Epson Perfection 4180 Photo
At a Glance
The Epson Perfection 4180 Photo brings 4800-dpi scanning, previously available only in high-priced corporate scanners, to the $200 range of small-office scanners--and throws in some excellent image-enhancement features, as well.
The elevated resolution should allow the 4180 to make huge enlargements from small originals without losing sharpness or detail, but we saw mixed results in our tests. The 4180 produced very clean line art at its maximum resolution, but we weren't as impressed with a color photo print that it made from a maximum-resolution scan. For batch-scanning slides, the 4180 comes with a trio of sturdy film holders that can handle up to four 35mm slides, 12 frames from two 35mm filmstrips, or two medium-format transparencies (120mm and 220mm film sizes) at a time. For scanning transparencies, the cover of the 4180 includes a built-in adapter.
Although the 4180 had the highest optical resolution of all the small-office scanners we saw in this group, its image-quality scores landed it in second place just behind the 2400-dpi Epson Perfection 2580 Photo. The 4180 received its best scores for monochrome line art and for a 100-dpi scan (viewed on screen) of a 4-by-5-inch color photo. In our other tests the 4180 scored slightly better than average, though always only a few points shy of the top scorer.
In speed, the 4180 ranked sixth among the eight currently tested small-office scanners (again only a few points from the top). It earned its best score for scanning a 4-by-5-inch color photo at 100 dpi in 12 seconds. However, the 4180 needed 43 seconds to scan a 2-by-2-inch color photo at 1200 dpi; the Epson Perfection 2580 completed the same test in 28 seconds.
Like other models in Epson's Perfection series, the 4180 has four quick-start buttons (Start, Copy, E-Mail, and Scan & Save), plus the Epson Scan driver. The driver has three operating modes: Full Auto, for fast and easy one-click scans; Home, for choosing a few basic settings; and Professional, for complete access to the scanner's color adjustment, tone correction, and gamma controls.
We were especially impressed with the driver's excellent one-click color restoration. It took a dull-looking 35-year-old print of a home and garden and restored color in a bed of red roses and on the house's blue exterior. Dust removal and grain reduction, which you can apply only to film scans (not prints), did wonders at cleaning up the dust and grainy look of an old 35mm slide of a bronze statue set against a clear blue sky.
The software bundle includes the Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 image editor, the Abbyy FineReader Sprint 5 optical character recognition application, and Epson Smart Panel. The Epson utility serves as a console for common scanning tasks, such as faxing over your computer's modem. People who also want an efficient way to scan multiple-page documents should invest in Epson's optional automatic document feeder, which can handle 30 sheets at a time.
This versatile scanner provides state-of-the-art image enhancement and wins hands down in its ability to batch-scan 35mm slides.