Here’s a quick comparison of what I think is good and bad about the Vuescan, Epson and Silverfast scanner software. They were tested on an Epson V700 and/or Plustek 120 scanner.

I stop using the Epson software a while ago, so it might not be as precise a judgment as Vuescan and Silverfast, because it’s made from my memories of the software.

And this is of course my personal experience with the different software, yours maybe different. So feel free to add you experience in the comments below.

VuescanEpsonSilverfast
ScansSharpSoftSharp
UpdatesFreeFreePay for them
Scan framingAnnoyingGoodAnnoying
PriceFairFreeExpensive
UsabilityVery hardEasyVery hard
SettingsA lotCan’t remember A lot
UpdatedFrequentlyCan’t rememberNot very often
CompatibilityLots of scannersEpson onlyLots of scanners
Work processSlowSlowVery slow
LicenseEndlessEndlessOne scanner
Film profilesYesNoYes
InterfaceBadVery goodGood
Infrared cleaningYesCan’t rememberYes
Learning curveSteepGoodVery steep

I – as mentioned above – don’t use the Epson software anymore, and haven’t for some time now. My go to scanner software is Vuescan, although the learning curve is a bit steep, it’s still the best software out there if you ask me. Silverfast is not bad, it’s simply just to big a hassle to use.
And now that the Lightroom plugin Negative Lab Pro has become part of my workflow, Vuescan is the only software I can use.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting read, all comments! One thing I found rather irritating with Epson was that for years they have bombarded me with software updates but since the last OSX update I seem to have had nothing. I did try Epson’s site and did download what I thought to be a suitable driver, but to no avail, no matter which switches were on or off.
    I’ve now downloaded and paid for Vuescan, and it works, which is all I was really hoping for. My main use is scanning decades of family photos and my level of expertise is rather basic. Vuescan is very similar to other scanning software I have used in that you begin with a choice of Basic, Standard and Professional modes. I tend to use professional. I haven’t a clue what half the settings do but it makes me feel cool to be using the most advanced setting.

    My big problem with Vuescan is trying to scan multiple images when I have 3 or 4 photos in the Preview screen. With other applications I could crop each photo and then scan each one in one go. The first time I used Vuescan I was disappointed to find when I tried to crop a second photo the crop on the first disappeared, and I had to scan each photo separately.
    A look at Vuescan’s website told me I can in fact scan multiple images, but can do it only in the standard setting, and the photos have to be lined up either vertically or horizontally, which is much more limiting than I would like. Perhaps someone else is able to use this feature better than I have been able to and can offer a few pointers!

    • Hi John

      It’s always nice to feel a bit cool, and you know fake it til you make it 🙂

      And for your cropping problem, have you tried hold down SHIFT (that on a PC might be another one on the MAC) when you’re making the new crop area?
      I think that will solve your multiple scan areas.

      Cheers
      Bo

  2. Hi;
    Have you had a chance to look at the latest version of VueScan [9.7.2] which was released, after your review last year?

      • Hi Bo;

        Here is my experience. I’ve upgraded my scanner to the Epson v850 which came bundled with Epson Scan [5.1.2f0], SilverFast SE Plus 8 [8.8.0r20], and Z-Rite i1 Scanner Profiler [3.2.1]. I ran the i1 profiler which is only available on the Epson Scan [due to the restricted bundled licensing I gather].

        Using the bundled IT8 reflective and transmissive targets [that came with the i1 software] I ran 20 tests [so far] with different settings using Epson Scan, Vue Scan [9.7.29], SilverFast, and Image Capture [Apples’ basic scanning software]. I am using a desktop iMac using MacOS 10.13.6. Just for kicks, I also did a test scan using my Brother MFC printer’s scanning feature.

        My methodology, though not necessarily professional robust or exhaustive, was to open each file in Photoshop, and compare the RGB values of the white-points, mid-points, and black-points. I looked at how far off each file was from 0, 50, and 100; and also the standard deviation of R, G, and B from each of the W-P, M-P, and B-P.

        Using an aggregate standard deviation of the RGB values, I found the most accurate [smallest ∆ of 2] reflective scan was the SilverFast with adjusted W-P and B-P. The worst [ ∆ 31] was the VueScan with Color Balance set to Auto. The Epson Scans with and without the ICC profiles were somewhere in the middle [with ∆s 8–13]. Surprisingly, Apple’s Image Capture, with minimal settings, was pretty accurate [ ∆4].

        For the transmissive scans, the most accurate was the Epson Scan with the ICC profile and set to Adobe RGB [∆8]. The second worst was the Vue Scan with the Color Balance set to Manual sRGB [∆ 21]. The worst was Apple’s IC [23].

