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Ice works fine. There is no softening,, however without the Scanhancer you will get little nibbles ICEd out of some of your sharp edges. Buy the Scanhancer, a $30 piece of magic plastic, which will make this scanner 10 times better for scanning Velvia.
ICE works only on E-6 and C-41 film. It works by looking seeing dirt with an extra infra-red channel. It can do this because E-6 and C-41 film is almost clear to infrared, so the scanner easily can tell the difference between dirt (opaque) and picture (clear).
Silver based B/W and Kodachrome is opaque to IR, and therefore the scanner would think the entire image is one big clump of dirt. You can leave ICE turned on with these films, and you will get a very soft scan since the ICE system is trying to paint out the entire image!!!
The artifact that can be visible is a chewing away of sharp edges pixel-by-pixel if the ICE system mistakes a sharp edge for a piece of dust. In some cases small branches or wires are partially painted out by the ICE system, or the sharp edges of type on a billboard may be chewed away. The Scanhancer fixes this.
Because this artifact happens pixel by pixel, scanning at higher resolutions makes all the pixels, and therefore the artifacts, smaller if you don;t have the Scanhancer. This artifact is no problem at 4800 DPI in both 35mm and 120, but unfortunately scan times are very long for 120 formats at 4800 DPI
Here are results of my tests of how bad these artifacts show and what scanner resolutions give what quality after resizing. This is for scans from the 645 120 format with a Velvia transparency deliberately chosen to show these artifacts. Most transparencies show none. Scans from 6x7 are the same, except that the "resized to 750 pixels wide" quality will be better by 25% since there are 25% more pixels before resizing to 750 pixels wide.
645 format original: (same results with glass and glassless carrier)
* This is how good it looks on a typical CRT monitor and how it looks at 200% where the artifacts can be more visible.
** No, I don't know why it works better down at 600 DPI. It just does.
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