Vincent Oliver: SilverFast Ai with Canon 9950F - Conclusion

I only intended doing a two page review on SilverFast Ai, but then I discovered that there were some very useful features in the Studio version which needed to be looked at too. Even after six pages I still feel I have only scratched the surface of this software.

The Canon 9950F promised to be the ultimate in consumer flatbed scanners, a Canon spokesperson even told us that it was so good that they were discontinuing their film scanner. I was eager to put this scanner to the test and despite a few difficulties during the review the scanner didn't deliver its full potential. This was mainly due to the limitations of ScanGear software. Now Lasersoft have released a full Ai version of SliverFast, this breathes new life into the Canon 9950F and finally we can see just how much detail can be extracted from film scans.

The interface may seem daunting when you first launch the software, but you can be productive within minutes. There are many features buried within the interface, even now after using the software for over 10 days I am still finding extra features. The manual is in PDF and covers every aspect of the interface and almost on every palette there is a movie tutorial showing you how to get the best results (Karl-Heinz needs to put a bit more life in his delivery though).

The main weakness in this software is the dust and scratch removal filter. This is a cumbersome process and didn't always produce the best result, I tried it several times but found that using the Spot Healing brush in Photoshop CS2 produced good results. LaserSoft support Digital ICE for the Epson 4990 and other scanners, given the price of SilverFast I feel LaserSoft should incorporate support for FARE with the Canon 9950F. The Pixel Clone tool is an unnecessary addition which I can't imagine will get much use - if any, from most users. NegaFix produced excellent scans, but many of the controls can be found on the main interface, so again some unnecessary doubling up. I would have liked an auto frame feature when scanning in strip film - it can be tiresome defining 30 frames each time - although once you have done it once you can save the frame set.

I double scanned most of the images used in this review, once in SilverFast and again in ScanGear. The SilverFast scans were better in each case. This may seem odd as the optics haven't changed, but this can also be explained by the use of clever algorithms in the software. Each bit of data is processed to give optimum results, and I have shown you just how much difference this can make.

Would I buy this software

I value my collection of negatives and transparencies, so yes I would buy this, even though the price may seem steep. SilverFast has so many features that it would take me another 12 pages to write about them. Although I have only covered Ai and Ai Studio in this review, LaserSoft also has a DC and HDR version. I will look at these two in a separate review. For full specifications and further details please visit the web site.

The Canon 9950F

This scanner is now producing excellent scans, displaying crisp scans each time. I hope Canon will do this scanner justice by including SilverFast SE. The print scans from the 9950F using an IT8 calibration profile are so good that I will use this combination for all future printer reviews.

  • A good selection of tools
  • Produces better quality scans than ScanGear
  • IT8 calibration is excellent
  • Dust and scratch removal is not as good as Fare or Digital ICE
  • Not the cheapest software

Features 9/10
Ease of use 8/10
Value 8/10
Rating 9/10

(Source: photo-i, Vincent Oliver, 2005)