I had been on the lookout for a new scanner, and my experience just might be helpful to you.

I have had scanners before, from good ol’ SCSI (Don’t bother if you do not know) to standard USB, but it was time to find something better.  Why?  Principally, because those old scanners are pretty slow as compared with what is available today.  I also wanted the versatility to scan, when the mood strikes, some of the literally thousands of slides or film negatives accumulated over the years.  That meant I needed a scanner also able to scan film.  Without this special feature, a standard scanner just can’t do the job.

Having had excellent results with previous Canon scanners, I looked to see what was in their product mix and discovered exactly what I needed.  The Canon 5000F, $200 List Price, is a high-quality flatbed scanner that connects to Windows PCs and Macs using Hi-Speed USB or standard USB (often referred to as 1.1).  All PCs within the past year have come with this faster USB, also known as USB 2.0, Macs do not yet come with it (politics, I am sure), but I upgraded my G4 desktop with a USB 2.0/FireWire plug-in PCI card from OrangeMicro to enable this new and speedier USB on the Mac. How much faster is it?  Theoretically, standard USB transfers data at 11 Mbps.  USB 2.0 is a speedy 480 Mbps.  So, theoretically that’s about 40 times faster, give or take.  Use these numbers as relative and not absolute.  In actual practice, figure these scans at about 2.5 – 4 times faster with USB 2.0 than with USB 1.1.  The point is that USB 2.0 is much faster than USB 1.1, so, in a nutshell, that is the basis for the speediness.

Why USB 2.0 and not FireWire?  Both are fast, but FireWire is a better and more stable technology.  However, it was easier to adapt my Mac and be able to use USB 2.0 products than to pay the premium for a FireWire and USB 2.0 combination scanner, usually with more quality I did not need.  This way, I can still use the scanner with any current and future PC, too.

The Canon 5000F is a 48-bit color scanner (the quality you will want for any scanning) with an optical resolution of 2400 dpi that can be “interpolated” (fancy word for tweaked electronically to look almost as good as if scanned at) 9600 x 9600 dpi.  Translation: You can scan something at this high quality and crop out a small area that will look just fine when blown up larger and printed.  Without this high quality, this activity would not be possible.  You will want to use this capability to make better use of your scanned photos – crop out extraneous areas beyond the subject; cut out your ex-friend or ex-relative; crop to a face only.

The 5000F scans a full 8.5″ x 11″ area and comes with a CD loaded with useful software.  Canon’s exclusive FARE (Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement) technology automatically and rather precisely removes most of the dust and scratches from your original slides and negatives, so the scanned images look BETTER than the worn originals (feature for Windows only)!

Canon’s ScanGear and CanoScan for both Mac and PC are useful and welcome.  With this dynamic pair, using the 5000F (and any of Canon’s similarly configured scanners) is a real pleasure.  Place the original on the flatbed under the lid and push the appropriate button on the front of the scanner – Scan, Copy, E-mail or file to PDF – whatever is appropriate.  The button launches the Canon software, which, in turn, starts the process of doing what you wanted to do in the first place.

The other included software, ArcSoft PhotoStudio (image adjustment and enhancement software) and ArcSoft PhotoBase (image organization and management software), as well as ScanSoft OmniPage SE OCR (optical character recognition software) are included for both PC and Mac, though the OmniPage version included is only for Mac OS 9.1 and higher, and for Mac OS X in Classic mode only.  Also included are NewSoft Presto! PageManager (Windows only) and NewSoft Presto BizCard (30-day trial version, Windows only)

Let’s say there are multiple photos, perhaps several wallet-size class photos you would like to scan.  Or, how about three slides at a time?  Put them all in place, under the cover, the photos on the glass or the slides or negatives in their designated positions in their special built-in adapter, and push the Scan button.  Magically, Canon’s Multi-Scan mode recognizes what is going on and knows that there is more than one image to work with.  The software automatically separates the images so with one scan, you will have really scanned multiple images, each individually accounted for.  This can be a real time saver.  It sure was for me. It’s also fun to watch in wonder as this feature is executed.

For added convenience, when scanning at up to 9600 dpi, Windows users can burn a CD directly from the scan.

We put the 5000F to hard use for a recent project, the results of which proved the value of this excellent scanner.  We needed to scan hundreds, yes hundreds of old photos so those images could be used in a photo montage at a big family event.  We’re a cross-platform family with Macs and PCs, so we decided to set up the scanner in a work area and connect it to a laptop PC.  There, all the photos were made ready and Mrs. Gadget did the scanning, bringing the photos into the ArcSoft PhotoBase.  To make a long story short, everything worked splendidly.  We whittled down the many hundred to more than 300, then burned a couple of CDs using the laptop’s built-in CD-burner.

I transferred all the photos to my desktop Power Macintosh G4 and brought the photos into Apple’s superb iPhoto software, creating an album from the just imported photos.  Each of the final photos had already been titled as a number, starting with “1.”  Then I opened Apple’s equally excellent iMovie movie creation and editing software.  In groups of 50, I grabbed the photos and brought them into my new iMovie project.  When all were entered, I went about the task of selecting simple transitions, either cross fading, or without any special transition.

Next, I chose the amount of time I wanted each image on-screen, usually just over two seconds.  Some I held longer to provide additional importance and opportunity to absorb the content.  With others, I selected to use what is called the Ken Burns effect, which allows zooming and panning within a photo, providing some fluidity and motion to the still image.  If not overused, this is a very impressive effect and it is built-in to iMovie.

When I was finished with the visual part of my emerging photo montage movie, having timed it to about 11 minutes, I set about laying down my audio track. For this, we chose pertinent TV theme music, with just enough of the themes to establish what each is, appropriately placed in the life time-line of our subject, laying that piece of theme music one after the next.  I used Roxio’s Jam, part of their leading Toast with Jam suite of CD/DVD burning and audio production software, to edit my audio.  In iMovie, this was easy to do, even if a bit time consuming, just because of the number of tunes involved.  Once I had things the way I wanted them, I transparently and seamlessly sent the project to Apple’s iDVD software where I chose simple menus and, in a click, burned my project to DVD using the new Pioneer A05 DVD burner in my Mac.  The final product was a big hit!

It all started with those scanned photos using Canon’s 5000F scanner, which was the input source of each scanned image in this project.  The scanner never flubbed.  Its speed and accuracy were important elements in the success of this project.  Since then, we have scanned negatives and slides through both PC and Mac with similarly excellent results.

Do I recommend this scanner? You bet!  If you do not need the slide or negative capabilities, have a look at Canon’s $130 3000F or $100 D1250U2F.  If you want a fast, accurate scanner with professional results and both Hi-Speed USB and FireWire interfaces, have a look at Canon’s $400 9900F.

More information about the Canon’s full line of scanners is HERE, or call 1-800-OK-CANON.

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