My mission is to digitize and archive my personal library of 35mm film images consisting of 2500 color negatives, 100 b/w negatives and 200 slides. Most are less than 20 years old, some are 40 years old. All have been stored with reasonable care. After considerable research online, I purchased a Nikon CoolScan V ED because it seems to offer acceptable quality and performance at an affordable price.
I’ve read the documentation for the CoolScan itself and for the accompanying Nikon Scan 4 software as well as the documentation for VueScan. I’ve also read all of the very helpful tutorial provided by Wayne Fulton at scantips.com.
My basic plan is to use the ICE feature of the scanner for scratch and dust filtering and adjust the black and white point thresholds for contrast as required at scan time and save the results in uncompressed TIFF files. Additional editing, if indicated, will be performed in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, again saving the results as uncompressed TIFF files. The uncompressed images will constitute my archive and will be saved on two identical sets of DVDs.
While conducting my research, I found many unfavorable reviews of Nikon’s Scan 4 software and as many strong recommendations to use VueScan instead. I selected a small but representative sample of my library for testing and learning and downloaded the trial version of VueScan. In two full days of testing the scanner and both programs, I encountered none of the reported failures of Scan 4, perhaps because my computer is relatively fast and has 2Gb of main memory. I would not dispute that the VueScan interface may be more intuitive. On the other hand, I did not find Scan 4 to be particularly difficult and, in fact, it seemed to me to have the edge in letting me understand and control the scanning process.
Of greatest importance and without exception, Scan 4 provided results that were closer, often dramatically so, to the original - better in my estimation - than did VueScan.
My question consists of two parts. First, is my plan sound or have I overlooked something? As an acknowledged beginner, I will welcome any criticism. Second, I am puzzled by the overwhelmingly unfavorable reviews of Nikon’s software. Since Scan 4 works well and produces good results for me, why shouldn’t I use it? Is there something I’ve overlooked or is there some other compelling reason to use VueScan instead?
#1. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 0Who Cares Registered since 04th Aug 2006Sat 19-Jan-08 01:17 PM
I have used both Nikon Scan and Vuescan for over three years now. I do most of my work with Nikon Scan. I cannot remember the last time I used Vuescan. It has been a few months.
I have not had any problems using Nikon Scan. Be aware that digital ICE is only available with Nikon Scan. Vuescan uses something like digital ICE yet is not the same. Vuescan's version of dust and scratch removal is okay, yet not as good as digital ICE.
Also, the digital GEM of Nikon Scan seems to me to do a better job or reducing the grain without undo softening of the image. Vuescan does a good job of reducing the grain, yet the softening is much greater than Nikon Scan.
Suggest you continue working with Nikon Scan. I find it is easier to use than Vuescan and gives better results.
#2. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 0Sat 19-Jan-08 06:11 PM
Sounds like you've done your homework. I was in a similar position over a year ago when I purchased my Nikon CoolScan V. I gave NikonScan and VueScan a try with multiple images and, in the end, felt that NikonScan did everything I needed and in a more user friendly way. Said another way, I was more comfortable with NikonScan's interface as it resembled the basic image editing controls in PhotoShop and NX. I was also able to achieve an acceptable image using NikonScan more quickly than with VueScan. One reason for this, in my case I think, is that VueScan has changed its levels and curves/histogram interface in recent versions (at least in the version that I have) making it different from earlier versions (from what I can see in books/reviews of VueScan). I felt that this was a step backward - at least for me.
Yes, others have reported some problems with NikonScan, although I honestly don't remember seeing that many problems, more just a preference for VueScan. So far, knock-on-wood, I have had no problems with NikonScan.
Digital ICE is magic. I even got great results with Kodachroms from the '70s.
One tip. While it is tempting to spend a lot of time fine-tuning the scan image, just focus on the basics: black and white threshold points, exposure, and perhaps minimizing any overt color casts. Post-processing software is so much more powerful and flexible. Regarding setting the black and white points, I would suggest not trying to be too exact and give yourself some leeway for better creative postprocessing using the threshold points.
