The Epson Perfection 1250 Photo scanner offers a number of terrific-sounding features, including a transparency adapter that's suitable for 35mm slides and negatives, a fully automated mode, four front panel scan buttons, and 1,200x2,400dpi resolution. Alas, this flatbed falls wide of the mark on performance and ease of use. But in other respects, the 1250 Photo does well: image quality is good, and the transparency adapter produces surprisingly high-quality scans of slides.
Setting up the 1250 Photo requires installing the software, unlocking the scanning mechanism, and connecting the power cord and supplied USB cable. In a nice touch, you can't plug in the power cord without unlocking the scanning mechanism. We installed the scanner without problems and ran our first scan just minutes after opening the box.
The bundled software includes a TWAIN driver, ArcSoft PhotoImpression for photo editing, and Epson Film Factory Lite, a photo album and printing program. An onscreen control panel called the Epson Smart Panel gives you access to an OCR module and a copy utility for scanning to your printer.
The software is a mixed bag. For example, the Epson Smart Panel interface design works as eye candy, but it's so confusing to use that it makes the 1250 Photo stand out as the only scanner for which we've had to read the front-panel button instructions. And it doesn't help that ambiguous icons, rather than text, label the buttons. On the other hand, when you take the more traditional route of launching the TWAIN driver from within a program, the scanner becomes straightforward and easy to use. The TWAIN driver conveniently offers both an automatic mode and a full set of manual controls for tweaking a scan.
The 1250 Photo proves to be a sluggish performer, though. In our lab tests, it clocked in with a 28-second time for a 300dpi scan of a 5x7 color photo, which is below average for its class. And at 47 seconds for a black-and-white scan of a letter-sized page, it's almost twice as slow as the average scanner. In typical use, the scanner feels even slower because of frequent--and unusually long--delays while the unit warms up. The response is also often frustratingly slow when you try to cancel a scan.
The good news is that the scans are worth the wait. Our lab's test photo scan looked a little flat, with slightly muddy colors and dull skin tones. But other scans, especially slides, provide good color. Just remember that 1,200dpi isn't an appropriate resolution for turning a 35mm slide into an 8x10 print; we'd recommend that you print it no larger than 5x7. We see only minor color noise in our test images, no misregistration whatsoever, and sharp text.
If you care more about the results than the process--particularly if you're the kind of amateur photographer who wants to scan slides but doesn't want to invest in an expensive, dedicated film scanner--the 1250 Photo counts as a good value for the price.