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CCD flare with Nikon Coolscan 5000ED

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Hello everyone. I've just bought a new Nikon Coolscan 5000ED to

scan my collection of slides, mostly Kodachromes.


So far it has not been difficult to get generally nice looking scans

(despite Kodachrome's reputation as being difficult to scan), but

I'm very disappointed with the very noticeable flare that occurs in

shadow areas wherever there is an adjacent highlight. I know that

flare (or blooming) is characteristic of CCD devices but I didn't

expect it to be this bad. It is more noticable on certain slides

than others, but on close inspection it occurs on all scans to some



I've tried multi-sampling up to x16 and playing with analog gain but

I can't seem to get rid of it. I wonder if other users have

experienced this effect, or is my scanner faulty?


Another (lesser) disappointment is lack of sharp edge-to-edge focus

due to slight bowing in mounted slide film. Has anyone worked out a

way to keep the film flat without removing it from the mount?




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Thanks John. No they're not in glass mounts, just the standard white plastic mounts you get from the Kodak lab when the film is processed.


By the way in desperation I tried scanning with emulsion side both up and down - it makes no difference to flare. And the flare is definitely not on the original slides.

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Hi Steve. It's a brand new scanner straight out of the box so I'm assuming dust won't be a problem at this point.


I just tried scanning some colour neg film (Kodak Gold 200) and I can't see the same sort of flare effect happening so this suggests it's actually something to do with the Kodachrome film. This is really disappointing because nearly my entire collection (around 7000 slides going back some 35 years) is Kodachrome and if this is the best the scanner can do then I get the feeling I've wasted my money!


I wonder if any other people scanning Kodachrome with a Nikon scanner are having the same trouble with flare? Or am I just too critical? Or maybe doing something wrong?<div>00CTgB-24014684.jpg.97082a4c0e7f6cd0666fc4f64de6b56a.jpg</div>

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My retired film scanner had this flare problem, so I can feel your frustration. You can find several threads here on it, but none of the scanner reviews or Bake Offs will address this issue. On many scans, flares like this cannot be removed easily with PS. In choosing a new film scanner, I paid particular attention to this problem. After detecting it quite prominently on a few Nikon Coolscans, I chose the Minolta DSE 5400 instead. After a year, flares on my slide scans are so faint that I can neglect them (nothing even close to your image). That by itself is worth the price of the DSE 5400.


See my post and related links on this problem here:




The DSE 5400 also has a shallow dof, but I have not done any comparison to conclude whether it is any worse than the Coolscans. Again, none of the reviews or Bake Offs will address this.

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My previous post is based on both Kodachrome and Fujichrome scans. I see little or no difference between film types. But the degree of contrast and/or kinds of colors between shadow and highlight do make a difference in the amount of flares in the scans.
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Do you have ICE switched on? If so try switching it off.


The only other suggestion I can make is try downloading a copy of Vuescan from www.hamrick.com in case it's a software issue.


It's always possible that a new scanner has a dust problem, but if other media scan ok then it's unlikely.

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Thanks for all the responses so far.


Robert, I had a look at the previous posts and see I am not alone with this problem.


There is a lot of discussion about dust being the cause but I don't think that's the case here. I noticed the flare with the very first slide scan on the day I unpacked it from new. Also, although it does radiate in all directions from a highlight in extreme cases, it seems to be most prominent in certain directions only, typically strongest around 1 o'clock from a highlight area in my scans. This shows up very clearly when there is a small bright point of light in a dark area as in the following picture (patches of sunlight coming through a dark forest background). This image has shadow DEE up at around 70 to really show the effect.


I agree that the severity seems to depend on contrast and the kinds of colours between shadow and highlight. I've noticed that histograms of the affected areas generally show the red and green channels (especially red) most affected. Blue is largely unaffected.


