Photo restoration requires certain tools. A scanner is one of those tools. Over the years I’ve come to know what is needed from a scanner and what it should and shouldn’t do.
Two scanners I’ve owned, in fact still own are the Canon 9950F and its second generation brother the 9000 Mk 2. Ok so what is the big deal a scanner is a scanner, Right? Not when photo restoration is concerned.
Canon Canoscan 9000F MK II All-in-One Scanner product purchase page.
Let us examine the Canon Canoscan 9000 Mk 2.
The 9000 Mk 2 is sleek, it has an LED scanning light for “no warm-up time” scanning. It scans really fast and it scans 3 types of negatives. 35mm negs and 35mm slides and medium format film or negative strips. The lid stays open when you load and unload on a stiff hinge. You can even scan single images straight into Photoshop CC 2014 using WIA (Windows Image Acquisition) driver support. What’s not to like?
35mm strip (negative/positive): 12 frames
35mm slides (negative/positive): 4 frames
120 format film max 6 x 22cm (filmstrip only)
Some great accessories for scanning a multitude of formats. But for smaller or add shaped negatives not so good.
Excellent so it’s fast! A scanner needs to be fast, especially if you have hundreds or even thousands of images to scan. However, a scanner needs to be more than this.
The older and slower 9950F is built far stronger, is more solid and slower. It doesn’t work with the latest version of Photoshop BUT it is way more versatile. It can scan 5 Strips of negative, not just two, you can scan 5×4 negatives too and 12 slides at a time, not 4 AND medium format strips! So 9000 Mk2 is actually a downgrade in a lot of respects.
Ok big deal so it can scan more slides so what?.
The HUGE and very significant difference is the lid come right off the 9950F. This enables scanning of large images, much bigger than the scanner bed. To be honest this is something I would expect of a new scanner, not so with 9000 Mk2. The 9000 Mk 2 excels in speed and works under 64-bit windows but alas besides those two things the 9950F still wins.
The beauty of these two Canon scanners is ScanGear, the scanner driver tool, it is the scanners saving grace. I’ve tried other scanning software and ScanGear’s ability to allow you to highlight and scan multiple images / image sizes in one go, on the one scanner bed, is a time saver. It will do up to nine images per scan. Simply select with rubber banding box around the images and the do the same to the next one. You can also select different properties/profiles for each of the images. Without this, it would be a terrible loss. This feature alone saves loads of time when scanning a batch of non-standard photos. Don’t go installing the image-garden software, it’s bloatware, for us precision types it’s best stick to ScanGear. It offers great control over all scanning options and custom settings. From what output resolution to scanning curves and levels, even colour channels to ensure you can correct as much as possible in a faded photo before the image even reaches the computer.
ScanGear and its associated Twain driver can get your photos straight into Photoshop. The sad news is the 9950F is no longer available to buy and won’t scan directly into Photoshop CC 2014. It will do so into older versions. The new 9000 Mk 2 would work with Photoshop CC 2014 if the developer’s had left the TWAIN support into the build. The 9000 Mk 2 can scan into Photoshop CC 2014 with its WIA driver support, but only a single image at a time and very little control over the scanning options. You can see a video of me comparing ScanGear with other software
The new placement of the one-touch buttons on the 9000 Mk 2 mean when you go to lower the lid from being fully opened you tend to “touch” the buttons and the scanner starts to work. Annoying compared to the 9950 where the buttons are in a recess. Both have great hinges which keep the lid open at various angles. this is a bonus when positioning images on the glass and you just want to flip it up a bit for a small adjustment.
Right angled cable connectors would help with pushing the scanner up to the wall or back of the desk. Take note Canon!
For speed, I use the 9000F Mk 2, for those weird old negative shapes and huge images as big as you like I’ll use my 9950F. I’ve scanned and restored an image 59 inches wide using my old 9950F (Restoration of wide panorama photos) stitching as many as a 20 separate scans together to rebuild the original image before restoration can begin
Would I recommend the 9000 Mk 2? Yes I would but for specific tasks such as scanning masses of photos. If the lid came off then it would be a great scanner, not just a good one.
Do you own either of these, what is your opinion? To read more on scanning see my comprehensive scanning guide. If you want to scan hundreds or even thousands of photos quickly you should read the review of the Epson FastFoto FF 680W scanner.