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CanoScan LiDE 500F

The CanoScan LiDE 500F represents the top of Canon’s line of thin, USB-powered, LiDE family of scanners. It sports a brand-new design that features a double-hinged lid and a stand for scanning a variety of materials. Unfortunately, the scans weren’t quite up to the standards set by its more expensive siblings.

At 1.3 inches thick, this silver-colored scanner can easily be mistaken for a 17-inch PowerBook. But beyond looks, the LiDE’s clever design allows the lid to bend over backward, literally, so you can scan oversized objects like books and magazines. The lid can also lift up an inch and still lay flat over the thicker objects such as books. For those with limited desk space, the LiDE 500F has a built-in stand. In this orientation, the scanner lid opens just a little to allow you to drop in sheets of paper or photos to be scanned.

The scanner has four buttons on the front that can be used to initiate a scan directly from the unit. You can scan to e-mail, to a printer, to PDF, or to an application such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word. We did most of our testing using Photoshop CS and found the scanning driver to be easy to follow. It defaults to an Easy mode, limiting your options with scanning settings based on the type of document you specify. If you need more control over your scans, the Advanced menu gives you many more options.

The driver will allow you to save custom settings for resolution, color mode, and corrective filters such as dust removal and unsharp mask, but doesn’t save your scanning-area dimensions. When relaunched, the driver remembers the last settings you used. If you have a few standard types of documents that you scan often, it would be convenient to be able to use your preset, custom settings without performing a new preview scan each time.

When scanning our standard test photo, an 8-by-10-inch print, we found the recommended, default color management settings worked best. The scans were a little dark, with oversaturated reds, but were better than when we didn't select any color controls.

When we scanned a resolution test chart at 2,400dpi, we saw some blurry spots in each scan, with text and lines being fuzzier in certain areas than in others. The scans also had some horizontal and vertical breaks. When we printed the scans. though, it was very difficult to see these problems.

The LiDE 500F supports scanning of 35mm film strips, but not slides. To scan film, the scanner comes with an external device that you plug into the scanner and snap onto the included film holder over the frame you want to scan, scanning one image at a time. The film scan’s colors weren’t too far off in the picnic test slide, though they were a bit noisy. Those wanting to scan lots of film or transparencies might want to look at the more versatile, and higher quality, Canon 9950F (   , January 2005 ).

Timed Trials

8x10, 600 dpi 8:47
4x6, 1,200 dpi 2:39
Transparency, 2,400 dpi 1:35

Minutes: Seconds

Jury Tests

Color Quality Good
Clarity Good

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable


Highest Optical Resolution 2,400 by 4,800 dpi
Max Bit Depth 48-bit internal/external color, 16-bit grayscale
Weight 4 pounds
Dimensions (width x depth x height) 10.9 x 15.5 x 1.3 inches
Transparency Adapter External attachment included
Max Scan Size 8.5 x 11.7 inches
Interface USB 2.0
Included Software ScanGear CS, CanoScan Toolbox CS, ArcSoft PhotoStudio, ScanSoft OmniPage SE

Macworld’s Buying Advice

The LiDE 500 is a great-looking scanner that can be twisted and turned in many ways. When used with the built-in stand, the scanner takes up very little desktop real estate. The LiDE 500F is a good buy for those folks with limited desktop space and who will use it for general document scanning. Picky camera bugs with a little more room should opt for the full sized CanoScan 8400F (   , January 2005 ).

CanoScan LiDE 500F
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