Steve, I don't use ICE, GEM or ROC. I discovered early on that these just seem to degrade the image and it's better to make repairs/adjustments in PS. I do use some DEE (carefully) which does of course make the flare seem worse in the shadow areas. I've also tried Vuescan and the results are the same as with Nikon Scan.<div>00CTmq-24019684.thumb.jpg.27caf197a3947b4d5bc0df340bd40b86.jpg</div>

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That last "severe flare" example especially looks like a camera issue (eg hazy lens: fungus, condensation, oil mist or zoom).


I don't think this is a scanner issue.


Basic Ice seems not to affect fine detail at all, though Nikon says in documentation that the most picky level of Ice (not available in KM) may. DEE seems undesirable for normal transparencies.


There's some concensus among HAPPY Nikon users (c'est moi ...a V) that Vuescan (or perhaps Silverfast) is crucial for some (not all) B&W films. I've found Nikonscan wonderful for all sorts of color films: C22, KII, E4, various E6, C41. Perfect with color, nfg B&W. I switched B&W to Vuescan, which solves that problem and doesn't increase grain.


With the V and STRIP FILM I experience extreme sharpness, corner to corner, starting with typical curved film.


Mounted slides will always have focus issues unless you use glass mounts. Kodak's out of the slide projector biz, an additional reason (in addition to scratch risk) to avoid mounting. I treat chrome strips like any other film...the Nikon transport is superb for that purpose.

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Lex, maybe look into reducing the analog gain. The flare could be caused by the light source being set to high for the image and causing light spill over. Be careful not to sacrifice the shadows though. IMO digital chips have less dynamic range than slide film, so you have to adjust your technique to compensate.


I was playing around with my 9000 after I got it and on some really poor slides I could force significant flare by increasing the analog gain.


Check out some of the tutorials at marginalsoftware.com, they have some good advice. Helped me a lot.


You may want to un-mount your slides and let the scanners film transport flatten the film. I would suspect that lab mounted slides are not particularly well mounted.

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Most scanner flare is caused by the protective glass that covers the CCD. This glass is

usually of very poor quality and uncoated. The CCD could do without it, but the CCD

manufacturer glues it on for protection during shipping and assembly. Often these glasses

are non-aligned which causes the kind of severe flare as seen in the above samples.

Brands like Imacon use CCD's in their top of the line scanners where the glass has been

removed. Removing the protective glass is very difficult and can only be done with

specialized equipment.


Try another LS-5000ED to see if the problems differ.

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Thanks everyone for all the helpful suggestions. To answer some of the comments:


"Be happy to try it out but I can't tell your whereabouts from your lack of profile?"


I'm in Perth Western Australia. I'd welcome the opportunity to try some of my more troublesome slides on another 5000ED if there's another user nearby.


"That last "severe flare" example especially looks like a camera issue (eg hazy lens: fungus, condensation, oil mist or zoom).

I don't think this is a scanner issue."


It's absolutely not the camera or lens. Under magnification the original slides are razor sharp with not the slightest sign of any flare.


"DEE seems undesirable for normal transparencies."


I've found that many of the Kodachrome slides I've scanned so far have a histogram with a big peak towards the bottom (shadow) end. In some the peak is clipped, in which case I increase shadow DEE to reduce the clipping and this seems to have a beneficial effect on image quality as long as I don't go too far and end up with distorted colours in shadow areas. Increasing analog gain would also lighten up the shadows but this would be at the expense of saturating highlights.


"I treat chrome strips like any other film...the Nikon transport is superb for that purpose."


Agreed, the film strip transport gives good edge-to-edge focus. I'm sorry now that I chose to have all my slides lab mounted, but who was to know of the problems ahead in the days when affordable high quality scanners were not even on the horizon?


"maybe look into reducing the analog gain"


I did play around with analog gain but it didn't seem to cure it. Reducing the gain and then correcting the image afterwards with PS still resulted in visible flare.


"Most scanner flare is caused by the protective glass that covers the CCD."


