Nikon Super Coolscan LS-8000 ED

 

 

After struggling with (more or less) cheap mail order scan services and (more or less) potent flatbed scanners at home for several years I was really, really tired of dull, unsharp, low-res and impossible to improve scans. When I realized that prices for good dedicated film scanners started to lift off quite steeply after the end of their production I decided to bite the bullet and bought a Nikon Super Coolscan LS 8000 ED medium format scanner. Quite a tough decision because even this "lesser" one literally costs Megabucks at the auction site.

 

 

Real pros certainly choose the Nikon 9000 instead, but spec-wise the 8000 is just as good, only differing in scanning speed which is no dealbreaker for me. There may be some minor performance improvements associated with the 9000´s 16 bit A/D-converter (compared to 14 bits with the 8000), but I doubt this can be confirmed in real life.

The Nikon medium format film scanners are big machines, as you can easily see in the above pictures, where the scanner dwarfs my Shuttle desktop computer. Originally they were delivered in unbelievably monstrous boxes which secured safe shipment. If you buy a Nikon scanner on the net be sure to get it shipped within its original box because it may well be damaged if not. I purchased a second Nikon 8000 with a hardware error on the auction site the other day and received a heap of scrap because it was delivered in an unsuitable box.

The real reason why you actually need your own dedicated hi-res film scanner is that this is the

o n l y

way to get the optimum out of your films, regardless of whether you prefer slides or negatives.

No reasonably priced scan service will be able to provide the best possible resolution, colour and density. You MUST develop the scan with ColorPerfect to start with the right colours, especially with (but not restricted to) colour negative films. There simply is no other way to get and preserve the right colours, not even with the ubiquitous expensive scanning software that pretends to do it right via dedicated "film profiles". Trust me, I tried.

There is much ado on the net about problems with scanning colour negative films. Most people assume that the headache is caused by the orange mask that all (except one: Rollei Digibase 200 CN) colour negative films bear. Nonsense! In theory, the orange cast is quite easily removed with any photo processing software. Essentially the problem is caused by the (wrong!) way the processing software handles colour manipulation. Dr. David Dunthorn has discovered and solved the mishap with his brilliant ColorPerfect software. The so-called "film profiles" other scanning solutions try to use fail to solve the problem.

ColorPerfect needs a special kind of data file called a linear scan or "raw scan". This raw scan contains nothing but the genuine colour density information that the scanner´s sensor has seen. A linear scan is most easily achieved using the cheap, universal (usable with literally any scanner ever produced, not requiring hundreds of dollars extra licence expense for every single new scanner you may use in the future!) and ingenious software called Vuescan.

I have got a tutorial for creating linear scans with Vuescan here.