upon which part of the world you live; the software options differ. In
the UK and Europe the SprintScan 120 is supplied, as standard, with
PolaColor Insight Pro, LaserSoft SilverFast Ai
and binuscan PhotoPerfect. In North America SilverFast Ai
and PhotoPerfect are sold at extra cost ($300) as an optional bundle.
For those living outside of Europe; my recommendation would be to go the
extra $'s and get this bundle.
PolaColor Insight Pro software has been designed to meet the
needs of the professional, yet easy enough for a beginner to use.
This software enables the user to get the optimum colour, contrast,
sharpness from scans with minimal effort. Insight Pro can detect fine
scratches and dust, and can make corrections through pixel
interpolation. Nevertheless, the methodology used by Polaroid is, at the
time of this review, not as effective as that provided by Applied
Science Fiction through their Digital ICE technology.
Pro allows the user to scan, colour correct and export/save the image in
either 8-bit or 16-bit mode for final editing in software such as Adobe
Photoshop. The various colour and tone correction tools are very easy to
operate and most users should be producing good quality scans very
quickly. The ability to export or save fully colour/tone corrected
images in 16-bit mode is a new feature only recently incorporated into
Insight Pro, but one that many users will find extremely useful. The
downside (there's always a downside) is that 16-bit images are twice the
size of 8-bit images (see bit depth/file size table above).
scan software is the award-winning Photoshop Plug-In that provides both,
novice and high-end graphic professionals with a powerful tool for
optimising scans and colour editing. SilverFast Ai has a user
interface which is relatively simple to navigate and use, yet provides
outstanding colour and scan control which experienced professionals
demand. A useful, but hidden feature of SilverFast Ai is the
ability to extend the scan exposure time and thus extract details from
even the most underexposed transparencies. I use SilverFast Ai
with all my scanners and find it to be exceptionally good at handling
both, colour transparencies and reflective art/prints. If SilverFast
Ai has a weakness it is in the area of scanning colour negatives.
Fortunately, this is an area where Polaroid Insight Pro seems to be
within the SilverFast bundle is an IT8 colour calibration module and
HDR (high dynamic range) Plug-In. Using the SilverFast Ai
HDR combination enables the process of scanning the original and
colour correcting it to be separated. SilverFast HDR shares a
common interface with SilverFast Ai but allows the user to
colour correct 16-bit per colour channel images quickly and accurately.
A comprehensive feature review and set of four tutorials can be found
elsewhere on the the Computer-Darkroom
web site -
and HDR Feature Review -
SilverFast Ai and HDR tutorials.
binuscn PhotoPerfect Software. Apparently, Binuscan and
Polaroid have worked together to develop binuscan PhotoPerfect.
This software provides automatic colour correction and sharpen
for colour or black & white originals to. I haven't found any real need
to use binuscan and so can't comment on how effective it is.
Nevertheless, those who have used it seem reasonably happy with the
quality of image reproduction, particularly with colour negatives.
review has been written with the benefit of experience in use, i.e.
approximately two months of almost daily use. From the very first scan
it was clear that the image quality produced by the SprintScan 120 is
excellent. It is reasonably fast, very flexible and produces accurately
colour rendered images with the minimum of scan time editing. Sharpness
and fine image detail are excellent with only minimum fall-off towards
comparing the 35mm capability of the SprintScan 120; it is my view that
the SS120 produces scans that are superior to those from the
SprintScan 4000 and Nikon 4000ED. So far as medium format film scanners
go; it has not been possible to make any comparisons with the most
obvious competitor, i.e. the Nikon 8000ED as this unit is not yet
available in my locale. On the other hand it was possible to make quite
detailed comparisons (see the following pages) with the Imacon
Flexitight Precision II. Whilst the Imacon produces scans that are
marginally sharper, slightly more detailed with very slightly less dark
area noise; it is significantly more expensive at between four and five
times the price of the SprintScan 120.
all scanners; the SprintScan 120 does have its foibles. The design of
the carrier for 35mm film strip film needs to be revised. A firmware
update would be welcome so that we can overcome the 120/220 roll film
spacing anomaly mentioned earlier. For those occasions when
edge-to-edge, corner-to-corner sharpness is an absolute requirement I
think the option of glass carriers is a welcome option. I've seen what
the glass carrier can do for the SprintScan Ultra 45 and am in no doubt
the SprintScan 120 will be better still; given its resolution advantage.
the absence of the Digital ICE dust and scratch removal feature doesn't
particularly upset me; it would have been nice for it to have been
included, if only for convenience. However, it is worth mentioning that
the cold cathode light source used by the Polaroid SprintScan 120
significantly reduces the need for Digital ICE. Given that I also own
the Nikon LS-30 which has Digital ICE; and only on a VERY few occasions
found myself using it; I don't believe that it is something potential
buyers should be putting at the head of their must have feature list.
summary, the SprintScan 120 is an excellent multi format film scanner;
at an affordable price. The few problems that I have encountered
regarding the film carrier are relatively minor and certainly nothing
that can't easily be worked around. The inclusion/option of LaserSoft
SilverFast Ai makes for an even better package. If you live in
North America and are in any doubt as to the advantages of spending the
extra $'s on SilverFast Ai, cast them aside and go for it, you
won't be sorry. Finally, I believe that many will find that the
SprintScan 120 will be able to fill the demanding needs of the
photographer, from professional down through serious amateur.