This is an interesting point. I'm not convinced that my problem with flare is due either to dust or to film type. If it was dust in the optics between the slide and the sensor I would expect a fairly uniform haziness around the highlight and this is not what's happening. There MAY be a contribution from CCD blooming as there are distinct lines above and below highlights in the previous image and this could correspond to blooming either side of saturated pixels in the linear CCD array. However if there IS blooming taking place I don't think it's the only mechanism contributing to the flare. The image detail below is from another part of the previous image and has smaller highlight areas which show a very clear bias in the position of the flare areas. It hadn't occurred to me before, but could this be consistent with scattering and/or internal reflections from a protective glass cover on the CCD sensor?



"You might want to try turning off the DEE and adjust in PS. I also have a new 5000 and it seems the DEE works best with lower adjustments."


I've tried completely neutral scans (no ICE,ROC,GEM,DEE,curves, balance etc) but the flare is still there after adjustment in PS. I too found that DEE works best in small doses, too much and you get unrealistic flat images and colour distortion. X16 sampling reduces flare slightly (but only slightly).


It's interesting that some users have experienced exactly the same problem and others not at all. Perhaps I was unlucky enough to get a "Friday afternoon" build. I think at this point I should contact the local Nikon service agent and get them to have a look at it. It is after all under warranty.<div>00CUPp-24040984.jpg.060557dd624e49f49a51d724797e84d9.jpg</div>

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"It's absolutely not the camera or lens."


I concur and would add, "It is not on the film." In my troubleshooting, I carefully looked at the slides that had flares on the scans under a loupe to make sure that the glows were not on film. Then I scanned these same slides on several scanners (new and used) and found the raw scans (to eliminate any scanner sw interference) all had flares of different degrees. The flares on my DSE 5400 are by far the faintest, and are negligible for me.


"I have not encountered any such issues in the thousands of frames that I've scanned. I would say this is not normal behavior..."


As reported by many posts here and elsewhere, flares on scans are not isolated incidents. There may be a few explanations to why some users do not encounter them.


1. Flares are only found on certain models. (I found them on all four makes and models I had access to.)


2. On a particular model, the amount of flares varies from batch to batch.


3. On a particular model, the amount of flares is so faint that they are not noticeable to the casual users.


4. Flares are on the scans, but the users never notice them.


I suspect that my experience with the DSE 5400 is probably due to either 2 or 3.


There is an easy way to detect flares. Choose an image with a high contrast area (such as a piece of white chalk against a black blackboard). View the film under a loupe, and note that there is an abrupt transition from the chalk edge to the blackboard background, and there is no glow around the chalk. Scan the film and open in PS. Move the cursor from the chalk center into the blackboard. Observe how the rgb/cmyk values change in the Info Palette as you move the cursor. The numbers should change quite abruptly when the cursor crosses the chalk/blackboard boundary. If the numbers change very gradually, then flares exist on the scan. This method will eliminate flares not noticed due to poor monitor quality or user eyesights. Numbers don't lie.


If the scanner Bake Off people are reading, their test image should include such a high contrast area.


If an image consists of only a piece of chalk and a blackboard, correcting the flares in PS is simple. But flares shown in Lex' examples are not easily fixable, with either the scanner sw or in PS. I was able to give up on film scanning, until I luckily found the DSE 5400.

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I also encountered the same problem with my LS5000 out of the box, and am yet to receive a meaningful explanation, solution, or workaround. Nikon were particularly useless -- despite repeated emails I never heard from them.


I'm also based in Perth, although I'm working in the U.S. on an extended project at the moment. I'll be back home at the end of this month and would be happy to compare notes.


My original post is at:




The one thing the guys at the store where I bought the scanner were able to suggest is to do the scan-time level manipulation (in NS4) using the LCH editor rather than the standard RGB sliders (refer to my post for full details).


Back when I made my original post I'd begun to wonder if quality control might somehow be responsible, so maybe there's some basis to your "Friday afternoon build" theory.


Sorry I can't be more helpful, other than to assure you you're not alone!

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"It hadn't occurred to me before, but could this be consistent with scattering and/or

internal reflections from a protective glass cover on the CCD sensor?"


