The Imacon Flextight 949 is a superb scanner offering a dynamic range of 4.4 and excellent sharp results for prints up to large sizes. The Imacon Flextight 949 was the last Imacon branded scanner to be released before the merger of Imacon and Hasselblad, and is significantly better than even previous Imacon scanners. In terms of shadow penetration, sharpness and low noise, it is one of the best scanners on the planet and easily competes with any other scanner available. The technology in the 949 is as good as, if not better than, the now re-branded Hasselblad X5 machines.
Landscape photographers are as picky on print quality as anyone. The production benefits of the Imacons, and the superb quality results, are hard to argue against. While technically some drum scanners offer better specs on paper, the reality is that very few people seem to be able to achieve optimum results with these machines in actual practice, and because your images must be oil mounted, there are many disadvantages to the process. The cost of drum scanning can also be very expensive.
The Imacon Flextight has been described by some as a drum or 'virtual drum' scanner, in that the film is bent over a curved surface to result in scans with perfect edge to edge focus. This is exactly the same process as drum scanners such as Howtek, Tango etc., only the main difference is that the sensor in the Imacon is not PMT, but CCD. CCDs are inherently slightly more noisy than PMTs but in practice the very high quality CCD inside the Imacon produces results which, in print terms, stand up to anything we have ever seen scanned in Australia.
If you're doing small prints from scans made with a flatbed, you may find the results 'sharp enough', but compared to scans done on the Imacon Flextight 949 they are quite noticably soft. But sharpness is only one issue - what you might not immediately notice is the tonal compression/colour banding issues that results from the flatbeds cheap sensor. This results in images that lack three dimensionality and offer poor shadow penetration. It's less immediately obvious than the sharpness issues the flatbed's have, but possibly an even bigger problem and is quite visible in prints.
If you are taking the time to shoot medium or large format, then to get truly fine prints, the whole chain must be right. From good technique during image creation and capture, through good processing, good scanning, good digital file processing and final output. If you're going to use a flatbed scanner in the middle of this process to create low quality files, you're going to have to expect amateur results.
- Simon W -
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