Wide Format Scanning

5 Best Large Format Scanners To Scan Artwork

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Large Format Scanner to Scan Artwork

In today’s digital age, preserving and sharing artwork in high-quality digital formats has become increasingly important. Whether you’re a professional artist, art enthusiast, or gallery owner, finding the best large format scanner is crucial to accurately capture and showcase your artwork. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the three main types of wide format scanners: Contact-free, Flatbed, & Roll-fed scanners; next we’ll compare features; and finally we’ll compare the best large format scanners to scan artwork with precision and exceptional quality.

Wide Format Art Scanner Types:

Contact-Free Scanners:

Contact-free scanners offer the safest type of scanning for artwork; whereby the artwork is set atop a table, face up and the image moves through the scanner free of any contact with the surface of the artwork.  Contact-free scanning allows priceless and perhaps fragile originals to be scanned without the face of the original ever touching the hardware. With some contact-free scanners you can control the light and conserve the art with museum correct light and with no UV/IR radiation.

Flatbed Scanners:

Flatbed scanners allow for careful limited document handling; whereby the artwork is set face down on the scanner glass (also known as the scanner platen).  Protect fragile originals by placing them gently on the scanner bed; other than the initial contact, there is no movement of the artwork.

Roll-Fed Scanners:

Roll-fed scanners require the user to gently feed the artwork into the scanner; whereby rollers moves the artwork straight through the scanner.  Some roll-fed scanners offer a height adjustment that allows for less downward pressure on the original artwork.  Roll-fed scanners can be super-fast; therefore allowing for increased workflow.  The roll-fed scanners are a great option for artwork that is less delicate.

Wide Format Art Scanner Features:

Within the types of scanners there are a variety of features to consider.  Here we are going to explore the most important features: scanning area size, resolution and image quality, how the scanner is connected, color accuracy, speed and workload efficiency, and software to help with post-scanning operations.

Size and Scanning Area:

Artwork comes in various sizes, from standard paper dimensions to large-scale canvases. Ensure the large format scanner you choose accommodates the size of your artwork. Look for scanners with a wide scanning area to avoid any limitations in capturing the complete artwork in a single scan. Some scanners offer adjustable scanning beds or can handle oversized documents, allowing you to scan even the largest pieces effortlessly.

Resolution, Depth and Image Quality:

When it comes to scanning artwork, resolution and image quality are paramount. Look for a large format scanner with a high optical resolution, measured in dots per inch (DPI). Although you may not need such a high resolution, a scanner with an optical resolution of at least 1200 DPI is likely to offer the needed quality for capturing intricate details, vibrant colors, and textures in your artwork.  For more information about DPI, and what DPI to use when scanning artwork please read our blog, What Is DPI; And How Does It Impact Scanning & Printing.

Contex HD Apeiron/42 sample art scan displaying amazing detail!Scanning artwork today often requires realistic image quality, and the depth perception of 3D imagery. Full light control aids to provide a unique ability to emphasize fine details, especially when scanning fine art, or fragile artifacts.  This is also especially suited for museums, copy shops, material manufacturers, and others, who seek a powerful new way to boost the quality of detailed and delicate originals with unprecedented accuracy.

Connectivity and Compatibility:

Consider the connectivity options and compatibility of the scanner with your computer or preferred operating system. Most scanners connect via USB, and some models offer Ethernet connections for added convenience. Additionally, ensure the scanner’s software is compatible with your computer’s operating system, providing seamless integration and optimal performance.  Keep in mind that most wide format scanners only integrate with Windows operating systems; this creates challenges for those that work with only Mac computers.

Color Accuracy and Dynamic Range:

Artwork often relies on accurate color reproduction to convey the artist’s intention. Look for a large format scanner that offers high color accuracy and a wide dynamic range. Look for wide format scanners with 48-bit color data capture and advanced color management systems and features like Adobe RGB, Device RGB, RAW RGB, & sRGB color spaces ensure faithful reproduction of the artwork’s colors, shades, and tones.

Speed and Efficiency:

If efficiency is crucial for scanning a large volume of artwork, consider the scanning speed of the device to save time during the scanning process.  However, if the concern is preserving the integrity of fragile or delicate original artwork, speed may have to be scarified.

