Impressive scan quality and a huge resolution at a great price, but the supplied software can be unstable and doesn't always achieve the best results.
Plustek has dominated the specialist negative and slide imaging market in recent years with a range of high-quality scanners that fill the gap left by big names such as Konica Minolta.
The 7600i is a 7,200×7,200dpi film scanner with a 48-bit maximum colour depth. It has an infrared light source that forms part of the scanner’s hardware dust and scratch removal process, a white LED lamp for illumination and a charge-coupled device (CCD) sensor to capture the image data.
The 7600i is surprisingly compact, light and easy to use. It weighs just 1.6kg, measures 115x115x270mm and comes in a soft carry case. It takes a four-frame slide holder or a six-frame negative holder. Unlike some scanners, there’s no mechanised feed to pull the holder into position – you simply push it until it clicks.
The scanner comes with LaserSoft Imaging’s Silverfast Ai IT8 Studio (Multi-Exposure) 6.6. This professional photo-scanning software usually costs around £280. We had some trouble installing both the scanner and software on our test system – we recommend downloading the latest driver from Plustek’s support site before installing Silverfast from the disc.
Silverfast is a complex piece of software. Setting the resolution and scanning is easy enough, but its advanced features require some trial and error, as well as reading the manual and watching the video tutorials. Occasional onscreen instructions, such as those for dust and scratch removal, are helpful, as are clear tooltips, which helped us enable Silverfast’s Multi-Sampling mode to resample and eliminate noise from the scanned image. Unfortunately, Silverfast was unstable under Vista and sometimes crashed, rendering the scanner inoperable until we rebooted our PC. We disliked its clumsy interface and weren’t impressed by the accuracy of its IT8 colour calibration. We prefer Hamrick Software’s VueScan Professional, a powerful, easy-to-use alternative that costs just £50.
However, we can’t fault the scanner. It was quick at most resolutions: 12 seconds for a preview, 29 seconds at our reference resolution of 2,400dpi and 36 seconds at 3,600dpi. Top-resolution 7,200dpi scans took three minutes, though, while infrared dust removal scans took almost seven and a half. Multi-exposure scans also increased waiting times. The 7,600i produced stunning colour and black-and-white images both from negative and positive film. Its resolution is so high that we could even see when scanning at 7,200dpi. Detail and colour accuracy were exquisite, and shadow and lighting on black and white images was near-perfect. Eliminating damage and noise was easy, too.
The 7600i Ai is ideal if you still use film or have a large collection of old pictures to archive. However, we think the Opticfilm7600i SE, which comes with a cut-down version of Silverfast, is better value at £252 from the same supplier. The 7600i launches in the UK soon, but is already available from European retailers.
Tested Scan Speeds
|Full scan area preview
|A4 document at 150dpi
|A4 document at 300dpi
|6x4in photo at 600dpi
|6x4in photo at 1200dpi
|Single 35mm negative at 2400dpi
|Single 35mm negative at max dpi
|Max optical resolution
|Max interpolated resolution
|Output bit depth
|Film formats accepted
|Silverfast Ai IT8 Studio 6.6
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption active