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A good fine art giclée print begins its life as a good scan Print E-mail

Since fine art giclée prints tend to be digital prints, this fact requires that the originals come from recording the digital image with a digital camera or a scanner. Of course if the original is created on a computer in the first place, you don't need to scan or photograph anything. But if you are reproducing Old Masters paintings, then you need a large format digital camera such as BetterLight, Anagramm, a professional prepress flatbed scanner or a repro stand scanner such as Cruse.

People are so eager to buy a wide format printer that they forget to invest in a correspondingly good scanner. Everyone presumes they can scan 35mm slides on a cheap flatbed (mistake #1) or that scanning 35mm slides on a Nikon or Epson film scanner is enough (mistake #2).

Creo EverSmart Supreme
Creo EverSmart Supreme arriving at FLAAR evaluation facility

The next mistake is to set the original art object on a wall and attempt to take a photo with a camera. There is virtually no way for the picture to be perfectly parallel with the camera (unless you have a professional system).

The painful reality is that a good scanner should cost many times more than your printer. The FLAAR Digital Imaging Resource Center uses a $14,000 color printer but a $45,950 scanner (the Kodak (CreoScitex) EverSmart Supreme) or ICG drum scanner of about the same price. We also have a Cruse reprographic scanner and ttwo BetterLight scans back for doing 4x5 large format photography to provide images for the large format printer.

A complete large format digital camera system costs more than two of our large format printers but is worth it over the long run. Your printer can only reproduce the quality of the digital image that you give it. If you feed an Iris a cheap scan you get a lousy giclée. If you feed an Encad printer a professional quality scan or an image from a BetterLight camera you can hang it in a museum with pride (we do this all the time). Thus whereas you don't need to buy an Iris to get beautiful fine art prints, you do need to be careful with what scanner you select. It you try to squeak by with a cheap scanner the results will not compare favorably with the work of other artists or photographers who use a better scanner.

If you need a scanner for an art museum or a professional fine art giclée studio, then one of the models from Cruse GmbH would be appropriate. Engineer Hermann-A Cruse is Europe's most experienced designer of reprographic copy stand equipment.

We definitely don't recommend any Encad printer for fine art giclée printing, but we do have five our our 300 dpi Encad prints hanging in the museum because the original images were museum-quality before they even reached the printer. Of course if we rendered the same images on an HP Designjet 5500 they would appear better. Again, we know this because we also use the HP DesignJet 2800. It is remarkable what you can tweak from this traditional inkjet printer, if, if your original image is outstanding to begin with.

Of course every several years new technology makes older inkjet printers a bit obsolete, so by 2004 we preferred the six colors and 1200 x 600 dpi of the newer HP 5000ps (or the nearly identical HP Designjet 5500ps). In those same years we found that the ColorSpan DisplayMaker Mach 12 produced outstanding prints of these same TIFF files. Today in 2009 you would consider an HP Z3200, Epson 9900, or Canon iPF printer with a minimum of eight ink lines (HP and Canon offer 12 ink lines=.

The moral of this true story is that it sure helps if you start off with a really good scan of your negatives or slides. Even better, don't use old-fashioned film (because you end up with gritty pattern due to the scanner seeing into the structure of the grain of the film). To escape this, and get a grain-less image, you need a large format scan back.

For information on the Cruse scanner system, contact Michael Lind, Reprographic Designs, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , fax (281) 492-0307.

For information on the Kodak (formerly CreoScitex) flatbed scanners consult their Master Distributor.

If you are in the USA, and have general questions about Scitex, Creo or Kodak scanners, you can obtain further information from Hanan Gelbendorf This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . These are not contacts for repairs or that kind of question. These are not contacts for scanner software. These contacts are to allow you to learn and understand the differences between an average scanner and a superb scanner. Hanan is still associated with the Scitex scanners still today in 2009. He knows these scanners during their Scitex period, during the CreoScitex period and now with Kodak.

The Master Distributor for the US for Kodak scanners (so for CreoScitex EverSmart Supreme and iQsmart series) is Don Bobenhouse, Smartstuff Graphics Distribution, 155 Chesterfield Industrial Blvd (St Louis, Missouri). Office 636 532-6131, Cell 314 616-1509.

If you are outside USA, so anywhere else in the world, prime contact for information on new and used Kodak (CreoScitex) scanners is Ron Beery This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . This contact information is valid for 2009 onward.

Of all the scanners we have tested in the last four years, the best for fine art printing purposes are :
ICG
this is the most reasonably priced of the really good drum scanners. However ICG separated from Global Graphics about 2003. Then (summer 2004) they have acquired the rights to ICG as a brand and model designation. As soon as we know more about their new model from actual tests, we will update our pages. We have neither seen results nor have we tested any of our FLAAR Photo Archive on an ICG scanner, but we have tested on the Creo. You can acquire our FLAAR test results of the Creo scanner.
Scitex (CreoScitex, now owned by Kodak)

CreoScitex EverSmart Pro II, EverSmart Select, EverSmart Supreme, top quality flatbed scanners. These are still available from Kodak.

The Creo Eversmart flatbed scanner range included the Jazz, Jazz+, Pro II, Select, and Supreme. We recommend the top three models of these scanners because they were good from the beginning. We are not very enthusiastic about the Jazz or Jazz+. Also, all the other professional high-end flatbed scanners (Heidelberg, Fuji, Agfa, etc) are no longer manufactured.. Even with the brand name change from Scitex to Creo-Scitex to Creo to Koday, the Pro II and Eversmart scanners are the same (now with better software). Here are the first results; a longer report with more description will follow, but the first edition is available now as a photo essay.

Creo, CreoScitex, and Scitex are part of Kodak since 2005

Overhead scanners (repro scanners with a copy stand)
Kaiser
less costly solution; equipment from other lesser copy stand companies is not sufficient. You need to use a BetterLight or Anagramm scan back.
Cruse
Cruse is the best of the best; German technology and engineering all the way. If you need to reproduce rare books, paintings, any kind of artwork, check out the Cruse system.
Large format digital cameras for scanning the artwork directly (don't try to use a point-and-shoot digital camera)
BetterLight

at several PMA trade shows the BetterLight was recognized as providing a higher quality than PhaseOne. An added benefit is that BetterLight does not cost as much and is American made. Plus there are not really any more manufacturers of tri-linear scan backs in the US any more. And in Europe only Anagramm is still fully functional as a manufacturer of significant size.

Last updated June 22, 2009.

Previews updates:July 29, 2004, April 14, 2004 Jan. 15, 2003, updated Aug. 1, 2002, checked Nov. 15, 2002

 
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