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Scanning Systems--Resolved to Scan

February 2000
The robotic scanner of yesteryear is long gone. Today's higher optical resolutions, advanced color user interfaces, fully integrated ICC-compatible software and faster scanning speeds are helping the prepress workflow scream.


Does it seem like the scanning market is standing in the conservative corner of digital prepress? Sure, glamorous, big-name PDF workflows are topics of industry discussion and intrinsic analysis, digital halftone proofing and digital platesetting devices duke it out for the time, attention and dollars of prepress executives and print production professionals—but what about the scanning market? Does anything scan-dalous ever happen to these image manipulators?

As of this minute, there are no major arguments (lest the 'now commonly recognized flatbed scanners will make drum scanners obsolete' message be curbed—and projections for exactly how Creo's recent purchase of Scitex's digital prepress effort not be waged) or discoveries to trumpet the scanning market, at least nothing of a truly scandalous nature, in recent months.

However, throughout last year, there were new launches of both flatbed, predominantly, and drum varieties. There were refinements of existing scanning systems, giving rise to next-generation scanners with better optical resolutions and higher production speeds.

True, the robotic scanner of yesteryear is long gone. High resolution scanners, capable of imaging everything and the kitchen sink (practically) are now touting benefits from lower shadow detail to on-the-fly digital descreening to extraordinary color fidelity—all made possible by superior optics and high-speed automation.

Today's scanners capture brilliant highlights, fine details, rich colors and hues of any original transparent, positive or negative and reflective media, in a single pass. Aren't scanners wonderful? Scanners are the 'good pupils' of digital prepress.

There is rarely a controversy, and hardly ever an all-out marketing war, between top scanner manufacturers. They just focus on delivering scans, in light of the following market trends.

As image quality for flatbed scanners accelerates, scanning techniques can be borrowed from the drum scanner to push image quality to new levels in the flatbed market. Drums scanners, such as the Tango from Heidelberg Prepress, which features LinoColor 6.0 color management, and Creo's Renaissance II copydot drum, provide a wider density range, with more detail and crisper sharpness, than do their flatbed counterparts.

For quite some time, it seems scanner hardware has been decreasing in cost, while increasing in variety and flexibility. Nice result: Flatbed scanners, growing more sophisticated with each passing season and certainly more plentiful throughout the market, are also growing more affordable.


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