In addition, the design of the hinge on the 8000F’s lid allows easy scanning from large sources such as books or magazines. However, what sets this scanner apart from most other designs is its hardware based dust removal feature.
Anyone who’s ever scanned photos or transparent media at high resolutions will no doubt be aware that previously unseen dust particles or scratches are nearly always visible in the scanned image. Although many scanners nowadays are supplied with software to remove such artefacts from photos, the 8000F features Canon's advanced FARE (Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement) hardware technology. The FARE process uses infra-red light to identify dust and scratches before removing them from the final scanned image. The 8000F’s CCD sensor also incorporates diamond shaped pixels which Canon claims will improve the scanning accuracy of each element over the traditional square pixel design, particularly when enlarging small originals such as 35mm film.
Moving on, the 8000F supports 48-bit colour and offers an optical resolution of 2,400 x 4,800dpi. The only means of connectivity is via a USB2.0 interface (cable included) but this is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. A helpful quick start guide is included in the box, which describes how to install the software and set up the scanner. Before using the 8000F for the first time, it’s important to remember to unlock the scanning unit using the switch located on the underside of the scanner. Likewise, the scanning unit should be locked again before moving or transporting the scanner in order to avoid mechanical damage.
The generous software bundle includes Adobe Photoshop Elements, ArcSoft PhotoStudio and PhotoBase, ScanSoft OmniPage SE and Presto! PageManager. On the front panel, the 8000F has four convenient scan buttons that allow you to copy (if you have a printer hooked up), produce an instant scan, generate a PDF file or scan directly to email. These buttons can also be manually reassigned to different scanning functions using the CanoScan Toolbox utility. Furthermore, the user interface on the TWAIN driver can be switched between a ‘Simple Mode’ that only allows you to adjust a few settings and an ‘Advanced Mode’ which offers complete control over how the final scanned image is produced.
Ultimately, it’s not all about what is bundled in the box and the key to a scanner’s success is in its scan performance and quality. In our timed tests, the 8000F completed our 48bit A4 colour scan test at 300dpi in 26 seconds which is slightly faster than the HP Scanjet 5530 we reviewed last month. At 600dpi, the 8000F took 50 seconds to scan the same area, which almost matches the speed of the nippy Epson Perfection 3170 Photo. The scanning times for colour slides and negatives are equally respectable although the Epson model is still the quickest of the three scanners we’ve tested so far.