VueScan 8.1.9, by Hamrick Software
Posted: 28-Nov-2004

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Hamrick Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Rick Davis Class: PRODUCTIVITY
     
$59.99   Download

Overview
The manufacturer describes VueScan as a powerful scanning program that works with most scanners to produce high-quality scans that have excellent color fidelity. I describe it as a great, inexpensive application that resurrects that old scanner you haven't used in three years. VueScan is a stand-alone application, no TWAIN drivers needed. VueScan communicates directly with the scanner and takes advantage of the advanced hardware capabilities of most scanners on the market today. It is best known for it's simple and precise color correction when working with color negatives. You can do batch scanning and produce color-balanced and cropped images. VueScan can also perform multi-pass scans on scanners that don't normally support multi-scanning.

Price
You can download and try VueScan for free. Until you purchase a license, all images will contain a watermark. VueScan is available in a Standard version for $59.99 and a Professional version for $99.95 for single-user licenses.

Single-user licenses may be used by one person on four computers or multiple people on one computer. If you buy a new scanner in the future, you can use VueScan with it for no extra charge and you won't need to use a new program with your new scanner. The developer has been known to upgrade this application three and four times in the same week. Very rarely does a week go by that an upgrade is not offered.

Standard vs Pro
The Standard version of VueScan includes one year of free upgrades. The Professional version offers unlimited free upgrades and adds the ability to save RAW scan files, ICC profile support, and IT8 color calibration.

All printers, monitors and scanners have slight differences in their ability to show colors. Manufacturers create default settings or ICC profiles of their hardware to be used by imaging software (VueScan, Photoshop, etc.). ICC Profile support helps your scanner, monitor and printer produce the best possible color-matched image. From crayon drawings to water colors to professional photos, VueScan Pro uses the ICC profiles to produce the best approximation of all colors.

IT8 targets are standard samples created by Kodak and other film and paper manufacturers under controlled conditions of how colors should appear on their materials. VueScan Pro allows you to generate your own ICC profiles if you own one of these targets. This will allow you to calibrate your own scanner and printers using VueScan.

For both the standard and pro version, if your scanner supports Infrared cleaning, you can virtually remove dust, scratches and fingerprints from tarnished film. The film is scanned a second time using an infrared light to illuminate the imperfections. Then VueScan combines the two scans resulting in an image that is nearly flawless.

Setup
It doesn't get much simpler than VueScan. Just a quick download, and then move the new application to your applications folder. VueScan does not change anything on your computer, nothing is installed in your operating system and it never interferes with other scanning software. In order to remove the watermark from scanned images, you will need to purchase a license and enter a serial number.

The hardest part of maintaining the software is keeping up with the frequent updates. But even if you miss one or two updates, the latest update will always bring you right up-to-date.

In Use
VueScan often offers features for your scanner that the original scanner manufacturer left out of their software. My scanner is four or five years old and was developed pre-OS X. I had stuck it in a closet when I went OS 9 free and knew there wasn't much of a chance of the manufacturer developing an OS X version of their software. Then I started hearing about VueScan and downloaded a trial version. It has supported OS X from day one and is compatible with OS 8 and 9 also, along with Windows and Linux versions. In my experience the normal OEM scanning software is usually developed to be used as a means to copy, fax or input text documents into your computer using OCR software. Photo support is generally minimal and used as a reason to buy their Pro or Deluxe software. VueScan offers features that allow you to adjust settings such as white point, black point, brightness levels for red, green and blue channels. It also supports a long list of more advanced settings that will interest the imaging professional.


VueScan Simple Options

The default settings for VueScan are so right on that it takes a lot of the mystery out of scanning. The developer of VueScan has been working with photography and scanners long enough to know what scanner users need in order to get the right image file; hence, the defaults are set to the most commonly used settings. If you switch from scanning a photo to scanning a magazine or to scanning text, all of the default settings are adjusted and give you almost perfect results. On the rare occasion that you do need to make adjustments, VueScan gives you complete control. VueScan does automatic cropping and white/color balance, making the amount of manual adjustments needed minimal. I usually just use the basic guided interface and trust the settings. Clicking on the Advanced button allows you to view and change the various optional settings. If you make a lot of adjustments and find yourself lost, just select the Default Options in the file menu and the defaults are reset.


