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Epson Perfection 3590 Photo scanner

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The Epson Perfection 3590 Photo is a fine choice if you are looking for an inexpensive, entry-level scanner. It offers high-end features such as 48-bit scanning at resolutions as high as 3,200 dpi, as well as a built-in transparency unit. The latter can scan mounted slides one at a time or a 35mm filmstrip through an auto loader located on top of the scanner lid. It did a very good job of capturing detail, but picky photographers might be disappointed with the visible color cast in default scanning modes.

Out of the box

The 3590 connects to your Mac via USB 2.0. It has a few buttons on the front that allow you to scan directly to PDF, to an e-mail program, or to your default printer. The buttons did work, but I still needed to click a few menu items on my computer’s display to complete any scan.

Upon launch, Epson’s scanning software opens to a simple but limited Full Auto mode. The software’s Home mode gives you access to a few more tools to customize your scans, and its Professional mode gives you even more options, such as dust removal and grain reduction when scanning transparencies. In all modes, the software applies an Unsharp Mask filter and performs an auto exposure. If you’re unhappy with the results of such automated edits, these settings are easy to modify or turn off in the Configuration menu.

The scans of our Macworld test images showed that the scanner was able to capture fine detail, but that the colors, though saturated, were a bit off. Turning off the Color Management setting helped remove the slight green cast, but then the scans looked a little dark and undersaturated.

If you have a box of faded or damaged photos, you may want to check out the color-restoration software that ships with the scanner. Though it doesn’t fully recover lost color, it does a respectable job, sometimes performing even better than Photoshop’s Auto Color command.

Scanning transparencies

The 3590’s transparency unit comes with a holder that accommodates one mounted slide at a time. It also has an auto film loader on top of the scanner lid that allows you to insert a strip of 35mm negatives and have the scanner automatically load and position your frames.

The scanner, at the default setting, did a better job of capturing accurate color in Transparency mode than it did when scanning reflective media. Be careful if you use the scanner’s transparency tools, though, because the Dust Removal setting, set to Medium, erased some text from our scans.

Macworld’s buying advice

The Epson Perfection 3590 Photo is easy to use and can scan both reflective and transparent media. Though picky professionals may be dissatisfied with the default color cast, the 3590 works very well as an entry-level scanner.

jury tests

Color Good
Clarity Very Good

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

timed trials

8-by-10-inch photo, 600 dpi scan 2:32
4-by-6-inch photo, 1,200 dpi scan 4:23
Transparency, 2,400 dpi scan 1:11

Times are in minutes:seconds.


Highest Optical Resolution 3,200
Max Bit Depth 48-bit internal/external color; 16-bit internal/external grayscale
Weight 7 lbs
Dimensions (width x depth x height in inches) 10.8 x 16.5 x 3.4
Transparency Adapter Built in
Max Scan Size (in inches) 8.5 x 11.7
Interface USB 2.0
Included Software ArcSoft PhotoImpression, ABBYY FineReader Sprint OCR, Epson Creativity Suite, NewSoft Presto! BizCard, Epson Scan with Epson Easy Photo Fix Technology

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]

Epson Perfection 3590 Photo
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