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I have an old Epson Perfection 1650 scanner and a new HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus printer with attached scanner.

The Epson scanner is 10 years old, is 1600 dpi and is intended as a photo scanner.

The Officejet with scanner is new, but is 4800 dpi and not intended as a photo scanner.

Any opinions on which one may be a better bet for high resolution photo scanning?

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You will need to test to know for sure -- I do not have either so I will not answer, but dpi (dots per inch) is generally better the higher it is -- more resolution, my guess is the newer model will do as well or better than the older scanner. – Patrick Hurley Aug 1 '13 at 17:50
Opinion questions are a tough sell here... You might have better traction with a pros/cons oriented question. Ideally, however, a question that asks about scanner features appropriate to photo scanning is more useful in the long run. – John Cavan Aug 1 '13 at 18:05
Or, the general question: "Will an old photo-specific scanner outdo a new general-purpose one?" – mattdm Aug 1 '13 at 18:17

The key feature of the Epson 1650 photo scanner that made it a photo scanner was that the lid for the scanner had the ability to be a light source. From the product brochure:

Epson scanner with light in lid

This allowed one to scan their slides and negatives without getting the higher end specific purpose slide scanners (example: Nikon Coolscan 5000) which tended to be much higher price... and you couldn't use a slide scanner for prints or other general scanning.

The flathead photo scanner was also able to scan medium and large format film. The 1650 advertised an "Optimal 4"x5" transparency unit" which was likely a different (switchable) lid with a larger light area.

If you are scanning slides or negatives, the Officejet will not do it at all. On the other hand, if you are scanning prints, either will do it and the Officejet may do it better.

The line of photo scanner made by Epson is apparently still in production. For example, the Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner - note the media being scanned and the light source in the lid.

Modern epson photo scanner

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Almost certainly the new scanner will be better. If it is a color scanner at 4800dpi, then it can scan photos just fine. There isn't really a distinction between photo scanners and non-photo scanners other than for marketing purposes. All that matters is if it can accurately sample points of color and that is going to be the need for any scanner, regardless of purpose.

The main difference is that generally document scanners are lower resolution and focused on high speed where as photo scanners are focused on high resolution and slower speed. Since the newer scanner is much higher DPI though, it should do a better job in most cases. Document scanners also tend to be feeder driven for speed where as photo scanners are flat bed scanners.

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What about color gamut and accuracy? (Genuine question -- I have no idea.) – mattdm Aug 1 '13 at 19:58
I'll admit I've not personally done a whole, whole lot of scanning, but I've never noticed much of a difference between color on flatbed scanners, at-least as long as you calibrate it to a known target. There might be a dynamic range difference, but I'd expect that a 10 year difference would more than compensate for that. I'll admit I had to go researching the difference though because I'd never really heard of the photo vs document distinction. I'd always just known it as the feeder and flat bed distinction, which seems to be the same as document vs photo. – AJ Henderson Aug 1 '13 at 20:06

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