Nikon Coolscans are they really that good vs the current new offerings

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by RaymondC, Jan 24, 2019.

  1. I have a CS which I might send it overseas (bought it used seems like off a professional photographer) and it failed not long after that, it seems that the Firewire IC chips has to be replaced. Curious, CS are going for such high prices second hand which Nikon themselves don't repair anymore, I have also asked Nikon Tokyo since I go there now and then. They also don't repair them but only does an CLA.

    The ones that you can get new today the software from what I read might be not as great but the scans comes out reasonably sharp. One could use 3rd party software. So why are CS going for such high prices successfully?

    Looking back perhaps I should had got a new Coolscan V, for my hobby use spending even $2,000US at the time for a medium format scanner as over my budget for the handful that is printed to a decent size. Most of them are just viewed on screen. These days even Coolscan V are going for 2x if not 3x their original price. One could also get a decent amount of Imacon scans that someone else does for you.

    Last edited: Jan 24, 2019
  2. IMO, Nikon film scanners are all they're said to be, with better film handling than FlexTight scanners at a fraction of the price. Nikon discontinued their film scanners largely because photographers abandoned film. Their popularity has subsequently waxed then waned, partly because of maintenance and software issues, but also because there are better, less expensive and faster methods for scanning film.

    Specifically, a modern, high resolution digital camera (24+ MP) with a 1:1 macro lens and film holding device can do a better job in minutes compared to hours per roll. Copying slides is very straight forward. The handling is easy and the colors remain true to the original. Negatives require inversion, which is tricky. I get the best results using Silverfast HD (the processing half of their scanning software), but there are other products, even manual methods, which produce good results.

    As the owner of a Nikon LS-4000 (35 mm) and LS-8000 (MF), I'm in a good position to know the relative merits of scanning and copying. Suffice to say, I rarely use the scanners, because they're too slow to ever finish doing the slides and film I shot over the years but never scanned. From an altruistic point of view, I'd rather investigate using a camera, and pass along what I've learned to others, who may not have the means nor inclination to buy obsolete and generally non-reparable equipment.

    There is extensive information on this topic in
    John Crowe likes this.
  3. I have a CoolScan V on loan, and own a Reflecta ProScan 7200 (in the meantime replaced with a newer model which is still available new today; in the US the brand name is Pacific Images), so I have been able to compare them using the exact same slides and negatives, using VueScan to operate both.
    The Nikon is slightly better, retrieves a bit more tonality with dense negatives, bit more shadow detail with slides. It's all very subtle. In terms of resolution, I see no huge differences either. The Coolscan can scan strips of 6, while my scanner is manual advance.
    Personally, I don't mind this much, and prefer scanning over other methods of digitizing.

    Considering that the CoolScan cannot be bought new, and costs approx. twice what I paid for the Reflecta, brand new with warranty, I think the Nikons are poor value. Yes, they're very good, but the prices are inflated, and in fact the scanners you can still buy today deliver a lot better quality than many give them credit for.

    For medium format, I use a CanoScan 9000 Mk.II. It's OK, but far from great. Since the bulk of my work is 35mm, I'm unwilling to spend more on a medium format capable scanner. Dedicated film scanners that do medium format simply cost a lot.
    pablo_escobar likes this.
  4. There seems to be nothing that scans medium format decently that doesn't cost a small fortune.

    Flatbeds, IME are pretty soft and awful, while the choice of new dedicated scanners appears to be down to 2 - or maybe only 1 now, I don't keep up.

    A flatbed does OK for sheet film, but loses a lot from MF, while digital camera copying can only do a good job on MF if you have an expensive high pixel-count camera like Ed's A7riii.

    I'd like to see something that resolves a true 4000 ppi over a 6x9cm area, and for less than the price of a small car, but I can't see that happening.

    It should be possible, since tri-linear sensors are still being made, and with a 10,000 'pixel' per line resolution. I guess the stumbling block is adding a decent lens and the mechanism to accurately and reliably step a large area of film in 1/4000" increments.

    As things stand; I really can't see the point of using medium format in a hybrid workflow. The outlay on equipment or commercial scanning might just as well be channeled into a high-end digital camera and be done with it.
  5. I paid a lot for my Nikon Super CoolScan 9000, and don't regret it. However, the old CanoScan 4000 is very close for less money. Of course, you need to find one of either that is still working. You also need the proper interface connections...

    If you want to use the original proprietary software with either, you can buy older computers with earlier versions of Windows or MacOS. Otherwise, VueScan. An original old computer will likely be cheaper than converters and work better.
  6. Rodeo (Is that ROW-dee-oh or Row-DAY-oh?) My antique Polaroid Sprintscan 120 will do 6x9 at 4000 spi. (Real res maybe 3950, but that's fine.)
  7. I have a Nikon Super CoolScan 9000 that I purchased new many years ago. I planned on scanning my negatives (35mm and medium format) and 35mm slides. I have scanned a lot of them, but still have many left. I have an older Windows computer that has a firewire connection that works with the scanner. I currently have Windows 10 64 bit Professional operating system and the CoolScan 9000 is working using Nikon Scan software. I did have to install an unsigned driver to get it working. I followed the instruction at this site to get it working.

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

  8. Try this site for IC chip replacement

    Service and Repair of Nikon Coolscan Scanners

    Email to find out if Gleb still replaces chips


    He replaced my LS 8000 Firewire IC chip in 2017
    bobbudding likes this.
  9. I suppose you could make a 4 shot, ie 2 x 2 pano with a D850...:D
  10. If you crop to just eliminate the borders, taken (6x6) with an Hasselblad, the LS-8000 gives you a, 8500x8500 pixel scan (72 MP). A lot of that is resolution overkill. If you assume a reasonable value for on-film resolution is about 80 l/mm, the net resolution is only 4800 pixels. That's not far from the resolution you would get from an affordable 24 MP camera (6000x4000).

    Resolution isn't the whole story. The Nikon scanner uses separate R, G and B (+ IR) LEDs, in rows of 3. Each pixel in the output is a composite of three RGB pixels, which eliminates aliasing and interpolation inherent when using a Bayer filter. Using all three rows can lead to banding, especially seen in clear, blue sky. Only one row is used in "high resolution" mode, eliminating banding, but taking 3x as long for the scan. The IR source is used to detect dust and particulate, distinguishing it from the dyes used in color film, which are relatively transparent to IR, for ICE dust and scratch removal. The optics are designed for 1:1 magnification, with only a short range for focusing. Macro camera lenses demand more flexibility. In order to keep the footprint small, the scanner uses mirrors (3 ?) to fold the optical path. In time, these mirrors collect dust, which reduces contrast of the images. Even when new, the scanner produces a glow or aura around bright objects in slides.

    Perhaps the most important advantage of the film scanner is film handling. It's just there for you to use, without any assembly or any special precautions (beyond basic dust removal and clean cut ends). The LS-4000/5000 (35 mm) comes with a strip (6) feeder, and an optional ($$$) 40 exposure roll feeder. You insert the film and come back when it's finished, with the option to set the cropping, focus and exposure for each frame, based on a quick, thumbnail scan or preview. The LS-8000/9000 scanners come with basic film holders for 6 slides, two strips of 6 frame 35 mm strips, and a universal 120 film holder. In my experience, only one of the optional glass holders ($$$) keeps roll film flat enough to stay in focus, and manages the typical end curl of 35mm strips.

    I mean to try using the pixel-shift mode of the A7Riii to copy slides and, especially, MF film. Four consecutive frames are taken and processed in a manner which eliminates Bayer interpolation. In my experience, the resolution is effectively doubled. Processing involves sums and differences, which is not as clean as MF pixel-shifting, but seems to work well nonetheless. If that bothers you, consider that the stereo recordings and broadcasts you've listened to for the last 60 years are processed in exactly the same manner. Digital sound is interleaved too, as is digital video.
    wogears likes this.
  11. FWIW, I made a "poor man's" glass tray for my CoolScan 8000 by removing the film locks from the standard MF carrier and laying a sheet of AN glass on top of the film when I place it there. I use the AN glass that came with the BetterScanning holder I bought for my Epson V700.

    In any case, I find that it DOES give me edge-to-edge sharpness on MF strips. Importantly for me also, it lets me scan 4 frame 6x6 strips-something not possible in the standard holder(the lock-downs will ruin a frame of film), although I do have to take out the strip and flip it around to get all the frames.

    My 8000 only gets used for MF, as I find that I get better results from my V for 35mm. Not only is the strip feeder easier to use, but I've found that it holds the film much flatter. I don't have the piece designed to go in the slide holder that can hold a single frame, but it looks like it would have excellent flatness also. Even without an auto slide feeder(I THINK there's a stack loader available for the 4000 and maybe the 5000), it's relatively fast to pop slides in and out of the single holder. Since either the film stays completely stationary(slide holder) or it ONLY moves the film itself(strip holder) and the film stays completely stationary while scanning, it's also faster and quieter than the 8000 for 35mm in my experience too.
  12. Thanks Ed. I may start investigating that. I haven't been shooting film, partly because of the cost and partly because of scanning. I have Nikons but it is a relatively slow process and as everyone says, they are aging and wearing out, though I haven't really used mine over much. Anyways, several people seem to be looking at using a camera set-up. Cool!
  13. I have started scanning again using Nikon Super Coolscan 9000 to scan medium format film (645) with the Nikon glass film holder. I am using Nikon Scan 4.0.3 software on a Windows 10 Professional computer. My film is cut with 5 images per strip. You can scan 4 images and I have to rotate the film to scan the 5th image. The first image scans ok, but I have to set a film strip offset for images 2,3,and 4. The offset is not the same for all 3 images and varies from strip to strip. I don't remember doing this when I scanned 645 film years ago. Anyone have any inputs on how to resolve this problem. This really slows down the scanning because I have to do multiple preview scan to get the offset correct. I can't batch scan the strip because of this offset problem with images 2,3,and 4. I have not tried 35mm yet.
  14. You can manually set the scanning frame using the thumbnail. It is not necessary to do a full preview, but it's easier if you do. I recommend you cut future film into strips of three or four, whatever fits your scanner, then store them in archival (polypropylene) pages rather than sleeves. 35 mm should be cut in strips of 6 frames or less, with enough leader so that the last frame is at least 2 frames in length. To do this, start cutting from the end of the roll and move forward. Ditto with 120 film.