Yup, it looks like it. Have a look at the attachment. It shows several flare samples at

4800dpi, caused by the CCD protection glass. Please ignore the ICE artifacts at the sharp

edges. The test was performed with ICE turned on, but this has nothing to do with the

flaring. One of the tests was to scan a tiny hole in a piece of black aluminium wrap. Each

test was performed twice with the "film" rotated once the other way in order to see if the

flare would point in the same direction. As you can see it did (since the image was rotated

back in position in Photoshop the flare seems to point the other way).<div>00CVcJ-24073784.thumb.jpg.18f002db7df5ac1f4ef889c78016d267.jpg</div>

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Erik, that's exactly what I'm getting albeit a bit more severe than in your case. Have a look at this detail from a badly underexposed Kodachrome. Admittedly I had the analog gain flat out and used a lot of shadow enhance to get something useful from the slide so it's a pretty extreme case, but look at the multiple reflections from the highlights in the trekking pole. This has got to be a poor quality piece of glass between the image and the sensor. One thing's for sure, it's not dust or CCD blooming.


You say you removed the glass cover plate. I'm not sure what scanner you are using, will my Nikon 5000ED have such a cover plate? I'm prepared to have a go at it, even though the unit is still under warranty (I doubt I'll get any satisfaction from Nikon anyway). Any tips before I start? And will the removal of the cover plate make the CCD array more vulnerable to damage/degradation?<div>00CWw6-24112384.thumb.jpg.31ad0735a43255393f62d549a698fd7e.jpg</div>

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The samples originate from a Minolta Multi Pro scanner, but I have to make a few remarks:

first, most Multi Pros are better. This one was not mine and my own Multi Pro hardly

suffers from flare the problem. In general the European units are better in this respect as I

found out. It seems Minolta has sent the uncoated and unaligned units to the US (where it

is now out of stock, while European stocks still last). The owner of this Multi Pro was close

to ordering a unit from a European retailer because of the flaring problem. I had a lengthy

email discussion with him and finally talked him into taking apart his entire scanner. I only

dared to do so because I knew he was a highly trained scientific guy, working with all

kinds of semiconductor equipment. He took out the CCD with the protective glass and

placed it in an extremely specialized grinding machine where he could slowly grind off the

glass. Then he used special equipment to suck away the smallest glass particles from the

actual CCD surface. The whole operation took several hours.


So I cannot recommend to you to try this for yourself. In Europe (and in the US too

probably) there are specialized companies that remove these protective glasses from

CCD's. Mostly they are glued on with some composite glue that cannot be solved, hence

they have to be ground away.


From tests with other scanners we found that the problem can be found in any "cheap"

scanner make. Your Nikon will have such a cover plate too, undoubtedly. Worldwide there

are only a few line-CCD producers. Most desktop scanners use Sony CCD's. They always

come (and other brands as well) with these stupid cover glasses that aren't even coated

mostly. Removing the glass does not give degradation problems (it is not a filter), but of

course the risk of a small dust particle directly on the CCD becomes bigger. When dust

is on the protection glass it is way out of focus.


So in case you still want to pursue with this operation I suggest you find out if the glass

can easily be removed or otherwise have it coated. But first I would try to have my CCD

replaced. You might be lucky and get a well-aligned cover glass. Maybe even with optical

coating, when Nikon has aknowledged the problem internally. (They will of course never

tell the public.)

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OK, thanks Erik.


The job is a little trickier than I thought. As you suggest, the best thing at this point may be to try and get Nikon to replace the CCD under warranty.


BTW I have some experience working with precision optics but I don't think I want to attack my scanner with a grinder just yet :-). Maybe if all else fails....

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  • 9 months later...

My brand new Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED has the same glaring problem. As far as I can tell, the cause is flare in the optical path, not the CCD sensor nor electronics nor post-processing nor the slides I'm scanning. My Minolta DiMAGE Scan Dual III produces much less flare using the same slides (Kodachrome or otherwise), despite being 70% cheaper.


