Why are Epson V500 flatbed scanners less sharp at max dpi?

On an Epson V500 scanner, 9600dpi and 12800dpi seem less sharp than 6400dpi and 4800dpi which seems to be the sweet spot.

Because those are interpolated resolutions versus true optical output. The V500 isn’t usually capable of more than +/- 3200 ppi true optical resolution IF you get the film in the right focus plane for your scanner and perfectly flat.

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