    Scanning is slow. One reason I embraced digital so early is the difficulty providing deliverables with film. If I shot 3 or 4 rolls of 35 mm at an event, it would take the better part of a week to deliver the results. The reason I now "scan" with a camera is life is too short fo finish doing my archives with a scanner.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  15. I'll take a proper scanner over digital camera scanning anyday. The ability to use ICE is a huge benefit. Time "saved" with a digital camera is time lost cleaning files manually.
    pablo_escobar and bobbudding like this.
  16. ICE is very useful. However I've had no dust problems when I clean the film with an anti-static brush under oblique lighting. I have had few occasions to use Lightroom or Photoshop for spotting any dust which was missed. Scratches are another thing, but mostly due to careless handling. ICE works, but so does digital spotting. The latter tedious, but effective. ICE affects the entire image, and if used heavily, looks like worm tracks on close examination.

    If you have a scanner, then all it costs to use is time (lot's of time). If not, would you rather put your money into a good digital camera or a used scanner.

    My LS-8000 is 18 years old (purchased in 2001), and at times my film goes in clean and comes out dusty. An LS-4000 is even worse, because the film is always bare, not covered with glass as in the MF version.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  17. I am thinking of buying a 35mm dedicated scanner, and from current reviews around it seems, as Wouter Willemse mentioned, that the Reflecta Proscan 7200 and the Proscan 10T/10M (and Pacific Image brands of the same in american markets) are roughly equivalent in definition to CoolScan V. And at least the best alternative nowadays for a reasonable money.
    Here around by now I see LS-50ED selling more than twice the price of a new Proscan 10T, and couple LS-40ED USB1.1 (not the "Super" with faster FireWire) at the price of a new Proscan 10T.

    there's a long 5 to 4 years old thread on Flickr about the merits of Reflecta/Pacific Image 7200, and many samples:
    Pacific Image Primefilm XE | I Shoot Film Scanner Group. | Flickr

    I have been playing with DSRL "scanning", but have yet to find an optimal replicable setting- Basically one must build some scanning box with set lightning, film holder keeping the film flat, tubes/bellows/lens, ready to go, and connect a DSLR to it for scans, in order to keep some consistency and save time.
    Anyway in case of slightly scratched film, the infrared processing embedded in the logic board of a current scanner goes faster than post-proc manual cleaning, also the calibration of orange background (color film) and white balance is done by the scanner (it's done very fast also in software but the scanner spares that step).
  18. I had Gleb CLA my CS9000 this year. He also provided instruction on how to get Nikon Scan running under Windows 10. I'm very happy with his work.
  19. I got my firewire chips replaced. Sent it overseas to the USA, haha however only 1 week delivery for a modest $20US each way. For just the motherboard. I accidentally damaged a ribbon cable might get a replacement one.

    My CS4000 sat in my closet for 6yrs. It feels so dated. I have a old laptop that runs WinXP. I got it to work but with the damaged cable 30% of the frame is missing. I might check the cable again with my multi meter, I did try to mend it. If I only got into film today I think i won't use any of these dedicated scanners maybe not even the Epson and simply save my money, get my real estate back and just use a small copy stand. It's slow, it's noisy, the nikon is sharper than a flatbed thou but the thing is none of the large photographic companies have released any new scanners in the last 15yrs. Hasselblad might had their same Imacons for the last 10yrs? Current scanners that do make them are the less known brands of Plustek and Pacific Image. It feels I have been transported back to the 90s. No wonder many pro's got the lab to do the printing (and many still do that now with digital), they got the lab to do the scanning when required, some also got the lab to develop their b/w film.

    I know nowadays many that shoot film do it for fun, some don't need dedicated scanners. If they need all that detail there is digital.
  20. I have a Nikon Super Coolscan 9000 and am using Nikon Scan 4.0.3 on a Windows 10 Professional 64 bit system. I have the driver loaded that was developed by someone on the internet. The driver is not signed so I had to follow instruction on how to load unsigned drivers and it worked. I am unable to modify preferences for Nikon Scan 4.0.3. When I click on preferences the screen to modify them opens and I can check the boxes or make selection on what I want. When I click the OK button the software stops responding. I have to use Task Manage to close the program. When I open Nikon Scan again it opens, I can scan film but the preferences have not changed. Does anyone know how to resolve this issue?

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