A3 Flatbed Scanners (film & artwork) - What You Need to Know

A3 flatbed scanners are limited in choice. There are some very cheap scanner options, which may look viable. On the other hand, there are some more premium ones. What’s the technology inside and why such a price difference? We’ll explain.

Scanning Resolution (dpi)

Whilst resolution is a major factor when choosing a flatbed scanner, it should not be the ultimatum. Resolution is measured in dots-per-inch or dpi.

A standard black and white document for business would only need to be scanned at a maximum of 200dpi, for example. This is because a black and white, 200dpi image would take up very little memory on the computer’s hard drive. Typically, a business will have thousands of documents to scan and therefore the file size must be low.

Whereas artwork scanning needs to capture as much detail as possible. So, scanning resolution is set higher. Particularly for colour artwork. Furthermore, when scanning negative film the resolution of a scanner must be equal to at least 4800 dpi.

CCD vs CIS Technology in Scanners

When searching for an A3 flatbed scanner, particularly where looking to scan artwork, the preferred choice of many is CCD technology.

CIS (contact image sensor) scanning allows for more environmentally friendly scanning. This is due to the lower power consumption and close contact with the document itself. CIS technology is typically found in sheet-fed scanners or cheap flatbed scanners, such as the Plustek OpticSlim 1180. Unfortunately, this unit is not good for scanning colour documents.

CCD stands for "charged coupled device". Put simply, CCD technology allows for improved lighting, which gives a detailed or colour document greater depth of field and sharpness.

Naturally, CCD technology is a more expensive option due to the advanced sensors and chips included in the scanners themselves and that is what can drive price up. This is especially true when scanners become larger, due to the A3 scanning requirement.

Example of colour artwork in CCD vs CIS technology

DMax – Negative Film Scanning

Those looking to capture media held within film roll, negative film and slide scanning must search for a scanner with a DMax value. Most document scanners are made with no DMax feature at all and it is only film specific scanners which have this technology included.

DMax is a measurement of optical density. It allows the scanner to capture detail in the thinner parts of a film reel – shadows in negatives or highlights in positives.

Available A3 Flatbed Scanners

Currently there are not too many A3 flatbed scanners. A great example of a unit which offers all of the positive features listed above is the Epson Expression 12000XL PRO. This is the premium choice for many in the artwork or graphic design industry. If your business has no need for film scanning, you could look towards the standard Epson Expression 12000XL.

These units also proves very popular with professional scanning companies like ourselves, who scan documents and media on behalf of small business without the budget for such a premium unit. 

There are A4 flatbed scanners, such as the Epson Perfect V600, which will comfortably scan artwork etc.

We do supply the all new Plustek A320E, which features CCD technology and resolution of 800dpi. Whilst we would not recommend this to seasoned professionals, it is a good starting point for those looking to begin their artistic careers or hobbies.

For more details on our range of flatbed scanners, please contact us

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