VueScan 8.4.66, by Hamrick
Posted: 23-Jun-2008

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Hamrick Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Bob French Class: PRODUCTIVITY
     
$39.95   Download

Overview
VueScan is software for flatbed and film scanners. Since most, if not all, scanners come with bundled software, this product seems intended as replacement software. It also serves as software for older scanners where the owner may not have any scanner software, as might be the case if the owner picked up a scanner off e-Bay and only got the hardware. The software has a simple interface where scanner novices can perform the basic functions without the intimidating detailed list of options, but it also has an advanced look where even the most detail-conscious scanner expert can find a setting to toggle.

Hamrick Software produces VueScan, a commercial product. There is a free trial version available on the Hamrick website. The Standard Edition is $39.95, while the Professional Edition costs $79.95 (the price has come down by $20 since our last review). The Professional Edition provides unlimited upgrades for as long as you own the software, while the Standard Edition provides free upgrades for one year. The Professional Edition also handles raw scan files and some other options usually associated with a professional photographer. Version 8.4.66 of the Professional Edition was used for this review.

Setup
I downloaded the software from
www.hamrick.com. It came as a .dmg image file, surprisingly small at only about 6.9 Mb. The image opened and I was presented with a simple icon. There was no alias to the Applications folder in the install window, so it is left to the user's discretion to drag the program to their Applications folder (or any other folder of your choosing). For a newbie user just learning the Mac, this could be improved (or at least covered in the user's guide, which it isn't).

In Use
When I opened the software for the first time, it detected that I did not have my scanner connected to my MacBook Pro, and it presented me a nice little dialog box telling me to close VueScan, connect my scanner, and then restart the software.


No Scanner Installed Dialog


This little detection routine is a nice touch for someone like me who uses a laptop and has to plug in the cord each time I need to use the scanner. Desktop users, of course, may never encounter the situation.

VueScan assumes you are a novice and opens with simplified options preset for you. They guide you through the steps in this mode. The opening screen starts with the task selection. That is, it asks you what you want to do. Scan to a file is the default condition.


Guided Opening


You can also scan directly to your printer, making your scanner into a copy machine. The other options offered are much more complex. They allow you to profile scanner, profile printer, profile film, or make IT8 target. I don't understand what these are, but the User's Guide does describe them.


Task Options


Clicking on the Next button brings up the next guided page where you are asked to choose the media you are scanning. You have context sensitive help displayed to guide your decision. Your options are Color Photo, B/W Photo, Line Art, Text, Magazine, and Newspaper.


Choosing Your Media


Pretty simple so far. Next, you have to choose your quality. Options are E-mail, Web, Print, Edit, and Archive. The first three made sense to me, but I had to go to the User's Guide to see what Edit and Archive were all about. Each item increases the quality and, consequently, the size of the resulting file. The 'Archive' selection produces a resolution at your scanner's maximum resolution. The others are listed in the following graphic.


Image Quality Table


Once you have selected the quality of your output and clicked on the next button one more time, your scanner kicks in, and creates a preview image for you. At this point you have the opportunity to select the crop size. I use manual, so I can adjust the amount of the scanned image I want saved. VueScan also lets you choose from a long list of fixed sized for common items. Clicking 'next' again scans your item and presents you with a standard file dialog box where you name your image and save it to a location on your computer. There are many options available in the preferences, including one where you can have your scans automatically named in sequence, a handy option for sure.

While the guided screens are nice for newbies, once you become familiar with VueScan, you will likely want to use the "advanced" screens (by clicking on the "Advanced" button). You can always return to the Guide by clicking on the "Guide Me" button. The advantage of using the advanced mode is that you can set up your parameters just once, and each time you scan, you just click on Preview (rather than go through the Guide screens). There are also two levels of advanced screens. The standard screens provide just enough control settings for the average user. For power users, you can select "More" and get access to more detailed settings (such as "Bits per Pixel", "Border %", "Black Point", "White Point", and much more).

VueScan has a nice little feature if you are scanning a stack of photos that are all the same size. You can select auto repeat and scan without having to click on the scan button each time. You put your first picture down on the scanner, click on scan with the auto repeat > 5 set and away you go. Once the first picture is scanned, replace it on the scanner with next. Five seconds after the first scan, the second one will start, and so on. I found this to be a nice touch. I haven't had this kind of convenience on any of my scanners since way back to my first OneTouch scanner (with the OneTouch, you pressed a button on the scanner and the software knew what to do).

Multi-page documents are also no problem for VueScan. The User's Guide has a nice description of scanning a multi-page document into a pdf file, for example. I found this very handy for some of the financial documents I still get in the mail. After previewing the first page, set the crop to Manual and the Output to PDF with multi-page checked, and hit scan. Repeat this for each page. When you are done, Select Last Page from the file menu. It definitely helped using the User's Manual for this task.


Creating Multi-page PDF Documents


Summary
Hamrick Software's VueScan is for flatbed and film scanners, providing high quality images from negatives, slides, old photos, and anything else that you need to scan. It serves both as replacement software that may have more features than your scanner's software, and also as a solution for older scanners that have no OS X drivers (or scanners bought without software, such as on eBay). The software has a simple interface where scanner novices can perform the basic functions without the intimidating detailed list of options, but it also has an advanced look where even the most detail-conscious scanner expert can find a setting to toggle. Whether you are scanning color prints, black and white negatives, multi-page documents into PDF, or other options, VueScan is easy to use and provides a detailed User's Guide for those who want to dig into its more detailed options. VueScan is great for hobbyists looking for easy-to-use scanning software to get high quality images from old photographs, as well as for advanced users in need of color-matching and other advanced settings not often found in OEM scanner software.

Pros

  • Works with many older scanners
  • Provides simple user interface, as well as varying degrees of more complex screens
  • Lots of useful features, including multi-page PDF creation
  • Warns you if it detects that no scanner is installed
  • Has an excellent User's Guide


Cons

  • Lacks instructions about installation
  • May not be worth the cost for those already happy with their scanner software


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice