Any Nikon CoolScan 8000/9000 users here?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by mood_lover, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. After a year and a half scanning for hundreds of hours with my Epson V800 for 120 film, I've come to the conclusion that I am not happy with the detail and color rendition captured by this flatbed (after all its a low-level flatbed). I"ve learned just about everything there is to learn using Epson Scan and SilverFast to pull out the best dynamic range without clipping anything, getting the negative flat and sharp, and color correcting in these softwares. Still, I am unhappy with my work when I see how scans come out from a Noritsu minilab for example.

    So I'm on the market looking for a CoolScan (since apparently these were the best home scanners that rival minilab quality, is that true?). The 9000 is far, far out of my $1000 budget but I hear it creates better image quality than the 8000. Is it a significant jump? When buying the 8000, what questions should I ask the seller to make sure everything is proper? Lastly, is anyone here happy with their 8000 and can share their experiences/scans (good or bad)? Truly appreciate it, thanks!
  2. I have an LS-8000, which works just fine. The 9000 was an incremental improvement, and I think a move from Firewire to USB. The 8000 is often fussy about which Firewire host is installed, and should us the "legacy" drivers. I have several flatbed film scanners, and none comes close to the 8000 in terms of resolution and contrast.

    The film holders are specific for a certain size of film. You would want the slide holder, 35 mm strip holder and 120 strip holder at a minimum. For critical scanning of 120, you should have one of the glass holders.

    Nikonscan is an excellent product, but works in Windows XP or earlier, not Windows 7 and beyond. I use Silverfast, which provides all the drivers needed, and has the same work flow with any scanner.

    For 35 mm slides (reversal film), the best "scanner" is probably a digital camera (24 MP or more), 1:1 closeup lens, and a Nikon ES-1 slide holder. You can copy negatives too, but holding them, then subsequently converting to positive present some challenges.

    To convert negative images to positive with a camera, First use Photoshop Levels to optimize the CMY channels, which removes the orange mask, then invert the colors (CTL-I). It's not easy to get good color balance, but that's not easy with a Nikon scanner either.
    mood_lover likes this.
  3. Here is a photo I took with an Hasselblad, on Fujicolor (Provia?) and scanned with a Nikon LS-8000. It has been cropped and printed 16x20" and hangs in our dining room in the fall. There is no noticeable grain in the print.

    mood_lover likes this.
  4. david_henderson


    What are you scanning for please? If for printing then what size prints from what size negs. The Nikon Coolscans are no doubt capable of getting better resolution and Dmax, but the scan still won't be perfect and there will still be limits as to what you can reckon to achieve without the next solution in the quality line being able to give a better solution. I'm kind of surprised that you're finding minilab scans so clearly superior.
    mood_lover likes this.
  5. Ed, the 9000 still uses FireWire 400 (at least mine did).

    Before I sold it, I used my 9000 connected to a 2008 Mac Pro, and used Viewscan software. This combination worked fine, and should also work fine with an 8000 scanner.

    I sold the scanner after scanning all my best 120 negatives (mostly black and white), because I now "scan" my old 35mm slides (almost all are Kodachrome) by copying with my Canon 5D II with 100mm macro lens, and because I could sell the scanner on eBay for a very significant profit!
  6. Thanks for the response! Regarding photos scanned with the 8000 vs 9000, when viewed online, can you tell a huge difference? I am coming from a Epson V800 flatbed so I am hoping I notice improvement in resolution, shadow detail, and color. For some reason, my colors coming off my flatbed look kind of "digital" and not like the film colors I like. I love colors that Carmencita Film Labs spits out using their Noritsu minilab scanner (I think HS-1800) for example. But I do not know how the 8000 compares to lab scan. I have read it rivals it well and sometimes surpasses it, but I havent been able to verify it.

