Nikon 5000 - difference in scan quality with Vuescan and Nikonscan

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by edward_hasler, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. Hi,

    I've recently purchased a Nikon Coolscan 5000 scanner to replace my
    Canon FS4000 (which I thought was faulty, but it turns out is not -
    doh!), howver having compared the two I've decided to keep the Nikon
    and sell the Canon.

    I've also been comparing the results I get when using NikonScan 4 and
    Vuescan, and have noticed the following problem with jagged lines/big
    pixels in the Vuescan image.

    When I look at each scan (saved as a Tiff file, then opened in
    Photoshop 7), there is a noticeable difference between the two
    images. Images scanned in Vuescan appear to be made up of bigger
    pixels, and lines appear to be more jagged. This is obvious when you
    compare two images side-by-side at 100% scale on screen, however I've
    yet to print both images to see if it makes a difference on paper.

    In this respect, NikonScan is noticeably better, however I'm not so
    impressed with it's colour management and am finding it hard to
    obtain scans that I'm totally happy with.

    My monitor is calibrated and profiled with a Colorvision Spyder and
    OptiCal, and from what I can see from various test images, it is
    pretty accurate.

    As Nikonscan obviously doesn't support scanner profiles, I've turned
    off it's internal colour management, and have created a separate ICC
    profile using a free profile maker called IPhotoMinusICC which was
    recommended by Wolf Faust (who supplied my IT8 targets).

    My basic workflow is as follows:

    1. Preview and scan slide from Nikonscan, with all colour
    management/sharpening/curves etc... switched off. The only thing I
    have enabled is ICE and grain removal.

    2. Save as TIFF file and open using Photoshop

    3. Preserve profile (which is sRGB) on opening, then assign my custom
    scanner profile to the image and finally convert to Adobe RGB 1998
    (my default Photoshop working space).

    4. Run AutoLevels

    After all this, some scans look very similar to the original slides,
    but others are not. Is this normal, and do I just need to deal with
    the inaccurate ones by tweaking in Photoshop, or should a properly
    calibrated and profiled scanner produce accurate results most of the

    Also, my other concern is that with Nikon's own colour management
    switched off, it only seems to output in sRGB which I understand has
    a smaller gamut than Adobe RGB 1998, so I assume that I'm not
    extracting all that I should be able to from my slides. Certainly the
    original scans look very washed out before I assign my custom profile
    to them in Photoshop. I would have thought that the scanner should
    produce better results as standard.

    I'd be very grateful for any advice, or pointers to any obvious
    mistakes that I might be making.


  2. Ed,

    It sounds like Vuescan is scanning at a lower resolution. The interface is a little clunky --
    is it possible you're not scanning at the resolution you think you are?
  3. in vuescan make sure your scan resolution in the imput menu is set to 4000.

    in the output menu, make sure that magnification is set to 100% and print size equals
    your scan size
  4. Some films are easier to color manage than others. I've found Ektachromes, Fuji Astia, Kodak Supra and Royal Supra to be very easy to scan with accurate colours. I've found Velvia to be an absolute pain in this respect. YMMV

    Obviously it is possible that the colour casts in your slides due to incorrect colour balance of the light source may show up in the scans stronger as you remember them viewing them on the light table as the eye/brain may correct the colours differently depending on the environment.
  5. To Illka, when you mention Velvia as being difficult to scan are you using the 5000? I am presently using the older Coolscan IV and am scanning Velvia 100% of the time and having a very difficult time. I am about ready to upgrade to the 5000 and am interested in your experience scanning this film.
  6. I tried Vuescan with my 5000 and did not like it. Yeah it has lots of options, but I thought the scans were not that great. Slide scans were decent but not any better than using Nikon Scan. Negative scans were extremely poor. After testing Silverfast Ai 6 with the 5000 I've found that negative scans are best with that. However it does not support all the features of the 5000, so I'm not sure $350 is justified. At this point in time, I'm sticking with Nikon Scan.

    Every scan I do I adjust the color balance post scan. This provides me with excellent results. I recently scanned some Velvia slides for a customer and they turned out wonderful. I did not have any trouble with them. Use your light box, your eyes, and your judgement as to what looks good and you'll get good scans ;)

    Carl Pearson
  7. Thanks for the replies so far everyone.

    I'll double check my Vuescan settings, but I always make sure it is set to 4000 dpi, and output to "scan" size so I'd be surprised if this was the reason.

    It appears that only parts of the scan appear "jagged" - it's most noticable on diagonal lines.

    I've just ordered a couple of books on Photoshop and colour managment, so I suspect once I start to get a hang of this subject (which I currently know next to nothing about) this will hopefully get a bit easier.

    I've done a bit more experimenting with NikonScan, and quite a few scans have come out looking pretty much spot on when compared to the original slides on my light box, which is a lot more encouraging.

    My main worry now is that it appears that NikonScan outputs in sRGB mode when you diable it's inbuilt colour management, and I'd like to capture in Adobe RGB mode if at all possible.

    What I thought I could try is this:

    1) Scan IT8 target slide with Colour management switched on, and set to output in Adobe RGB, however all image adjustment will be disabled.

    2) Create scanner profile using image from step 1

    3) Scan slides using settings from step 1

    4) Open in Photoshop, retaining profile, then assign newly created profile from step 2

    5) Convert back to Adobe RGB (my default Photoshop workspace).

    6) Tweak colours in Photoshop

    Any comments?

    Thanks again for your advice!

  8. I have a new Nikon 5000. I am using the SA-30 extensively so Silverfast Ai is out, the current version does not support that accessory. As for Vuescan I was impressed to some extent with
    the color. I have a set of color transparency (35mm Fuji Provia 100f) where its all studio lighting against a white seamless (I no longer have the roll of paper, IIRC it was 'super white'). My lights , acc. to a color meter, are a tad yellow and warrant I believe it was a CC2 green filter to correct. Or maybe it was CC4 I have misplaced that notebook and the meter was a rental. Anyway...I have a Fuji S1 Pro digital SLR. My experience is that if I set the camera white balance on 'cloudy day' the colors come out right with my lights.

    I have a picture of the subject, a chinese woman with a blond crewcut in a black top, with the S1 and a similar shot with film.
    While skin tones on Vuescan with 'white balance' come close its not the same and the Nikonscan image is much less saturated and the color of skin and hair is not as good -- and I was not able to readily make it match in Photoshop 6.

    One very crucial issue is that color profiles need to actually get embedded or photoshop will not know what the original color space is.
    I'm trying to get nikonscan to do it. For Vuescan I decided that I should use Adobe RGB.

    if you read the instructions for nikonscn they have an excellent overview of the differences between the various input profiles from sRGB to wide gamut along with some basic explanation.
  9. Dana,
    Your last message on the topic dates back from 2004, but your experience would still help me. I own a Nikon Coolscan 5000ED. I scan slides. I have created different profiles (depending on the slide's type) with the help of IT8 targets, turning off all possible automatic features on Nikonscan (that is color management system, autoexposure, etc.). And still, when I open my "raw scans" in PS8, I am told that there is a sRGB profile embedded into them! I guess that is because Nikonscan is unable to tag my customized profile directly at the scanning stage. Eventually, I tell PS8 to assign my customized scanner profile to the image before converting it into RGB 1998, but I wonder if I take the best out of my scanner. Any advice? Thanks a lot. Cyrille

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