Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner
A capable, easy to use flatbed scanner with the ability to digitise prints, negatives and slides.
The Epson Perfection V600 Photo slots in just above the V500 model but has a lower bit depth than the V700, which we reviewed in March 2006 and which remains as the premium model in Epson’s range. Designed for photo enthusiasts who want to scan prints, negatives and slides and has monochrome and colour originals, it handles originals up to A4 size and uses an LED light source to provide reasonably fast and colour-accurate scanning.
Epson’s Perfection V600 Photo scanner, shown with the supplied film holders. (Source: Epson.)
The ReadyScan LED technology used for illumination in the V600 (and also the V500) is roughly twice as energy efficient as the light source in the V700. The V600 also features Epson’s Matrix on-chip CCD Micro Lens technology, which increases the amount of light entering the scanning head. Scanning times should be faster with this technology.
Although the V600 can’t scan as many films as the V700 and it lacks some of its functions, all three models feature 6400 dpi optical resolution and all come with DIGITAL ICE Technologies provide advanced dust and scratch removal. Specifications of the three models are compared in the table below.
|Matrix CCD with Micro Lens and Dual Lens System
Matrix CCD (12 line with on chip micro lens)
|White cold cathode fluorescent lamp, IR LED
White LED, IR LED
6400 x 9600 dpi
Max. 16-bit grayscale; 48-bit colour
4 frames1 frame (up to 6 x 22 cm)
A4 at 300 dpi
44 sec at 2400 dpi
47 sec at 2400 dpi
62 sec at 3200 dpi
51 sec at 3200 dpi
63 sec at 3200 dpi
55 sec at 3200 dpi
|USB 2.0; IEEE1394 Firewire
USB 2.0/USB 1.1
|308 x 503 x 152.5 mm
|280 x 485 x 118 mm
|272 x 475 x 113 mm
|Approx. 4.1 kg
|Approx. 4 kg
The software bundles are subtly different for each model, although all come with Epson Scan and Epson Creativity Suite plus ABBYY Finereader Sprint 6 (Win) / Sprint 5 (Mac) OCR software. Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 is bundled with the V700 and V500, while the more recently-released V600 gets Photoshop Elements 7.0 (Windows) and 6.0 (Mac). The V700 also gains the advantage of the sophisticated scanning application, SilverFast SE6, while the V600 gets Epson Event Manager, which enables users to assign any of the scanner buttons to open a program to which the scan can be directed.
The V600 Photo is distinguished from the cheaper V500 model by lower power consumption in the Sleep mode. Otherwise, their specifications are similar. Both boast a 3.4 D-max optical density and both have a built-in Transparency Unit that enables users to scan two six-frame film strips, four mounted 35mm slides or a medium-format film strip up to 22 cm long.
The V600 comes in a large box with foam packaging that is split to make it easy to lift out the scanner. Compared with the V700, it’s surprisingly light and quite a bit smaller (particularly in height), and generally solidly built, although not up to the standard of the V700. With a footprint measuring 280 x 485 mm it occupies a fair bit of desk space but, overall, it looks quite smart.
Once you’ve removed all the packaging tape (which secures anything that might move during transit), and unlocked the sliding security lock on the rear panel, you can plug the V600 into the mains power, switch it on (via a switch, low on the right side) and connect it to your computer via the supplied (and quite long) USB cable.
The computer should recognise it as a new device and demand that you install the software. Software installation, which covered the applications listed above, is straightforward and takes several minutes. The software also installs a TWAIN data source in the Windows Imaging software on our computer, which meant that if we had Photoshop or Photoshop Elements open, the scan was sent directly to the editor.
Four buttons on the front panel provide quick access to frequently-used functions, which are managed by the Epson Event Manager. The default settings are (from left): PDF, e-mail, copy and start. The PDF button lets you scan multiple originals and save them as a single PDF document.
The front panel buttons on the V600. (Source: Epson.)
The e-mail button lets you scan a photo and attach the image file to an e-mail message. Pressing the copy button sends the scan directly to the default printer that’s connected to your computer, while pressing the start button opens the Epson Scan window, allowing you to select a scanning mode. These buttons are of little use for scanning photos so you’d be better off simply opening Epson Scan on your computer and going directly to the scanning modes (see below).
Two LEDs are located left of the PDF button, the top one shining green when the power is on and flashing when the scanner goes into power saving mode. The lower one is an error indicator that flashes orange when an error is detected. Below the buttons is a long, thin blue status light that flashes when the scanner is initialising or scanning.
A wide finger recess lets you raise the lid easily to reveal the scanbed and document table. The transparency unit is located in the lid, under a slide-out document mat, which is used when prints and documents are scanned.