    I shoot strictly 120 film, and have an offer on the table for a good condition 8000 with only power cord, Nikon Scan software, and the 120 tray for $750. You think that's an alright price? What is the "glass holder" you speak of? Is that different than the regular 120 strip holder? How come you say its not easy to color balance with the Nikon? I thought it spits out "superior" color?
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  7. Love it, please show more 8000 scans if you have any. Is there any way to get the 8000 to scan the rebate edge or entire border of the film (the part that says Kodak Portra 400 etc)? If not, no biggie. Do you think the 8000 can spit out this kind of quality: HOLLIE FERNANDO - editorial - I know these photos were lab scanned so I am wondering in your experience what do you think, and if you are happy with the scanners' image resolution and color?
  8. Hi David, I am scanning for web and print using 6x7 negatives. Don't know the exact dimensions yet but I'd say like 20x24" if possible otherwise smaller is fine. I know when you hear web you think I dont need a great scanner but I do notice the difference in color and resolution, and being that film is my passion I do want to get great lab looking results if you think thats possible with the 8000. When you say the scan still won't be perfect and there will still be limits, what are you speaking of? I am looking to upgrade from my flat digital looking results from my Epson V800 flatbed and get closer to lab results without getting the CoolScan 9000, do you think thats easily doable with the 8000?

    Also, why are you surprised minilab scans are superior to my flatbed scans? I cant compete with the $10-30,000 Noritsu or Frontiers they use!
  9. I have a Nikon 9000 and currently have used it with Windows XP, Windows 7 64 Bit, and now Windows 10 64 Bit all using Nikon Scan software. The following sites describe how to get it to work with the latest operating systems. You use Nikonscan 4.0.3, which was for Windows Vista. I followed the instruction for the sevensforums and had it working with Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit. When I upgraded Windows 7 Professional to Windows 10, the scanner worked after the upgrade.

    Getting your Nikon Coolscan to work on W7 x64 - Windows 7 Help Forums

    Nikon Coolscan, Nikon Scan, Driver: 64 bit Windows Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8
  10. Do you have any experience comparing its scans to the 8000? Honestly the 9000 is far out of my budget range and the reason I asked about it is because I wanted to know how much quality I was losing by buying an 8000 instead.
  11. david_henderson


    When I had a 9000 I'd use it for scans to print up to say 18" sq from 6x6. It would of course make scans beyond that level, but for the minority of prints I needed larger than that, I'd buy in a scan from an Imacon or a drum scan. That's because despite the fact that the 8000/9000 Coolscans will make scans up to a real 11000 ppi x 9000 ppi approx. from your negs- far bigger than you need for a 24"x 20" print- it is the case that by the time you get to their largest capability, there are other scanners that will do better. Where the crossover point is will vary with your scanning skills, your scanning technique (eg glass mount), your ability to post-process those scans well, the quality of the original, and how picky you are. Regardless I think you could make scans of the size you want from a 8000/9000 that would keep most people happy, once you'd learned how to use it well.

    I can't answer about relative quality of scans from 8000/9000 since I've no experience of the former and indeed I don't expect there are many people with meaningful experience with both. These scanners were never cheap, and the cost of upgrade was high. I have always thought there wasn't a lot in it, just that the 9000 was a somewhat more modern and flexible way of delivering substantially the same thing.

    The other thing I want to say here is that I never , ever, systematically went through my portfolio of MF film and scanned them. Scanning is not fun in my book; its a dull repetitive task on which its possible to make mistakes. Far too time consuming for me to want to make scans I might never use. That said I shot slides and so I had a pretty good idea of what my images looked like without scanning them. That's why I did eventually end up with a flatbed here. Most of my slides will never need to be scanned. The ones that are scanned will probably be used for the web or more rarely to make prints or blurb books with an image size of 12" sq max. I find I can use the V700 for that - but see below. I suspect I'm not alone in having a limited demand for prints over that size, and the right economic decision for me is not to own a scanner to support big prints from film, but to put those scans out as I need them which is a few a year, typically to a service offering Imacon scans. I don't any longer make big prints just for the hell of it- I've already got a plan chest full of prints and I now print only when I'm sure that I or someone else wants to hang it, or for the occasional show. So for me, a scanner to support large scans sitting in my office is something I can do without, having been there and sold it.

