Describing a Drum Scanner

In promotional literature they called it “Vertical Reality”. ICG started making drum scanners more than 30 years ago and twice won the coveted Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement. ICG’s scanners were always acknowledged as the best that money can buy. The rest were trying to catch up.

A scanner’s performance is characterised by the amount of data it can capture from an image in its sights. In that respect, a flatbed scanner, though much improved in recent years, still lacks the ability to capture the finest details of an image. A drum scanner succeeds where the flatbed fails. The images can be positive colour transparencies, colour negatives or reflective colour copy. They are mounted in an optically transparent drum that rotates at high speed with a light source beamed at or through the images. Centrifugal force created by the spinning drum holds the images firmly in place.

Light reflected off the image or passing through it is collected as digital data and passed straight to the computer. Resolutions up to 12,000 dpi (dots per inch) can be achieved, enabling huge enlargements to be made at the printing stage. Thus a small negative or transparency can be blown up to poster, even advertisement hoarding size.

Where final print quality matters, a drum scanner has been used in the process. All the top imaging bureaux, both here and overseas, use ICG scanners. If they don’t, they’ve compromised on quality.

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