Konica Minolta’s DiMAGE Scan Dual IV; Make Superb High-Resolution Scans From 35mm Slides And Negatives Page 2

Evaluation: When used with the Easy Scan Utility the DiMAGE Scan Dual IV is no more complicated to operate than a
flat-bed scanner with TPU, making the Konica Minolta model a fine choice even for novices in digital imaging. If you fall into this category, use the features described earlier and you'll be pleasantly surprised by their effectiveness, with one exception. The automatic "Dust Removal" tool removes some specks, but not others. To eliminate any remaining spots, plan to use the cloning brush in Photoshop Elements 2.0.



The original image (A) exhibited poor exposure, contrast, color balance, and sharpness. I was able to correct all of these image parameters effectively (B) at the pre-scan stage, using the various advanced and fully adjustable tools available in the DS Dual 4 Utility. (A 3200dpi scan; levels, curves, selective color correction, color variations, and Unsharp Mask applied in DS Dual 4 Utility; no other adjustments made.)

Advanced Pre-Scan Options
In order to access more sophisticated tools for perfecting any image at the pre-scan stage, launch the DS Dual 4 Utility instead of Easy Scan. You'll find a wealth of additional options for greater control over all aspects of a scan, and most will be familiar to anyone with experience with an advanced image-editing program. These include levels, curves, and exposure control for individual RGB channels, all with histograms, sliders for adjusting hue, saturation, lightness, brightness, contrast, and color balance, a fully adjustable Unsharp Mask filter, and more. Other tools are unique to the scanner software, such as the options for setting a specific point for focus and exposure, the multifaceted Pixel Polish utility for various types of image enhancements, as well as the "Digital Grain Dissolver" and "Auto Dust Brush" tools, both with levels controls in the DS Dual 4 Utility.

Review the instruction manual for specifics on how to make a pre-scan and on how to access and employ the many features to achieve any desired effect. Start by using the most intuitive feature, "Pixel Polish," a more sophisticated tool than "Auto Image Correction." In addition to fully automatic enhancement that includes sharpening, this utility provides several user-selectable options for correcting a color cast, restoring faded colors, or solving exposure and contrast problems. It also provides automated enhancement of color, brightness, and sharpness enhancement customized for specific subject types: people, landscapes, sea/sky, or night scenes. Try each of the "Pixel Polish" features and observe the effect that it produces on the large preview image. While you may need to use a couple of the other tools for some images, "Pixel Polish" is quite effective in correcting certain technical problems.

The full suite of advanced image-enhancing tools provides incredible versatility. Before scanning "difficult" slides and negs, I generally used levels, curves, and selective color correction or color balance variations to achieve the desired effect. Because most of my scans were quite "clean," I rarely found any need for the multi-sampling (to 16x) feature designed to reduce digital noise in shadow areas. That was fortunate, because multi-sampling dramatically increases scanning time. However, I found the Unsharp Mask filter (at settings of 50/2/3) very useful for correcting the slight loss of sharpness produced by any scanner, particularly when employing a dust or grain reduction tool.

Do note that Pixel Polish, as well as the dust and grain control features, extend scanning time by about 15 seconds each. Still the DiMAGE Scan Dual IV is lightning fast when compared to some older 2800dpi scanners. Those machines required several minutes to complete a basic scan using only autofocus and the standard autoexposure feature.

After minor corrections in the DS Dual 4 Utility, this 3200dpi scan produced a beautiful 35MB image file that required only slight tweaking, plus application of the USM filter, in Photoshop before making a print. As the small section of the full image--re-sized for making a 13x19" print at 260 ppi--indicates, image quality is very high except for obvious film grain. (Scan of an ISO 400 negative.)

Evaluation: When used with the DS Dual 4 Utility, the pre-scan enhancement process can range from simple with Pixel Polish to quite easy and intuitive with the sliders provided for adjusting many image parameters. The process can also be quite complex with the more sophisticated tools that offer greater precision for the experienced user who wants maximum control.

The DiMAGE Scan Dual IV generated 3200dpi scans with near-perfect exposure and contrast, great highlight and shadow detail, and high color fidelity with pleasing skin tones. After optimizing the best images for printing in Photoshop, I made some 11x16" outputs at 260 ppi and some 13x19" outputs at 240 ppi using an Epson Stylus Photo 2200 at 1440dpi printer resolution. Under close examination, the 11x16" prints are gorgeous, superior to those that I've made from 35mm film scans generated by a 3200dpi flat-bed with TPU. The 13x19" prints also look great, especially when observed from a typical viewing distance of about 4 ft.

For a high-resolution film scanner that sells for a mere $239, this DiMAGE model is exceptionally versatile and effective, with one exception. Auto Dust Brush is not as effective as Digital ICE, available with some of the more expensive film scanners. The instruction manual also recommends using the Dust Brush plug-in for Photoshop (included) in post-processing. This tool produced better results, but only after a lot of tedious experimentation to determine the suitable settings. In all other respects, including speed, I would rate this machine very highly.

Final Assessment
Although I recommend a dedicated film scanner over a flat-bed with a TPU for 35mm film scans, I'll concede that flat-beds offer some advantages. Aside from the versatility mentioned earlier, many high-end models accept much larger negatives and transparencies. A top-rated 3200dpi flat-bed ($400 +) will produce superlative results from medium format film, suitable for making mural-sized prints. But for anyone who wants to scan numerous "small format" frames, for making inkjet prints as large as 13x19", this compact DiMAGE scanner would be a more logical choice.

Designed to entice the novice with simplicity, the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual IV should also satisfy many serious imaging enthusiasts. Combining advanced technology with powerful image-enhancement tools and ease of use, it will produce exceptional scans without the need for a large investment.

Technical Specifications
Optical Input Resolution: 3200dpi
Film Formats: 35mm; APS with optional adapter; color or black and white
Output Data: 8 bit or 16 bit (per color channel)
Dynamic Range: 4.8
Additional Features: Many color space and color management options; Digital Grain Dissolver and Auto Dust Brush; Unsharp Mask; multi-sample scanning (2x to 16x); numerous automated and manual tools for adjusting exposure, color rendition, etc., some with histogram; batch scan utility; many resolution options
Connectivity: USB 2.0 (1.1 compatible)
Dimensions/Weight: 5.7x3.9x12.8"; 3.3 lbs
Accessories Included: Slide and negative film holders; USB cable; AC adapter; Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 and DiMAGE software, including Auto Dust Brush plug-in
Street Price: $239

For more information, contact Konica Minolta Photo Imaging U.S.A., Inc., 725 Darlington Ave., Mahwah, NJ 07430; (800) 285-6422, (201) 574-4000; www.konicaminolta.us.

A long-time "Shutterbug" contributor, stock photographer Peter K. Burian (www.peterkburian.com) is the author of "Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging," a 270-page book that offers a great deal of practical advice on all aspects of the topic. He is also a digital photography course instructor at: www.betterphoto.com.