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Old Jan 11, 2005, 9:20 PM   #1
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I've been researching film scanners todigitize you collection of 35mm negtives and slides. After looking at many different brands and types (film or flatbed) and decided to go for a Nikon Coolscan series film scanner. Question is which one? Input from anyone familiar with the different models is much appreciated!

I'm not a pro, just looking for the best value/quality option available. Based on the info on the Nikon website, it appears that the Coolscan V and Supercool Scan 4000 are almost identical in performance specs. It seems as though the biggest differences between the 2 are the type interface with the V using USB and the 4000 needing a card, the 4000 being able to usea 50 slide autofeed and, the 4000 having ICE^3 and the V having ICE^4. Accordingto theNikon website the bit count and scan speed are identical for the 2. Price wise there's a significant difference (to me at least) and maybe the 4000is discontinued? The 4000 appears to be the model scanner all others have been compared to for the last fewyears. But perhaps like the Coolscan IV thatreplaced the LS-2000, the apparent previous benchmark model, the newerV is superior to the4000 performance wise?

Going from the V to the 5000, the specification difference appear subtle, 16 bits for the 5000 and 14 for the V, the 5000 a bit quickerand compatible with the slide autofeeder. The 5000 has a higher density ratio, and they both have ICE^4. THe 5000 costs about twice as much as the V though.

It appears to me the Coolscan V ED is the best balance of value and performance, am I wrong?


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Old Jan 24, 2005, 11:44 AM   #2
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I can give you some information on the 5000, since I got one recently.

Depending on your computer/software, this is not nearly as fast as you might think. I'm on an Athelon 1400 with 512 MB memory and Windoze 2000 with the latest service packs. I had USB 2 hooked up and working, but the scanner was very unstable, generally losing communications every couple of slides, and then crashing the entire box. Moving back to USB 1.1 port solves the stability issue, although the coolscan software still faults occasionlly, in the Nikon tradition of braindead error handling.

The 5000 feeds strips of negatives or slides automatically, upto 6 frames out of the box, and does so reliably. I also have the SF210, and while it seems more reliable than the reports I've read about the SF200 for the 4000, it is far from reliable for anything but slide mounts in pristine condition. And the error recovery in the event of a jammed slide is poor, generally requiring shutting down the scanner software and restarting it. So the ability to automate a large batch of mounted slides is questionable. When it works, it's okay (although every scan is crooked from the slide feeder - I haven't figured out why yet).

The problems with the feed mechanism and stupid software aside, the results from the scanner are very good, The resolution seems to usually exceed the resolution of the film image, with grain always visible except in the case of Ektar25 or Kodachrome 25. ICE works, for negatives and slides, including Kodachrome in most cases. There are reports that the Kodachrome ICE for dust and scratches doesn't work for Kodachrome, and the manual says that it may result in blurring, depending on the film, but for what I have done so far, it seems acceptable with Kodachrome shot in the in 1967, 1970, 1972, and 1993 - however, these were almost all Kodachrome 64 and not Kodachrome 25. So I can't say about the older emulsions. I'll find out as time goes on, as I have my Uncles and Grandfathers large slide collections to get through over the next years 8-).

Many slides scan just fine without additional exposure corrections. However, there are about 25-30% of well-exposed slides that require use of DEE, which is part of the ICE suite. It mainly works to adjust the curves in shadow, to allow mapping of the shadows to a lighter value, thus bringing out shadow detail. It also supposedly has the ability to tame highlight, but I have not yet found this to be particularly helpful. Another thing that I note, is that by saving 16-bit depth images (actually 14-bit plus some unused bits unless doing multiple scans/image) I can do the same correction in photoshop with the curves editor. That same ability is also available on the Nikon scan menu as well, and really seems to do almost the same thing. In any event, turning on DEE at around 25 seems to make most slide exposure work well. Poorly exposed slides will need more work on an individual basis.

On my machine, running DEE and capturing around 120 MB with an unsharp mask applied, takes around 4.5 minutes per frame. So the feeder is important if you want to get a batch done. Three of my four batches of 40 fed without problems once the gate was adjusted (it seems to move on its own, requiring attention between batches). The fourth batch has some slight imperfections, which were jamming every slide - I applied a crude fix, which forced the spring pressure to be on the outside of the slide stack to cause a slight opening of the stack at the point where they seemed to be catching, and a couple of slides then fed okay this morning, but I can't say how many actually went through as I had to come to work.

Negative scans from the filmstrip are very good, and the frames are normally, but not always, properly located. However, the film strip allows thumbnails and previews, so that that crop for each fram and settings for each frame can be customized. This allows for an exact frame to be captures, and compensation for mis-location of the frame can be done before the batch of upto 6 can be run. I generally run a GEM cycle on the negatives to tame down the grain - a setting of 2 works for the Kodak Gold 400, with a setting of 1 for the Kodak HD 400 and Kodak Gold 100. Normally exposed negatives do not require DEE.

I have also found no use for the color restoration (ROC) or the scan image enhancement, with both tnding to turn photographs into post-cards. But I prefer my photos relatively natural. The SCE does generate more contrast and saturation. I have some faded to purple old Ektachromes, that I'm hoping to test ROC on.
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Old Sep 28, 2005, 7:36 AM   #3
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mark

i note that at 8 bits the highest file size i will get here is around 50mb. With cropping at times its less. Do you know if the scanner can up its file size at 8 bits since 16 bits will not increase resolution.
Any advice cleaning up black and white negs since ice doesnt work on them.
Resampling/scanning multiple times. what is this really for and why would i use it--thanks
gl
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