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HP Scanjet G4010 Photo Scanner

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Hewlett-Packard’s Scanjet G4010 Photo Scanner is an inexpensive flatbed unit that can scan film, slides, documents, photos, and various inanimate objects. Its biggest claim to fame is its unique six-color scanning technology. And although the scans displayed very good color quality, I was hard pressed to see the difference the additional three colors made, aside from the extra time it took to produce a scan.

Double technology and time

The G4010 is the first scanner I know of that generates scans from more than three colors. Most scanners have one lamp to illuminate an image or object, and a three-color RGB (red, green, and blue) sensor. The G4010 also sports an RGB sensor, but if you select six-color scanning in the scanner’s preferences, the G4010 scans each image twice—using a different colored lamp each time—to illuminate it. So in addition to red, green, and blue, the scanner’s sensor captures colors HP calls red prime, green prime, and blue prime.

The idea is that, just as your eye sees colors differently depending on the light reflecting off an object, the same is true of the scanner’s sensor. By combining two scans based on two different-colored light sources into one RGB file, HP says that the G4010 scans capture color more accurately.

This technology is designed to be especially advantageous to home users who tend to scan nontraditional objects such as ribbon, fabric, and flowers (and especially items with red elements) that tend to fall outside the capabilities of typical scanners.

On the downside, this process takes approximately twice as long as conventional scanning. And the scanner is already a bit poky. Using just three colors, the G4010 took more than three minutes to scan an 8-by-10-inch photograph at 600 dpi and 48-bit color depth. Using six colors, the scanner took nearly twice as long to scan the same image with the same settings. And in my scans of less conventional items such as fabric and inkjet prints, I saw hardly any difference in the results when using the six-color option.

You can scan film and slides only with the standard three colors on this model, but six-color transparency scanning is available in HP’s Scanjet G4050 ($200).

Low profile, fully featured

This attractive unit has a low-profile design; the lid is easy to lift thanks to the unit’s built-in handle. The scanner attaches to your Mac via USB 2.0 and has four function buttons on the lid that you can use to automate tasks, such as scanning to PDF, scanning a slide or negative, or scanning directly to a printer (essentially working as a copier). You can customize the settings for these buttons via the scanner’s software preference pane, which you access via OS X’s system preferences.

The scanner ships with HP’s device manager, Photosmart Studio, HP Scan Pro, and IRIS OCR software. And though we did most of our testing using Scan Pro from within Photoshop CS2, all of the shipping software worked as advertised. The Scan Pro software has a few quirks. Each time you launch the scanning software, for example, it opens to a window with default presets for common tasks. You have to click on the Adjustments button to see additional options. After selecting adjustments, you click on the Accept button.The scanner then does its work, and when scanning from within Photoshop, the Scan Pro software closes after each scan.

However, if you’re scanning from within Photoshop, the software doesn’t save your last preview, so if you’re making multiple scans of the same image while experimenting with settings, you need to generate a new preview and reopen the adjustment drawer each time, which can get a bit tedious. If you need to scan the same item multiple times with different settings, you might be better off scanning from the Scan Pro software to Photoshop instead of scanning from within Photoshop.

When scanning filmstrips, the individual frames were not automatically identified and cropped. Even worse, the film previews are tiny, making it very difficult to crop without zooming in to get a closer look—which requires yet another preview scan.

Pleasing results

In experimenting with various objects, I found that all the scans looked very good. They were occasionally a bit too red, but mostly the scans were pleasing and fairly true to the original colors.

Transparency scans of our test slides had better than average color quality, but they were a little dark at default settings. Scans of our reflective resolution test image were sharp and captured an impressive amount of detail; however, our resolution test slide scans were quite a bit softer and showed less detail.

jury tests

Color Very Good
Clarity Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

timed trials

8-by-10-inch photo, 600-dpi scan 3:19
4-by-6-inch photo, 1,200-dpi scan 2:52
Transparency, 2,400-dpi scan 8:55

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

How We Tested: We connected the scanner via USB 2.0 to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro running OS X 10.4.8 with 1GB of RAM. We scanned a number of test images into Photoshop CS2 and recorded the amount of time it took to scan an 8-by-10-inch color photo at 600 dpi and a 4-by-6-inch photo at 1,200 dpi and 48-bit color depth. If the scanner included a transparency adapter, we also recorded the amount of time it took to scan a color slide at 2,400 dpi and 48-bit color depth. We printed all images on an Epson Stylus Photo 2200. A panel of Macworld editors viewed these images and a number of resolution test chart scans, and then rated the output as Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor.—Macworld lab testing by James Galbraith and Brian Chen


Highest optical resolution 4,800 dpi
Maximum scanning bit depth (output) 48-bit color, 16-bit gray scale
Weight (in pounds) 9.6
Dimensions (width x depth x height, in inches) 11.9 x 20.0 x 3.9
Transparency adapter Built-in
Maximum scan size (in inches) 8.5 x 12.3
Interface USB 2.0
Included software HP Scanjet G4000 series disc for OS X 10.3.9, 10.4, and higher, which includes HP Photosmart Studio, HP Scan Pro, and IRIS OCR.

Macworld’s buying advice

The HP Scanjet G4010 Photo Scanner is a very capable desktop scanner with an impressive list of features, such as built-in transparency scanning for slides and film and six-color scans of reflective media. Aside from our resolution slide test, all scans had very good color quality, but the scanning software was a bit clunky, and it was hard to see much difference between standard three- and the six-color scans (and the latter took twice as long to produce).

[ James Galbraith is Macworld ’s lab director. ]

HP Scanjet G4010
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