The lid has two locking positions, at 45 degrees and 90 degrees, that prevent it from dropping while you’re arranging originals on the document table. It can also be lifted about three centimetres to accommodate books and allow small, three-dimensional objects (such as jewellery) to be ‘photographed’.
The V600 with the lid locked at the 45 degree position, showing the transparency unit and medium format film holder in place. (Source: Epson.)
Prints and document are placed face down on the document table for scanning, with the top corner lined up against the top right corner of the document table. When you want to scan film, you must first slide out the document mat to allow the transparency lamp in the lid to be used.
The transparency scanning slot is wide enough to accommodate two 35mm film strips, each with six frames. The V600 comes with two film holders; one for 35mm film strips and mounted slides and another for 120/220 film. Each holder has locator tabs that fit into one of three marked positions around the document table.
The V600 document table with the 35mm film holder in position. (Source: Epson.)
The A tab on the 35mm holder is used for 35mm filmstrips (also identified by a large white A on the holder. You rotate the holder through 180 degrees and connect the C tab for scanning mounted slides. The B tab is used for medium format film. While filmstrips are held in the holder with a covering frame, mounted slides are simply dropped into position after the holder has been installed.
When you’re scanning through Epson Scan, four scanning modes are supported: Full Auto, Office, Home and Professional. The Full Auto mode is designed for quick scanning and novice users and only provides correction like dust removal and colour restoration. It’s also the only image-scanning mode that doesn’t support previews.
The Full Auto mode in Epson Scan provides no scanning adjustments and only basic correction settings via the Customise button.
The Home Mode is designed to let you adjust brightness and colour and optimise text or line art scanning – although these adjustments sometimes become inaccessible for no apparent reason. You can preview the image by clicking on the Preview button in the user interface. This pre-scans and displays the image(s) on the document table.
The Home mode requires you to set the Document Type and Image Type and select the ‘Destination’ for the scan (which will dictate resolution). It also provides several one-click adjustments.
You can re-size the preview window with click -and-drag controls and it will display changes made by applying colour restoration. If you flip back to the Thumbnail display, the preview image is lost (a warning is displayed before you commit to it).
The Office Mode is for scanning text documents, including multiple documents of the same size. This mode usually requires an automatic document feeder to be fitted. The Professional Mode, which also supports previews, provides a full range of adjustments and allows you to scan to a specific output ‘target’ size, such as A4. This is the mode serious photographers will choose.
The Professional mode provides a long scroll-down menu that gives access to all of the adjustments supported.
Like the Perfection V700 Photo, the V600 comes with a lot of built-in technologies for removing blemishes and fixing faded colours. The driver includes dust removal and colour restoration in all scanning modes and these are the only corrections available in the Full Auto mode.
The Home mode adds adjustments for de-screening (for copying pictures in books and magazines), backlight correction and DIGITAL ICE Technology, the latter providing more advanced dust and scratch removal – at the expense of longer scanning times. Brightness adjustment is also available via a dedicated tab.
The Professional mode brings in a set of buttons that access an auto exposure setting plus histogram, tone correction, brightness, contrast and colour balance sliders and a colour palette with a graphical interface for adjusting mid-tone levels. Additional buttons for unsharp masking and grain reduction are also provided and these – along with the backlight correction and dust removal controls – are adjustable.
Adjustment windows in the Professional mode.
There’s also a densitometer that lets you view each colour channel as you make adjustments when images are displayed in the preview window. The scanner also features PRINT Image Matching II technology. You can customise how certain Epson Scan settings behave by clicking the Configuration button and changing settings in the window that appears.
The Configuration sub-menu contains four pages: Preview, Colour, Film Size and Other. On the Preview page you can adjust the densitometer and eyedropper sampling areas and thumbnail cropping as well as setting the preview to show image rotation and engaging auto photo orientation.
The Colour page lets you set colour management parameters, display gamma and auto exposure values. The Film Size page covers the various sizes of 120/220 films. On the Other page you find a check box for implementing document skew correction and another titled ‘Show Texture’ which lets you preview how originals on textured paper will scan. The Reset All button is also found here.
Epson claims the V600 is capable of scanning times as short as six seconds – but that’s only for documents. Photos take somewhat longer, with scanning times depending on the size of the original and, in the Professional mode, the bit depth and resolution you set.
When scanning snapshot prints, we found that, although you can fit four prints on the document table, if any of them touches another, the Auto Area Segmentation function (which is supposed to be able to separate them) sees them as combined and both snapshots are scanned as one image file. Scanning snapshots three at a time lets you separate them.