        As I said, this has been my experience so far. I may get around to doing more.

        Cheers;
        Chris

  3. Hi,
    I’m looking for some advice please. I’ve just set up my Epson Perfection V500 scanner to scan some photos into my MacBook Pro, and it’s stopped working. A bit of googling tells me that upgrading to Catalina requires a new driver which Epson, in their attempt to make me buy a new scanner, have decided to no longer do. I am considering going down the Vuescan route. My previous scanner, A Canon, came with Vuescan included which I used regularly at the time, until the scanner broke down. I got on pretty well with Vuescan, though in your review you imply it’s a steep learning curve to get into. I’m wondering if the interface has changed much over the years, which would make it harder for me to get into. I’m hoping it hasn’t changed much so it would be a bit like riding a bike (though it’s been 30 years since I last did that!)
    Hope you can help,

    Regards
    John Collins

    • Hi John

      I don’t know how long it’s been, since you last used Vuescan, but I’m pretty sure that the interface haven’t change that much. There has properly been added some more/new features, but other than that I think your home free.

      But before you buy a new license, check your old one from the Canon, if it’s a pro license, you can properly just got a head and upgrade Vuescan to the latest version.

      Hope this helps you, if not feel free to ask some more 🙂

      Cheers
      Bo

      • Many thanks for that Bo.
        I found no signs of VueScan on my MacBook Pro so I fired up my 2003 iMac (the angle poise model!) and discovered my memory has been playing tricks on me. I found I had Umax VistaScan software installed and remembered my previous scanner had been a Umax Astra, not a Canon. D’oh! In my defence ‘VistaScan’ and ‘VueScan’ sound very similar…
        It looks like I will being installing VueScan Pro, on the assumption it will work with my Epson scanner. Once I get used to it then should I need to get a new scanner I should be able to use VueScan with it and not have another learning curve to face.

        Many thanks again,
        Regards
        John

        • Hi John

          Sorry for the late reply.

          OK, I’ve never heard of “VistaScan” but you are right, they sound almost the same.

          Anyway, I hope you are getting up and running with Vuescan, it is a nice piece of software.
          And works with most scanners.

          Cheers
          Bo

        • Hi, I have the Epson 850 Pro and had initial issues with the Catalina Upgrade. However I was able to install the upgraded drivers from the Epson Website which would have resolved the issue. I did have a further problem though – i was still getting the same error message but it was not the software – it was the fact that the moving lock switch on the back of the unit was on! I had forgotten it was even there so that may help John also. Epson’s online chat system is also excellent by the way.

          Thanks for the review of the 3 softwares – the Epson software was driving me crazy with the continued rescanning (and failure to recognise borders) and I had lost my Silverfast Serial number so I am definitely leaning towards VueScan.

          Best wishes
          Christine

          • Hi Christine

            Haha, I did the same with the lock on an Epson scanner once, so it’s properly a quite common problem 🙂

            Glad you found the post useful.

            Cheers
            Bo

  4. Hello
    I found your comparison of scanner software useful- so thanks for that. I have the latest version of Vuescan with my EpsonV850 Pro scanner.
    No matter how I try, I cannot get Vuescan to give me a) a scan which reproduces what I see in the preview and b) a good dynamic range in the final scan.

    No matter what I do the final scan comes out very dark and post-processing in Photoshop Camera Raw can improve overall exposure, contrast Highlights/shadows etc (almost max + adjustment for exposure), but shadows remain blocked in.

    Can you suggest Vuescan adjustments to resolve this problem? any help will be much appreciated.

    Sincerely, S.B.P. McCullagh

    • Hi McCullagh

      First a thanks – glad you liked it and found it useful.

      I have the same issue with the preview vs final scan, they never look the same. I looked around the internet for an answer a while back, but it seems to be a thing with Vuescan, a problem if you like.
      So unfortunately I don’t have an answer for you. Personally I just learned to live with it.

      According to the crushed blacks, then my experience tells me that, if the scan has crushed blacks, then it’s because there is nothing there, or at least I have never managed to get anything out of mine.
      And I always keep in mind that it’s better to overexpose my photo then to underexpose it, the film media is much better at handling the highlights.
      One of the few settings I adjust regularly is “Color Balance” under the color tab, here I either go for “None” or “Neutral”

      I use a Lightroom plug-in called Negative Lab Pro, to convert my negatives to positives, so my other settings are adjusted according to it.
      If you haven’t heard about Negative Lab Pro – and if you use LR – then I can highly recommend that you go check it out, it’s amazing.
      It will in a way also solve your preview/scan issue, since you just scan as an image, and then convert it in NLP.

      Hope this helps you a little.

      Otherwise, feel free to ask again.

      Cheers
      B.

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