Honestech Film Scan&Save review
Unless you're very new to photography, the chances are you've got a shelf or two full of lab photo prints and their negatives that could do with being digitised. Honestech's Film Scan&Save aims to provide a simple way to get the job done: it's a dedicated 35mm film scanner, capable of capturing colour or black and white negatives, positive film or slides. Rather than using a conventional CIS or CCD sensor, the backlit film is photographed with a five-megapixel sensor such as you might find in a compact digital camera.
To use a typical scanner you need to link it to a host computer and use imaging software to make the scan, but the Scan&Save saves images directly to internal memory or to an SD or MMC memory card inserted in a slot to the rear. It comes with two trays which you load with film or slides, then slot into the scanner base and move until the 2.4in colour screen previews the picture you want, after which you just press the scan button.
It's a brilliantly simple system that, in practice, also turns out to be quick to use. Once loaded, it takes only 15 seconds or so to capture a strip of four negatives. In this way you can rattle through an entire 36-exposure film in just 10 minutes and end up with a memory card full of scans. If your computer doesn't have a card slot, you can use the supplied USB cable to connect the scanner, which acts as a card reader.
We can't think of a quicker or easier way to digitise a stack of film photographs, so it's unfortunate that it's spoiled by several frustrations. While the film trays are robust, the magnets holding the negative loader shut are so strong that it's hard to open it again. There's nothing to indicate the correct orientation of negatives, and we found that the pegs that locate the film strips weren't in the right place, resulting in unavoidable cropping of many images.
The Scan&Save's menu system is simple to use, chiefly because the options it provides are limited. It's possible to adjust the brightness and orientation of a scan, but the Scan&Save locked-up when we tried the latter. You can also up the resolution to 10 megapixels, but this is above the scanner's optical resolution so we wouldn't recommend it.
We scanned an entire film with mixed results. Colour accuracy was generally very good and the scanner performed quite well with evenly-lit photos, but in many other images dark regions were under-exposed, losing shade detail. The scanner saves images as JPEGs biased towards higher quality, but zooming to 100% still revealed the kind of blocky artefacts we'd expect from more highly compressed files. Exacting users may also spot the telltale signs of digital sharpening around high-contrast boundaries – unfortunately this can't be turned off.
The Scan&Save might do if you're in a hurry and not fussy about quality, but at this price we'd recommend a quality flatbed film scanner, such as Epson's Perfection V330 Photo.
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