The review unit took approximately 12 seconds to ‘warm up’ ready to begin scanning. Preview times were between 11 and 14 seconds, regardless of the size or type of original we scanned. The table below shows the times taken for a series of scans using different scanning modes, resolution settings and output target sizes and file formats. No additional processing (dust removal, colour restoration, etc.) was applied for these scans unless indicated.
|6 x 4-inch snapshot
|~250 KB each JPEG
|A4 colour print
|2 strips of 4 35mm colour negatives
|300 for 6×4 inch print
|~300 KB each JPEG
|6 unmounted 35mm trannies for A4 print
|~500KB each JPEG
|~19.7MB each TIFF
|4x 35mm mounted slides
|600 for A3 print
|~400MB each TIFF
|1x 35mm slide same size
|1x 35mm slide with colour restoration *
|1x 35mm slide with DIGITAL ICE *
* for A3 print Target Size
Preview scans display with a cropping frame indicated by a dotted line showing the area of the original that will be scanned. You can’t adjust this frame when scanning batches of originals and, if you have pre-set a target size, the frame can only be moved up and down.
If you enlarge the preview to make adjustments before scanning, you must go back to the Thumbnail view before you can initiate the scan via the Scan button in the user interface. We couldn’t find anything in the user manual that tells you about this and spent quite a while trying to re-activate the scan button before finally discovering the solution.
If you close the preview before scanning, you lose all the adjustments you’ve made – along with some other settings you have selected. The default Target Size setting for all scanning modes is Original, which means the scan will have the same dimensions as the original image.
However, an odd thing occurred when we scanned batches of reversal (positive) film; only the first frame in the set was scanned at the resolution we specified. The rest were scanned at the same size as the original – although using the specified file format. The scanner also kept re-setting the target size to Original whenever we worked on an image preview so we had to make sure to check this setting before committing to a scan. Both these quirks were really annoying.
The Progress window shows the Time remaining for each scan. In most cases it was a rough approximation and somewhat less than the actual time taken.
High resolution scans produce very large files, particularly if output in TIFF format. You need a fast connection to transfer that data from the scanner to your computer. The V600 comes with a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interface, so your computer needs the same interface (or faster) to support its data transmission speeds.
For scanning prints and documents, the V600 proved to be a reasonably competent performer, which is probably why it was voted as winner of the Best Photo Scanner category in the 2010 TIPA Awards. It also worked well with B&W negatives. On the basis of our experience, however, we can state that it’s not up to the performance of the V700 for scanning film, particularly transparencies.
In addition, the Epson Scan interface is one of the most frustrating we’ve worked with on a scanner. While it’s simple to use if you stick with the Full Auto and home modes and make minimal adjustments to your scans, enthusiast photographers looking to ‘tweak’ image parameters before scanning can expect frustrations at almost every step.
Another issue concerns the lack of support for ICC profiling in Epson Scan, which means you’re forced to rely on the built-in profiles. These, we have found, may not provide optimal output colours.
The 3.4 D-max is also too small to cover the majority of slides. You need a minimum D-max of 4.0 to scan the full density range, particularly with shots taken in bright sunlight.
Some overseas reviewers who have reported on the V600 claim it will work with other scanning applications. The V700 is supplied with one of the best of these: SilverFast Scanner Software (albeit in SE format), which can also be used with the V600 (and V500).
Buy this scanner if:
– You want a competent, relatively fast scanner for digitising prints and B&W negatives.
– You would like to be able to fine-tune images before committing to a scan.
Don’t buy this scanner if:
– You require the highest quality when scanning colour film originals.
– You want a scanner to fit into a colour-managed workflow.
– You are not prepared to invest in additional scanning software.
Type: Flatbed A4 colour image scanner
Scanning head: Matrix CCD (12 line with on-chip micro lens)
Light source: White LED, IR LED
Platen size: 216 x 297mm
Film handling: 35mm strip film x 12 frames, 35mm slides x 4 frames, 6cm x 22cm medium format (120/220) x 1 frame
Optical resolution: 6400dpi x 9600dpi
Output resolution: 50 to 6400dpi (in 1dpi steps), 9600 dpi, 12,800dpi
Bit depth: Max. 48-bit
Scanning speeds: A4 at 300 dpi – 6 seconds; 35mm slides at 3200 dpi – 51 seconds; 35mm negatives at 3200 dpi – 62 seconds
Dust and scratch Reduction: DIGITAL ICE for (Film and Print), Dust Removal Software for film and reflective/photo
Interface: USB2.0 Hi-speed
Power consumption: Approx. 16.5W (Operation); Approx. 1.6W (Sleep Mode); Energy Star rated
Bundled software: Epson Scan 3.8, Epson Event Manager, Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 (for Windows)/ Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 (for Mac), ABBYY FineReader Sprint Plus 6 (for Windows)/ ABBYY FineReader Sprint Plus 5 (for Mac)
Dimensions (wxdxh): 280 x 485 x 118 mm
Weight: Approx. 4.1 kg
Distributor: Epson Australia