Silverfast SE
The scanning software Silverfast SE version 6.0 comes bundled with the Epson Perfection 3200 PHOTO scanner. You would have to pay $49 if you bought Silverfast SE directly, so I think it's a pretty good deal to get it bundled with the scanner for no extra charge.

I hadn't even heard of Silverfast before I got this scanner, but now I'm a big fan. I highly recommend using Silverfast SE over Epson's "Scan" software (which is also bundled with this scanner). Not that Epson's "Scan" software is bad exactly, but Silverfast allows you far more control over your scan.

This graphic to the left is a screenshot of one of Silverfast's menus. This allows you to pick the resolution you want your scan to be (in my case, since I am scanning a 35 mm transparency, I usually set it to 3200 dpi, the maximum optical resolution the 3200 can allow). If I were scanning a photo print or drawing (not a transparency), I'd probably use a much lower resolution, (perhaps 600 to 900 dpi). Each scanning project will be different, so it's a good idea to do some trial and error experimenting to help you decide what resolution you prefer.

Yes, it is true that Epson's "Scan" software also allows you to adjust and control many facets of your scan, but Silverfast is just much nicer. The only "edge" Epson's scanning software has over Silverfast SE is that it allows you to scan in 48 bit mode, while Silverfast SE only allows for 24 bit mode. But I think the trade-off is worth it. 24-bit mode is usually enough for my needs.

You also have controls that will allow you to adjust the color cast, "Levels" (similar to the Levels in Photoshop—adjust the lights and darks of an image) "Curves" (another way to control color balance and lights and darks) and so on. I use these options and find they really help me get the most out of my scans. I don't pretend to have mastered Silverfast SE; all I have done is tinker and mess with it, which has helped me discover some of the marvelous things it can do.

Of course, I don't get a perfect scan, even with Silverfast. (Maybe others can, but I can't!) So, I always use Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements, which is bundled with the scanner) to color correct and edit my scans. By the way, that's another good deal about the Epson 3200—you get Photoshop Elements, (a $100 value if bought separately) bundled in with the scanner, at no extra charge.

Scanning with Silverfast SE

Silverfast's preview scan window—these two panels represent the two strips of negatives I placed in the scanner. Silverfast shows what the negs look like in preview. I selected the three negatives (three negs on right side, surrounded by dotted line) and applied some color and contrast adjustments to them using Silverfast's software. When I was happy with the way the pictures (in preview) looked, I started the actual scanning process. It took several minutes to scan three negatives connected together like that, and the resulting file was about 125 MBs in size!

(Click on each of these graphics to see a larger and more detailed screenshot.)

Silverfast Film Type

Now, this is cool. If you are scanning negatives, Silverfast SE allows you to pick your film type and ASA speed from a drop-down menu. What a great feature!

Global Color Correction--Silverfast

One of the many controls Silverfast SE offers to help you correct an off-beat "color cast" in your scan. I find that very often I got a pinkish color cast in my slide scans (old Kodachrome slides are especially apt to go a little "magenta" over time). I can remove some of this color cast with Silverfast's Global Color Correction, by tweaking the color cast more towards the greenish/blue. It seems to help.

Epson Slide Adapter View--Epson Perfection 3200OK, the secret's out. I'm a slob. You may see from the photo here, my "studio" (read: dungeon) is kind of a mess. Let's just get past that now, shall we?

Click on the thumbnail image to the left to see a larger view of the Epson Perfection 3200 in action, ready to scan some slides.

The lid of the Epson 3200 has a removable panel, which is placed inside the scanner's lid. It should be kept in place when you are scanning reflective (paper, photo prints, drawings) images. When you want to scan slides or negatives, you should remove this white panel. This is to uncover the light panel that's set in the lid. The panel in the lid lights up, shines through your slides or negatives, and allows you to scan your transparencies. You also must connect a cable that attaches to the back of your scanner when you want to do transparency scans (read Epson's user manual for more info on this; it's not a complicated thing).

Epson gives you three "plastic holder thingies": one for 35 mm negatives, one for 35 mm slides, and one for medium format transparencies. Pick the correct "plastic holder thingy" and place your negatives or slides in the holder. These plastic holder thingies are a bit fragile (not too fragile, but take good care of them!). Follow Epson's instructions to make sure you place your transparencies properly in the plastic holder thingies, and that you align the plastic holder thingie up correctly on the flatbed surface. (D0n't worry, it's not tricky or difficult to set up!)

Another warning against Epson's "Scan" software: When you scan negatives or slides using Epson's "thumbnail" mode, it will often cut off the edges of your negative or slide. So, if you want to see the whole scan of your transparency, pick Epson's "manual" mode, or just stick with Silverfast.

A final bit of interesting information: Epson also has a "Professional" version of this scanner, the Epson Perfection 3200 PRO. The hardware (the actual scanner) is identical to the Epson Perfection 3200 PHOTO, the only difference is in the software included in the "Pro" package. If you are a serious photographer who will need high-end scanning software, you will want to get the PRO scanner, rather than the less expensive PHOTO scanner.

The PRO scanner comes with Photoshop Elements (version 2 of Elements if you are in the USA), a "full" version of Silverfast (which will scan in 48 bit mode), ArcSoft® Suite and Monaco EZcolor™ Software and IT8 Targets. OK, I admit, I don't really know what ArcSoft and Monaco EZcolor do, and please don't ask me what IT8 Targets are! But the word I hear from professional photographers is that they are all excellent, and will cost you a lot more if you have to buy them separately.


| Slide Scan Page I | Slide Scan Page II | Negative scans compared | Neg scans page II & Scanner info |

These pages were created primarily to compare the performance of these two scanners—the 2450 and the 3200, and to give more information about the scanner. To read a very comprehensive and informative review on the Epson Perfection 3200, check out this page from

It appears that a more recent model of this type of scanner is available, the Epson 4870. Read the customer reviews and decide for yourself if you would prefer this newer model.

Search for the latest and most popular models of Epson Scanners (opens in new window).

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Software and hardware used with this scanner:

My system is a Macintosh G4 Tower, running Mac OS 10.2.8. All image editing was done in Photoshop 7. I use Silverfast or Epson's "Scan" software to do the actual scan, and then do more editing in Photoshop. I usually scan everything in 24 bit mode, but I can scan in 48 bit mode, which will yield larger file sizes.

The Epson Perfection 3200 comes with Photoshop Elements 2, (Photoshop Elements 1 in Europe) and Silverfast SE 6.0. I usually use the full version of Photoshop, but Elements will work just fine as well.

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Last updated: August 22, 2006

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