I could talk long about how much the new scanner is better than its predecessor and whether the innovations cost the extra $100 you count out for the new device, but I’m sure nobody will ever state that the EPSON Perfection 4870 is just a cosmetic improvement on the past product. Changes in the hardware stuffing are of a global nature and the similarity to the Perfection 3200 goes no further than the common design of the case. As for the qualitative changes that account for the EPSON Perfection 4870 to have made a step forward compared to its predecessor, they mostly refer to the integrated slide-adapter or, as EPSON calls it, the transparency unit. Having optimized the spectral characteristics of its lamp, the manufacturer can now honestly talk about an improvement of the optical density range from 3.4 to 3.8 Dmax.
The EPSON Perfection 4870 uses an active adapter for scanning transparent originals, which is placed in its lid. The slide-adapter and the scanner are coupled together by means of a cord attached to the appropriate connector at the device’s rear panel. The lamp of the Perfection 3200 model used to shine through the slides was realized as a solid luminescent surface occupying all the useful perimeter of the lid. The slide-adapter of the EPSON Perfection 4870 is made as a moving carriage with the light source installed in it. The use of the carriage and the moving mechanism explains the fact that the Perfection 4870 has a bit thicker lid than the Perfection 3200.
In the standard situation, when the scanner is used for digitizing photographs, the slide-adapter is shut behind a special cover. You remove this cover for working with transparent originals and install frames for films and slides on the glass of the bed. As I mentioned above, these frames are intended for originals of all sizes and formats, including the rarest ones.
A series of perfected technologies whose origin can be traced back to machines of earlier generations is employed in the EPSON Perfection 4870 for better scanning of transparent originals and to increase the speed of digitizing. For example, the manufacturer had to polish off the Dynamic Range Control system to optimize scanning of negatives whose masking layer doesn’t easily let pass the blue part of the spectrum. In earlier models, this system used to reduce the scanner’s speed as additional time was required for the blue filters of the CCD array to receive enough light. The EPSON Perfection 4870 solves this problem: the blue component in the spectrum of the slide-adapter’s lamp is intensified to increase the scanning speed, although not very much. And if you enable the software-hardware technologies of dust removal, the scanning speed degenerates in times. On the other hand, the manufacturer emphasizes exactly these technologies saying the Perfection 4870 to be a breakthrough in the scanning quality area. I will deal with these technologies right now, in the next section of the review.