I have used the Minolta Scan Dual II for two years now and I'm completely satisfied with it.
The differences to the newer Scan Dual III which was released only a few months ago are an upgrade to USB 2.0, an updated scanning software that now includes software to restore older slides/negatives and to remove dust and fingerprints. A new version of Photoshop is also supplied. While the Scan Dual II had Photoshop 5.0 LE the Scan Dual III has Photoshop Elements in its package.
The thing I like on this scanner expecially is that it has great dynamics and no noise on dark areas. I scanned a slide yesterday, put it on ZIP100 and printed it today at work with Agfa d-lab.2 at size 30*45cm. The picture was razor sharp and almost grainless. I don't believe many digital cameras (if any) can do the same quality!
What about using Photoshop 7 as the scanning program? Will it be better? Or do you need that software that comes with the scanner to scan, then import the scanned pictures to Photoshop and edit it? (how many 'scan' word did I mentioned already?? )
I don't think you can use Photoshop 7 as a replacement for the scanning software (at least you can't use Photoshop 6). You'll need either the software that is delivered with the scanner or a third-party software like VueScan or SilverFast.
After the scanning software has saved the original scan to your hard disk you can open the scan in Photoshop.
Anyway, u can use photoshop to scan, but it basically uses the VueScan application again since the VueScan system provides the TWAIN drivers that basically powers the scanner... what it does is that instead of transferring the data from the scanner back to the VueScan application, it transfers it back to Photoshop and from there you can carry out the various editing required...