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Categorized | Gear, Mark & Leslie Degner

Gear — Spring/Summer 2015 (full review)

My calendar says that it’s the end of January, but when I peer out my window it looks more like an April spring day in Alberta than the middle of winter. Most of the snow has melted and there are puddles all over the place. I know there’s still more winter to come, but spring fever is starting to set in. Now’s the time to check over all your camera gear and make sure it’s all ready to go when spring arrives for real.

SilverFast Archive Suite 8

If you’re a long-time photographer, like myself, then you probably have a bunch of old negatives, transparencies and prints packed away somewhere in your house and haven’t touched them since you switched to using a digital camera. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with them, it’s just too much of a hassle to scan them into a digital format. However, now there’s a solution that will take a lot of the hassle out of the scanning process and bring new life to your old images — SilverFast Archive Suite 8.

SilverFast Archive Suite 8 is really two standalone software programs, SilverFast Ai Studio 8 scanning software and SilverFast HDR Studio 8 image processing software, which work together seamlessly to provide a complete scanning and image processing workflow. SilverFast’s Ai scanning software has long been known as one of the best available.

©Mark Degner SilverFast HDR Studio 8 component, showing Vermillion Lakes, AB, and the densitometer panel. www.silverfast.com

©Mark Degner
SilverFast HDR Studio 8 component, showing Vermillion Lakes, AB, and the densitometer panel.
www.silverfast.com

 

Archive Suite 8 is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems, including the newest versions of each. For photographers who have older models of scanners, this can be really important as it allows them to use their scanner when the scanner manufacturer stops supporting their products. For example, Nikon, a number of years ago, stopped upgrading its Nikon Scan software, so if you have one of their scanners you can no longer use it with the more recent computer operating systems.  This is the case with my Nikon LS8000 ED film scanner, which is what I used to test Archive Suite 8.

Archive Suite 8 is currently available for around 90 film and flatbed scanner models from a number of manufacturers. Make sure you check to see if your scanner is one of the supported models because when you order the program you have to specify which model you have as the program is optimized to each scanner model individually.

When you open up Archive Suite 8’s two components, Ai Studio 8 and HDR Studio 8, you will quickly see how much manual control and flexibility the programs offer to allow the user to produce high-quality scans and optimize digital images from the scans. Although they may seem complicated, they aren’t that difficult to master. In addition to having incredible manual control over every aspect of the process, Archive Suite 8 also has a unique feature called the WorkflowPilot. It’s essentially a kind of wizard that guides the user through all the processing steps in the correct order applying the appropriate automatic default settings, which you can manually adjust. Not all of the program’s features are available with WorkflowPilot, but for many situations the results are very good and the process is quick.

There are just too many features in Archive Suite 8 to mention them all, so I would encourage you to check them out at the SilverFast website (www.silverfast.com). The following are a few of my favourite features. The standard scratch and dust removal feature (SRD) does a very good job — as good or better than any other program I’ve tried. However, if your scanner has an infrared channel, then Silverfast’s iSRD feature will provide even better dust and scratch removal; the results are exceptional. The HDRi feature allows for 64 bit RAW scans, which include the infrared channel data, allowing for the capture of the highest possible data from the original image. SilverFast’s Multi-Exposure feature increases the dynamic range captured from the original image by performing a double scan of the image. The JobManager makes batch scanning and image processing of a number of images a very efficient and easy process.

Unfortunately I couldn’t test how well Archive Suite 8 scanned prints on a flatbed scanner, but based on what it did with film, I have no doubt that the results would be just as great. Archive Suite 8 costs $499 US, which might seem on the pricey side, but if you want or need to scan lots of images, then the time savings alone that you’ll get from the faster scanning speed, batch scanning and having the dust and scratches removed automatically will quickly pay for the package. But more importantly, the image quality that you can get in the final digital files is excellent; the best I’ve seen from my scanner.

For more information please visit www.silverfast.com/show/plustek-archive-suite/en.html.

To read more informative columns from Mark Degner please pick up the Spring/Summer 2015 issue, or subscribe to OPC today and never miss an issue!

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