VueScan Advanced Options


VueScan provides a simple approach to scanning, while at the same time offering advanced settings and features that a true scanning professional will appreciate.

One of the newer features in VueScan is "Scan from Preview". Normally when you scan, you are presented with a preview image, then you adjust the area you want to scan, make color adjustments, rotate the image or any other adjustments. After making your adjustments, you do the actual scan and wait while the scanner does another pass over the image and sends that to your editing program. With Scan from Preview, you make all of the adjustments to the preview, accept the changes, and it is immediately sent to your editing program without another pass from the scanner.

One of the most powerful features in the Pro version of VueScan is that you can save the raw scan data in a file (using "Output|Output raw file") when scanning. These raw scan files can then be reprocessed later without needing to re-scan the actual media again. With this feature, you never need to scan the same physical image twice. This is really convenient for scanning professionals that send the scanned image to others for editing.

If you're scanning many images in one session, the most efficient way to do this is to scan each image once and save the raw CCD data in a file. Once the raw CCD data is stored in a file, you can re-process the scans in a variety of ways without needing to re-insert the image into the scanner. This minimizes the opportunities for the film to get dusty, minimizes film handling, and is the fastest way to re-process all the scans if you decide you want to use different options for the scans.

One of my favorite features is the Copy to printer setting. Copy to printer works just like a regular scan as far as scanning and cropping your image. Instead of sending the scan to another application for editing and then printing, VueScan sends it directly to your printer. If you need more than one copy, just enter the number in your print dialog box. If all you need is a copy, you don't even have to save a file - just scan and print.

Because VueScan is a stand-alone application you can't scan directly from your graphic editing software. You have to first open VueScan to perform the scan and set it to either save to a file or send it to your selected editing application.

VueScan is developed with images in mind and doesn't offer any OCR support, so you may still need your original scanning software if you need OCR capabilities.

VueScan vs OEM
The most obvious question with regards to VueScan is why purchase scanning software when your scanner already comes with its own software? For me, the answer is quite easy. Because my scanner is old, and its drivers were not updated for OS X, VueScan was my solution for using my scanner on OS X, and was less expensive then purchasing a new scanner. VueScan also supports advanced features that most OEM software does not provide.

OEM scanning software generally comes with a very basic selection of optional settings. For the most part these options are adequate, but for image scanning, especially restoration of old photos, OEM software is limited in what it can do for you. VueScan fills this gap for a very decent price. VueScan's advanced settings allow you to create "new images" from negatives, slides and old photos that often times will look even better than the originals. The Pro version offers more advanced features and settings that give you the ability to edit, create and produce high quality images without having to hire an outside imaging professional.


Summary
VueScan is an easy to use feature-full scanning application that can be used by the resident hobbiest to create great images from old photos or by the professional photographer in need of color-matching not often found in OEM scanner software. It's also great for those with old scanners and software that never got ported to OS X. With native OS X support, VueScan saved my five year old scanner from being tossed in the trash barrel and left room in my budget for other "gotta have" geek stuff. On top of that, VueScan features gave me a whole new set of scanning options, allowing me to create high quality images from negatives, slides and old photos. The Pro version offers more features, such as raw scan files, ICC profiles, and IT8 color calibration, in addition to unlimited updates. Whether you are looking to support an old scanner on OS X, are serious about your photo scans, or have professional needs for high quality scanning, VueScan is definitely worth a look.

Pros

  • Much cheaper than buying a new scanner
  • Supports over 350 scanners
  • No TWAIN drivers needed, means less memory used and faster scans
  • Precise color matching

Cons

  • No plug-in support for applications like Photoshop
  • No OCR support


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice