HP Photosmart S20 Slide & Film Scanner Reviews
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HP Photosmart S20 Slide & Film Scanner

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HP C5100A Photo Scanner

Feb 10, 2006
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:

Pros:Scans prints, slides, and negatives, reasonably priced on used market.

Cons:Nothing worth noting

The Bottom Line: Older unit but very useful and great buy used. If its a good one and has all the orginal stuff, go for it.


This unit is the earlier SCSI version of the later HP S20 (USB) Photo Scanner.

The C5100A and the S20 look and operate much the same way, the main difference being the interface (SCSI versus USB), and possibly the scanning resolution and / or Pixel depth. The main C5100A specs are:
Resolution- Slides and Negatives = 2400 PPI
Printed Media = 300 PPI
Pixel Depth -10 bits per color

The really nice thing about these HP PhotoSmart Photographic scanners is that they will scan prints, as well as slides and negatives. The C5100A will scan 35mm slides or negatives (up to six exposure strip).
You can also scan Prints up to 5x7 or any flat printed media up to that size, with a plastic sleeve (provided). This is useful for scanning receipts, newspaper or magazine photos or articles etc. The sleeve is NOT necessary for scanning regular photo prints.

These units are unique in design, in that the media opening reconfigures itself for each application, i.e. slides, negatives, or prints. When slides or prints are selected, the media opening becomes narrow, and for prints it opens to a wide slot. In all cases, the media is detected at the opening via an LED and photo sensor. When detected, the media is slowly pulled into the scanner (via rubber rollers), at which time a preview is instantly shown on the monitor screen (using the provide software). This system at first might seem a bit mechanically cumbersome, but it actually works quite well and allows scanning of all media types just like feeding dollar bills into a vending machine. Even negatives are fed directly into the scanner, with no holder or frame required. An ejection button is located right on the front panel to eject media that may not have been inserted correctly.

Although the C5100A could be around ten years old, I had no problem installing the unit or software in my Pentium III PC running Windows 98SE, with an Adaptec AHA-2940 S70 50 pin PCI SCSI Card. (This is not the card originally provided with the C5100A, that card is an older ISA type.) Most if not all PC’s today no longer have ISA slots, and I don’t know if HP ever provided PCI Cards with the 5100. This is something to consider before purchasing. Also, be sure that the SCSI card you intend to use has the right type of connector to mate with the 5100’s SCSI cable. The connectors on the provided cable are type SCSI II 50M. This type uses two small levers ON THE PLUG that must be squeezed to release it from the connector.

Note: This unit (or its software) does NOT run under Windows XP…first hand experience. I am not sure about MAC compatibility either, and don’t know if there ever was a MAC version.

The scans for the most part come out fine, and the quality is more than adequate for monitor display or medium size printing.
There are however a few things that should be noted. After scanning around twenty or so prints, the scanner required recalibration. This is no big deal, as the process is simple and the scanner does it automatically, BUT you MUST have the CALIBRATION CARD! This card comes with the unit, and is an absolute necessity! This card must be fed into the unit for calibration. Calibration is also necessary if there starts to be streaks in the scanned image. It is also necessary if the scanner is relocated or moved.

The software allows editing of the image in all the usual ways, and the finished image can be saved in JPG, TIFF, BMP, or FPX format.

To sum it up, this is a somewhat dated but still very innovative and useful scanner, as evidenced by the fact that there is even a contemporary USB version of the same machine. I’m told they retailed at about $600.00 when new!!!

If you are short on bucks and need to scan lots of old photos and slides this may be a good buy on the used market. Just make sure it’s a good clean unit and comes with all the original materials, especially the software and CALIBRATION CARD.

If you don’t want to mess with the SCSI and you have the bucks, the S20 is next version, is USB plug and play, and works with Windows XP, but be prepared to spend over a hundred more. –HK-


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 50.00
Interface: SCSI

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