Scanning of slides and film with the CoolScan will take time, and the use of Digital ICE/GEM/ROC/DEE adds to the scan time. (I actually only used ICE, but experimented with the others) What really slowed me down was the excitement of seeing the scan image emerge and then wanting to see what it looked like with some postprocessing. Great fun! I tried using a slight USM to offset the softening from Digital ICE, but concluded it wasn't worth the scanning time and I could more easily and better control sharpening during postprocessing. PhotoKit Sharpening (a plugin for PS) actually has routines for scanned images.
One last thing. Many people have had good luck with VueScan. Some conclude that NikonScan does a better job on slides, while VueScan is better for film. But if you are getting the results you want with NikonScan, I wouldn't change just for the sake of changing. Hope this helps.
#3. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 2DiploStrat Registered since 06th Dec 2006Sat 19-Jan-08 07:08 PM
"Scanning of slides and film with the CoolScan will take time, and the use of Digital ICE/GEM/ROC/DEE adds to the scan time. (I actually only used ICE, but experimented with the others) What really slowed me down was the excitement of seeing the scan image emerge and then wanting to see what it looked like with some postprocessing. Great fun!"
This is perhaps the only big reason to use Vuescan - Vuescan first converts the image to a temporary RAW file, then applies the various filters without the need to rescan. The result is that you can try ICE/GEM/ROC/DEE, at different levels, without rescanning. You can do the same with various white balance schemes. I find I get try all of the different combos in about 30 seconds, as opposed to 45 seconds per rescan.
"One tip. While it is tempting to spend a lot of time fine-tuning the scan image, just focus on the basics: black and white threshold points, exposure, and perhaps minimizing any overt color casts. Post-processing software is so much more powerful and flexible. Regarding setting the black and white points, I would suggest not trying to be too exact and give yourself some leeway for better creative postprocessing using the threshold points."
Excellent advice. Agree 100%.
N.B. I only stated playing with Vuescan because Nikonscan simply wouldn't run on my Mac Pro. (It appears that it will, if you can fully deinstall the previous version. I just haven't succeeded.) Nikonscan gave me very blue Kodachromes - Vuescan would ususally get the color right the first time. I use Vuescan will the extended menus, not the simiplified version. Simplified does not work well with the Coolscan as it shuts out ICE and most of the reasons you paid extra for the Nikon.
#6. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 3Sat 19-Jan-08 10:20 PM
<This is perhaps the only big reason to use Vuescan - Vuescan first converts the image to a temporary RAW file, then applies the various filters without the need to rescan. The result is that you can try ICE/GEM/ROC/DEE, at different levels, without rescanning. You can do the same with various white balance schemes. I find I get try all of the different combos in about 30 seconds, as opposed to 45 seconds per rescan.>
I agree completely, and for that reason I hope to work with VueScan some more this summer. On some images (slides in my case) Digital GEM/ROC/Dee worked very well (sometimes amazingly well) and on others the results were poor. Using these filters in NikonScan does indeed take a long time. Thanks for reminding me of an aspect of VueScan I had forgotten about. I think I read somewhere that there were different emulsion versions for Kodachrome depending on the vintage. Maybe I was lucky. For some reason Vuescan wouldn't run on my computer (Windows XP) but a slightly later version did. Go figure. Mr. Hamrick of Vuescan was very responsive and helpful in trying to get me up and running.
#4. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 0
Thank all of you very much for your help and informed advice.
Since my first post, I've discovered the additional advantage of using Scan 4's Digital GEM in conjunction with the ICE and have included it in my standard routine.
It looks like this is going so well, I'm likely to plan on processing the best of my late father's library next. (If I live so long - this is obviously something that won't be completed in a few spare moments!)
#5. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 0
Nikon software seems to polarize people. Like you, I get very good results with Nikon Scan, and I find it easy to use. I use it for all my slide scans and most color negative scans. There are a few specialized film types where Vuescan works better for me. In particular, I've found it works better with chromogenic emulsions (black and white film that's processed in the standard Kodak color negative C-41 chemistry). I found that type of film difficult to do with Nikon Scan (I tried scanning as both positives and negatives), but easy with Vuescan.
#7. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 5Yachtsman Registered since 10th Jun 2006Wed 23-Jan-08 08:30 PM
I am a user of NikonScan, and when its running, it's excellent. I've tried Vuescan but have decided to stick with the devil I know.
