Here's what the last page I scanned with the Epson's scanner looks like:
And here's what one of the latest pages looks like:
And that's after I did some image processing with Irfanview.
The main difference here is that the Epson had a scan driver which made its output a lot more customizable. I could adjust the cutoff for dark and light so that the background came out whiter. The Canon's scan driver will let me do that, but it's extrmely cumbersome, and the results are still not very good.
Epson's software made it dead easy: it would present a graph with two movable vertical lines. One was the dark cutoff--anything darker than that color was forced to black--and the other was the light cutoff, where anything lighter would be forced to white. They're different for each page, but it took only a few seconds to set them, and it would vastly improve the quality of the scan. It would present you with a chunk of the image (you could move the sample box wherever you wanted on the image) and it would change that sample in real time as you changed the pointers, so you could dial in the best possible image. Preview, set, scan, done.
Canon? For any image you can adjust the contrast and brightness, but you do it with a sample image that doesn't reflect what you're trying to scan--and it doesn't even reflect your changes in the preview after you click "OK", so you're really gambling.
The best scanner software I've used was what came with my HP flatbed scanner, which I bought before the turn of the century, but that one got recycled since HP decided not to support old hardware after Windows XP. (I'm old enough to remember when HP made stuff that worked.) I couldn't get a driver for that scanner which would work with Vista, and it just sat on a shelf in the basement for eight years.
It is possible to get the quality of the first image out of this scanner by processing the hell out of the image with Irfanview:
But that's a hell of a lot of work to get there, and I shouldn't need to do that. I ought to be able to tell the scanner just to ignore a certain range of colors, like I could with the Epson.
So, what I'm going to have to do is to find a way to try out scanners and their software before buying one, because I want to be able to do scans at least as good as I managed with my now-gone Epson all-in-one which cost me fifty freaking dollars.
Well, it is what it is, I suppose. We'll get there.