Software and Post-Processing Features:

A good scanner should be accompanied with reliable scanner operating software that offers advanced post-processing capabilities. To enhance the final scanned results, look for scanners that provide image enhancement tools, such as: full image adjustment control, auto-rotate, auto-align / de-skew, smooth / sharpen filter, black / white level adjustment, RGB level adjustment, & histogram view. Additionally, software that supports popular file formats like TIF, JPG, PDF, DWF, CALS, BMP, & JPEG ensures compatibility and ease of use.

The best large format scanners to scan artwork:

1. Contex HD Apeiron/42    

  • Newly introduced July 2023!
  • Contact-free face up scanning for detailed originals and fine art.
  • With HD Apeiron/42, you can control the light and conserve the art with museum correct light with no UV/IR radiation.
  • It is the fastest contact-free large format scanner available with natural daylight LEDs.
  • Six Fujifilm lenses with quad-linear (RGB + gray)Toshiba color CCDs.
  • Up to 1200 dpi optical resolution.
  • Table conveyance system with precision timing belt transmission with triple-point direction control system.
  • Unique X-Rite ICC color profiling technology ensures the best color standards.
  • The lamps in HD Apeiron/42 recreate the natural daylight spectrum using cutting-edge LEDs with TRI-RTM technology.
  • The clever design of LED strips mounted in elliptical reflectors, results in correct and uniform colors –and no distance fading.
  • Scan originals up to 42×60 inches (1067×1524 mm).
  • Clearance height is 10 inches (254 mm).
  • A focal plane of up to 5.1 inches (130 mm) enables scanning of thicker media, such as framed artwork.
  • Color scanning speed of 6 inches per second at 300 dpi.
  • Priced at approximately $44,000.

2. WideTEK®36ART    

  • Contact-free face up scanning for detailed originals and fine art.
  • Scan originals up to 36×60×3.9 inches (914×1524×100 mm).
  • Clearance height is 7.9 inches (200 mm).
  • Optional table extension up to 87,6 inches (2224 mm).
  • 3 × tri-color CCD cameras
  • Up to 600 dpi optical resolution.
  • Two lamps with white LEDs, integrated optical diffusor, no IR/UV radiation.
  • Color scanning speed of 1.66 inches per second at 300 dpi.
  • Priced at approximately $44,000.

3. Contex IQ FLEX     Best large format inkjet printer, Wide format digital printer, Large plotter

  • Flatbed face down scanning on 18×24 inches scan area.
  • Scan originals up to 24×36 inches (with required software).
  • Up to 1200 dpi optical resolution.
  • Connect wireless or via gigabit Ethernet.
  • Full image area color scanning speed of 6 seconds at 200 dpi .
  • Equipped with a touchscreen computer the size of a small tablet PC allowing you to scan & annotate, simply mark-up changes to drawing on the touchscreen.
  • Priced at $7,396 with optional NextImage scanner operating software.

4. WideTEK 25    

  • Flatbed face down scanning on 18.5×25 inches scan area.
  • Scan originals up to 18.5×25 inches.
  • Up to 1200 dpi optical resolution.
  • Connect via gigabit Ethernet.
  • Full image area color scanning speed of 3 seconds at 300 dpi .
  • 36-bit color data capture.
  • Equipped with 64 bit Linux, Intel quad-core, 8Gig RAM, & 320GB hard drive.
  • Priced at approximately $10,400.

4. Contex HD Ultra X (series)     Contex HD Ultra X 36 & 42 wide / large format scanner, large format printing services, wide printer, large plotter, large format digital printing

  • Roll-fed face down scanning.
  • Depending upon the specific model within the series; this model comes in 36 inch, 42 inch, or 60 inch wide (by virtually any length).
  • Up to 1200 dpi optical resolution.
  • Connect via USB 3.0 or gigabit Ethernet.
  • Color scanning speed of 8.9 or 17.8 inches per seconds at 200 dpi (depending upon the specific model).
  • Can scan artwork that is a maximum 0.6 inches (15 mm) thick.
  • Starting price at $9387 ($10,977 with optional stand & NextImage scanner operating software).

In Summary

If you’re seeking a scanner to preserve and share artwork in high-quality digital format, finding the best large format scanner can be an arduous task.  Yet it’s paramount to accurately capture and showcase your artwork. The first question that you must answer is which of the three main types of wide format scanners: Contact-free, Flatbed, & Roll-fed scanners fits your budget and which features are necessary.

If you want more help deciding which specific scanner is right for your particular needs, call our experts  at (602) 224-9971 or contact us now, we’re happy to help!

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