The HP Scanjet 5530's lid cleverly incorporates an automatic photo feeder (APF) that allows you to scan up to 24 photos at a time with the touch of a button. Photos are automatically fed through the scanner glass on a cushion of air (generated by two small fans housed in the lid) before exiting at the other end of the scanner lid.
This layer of air protects the photos from damage caused by the mechanics of the scanner as well as from friction from the flat glass, although HP recommends against using the APF to scan fragile, irreplaceable or damaged photos. The HP Scanjet 5530 also comes with a separate plug-in Transparent Material Adapter (TMA) for scanning 35mm negatives and slides, but unfortunately not medium format film. All of this imaging magic comes at a price, however, as the 5530 is a rather large (but well-built) piece of equipment measuring 312 x 545 x 173 mm (WxHxD).
As for connectivity, the HP Scanjet 5530 has a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 connection (cable included) and is both PC and MAC compatible, although there is no FireWire interface. The step-by-step instruction sheet makes setting up the scanner easy, and the HP Photo & Imaging software installs smoothly for the first time. In addition to the TWAIN scanner driver, HP's full suite of software includes Photo and Imaging Director, which controls all major functions, and Photo & Imaging Gallery for viewing photos and performing basic image editing. HP also offers several other applications, including ArcSoft's Collage Creator software, ReadIris Pro 8 for optical character recognition (OCR) and a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.
The HP Scanjet 5530 features 2400 x 4800 dpi optical resolution and 48-bit internal color depth. On the front panel, six separate task buttons provide shortcuts to some of the "Scan," "Copy" and "Share" software functions that are present in the Photo and Imaging Director applet. By default, images scanned using the supplied HP software are converted to 24-bit data before being transferred to the computer. However, this can be overridden if you prefer to work with the original 48-bit files, especially if you like to use the TWAIN driver in 48-bit compatible software such as Photoshop.
HP Scanjet 5530 Driver
One thing I found particularly annoying about using the TWAIN driver was that it would automatically close once it had completed a single scan instead of asking you for additional media (except when scanning from the automatic photo feeder). So if you have a lot of images or documents you want to scan manually into a third-party graphics package, you'll have to reopen the TWAIN driver and reselect your scan settings each time.
Another minor irritation is that the TWAIN driver automatically performs a reflective preview analysis every time you open it, even if you intend to scan slides or negatives using the TMA plug-in. Overall, though, we found the HP software suite easy enough to use, and it can also give you control over how the final image is scanned.
The HP Scanjet 5530 completed our 48-bit A4 color scan test at 300 dpi in a respectable 29 seconds. However, a scan at 600 dpi of the same area took three minutes 24 seconds, which is more than five times slower than the Epson Perfection 3170 Photo we reviewed in January 2004. Scanning times at 2400 dpi for color negatives and slides were equally disappointing when compared to the results obtained with the Epson scanner. However, scan speed isn't everything.
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