My main complaint with NikonScan is it's constant death wish - it's just waiting for an excuse to fall down the whole time. As an example: If the film has not been cut straight across and away from the edge perforations, my PC crashes. There is no warning or advise from the software, just the total freeze well known to Windows users. Mine also occasionally "looses" scans when run as a twain source in Photoshop 7, but whether thats a Photoshop or NikonScan issue I have no idea. The image appears in the Photoshop window then promptly vanishes.
Sadly it is unlikely that Nikon will update the software. But as long as I remember not to stress it too much, NikonScan does an excellent job.
#8. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 7Sun 11-Oct-09 08:36 AM
I am new to this forum and have been reading with interest.
I am aoout to embark on a similar project with a coolscan V and using nikonscan. My collection is slides and negatives dating back to the seventies.
I would appreciate your thoughts and experiences on scanning resolution, bit depth etc.
Most of the slides are in good condition, some with fungus.
I will be cleaning them in Lightroom & Photoshop.(Another steep learning curve)
Thanks in advance
#9. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 8Tue 13-Oct-09 06:47 PM
Welcome to Nikonians! This thread offers a lot of good advice. Since scanning is such a labor intensive process, my recommendation is to set your Coolscan to maximum resolution and bit depth. This will approximately double the size of your Tiff file to roughly 113MB, so if storage space is a problem, back off on the bit depth. Said another way, scanning of slides and negatives is not something I want to do twice.
Regarding scratch removal, if ICE doesn't do the job, it can be painstakingly slow. If you can find a copy of Polaroid's Dust and Scratch Removal freeware, it is almost magic. I believe it is no longer available from Polaroid, but maybe you can find a copy on the internet somewhere.
The book by Sascha Steinhoff "Scanning Negatives and Slides", 2nd Ed., might be helpfulful to you. Here is a link:
#10. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 9MotoMannequin Registered since 11th Jan 2006Wed 14-Oct-09 04:10 PM | edited Wed 14-Oct-09 04:12 PM by MotoMannequin
I'll 2nd what Rick Walker said. I use Nikon Scan 4 with a Coolscan 4000ED for everything except B&W negatives. I bought Vuescan specifically because I couldn't get a good scan of a set of B&Ws.
+1 for Jim's suggestion for running the highest bit depth & resolution. Hard drives are at about $0.08/gig which makes the cost of storing original and backup of one of the resulting tiffs about $0.02.
Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
My Nikonians gallery
#11. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 10Thu 15-Oct-09 09:01 AM
I have just built a new computer for the job and it handles the large images, not like the old one.
I am considering wether to scan them with minimal processing in nikon scan,and use ice to clean them up as best as possible and save them, then do any other tweeking as required knowing a backup is available.
Or use more of the nikonscan features before saving.
I have only done a small number of scans so far, learning how it all works. Some of the results have been great considering the quality of the slide but I hope my post processing skills will improve as I progress.
I would value your thoughts and any suggestions.
Is there any other literature on using nikonscan other than the manual supplied?
#12. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 11Thu 15-Oct-09 09:48 AM | edited Thu 15-Oct-09 05:16 PM by JGD
Sounds like you are well on your way. Other than the book I mentioned above (which does discuss NikonScan, in addition to other scanning programs - at least the first edition did), and Wayne Fulton's paperback, I would suggest another book. This one is by Katrin Eismann and Wayne Palmer called Photoshop: Restoring and Retouching:, 3rd Ed. While she works mainly with scanned photographs, she devotes a lot of printed space to image repair using the PS clone and healing tools; what she does with old photos is near magic IMHO.
OK, now for the real hidden gem related to scanning indirectly found in that book. Go to her website http://www.digitalretouch.org/ scroll down and select "scanning and resolution" on the left side. Another web page will pop up. Download the PDF file (1.8 MB) at the top of the page under the title "Scanning Information". It is one of the best articles on scanning photos and film that I have come across, and discusses the pros and cons of doing all the processing in the scanner or postprocessing software.
Hope this helps.
Edit: Fixed the bad link.
#13. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 12
#15. "RE: VueScan versus Nikon Scan 4" | In response to Reply # 14Mon 19-Oct-09 09:35 AM
Thanks for the advice and links, plenty of reading there. I am looking for the book here before ordering it from overseas, but have plenty to carry on with.
I have also been reading other topics here and am now looking to buy a monitor calibration tool, followed by a new monitor!
All good fun.