True, my Nikon has finer resolution than my Minolta, accepts a slide feeder, and its ICE feature helps a lot. However, this much flare (about 40 levels more than Minolta) in the Nikon scanner isn't acceptable. I may have to contact Nikon service.<div>00Fynu-29325584.jpg.450cac352c0f57907d1356e6d495b551.jpg</div>

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Those examples show quite prominent flare which I have never seen on my LS-5000. I would send it back for replacement and if it has the same issue, contact Nikon service. If you want to try my LS-5000, you can mail one of your slides to me and I will try to make a good scan out of it - that way we can verify if it's the slide or the scanner.
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  • 2 weeks later...

"My brand new Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED has the same glaring problem. As far as I can tell, the cause is flare in the optical path, not the CCD sensor nor electronics nor post-processing nor the slides I'm scanning."




You are right, it is not blooming in the CCD sensor, nor is it the electronics, post-processing or your slides. It is flare in the optical path, and it is definitely not acceptable for a scanner that is marketed as being capable of "superb image quality".


I took this matter up with the Australian agent for Nikon, Maxwell Optical. I regret to say that they were generally difficult to deal with and although I presented them with mountains of indisputable evidence demonstrating a severe flare problem they refused to replace the scanner under warranty. Anyone interested in learning more about the saga with Maxwells can contact me off-line.


To see if it occurred on other units I took three of my problem Kodachromes to a well known local professional photo shop and asked them to scan them on their workhorse 5000ED. The flare was also evident on their scanner, although it was slightly less in magnitude than on mine. I repeat that the flare was absolutely not on the slides, in both cases it was definitely a scanner artefact.


My conclusion from all of this is that the problem is inherent in the Nikon 5000ED design, but is worse in some units than others. I suspect also that Nikon is well aware of this deficiency with Kodachromes but will not admit it. They have a Kodachrome setting in their NikonScan software, implying that Kodachromes are catered for, and promote the unit as being "designed for business users who require ... superb image quality and high speed" (see www.maxwell.com.au/products/nikon/scanners/index.html) . However as you and I know, "superb image quality" is simply not attainable with Kodachrome transparencies. With regard to scanning of Kodachromes, I think it's fair to say the unit is not fit for its stated purpose.


To try and understand the problem a little better, I scanned a piece of black plastic (containing several pinholes) mounted in a standard plastic slide frame.


In the scan a ghost image is clearly visible adjacent to each pinhole image. One can draw a couple of interesting conclusions from the nature and position of these ghost images. First of all it is NOT CCD blooming. In the LS-5000ED the film remains stationary and the light source / sensor assembly traverses across the long axis of the film frame. In the scanned image the direction of travel was from right to left. Since the ghost images are all to the RIGHT of the primary pinhole images, each ghost image was recorded by the CCD sensor BEFORE the sensor reached the primary pinhole image itself. Therefore the ghosting defect is NOT CCD blooming. There is some evidence of blooming (turn up the brightness and observe the vertical streaks above and below each pinhole) but this is secondary to the ghosting effect and typical for CCD sensors. The only way light from a pinhole can reach the sensor BEFORE the pinhole itself is being scanned is through unwanted dispersion or reflection effects in the optics.


Second, the displacement of the ghost image varies depending on position. As well as lying always to the right of the primary pinhole image, the ghost images always lie on the side furthest from the horizontal centre line of the image frame. That is they lie increasingly ABOVE the pinhole as you move towards the top of the frame, and increasingly BELOW as you move towards the bottom of the frame. Since rays from the focussing lens would be increasingly angled as they approach the top/bottom of the frame, it seems to me that internal reflections in a non-coated CCD window could cause this kind of displacement pattern. Perhaps someone with a good knowledge of the optics design of the 5000ED can add some further comments.<div>00G6RG-29505484.thumb.jpg.6c55c66ccd52f87f56f1518d1419eb57.jpg</div>

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