Scanner Comparison – Epson 4490 for Watercolour and Drawings

I had some birthday left over so I put it towards buying a much needed new scanner.  I bought the Epson Photo Perfection 4490 which is designed to scan negatives and slides including 120/220 (such as used in Holga and my old vintage cameras).

I was also hoping it would prove to be better with scanning my drawings where watercolour can sometimes get a bit lost in the scan, as well as with scanning my small acrylic canvas paintings with a view to producing prints in the future.

20081108 setting up new scanner

Epson 4490 scanner on top of old scanner

My old scanner is a pretty ordinary home scanner that came in a bundle with a PC purchased in around 2001.  It’s a Visioneer and has done good service.  Like so many things it’s not until I scanned some drawings with the new scanner that I realised just what I’ve been missing!

Here’s a drawing from the old scanner on one of it’s off moments where it added a green hue across the the page:

everywhere belongs to someone

Scanned with old scanner

And here’s the same drawing scanned using the Epson 4490:

200809 epson 4490 scan comparison

Scanned with new Epson 4490 scanner

I also scanned Nap Attack with the old scanner at 300 resolution into Photoshop and then resized and saved:

2008113 nap attack VISIONEER

Scanned with old scanner

Then with the Epson 4490 at 300 resolution (with all other settings as default out of the box) as a TIFF, then resized and saved as a JPEG:

20081113 nap attack

Scanned with new Epson 4490 scanner

The Epson 4490 is obviously a far superior scanner. As well as the quality of the scan it’s much more adjustable allowing you to tweak all sorts of fancy settings to get the capture right rather than having to rely on editing in software like Photoshop.  It’s fast, it’s a lot quieter and you capture scans in a variety of fomarts avoiding compression and image degrading issues.

The downside is out of the box that whilst it captures a lot more of the watercolour colours it’s a little bit too heavy on the contrast. It also is trying to make my cream paper white (bless it).  And it shows up everything bit of fluff, cat hair or dust that floats onto the page or scanner bed and every curve and grain of the page.  Perhaps a little too perfect?  But the contrast is something that can be adjusted if I learn once I’ve learnt what all the twizzling settings do.

I’ve also scanned my paintings on canvas which also has worked really well.  I can’t demonstrate the results at the moment but it’s done a great job of getting pretty much all the colours looking really good.  It’s difficult using a screen to know for sure how colours will scan and then print.  But I know my old scanner had terrible trouble capturing the aqua green/blue on the background of Big Fat Penguin of Determination but the Epson 4490 captured it really well.

The only one that looked a bit off was one of my new ones (not yet blogged!) where the red came up a little dark.  But easily fixed.

All in all I’m really pleased with the Epson 4490 and I haven’t even got round to scanning any negatives yet!

Anyone tempted to part with their money … I bought mine off Amazon where, having watched the price fluctuate over the last year from £150 to £99 I managed to buy it for £116 including free delivery. Don’t forget that Amazon operate a (little advertised) price match where if the price of an item you bought off them drops within 30 days of purchase they will refund the difference.

You can also buy it direct from Epson for £150 (although the other day they had it on special at £130).

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Posted in Art, Artist, Discovery, Equipment, Watercolour
3 comments on “Scanner Comparison – Epson 4490 for Watercolour and Drawings
  1. Ursula says:

    What did I say yesterday, Rachel? You truly are a better woman than me.

    My extravagant self splashed out on a Canon scanner complete with ability to scan in negatives, faithfully recording detail which one rather wished wouldn’t (say, nasal hair or a spot).

    Don’t ask. Whilst quality fantastic, no scanning of any photographic evidence of my life has so far materialised (I bought it two years ago). Isn’t there that awful saying about the way to hell being paved with (good) intentions?

    As to “tweaking” anything …


  2. Well there’s no knowing when or if I might get round to scanning in negatives. When I was a small child my parents where going through a phase of having slides rather than photos. So it might be nice to get some scanned in at some point. And I can always scan some of my quirky arty photos if I want to sell prints or enter competitions … good intentions indeed … :o)

  3. […] is closing down I’m trying out Peak Imaging and planning to scan my own negatives with my Epson 4490 to keep the costs down a […]

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Rachel Groves, Artist
Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK



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