    Its also worth picking up your point about colours. I've normally been able to get the colours, contrast etc that I want on a scan (though sometimes slides have limitations), But in post rather than in the scanner itself. In the scanner, I'm looking to extract as much information /detail as I can get and making as much use as I can of the scanners dynamic range. I've always expected to have to do work in post to adjust the scan to the colours etc that I want. I don't expect perfect colours (faithful to the original) out of a scanner and indeed as you use negs I don't know how you'd tell when you got that! I assess the quality of a scan by its apparent ability to pick up the detail in the original, not by its colour or anything else I can alter more easily in PS than in scanner set-up.

    Which leads onto a final point- quality of minilab scans vs scans one can make at home, or different lab products on high-end scanners. Minilab scans are generally sold cheaply as part of develop and print/scan packages. Independent of the actual capability of the scanner used, they aren't often usable for much beyond a proof sized print (eg 6x4) or use on screens. Labs vary in their ability energy to test and adjust their scanner output. Minilab scans are usually not much use for larger prints, which their size will generally indicate. They are made automatically, very fast and are often not made under direct supervision. So when you say you like your lab's scans, how much are you paying for them, how big are they, or is your "like " simply related to the colours they turn up with, where actually you have little way of telling whether those colours are "right" or not? My comment on minilab scans was made on the basis of likely resolution, size, and usability; not colour- which I'm used to having to manage myself post scan. If I'm wrong, and your lab is turning out scans that are not only nicely coloured but are also good enough to support a large print and affordable, then maybe you have no need to own a scanner at all! Minilabs are expensive to buy because they're big, fast , and integrated; leading to a very low labour input in the rapid production of a high volume print and scan process. Not because they contain the best scanners on the planet- though they may be the fastest.
    mood_lover likes this.
  12. I do not have any experience with the Nikon 8000. I have scanned color negatives in both 35mm and medium format, have not started scanning my 35mm slides yet. I use a holder with glass for scanning medium format. I have both the Nikon glass holder for medium format and one that I constructed.
    robbirtles likes this.
  13. Great to hear, I don't need huge sizes yet so up to 20x24" is more than enough for me right now.

    This is an issue or maybe misunderstanding that I have. The pro lab Noritsu/Frontiers spit out this beautiful color that you just can't recreate in Photoshop. Unfortunately without owning one of those scanners I don't think I'll get their colors. But I am after better film-style colors than what my V800 is giving out, you think thats possible?
  14. Optically, I am pretty sure the 8000 and 9000 are virtually identical. The 9000 has a USB interface. You should, however, get good 20x24 prints from a properly used V700/800. Colors are primarily determined by the skill of the operator, not the hardware or software. If you feel the need for a dedicated scanner, the Braun FS-120 gets good reviews, and is available new with a warranty for less than a used Nikon.
    pablo_escobar likes this.
  15. Thanks for the reply, but I don't think this is accurate. Colors can vary wildly from hardware to hardware, the software is what is controlled by the operator yes, but the incoming color from one hardware can greatly affect the final output. The colors I see coming from a big lab Frontier has been unmatched by any other scanner I've seen. If a person tries to match the colors its never right.

    On another forum Ive been told the 8000 cannot match the colors of a Frontier, it just has its own feel to it
  16. If you are contemplating buying a LS 8000, quiz the seller about the history of the scanner. These scanners are getting old and prone to failure if they've been abused or not regularly serviced. I was disappointed with the scans from my 8000 until I realized that the mirror probably needed cleaning. Upon inspection, the mirror had no reflection at all, how I got a scan from it is anyone's guess. Then the motherboard failed, preventing me from viewing the results of a "clean" scan from a cleaned mirror. Limited repairs can be done here: Nikon Coolscan LS-8000 ED / LS-9000 ED service and repair notes

    I still don't know how good these 8000s are, I've had mine for two years but it won't give me a chance to find out, but hopefully soon I will know when I reassemble it and scan a film after all the cleaning and repairing. My trusty Microtek 120tf has been doing the bulk of my work. However, a scan is only as good as your negative or slide. With a good quality negative, I can get good detailed scans using my Microtek i900, it doesn't beat the 120tf or 8000 though, but scanning poor quality negs and slides in an expensive dedicated film scanner is a waste of time. I still have the i900 because it's reliable and scans 110 size which I have many to do, I tape them to the glass tray and use Vuescan which allows enlargement of the tiny prescans so that they can be easily viewed. Plus the i900 caters for every other film size when using its film holders or the large glass tray

