HP Scanjet G4050 Review part 3: Conclusions

I’ve had my Scanjet G4050 for a couple of months now, so after 60 days what are my conclusions?

1. The bundled software is very poor at scanning black and white film. I found the scanning software that came with the G4050 hopeless for scanning black and white film, which is most of what I need a scanner for. If if it wasn’t for the fact I already had vuescan installed on my computer I would have taken the scanner back and got my money back. The software blocks up shadows, doesn’t support 16 bit greyscales (essential for me), and is clunky to use.

Take a look at the examples at the top of the blog. The first scan is taken with vuescan scanning to a raw file. There is plenty of dynamic range and subtle tones, the shadow detail is good. The example below it is a 256 greyscale scan using HP’s own software. Shadow detail has dissappeared in the hair and eyes, there is posterization in the shadows and the film grain has been seemingly processed out. Trust me this is no fit up, it is impossible to adjust the HP scan to get any detail out of the shadows – it just isn’t there.This was the type of result that had me checking I still had the receipt for the scanner. I find it incredible that what is essentially a very good piece of equipment can be hamstrung by its own software. Didn’t HP test this scanner with black and white film?
Colour scanning is quick and easy and surprisingly colour accurate. If all you wanted to do was scan transparencies then this scanner is to my mind superior to my previous Epson 4990. The web sized example above is from a 6×7 transparency shot on Fuji astia 100 colours are absolutely spot on compared to the original. It’s even more amazing that HP can this part so right and monochrome so wrong.

When you use this scanner with Vuescan it’s like a different machine. Produces black and white results near identical to my now dead Epson 4990, and was a lot cheaper. Like most flatbeds at this level the files need sharpening quite a lot for larger prints, but if I want to produce a large print, I get a drum scan or imacon scan , the 4050 is really only for 10 x 8 and smaller prints, contact sheets, editing and web use so this is fine for me. If you use this to produce and archive of digital contact sheets for your film work it would soon pay for itself in saved contact sheet fees from labs.
All in all the software is the Achilles heel of the G4050 and is not really up to the diverse tasks that an advanced amateur or professional might demand of it. Buying a copy of Vuescan solves his problem, but I still find it amazing that so many scanners are let down by the software that came with it.
Purchasing Vuescan for $40 drastically improves the performance of the G4050, and is something I would definitely budget for when buying this machine. In fact I would probably recommend it whatever scanner you were buying. Its ability to scan to a RAW file is worth the price on its own.
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This entry was posted in contact sheets, film, flatbed, HP scanjet G4050, scanner, scans, slides, transparency, vuescan.

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