When image is everything, a lightweight $150 scanner simply wont suffice. Microteks ScanMaker 8700 weighs 25 pounds and costs $1,000, but buyers get what they pay for.
I get by with a Canon Canoscan that weighs about 5 pounds and cost me $150 (shipping included), but the ScanMaker 8700 produces a much sharper, richer image in about half the time, even when running via USB. With FireWire, its even faster.
The trick is in Microteks EDIT (Emulsion Direct Imaging Technology), as well as an impressive 42-bit, 2,400-by-1,200-dot-per-inch optical resolution. EDIT is similar to Applied Science Fictions Digital ICE technology, which is found in Nikon and Minolta scanners, among others. EDIT allows the 8700 to scan at the emulsion level of a photograph, bypassing the refractive elements, such as glass and scratches. (Watch out, though. Accidentally using the photo setting on something other than a photograph produces sketchy results—literally.) Microtek includes a nice software bundle, and the 8700 has some built-in features that you wont find in other scanners, including JPEG compression and the ability to scan to Adobes PDF.