    What I noticed with the 8000, when it was working, was that it was a whole lot better than the 120tf when both were used with Vuescan. But when the 120tf was used with Silverfast, the tables were turned

    The film needs to be flat for the 8000, if it's curved, trouble occurs with scan focus, a piece of glass sitting on the film helps to flatten the film. I used a piece of picture frame anti-reflection glass specially cut to size but at high resolution scanning, the faint marks of the "rough" side of the glass showed up in the scans. So only a proper scanning glass will suffice

    The film holders for the 8000 are extremely expensive on eBay, two of them together can cost the same as the scanner without film holders. I'd recommend you buy a scanner WITH holders, spend the extra dollars if you plan on buying an 8000, but keep in mind their age and subject to breakdown any day after starting to use it
  17. The standard 120 film holder is glassless. It clamps the film strip on both edges, and one edge is moveable to pull the strip flat (remove cupping). While the film is held reasonably flat, the DOF of the scanner is very shallow, so it's hard to get both the center and edges in sharp focus.

    There are two glass holders which hold the film strip between two sheets of glass. One is somewhat larger and fixed, and the other can be moved over a small angle to accurately align the film. The lower glass (toward the lens) is coated but untextured. The upper glass is treated with an anti-Newton Ring texture. The lens has a clear view of the film. The holder comes with several masks, which are digitally keyed to the scanner. These provide spacing and tell the scanner what film size is loaded.

    I get the best results placing the film emulsion side down in the glass holder. In Chicago climate, the film usually cups upward on that side, so there is no contact with the lower glass, or the matte finish has little tendency to cause Newton's Rings. The backside of the film is shiny, and usually touches the upper glass, but the AN treatment effectively prevents rings from forming.

    Product information is hard to find, now that Nikon scanners have been discontinued. This may help. The same holders are used on the 8000 and 9000.

    FH-835S - 35 mm Strip Film Holder (6x2)
    FH-835M - 35 mm Mounted Film Holder (6)
    FH-869S - 120/220 Strip Film Holder (3 6x6 to 1 6x9)
    FH-869G - 120/220 Strip Film Holder with Glass​
  18. Reversal film is easy to scan, and Silverfast can create and use a scanner profile. Furthermore, you have the original for comparison.k One profile works for most every film, except Kodachrome, which has a UV/IR absorbing lacquer applied in processing.

    Negative color film is all over the map with regard to color. Each manufacturer and emulsion has different characteristics. A half-stop difference in exposure changes the color balance dramatically. You can create a profile and force it in Photoshop ("assign profile"), but the profile is only good for a particular lighting environment and emulsion. Achieving acceptable color balance is a combination of experience, skill, hardware and software.

    I find that Silverfast has all the tools and automation to simplify this task as much as possible, far better than Nikonscan. Nikonscan, on the other hand, is easier to automate. You can preview and adjust separate images quickly, with either program, before the final scan, which is lengthy.

    Any process results in distortion. "Accurate Color" is a myth (you can get one shade true at the expense of all the others). In the end, you choose the distortion which pleases you.
  19. The seller is nikon_coolscan from eBay. He claims the unit is mint, just serviced, offers 60 day warranty. Here is his account page for anyone interested: nikon_coolscan on eBay

    For the anti-newton ring glass, if I put it on top of the film, is the scanner going to scan through the glass using it's lens? Or is the lens underneath the film tray, on the opposite side of the glass?
  20. Thanks for the info, where can I see more of your scans? I loved the one you posted earlier, it has such a 3D feel to it that I look for. You should make a tutorial on scanning, you're very good at this. Regarding silverfast, does using the IT calibration card help achieve better colors?

    I don't really need "accuracy", I'm looking more for a feel and style that I see the big labs produce. I love their colors.

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