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Basic questions about scanners

Can someone tell me the crucial specs for determining the kind of quality I can get from a scanner?  I need a scanner that will give reasonable quality scanning 3x5 and 4x6 35mm photo prints and slides (converting our snapshots).

I bought a cheapo with 300 x 600 dpi optical resolution and 4800 x 4800 dpi interpolated resolution.  It is inadequate for getting decent resolution when set at 300 x 600 dpi.  At higher resolutions it is excruciatingly slow and often crashes my computer and the images look about the same anyway.

I do not need extremely high quality, but would like faster operation and reasonable resolution (not grainy) images.
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suobs
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suobs
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weedCommented:
There is alot more to scanning than just rez. Its like digital cameras. You can buy a $400 Sony camera with 3.1 megapixels, or you can buy a $1500 Nikon camera with 3.1 megapixels. Same number of pixels, HUGE difference in quality. Same applies to scanners. When buying a scanner rez is definitely something to look at but you should look at the quality of the scans above everything else. Don't buy a scanner until youve compared its scans to other scanners in its price range. Make sure youre viewing the scans on the same monitor and dont rely on the demo scans the manufacturer sends along. Theyre always adjusted. If youre looking for brand names i'd recommend, shoot for the Umax or Minolta scanners. Start comparing scans until you find what youre looking for.
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suobsAuthor Commented:
Well, like I say, I am not publishing National Geographic here.  I just want fairly sharp images.  Could you give me some numbers (resolution & price ranges) to get me started?  How about the less than $200 range?  Possible to get something decent?
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weedCommented:
Youre not going to get anything decent for $200. A $200 scanner is the kind of thing i would buy my mother for scanning newspaper articles and text documents. The lowest end pro-sumer Umax scanner with transparency adapter is $699. Their highest end consumer scanner is $249 with transparency adapter. Compare scans from those two. The specs are below.

http://www.umax.com/professional/specifications.cfm?model=PowerLook+III
http://www.umax.com/consumer/specifications.cfm?model=Astra+6450
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