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Epson Perfection 4490 Photo scanner

The Epson Perfection 4490 Photo is a speedy midrange scanner that offers a 4800 dpi scanning resolution and a built-in transparency unit with support for 35mm slides and filmstrips. It did a respectable job of capturing details, but its default color controls resulted in scans with a slight green color cast.

The scanner is easy to set up. It connects to your Mac via USB 2.0 and ships with an installation CD containing the scanner driver and a software bundle that includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, as well as business card and OCR (optical character recognition) scanning utilities. The 4490 also is speedy, and even beat some FireWire scanners in the 600 dpi, 8-by-10 reflective scan test.

The scanner has buttons on the front that allow you to scan and save as a PDF document, or scan to an e-mail program or to your default printer, though I couldn’t figure out how to complete a scan without clicking through menus on the computer.

I used Adobe Photoshop CS to initiate the timed and jury test scans. The Epson Scan interface (the software that ships with the scanner) defaults into a simple, but limited, Full Auto mode. Its Home mode gives you access to additional tools to customize your scans, and the Professional mode gives you even more options such as dust removal and grain reduction when scanning transparencies. By default, even in Pro mode, Epson Scan applies an Unsharp Mask filter to sharpen the image and performs an auto exposure, though these settings are easy to turn off via the Configuration menu if you don’t like the results.

The reflective scans of our Macworld test image showed that the scanner was able to capture fine detail, but that the colors were on the green side. Turning off color management helped remove the green cast, but then the scans appeared a little flat, dark, and undersaturated.

Both Home and Professional modes feature a color restoration setting that lets the Epson Scan software try to bring back the original color to faded or damaged photos and transparencies. Though far from completely restoring color, the software did a respectable job, and performed better than Photoshop’s Auto Color feature.

The 4490 includes a transparency unit built into the lid and two holders, one that accommodates four slides or two filmstrips and one that handles medium format film. The scanner’s default settings did a better job of capturing accurate color in Transparency mode than it did scanning reflective media. You’ll want to be careful if you use the scanner’s transparency tools. Dust Removal at the medium setting erased some text from our scan. Digital ICE, the dust and scratch removal utility, did a better job of cleaning up slides.

Macworld’s buying advice

The Epson Perfection 4490 Photo is a fast, easy-to-use scanner that is capable of high-resolution scans of both reflective and transparent media. Although its colors tended toward green on reflective scans with default settings, it did well at capturing fine detail from both photos and transparencies, and did a very good job with color on slides and transparencies.

Jury Tests

Color Good
Clarity Very Good

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

Timed Trials

8-by-10-inch photo, 600dpi scan 1:08
4-by-6-inch photo, 1,200 dpi scan 2:22
Transparency, 2,400 dpi scan 1:28

Times are in minutes:seconds.

Specifications

Highest Optical Resolution 4800
Max Bit Depth 48-bit internal/external color; 16-bit internal/external grayscale
Weight 9.1 pounds
Dimensions (width x depth x height in inches) 10.7 x 18.7 x 4.5
Transparency Adapter Built in
Max Scan Size (in inches) 8.5 x 11.7
Interface USB 2.0
Included Software Built-in Digital Ice for transparencies, Adobe Photoshop Elements, ABBYY FineReader Sprint Plus OCR, Epson Creativity Suite, NewSoft Presto! BizCard, Epson Scan with Epson Easy Photo Fix Technology

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]

Epson Perfection 4490 Photo
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