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Customer Review

330 of 338 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good scanner with a few limitations, January 22, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Canon CanoScan 9000F Color Image Scanner (Office Product)
I purchased the CanoScan 9000f recently and wanted to review the scanner as I begin to work through the process of learning this unit. To set the stage, I am a photographer and I have never gone back and scanned my old film photographs. I have about 30 years of film and the task is a large one. I finally decided that I needed to buy something since I have my wedding photo proofs and they are now 15 Years old and I know that they will not last forever.

My objectives in this project gave me a few requirements for a scanner. Here is what I was looking for...

1. Since this project is about scanning my wedding photos, I wish to remain married. This means that I cannot buy multiple scanners, spend $1000's on a scanner or fill my office with large quantities of gear.

2. I wanted a device that would make high-ish resolution scans of both film and prints. I need to scan my wedding proofs since I have no negatives. I also need to scan a large quantity of 35mm and a few medium format film frames.

3. I want a solution that allows me to scan multiple 35mm frames without manual interaction. I have used other scanners in the past and I know that each scan takes a while. Thus I also know that if you can scan multiple frames at once then you can walk away and load the thing up again later. This helps to speed up the arduous process of scanning film.

After reading MANY reviews I saw the good and bad of the 9000F and decided to give it a try. The biggest complaint was that the quality is substandard to high end film-only scanners. I decided that since a $1,000+ device is not in my current budget that if under $200 this unit was worth the risk.

When I received the unit it installed in less then 10 minutes without any problems. It's sure not a bulletproof design, but it seems to be made reasonably well for a machine at this price point. It has all sorts of nice easy to use features to scan various kinds of doc's with a press of a button and they seem to work as advertised, but for my needs I don't really use these. I quickly dug into the advanced mode in the scan driver since I am looking to use this thing to its limits.

What is really nice here is that Canon gives you a suite of tools that allow you to use the driver without calling the driver from a TWAIN compliant program. This is nice for bulk scans since there is no need to have the overhead of having a program like photoshop open just to call the TWAIN scanning program. You have a button dashboard that lets you choose and action and in my case I hit "Scan". This opens another utility that allows you to select your scan options. One of these options is to set your setting in the TWAIN driver itself and this is going to be the choice that you want to use if you are doing more critical work. When you hit scan it opens the TWAIN driver where you can choose the "Advanced" tab to get down to the nitty gritty.

This is where I find some cool features and some frustrating limitations. What is really nice is that when you scan film it automatically crops each frame and you don't really need to deal with multiple frames or cropping. So far, the cropping has been spot on for my film. However, there are some serious limitations. The first one is that the Canon utilities limit your scans to 10,000 pixels and about 100Mb is size. The size limit is not the output size limit but the incoming data size. (H x W x Color Depth) Thus your 100Mb files actually end up at about 5-7 Mb JPG files at output. (unless you choose to use TIFF Files)

Another big limitation is that the driver does not give you effective control over sizing your images. In todays world we care about images in a digital world. We care about resolution in Pixels not paper size. The resolution is most important since we generally allow our printing software to scale images to fit the output device's resolution and paper size. Where the Canon scan driver is lacking is that it does not give you any control over the input from the device but rather has you setup the output settings in terms of DPI and Paper Size. The best solution that I have found is to set a custom paper size and set it to Pixels in place of inches and then set the size to 6666 x 10,000 which gets you to the 10,000 limit but gives the right aspect for a 35mm frame. The downside to this method is that once you do this the driver is no longer able to pass along the direction of the images and you must rotate them manually after they are scanned. (with the automatic settings, the driver can actually rotate your images which is a nice feature)

The second limitation that I see is that after you scan in the driver, the photo's are in some sort of a cache. You need to exit the driver in order to have the utility copy them to your selected location. This slows down the process since the copy locks up the software for about a minute as the copy happens. You then must Press two "scan" buttons again to get back into the advanced scan dialog. This is a small complaint, but it's unnecessary.

Now for some positives. I am VERY happy with the scanning output of this device. I cannot tell you what the scanner resolution is when I scan since the only resolution setting you can change is output resolution. (in other words, I can set the output to 9600 DPI / 1" x 1.3" and get the exact same output as if I use 4800 DPI / 2" x 2.6". Both images would be 9600 x 12,480 with the difference being in the EXIF data) What I can say is that I am getting crisp images with an output resolution of 10,000 x 6666. The images are a bit soft since I do not use the "unsharp mask" feature. I have been doing my sharpening in lightroom and the NIK software tools and I prefer the results. However, if you are not a professional photographer and don't understand the intricacies of sharpening manually, the unsharp mask seems to provide a reasonable result for basic photos and prints. Another feature that works well is the "FARE" dust and scratch removal. This is the only automated feature that I am using, but it works well and provides results that I could not achieve in post processing. (due to its ability to look at the film with infrared technology)

Now, back to the output files. The resulting files are reasonably good considering the source material. The film I have scanned to date is all from the mid/late 90's and the colors are crisp. They output is a bit overly contrast-y on some of the images, but it's are to tell yet if this is a function of the scanner or the photo's. Prints can EASILY be blown up to 8x10 and likely 16x20 with a little bit of work in post processing. Photo's generally need some sharpening and noise reduction and also require a bit of adjustment in terms of contrast and curves to bring them down from that heavy contrast look.

