The other day one of my customers mentioned in conversation that he had a Dimage 3 scanner in his cupboard, boxed up and out of work. He kindly agreed to lend me the machine as I had never used one.
The Dimage range of scanners have a good reputation and I was quite excited to get my first ‘hands on’. My first impression was ‘Gosh this is light!’ The scanner is much lighter than even the Nikon Coolscan 3 which would have been the rival when they were on the market. The scanner is limited compared to later scanners but I thought I would fire it up with the latest version of the excellent Hamrick software. Being careful to follow the instructions I loaded the carrier with slides I had taken on a Nikon 601 a couple of years ago. The exposures were terrible but I had already done some work on them using a Nikon Coolscan 5000 and Adobe Lightroom.
And so I scanned them on the Dimage 3 and then scanned them on a Nikon 4000 for comparison sake. The software settings were the best for each scanner so the Dimage scanned at 2820 dpi and had no dust and scratch reduction, the 4000 was scanning at 4000 dpi with dust and scratch reduction.
The first scan was of a blank image and immediately a problem with the Dimage 3 became apparent. There was a line across the middle of the picture. As the scanner is not mine I did not take it apart to find the problem, especially as I could have done more harm than good!
The line can be clearly seen in this blank scan.
The first real image was of me sunning myself on a beach in Aberavon. Picture taken by Alex.
This scan was from the Dimage 3 (the errant line is apparent in this image)
This one was made by the Nikon Coolscan 4000
My first comment is that these images which are reproduced in low resolution appear to show little difference though the Dimage 3 provides a better contrast and colour balance. Normally all of the colour adjustments would be made in lightshop but these are straight from the scanner.
If we look closer we can see a different story. The crispness of the picture is poorer on the Dimage, the Dimage also suffers from highly visible dust and scratches:
Original full size scan (cropped and compressed for blog)
Vulcan over St Athan (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZTfuJtTj68 )
The image above was cropped down on scans from the Dimage and the Coolscan. Now the differences in quality become more apparent.
Dimage 3 zoom on Vulcan
The same slide scanned by the Nikon Coolscan 4000.
I ran several more scans completeing the full box of 36 slides. The carrier is easy to load and the mechanism is fluid and smooth. The images produced with the Dimage 3 are clearly usable for blogs for example like this one. The images can be saved and viewed at low resolution though I would not be too keen to use them for even small prints. The insturment is limited by resolution and available utilities. The quality of the images was less sharp than I expected and the obvious inability to deal with dust and scratches was a major issue for me.
As a step in the evolution of scanners the Dimage 3 was clearly going in the right direction though the Coolscan 4 which came on to the market not long after was a massive leap forward in overall quality.
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