Here are some quick comments for those who are skimming the article:

SCAN SPEED: 35mm Film @ 10,000 x 6,666 pixels x 24 bit color --- ~8 minutes per frame

MAX USABLE RESOLUTION: 10,000 x 6,666 with just Canon utilities when scanning 35mm Film

INCLUDED SOFTWARE: Good, but has some limitations.


SETUP TIME (SOFTWARE): 10 Minutes to Install. 5 Minutes to get first snapshot quality scan.
4 hours before I got a scan to look the way I wanted at 10,000 x 6,666.

I will continue to update this review as I work with this scanner more.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 13, 2011 1:53:59 AM PST
Now that is a review!! You come away knowing more than if a salesman demo ed it. Thanks

Posted on Apr 3, 2011 6:12:37 PM PDT
crws says:
Are you still satisfied with your rating of 4?
How are black/grey details?
After the time you have spent scanning, do you ever have doubts as to the archival quality of your images, or a nagging curiosity wondering how your images would be using more film-dedicated methods, such as a Minolta Dimage 5400, or Nikon Coolscan V, both reselling for about $300 more than the 9000F?
If you compare the detail and dynamic range of these CoolScan examples to relative scans you have done, what differences in detail or color balance would you venture to note?
Have you tried using VueScan or other capture software instead of the Canon interface?
TIA very much for your reply

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2011 9:15:50 AM PDT
It was about time for a follow up and your post gives me the kick in the pants to give everyone a quick update.

I have now scanned about 2,500 images. I started with 300 wedding proofs which were prints and then the rest were negatives. Most of the negatives are 35mm but a few medium format.

The wedding proofs came out good and my only complaint is that they have a bit of reflection off of the texture of the paper. The proofs were printed on a matte type paper that has a physical texture. It seems that if the light hits the paper just right you get some white dots from the reflection. The dot's are small enough that they are not really a problem and I suspect this woul happen with any flatbed.

On the negatives side I am also very pleased. I cannot compare to the CoolScan or Minolta models since I have not used them. I looked at these units and they were outside of my budget. I paid $190 for my 9000F and I am not sure where you see a CoolScan V for $300 more. They seem to go for $2500 new and about $1600 used which is out of my budget. I would venture to guess that a Coolscan would do a better job at scanning negatives and If I could have purchased one for under $500 I would have tried it. They get nothing short of stellar reviews.

On the dynamic range question, I am not 100% sure that I can answer this since details seem to be fuzzy here. There are two different ways to assess color depth. The first is the way we all know it from photoshop where we talk about 8 or 16 bit color depth. This is the number of bits assigned to each color of each pixel. The second one is the bits pulled in by an optical sensor like on a camera... i.e. 12 or 14 bits. This color depth is the number of bits used to count photons on an image sensor. The two are very different and when a camera pulls in it's photon's, there needs to be a conversion to turn these photon counts in to RGB pixels on the screen. With all this said, the Canon 9000F claims to do 48 Bit color. What I do not know is the details of what this means. It appears to mean the the resultant files are output with a depth of 16 Bit's per color per pixel which is 48 bits if you multiple 16 * 3 for Red/Green/Blue. What it does not tell me is the details of how many bits the scanner can actually read at the hardware level.

What I can say about color depth is that I can see a difference when I go to 48 bit color depth and scan a high resolution TIF file. My workflow has been to scan 100-200 images in a batch at 10,000 x 6,666 x 48 bit color. When I get the images done they are really huge (300-400 Mb) and I pull them into lightroom for basic color correction. I fix the color temp issues and also deal with any under/over exposure. The added color depth is very helpful here since I can often pull out black shadows. Without any question the scanned images have more shadow and highlight details then a 14 Bit Nikon NEF file.

Now, as for color balance, this is not really a big issue to me. The only reason that you would care about color balance is if you were not going to color correct your images. The reality is that color balance is always a guess on the part of the hardware even if you are shooting with a camera. This is why pro's always shoot RAW files and use a gray card to color correct images. With the scanned images I pretty much do the same. The only problem is that I need to find a white/grey/black area to sample. This has not been a problem with most images and thus I am getting pretty good color. The other issue with scanning is that film tends to be much less accurate to start with. Most images were not properly balanced to start with since getting the right filter for the scene and the film was an art in the film days and I did not often get this right to start with. The beauty of the scanned images is that they are really easy to fix after they are scanned.

As for using VueScan, I tried it but was not happy. IT has LOT's of tweaks that are really nice, but it did not give me as much control of the hardware when I actually acquire the image. It seems that most of the images correction stuff in VueScan is actually in the software. I can do most of this using my other post-processing tools and thus I really just want to get the best raw image out of the scanner. For me, this was most easily done via ScanGear which comes with the scanner. With that said, ScanGear could be better. My complaint here is that they give you no control of the input coming from the scanner but rather the output going to the file. In some cases you can force the output to give you the input that you want. If you select and area and then choose 9,600 DPI at 48 bit color this pretty much forces the scanner to these settings. But the software only handles up to 10,000 pixels in any direction and thus 9,600 dpi is not possible for 35mm film. In my original post I describe how to get 10,000 x 6,666 images from 35mm and this is the best I can do anywhere with the 9000F. The images are really good, but I wish I had more control and could just get a full 9,600 dpi image.

The other plus to ScanGear is it's ease of use. Now that I have everything setup, I literally just load 2 strips of film, let it preview and 95% of the time it picks out the scan area and I am ready to scan. It literally takes me less then a minute to get a scan started. This is very nice since I am scanning about 20,000 images. It's a slow go, but it's not obtrusive in my life. I load new film about 4 times a day and get about 1.5 rolls done each day with minimal time spent on the project. This is very important for me since I can't spend all day working on my scan's.

So to finish off my update, I will give you a little bit of info on what I have learned about scanning film. The reality of the image quality is that there is REALLY big variance from roll to roll. Some rolls of film seems t have held up much better then others. The funny thing is that many good an d bad rolls are the same brand and model of film. In addition, there are scratches on older film and grain is a big problem at ASA 400 and above. Especially on ASA 800. So what I am finding is that the pictures are often limited by the technology of the film and the camera's used years ago. (Not to mention that many of the photo's I cherish most were taken by me when I was a child!)

So I am going to post some old photo's for you to look at, but at the moment I am having a hard time getting these files to display on my photo site. I think it's due to the resolution, but I wll post them to the main thread as soon as I resolve the problems.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2011 10:03:21 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 4, 2011 10:04:46 AM PDT
crws says:
Thank you. The Nikon & Minolta mania has reached insanity for family photo converters like myself.
The Nikon V and Dimage 4800 both seem to have extended scan times, and some with only SCSI interfaces as their major drawback(s).
I missed a DiMage Elite 4800 @ $603 and a CS V @ $698.
I could justify my $500 budget to stretch to $600, but as far as the Nikon's go, they seem to have a rabid following with deep pockets.
It is astounding compared to 2 years ago.

My apprehension is that I can get around Photoshop enough to know what composes a good capture or not, and that I would hate being stuck endlessly tweaking scans for appropriate color balance from a scanner that misreads hues.

My question about color depth was pertaining to shadow detail, not necessarily highlights, but now that I think about it, are washouts something you notice and/or built a Photoshop routine to curve them?

Do you use the Unsharp Mask in the Canon software or through Photoshop after acquiring the .tif?

And lastly, (thanks for your time) What can you comment about the file naming issue that supposedly needs constant attention?

Posted on Apr 8, 2011 8:02:59 PM PDT
Excellent review as well as comments.

What I thought was also useful from Keith's experience...don't use (or need) 3rd party software such as Lasersoft, VueScan, ACDSee, etc. software. Use the included software for scanning, then a good editing program like Lightroom for cleaning up the image before saving. When I get my 9000f from Amazon in a few days, I will certainly try the work flow suggested by Keith with post scanner editing in Photoshop CS5.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2011 10:34:27 AM PDT
crws says:
Well, after hunting for a vendor with the 9000F in stock and coming up empty handed within my target price range, I made the assumption there most likely a new model or revision in the works.
These were sold out at all locations I checked (about 12).
I found a Plustek Opticfilm 7500I Ai for $250, and while not as automated as others, it does have infrared and Silverfast.
This site does comprehensive testing, with standard procedures-
Although the comments here by Keith elaborate on his experience, I decided that for the money to be spent, I would opt for a dedicated film scanner.
Their review of the Canon 9000F is here:

I found it worthwhile to peruse the current tests for embedded links to prior hardware versions.
As usual, and not surprisingly, the standard by which all are judged is the Nikon CoolScan 5000 ED, with nearly a 97
% claimed resolution to measured resolution ratio.
I will post back my results with the 7500i Ai when I get it set up and scanning.

Posted on Jul 13, 2011 1:11:40 PM PDT
shep says:
Great review with very helpful details.
Do you get too-dark shadows in your scans? I am using the Canon 8600F (older, very similar to the 9000) to scan 35mm slides. I have to process nearly every scan in Photoshop or Aperture using "lighten shadows" to get a reasonable result. Have you found a way to minimize this problem?
Many scans also require adjustment of color balance, levels, etc. too.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2011 1:48:34 PM PDT
I do not use my 9000F for slides. Only photos. I use a slide scanner for all slides.

For photos, the Canon does a very good job. Almost as good as my Epson V700.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2012 4:42:45 PM PDT
fejim5475 says:
Was wondering if you have tried scanning older negatives of various film types. We have the negatives from my grandparents but no photos and I am looking for a scanner they are from the 1940's to 1980's I know some are 126 and some are 110 instamatic.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2012 10:08:12 PM PDT
Myriam says:
can it scan 120 film negatives as well?
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