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Thread: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

  1. #1
    iriscaddis
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    Exclamation Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Guys, this forum has been beneficial but I am looking for tutorials and training resources on scanning film.

    When I scan (not very often) there are issues of color: from monitor to print; from color transparency (velvia 50), and sharpness. My images just don't look sharp whether in digital or print. I know I am doing something wrong and Nikon's site is not too good of a resource. And I am not a pro. I'm just a guy who loves his Leica's and on the fence if I should drop 9K on a M9 (or M8.2)!

    Any links or thoughts would be most appreciated.

    Tools:
    Nikon CoolScan V ED (v4.0.2 software)
    Epson R1800 printer
    Leica M6, MP, M7
    Velvia, Kodchrome, etc.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Welcome to the forum.
    That is a pretty broad question. There are so many things that could be leading to your discontent. I'll tell you what I do. I have had the Nikon V and it is a good scanner. The R1800 I found to print just a little dark, but you should be able to compensate for that if all of your other systems are in order. Your cameras are stellar.
    Start with profiling your monitor and making sure that you have the correct profiles for your particular paper/R1800 combination. I scan with Vuescan, but Nikon Scan and Silverfast are both fine. I try to scan a flat scan and gain as much info in the scan as possible. Are you setting the focus point and telling the Nikon to focus? Is your film flat in the holder? I personally turn all sharpening, dust cleaning, everything off in my scanner software (Vuescan). I scan to raw. Then I go into Photoshop and invert my scan (and flip horizontal). Continuing in Photoshop, I and set my contrast by adjusting the curve. Often, color balance needs some tweaking and sharpness has to be added.
    Maybe someone using the Nikon software can be more specific.

    Michael Reichmann has a good printing tutorial that you can purchase at http://www.luminous-landscape.com/
    Luminous-Landscape has a whole index of tutorials that you can read on different subjects, but I don't know if you will find any scanning tutorials. Googling scanning and your specific software should turn up some info.

    Buying an M8 or M9 at this point would just open up a different set of problems (in my opinion.) You need to get a work-flow in place, no matter what camera you are using.

  3. #3
    iriscaddis
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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Thanks Cindy - great images btw. And yes I agree this is a broad question.

    OK here's the deal:
    -Software is Nikon Scan as supplied.
    -I did complete the calibration on my Mac.
    -Profiles are loaded for Epson and Hahnemuhle papers
    -Alternate software like Vuescan was not know to me...very cool idea and will check that out.
    -Focus is via the Nikon software and re-focus and re-preview but images are not at all sharp.
    Flatness - their slides so not really an issue
    - I will try scanning w/ all prefs off and then mediate in PS. Question: why invert your image?
    -I am checking out Luminous-Landscape and posted a question there as well.
    -As for the digital M's - yeah : ) well, shooting digital removes this onerous step but it is so darn expensive!

    Thanks again for your honest and committed reply.

  4. #4
    iriscaddis
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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Thanks Cindy - great images btw. And yes I agree this is a broad question.

    OK here's the deal:
    -Software is Nikon Scan as supplied.
    -I did complete the calibration on my Mac.
    -Profiles are loaded for Epson and Hahnemuhle papers
    -Alternate software like Vuescan was not know to me...very cool idea and will check that out.
    -Focus is via the Nikon software and re-focus and re-preview but images are not at all sharp.
    -Flatness - their slides so not really an issue
    - I will try scanning w/ all prefs off and then mediate in PS. Question: why invert your image?
    -I am checking out Luminous-Landscape and posted a question there as well.
    -As for the digital M's - yeah : ) well, shooting digital removes this onerous step but it is so darn expensive!

    Thanks again for your honest and committed reply.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Thank you.
    The raw file has no adjustments to the file when it comes out of vuescan, all of the data is there, but it is a negative and needs to be inverted to positive.
    I am no expert at scanning, so maybe we will get some more help here. I'm just trying to get you pointed in the right direction.

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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Quote Originally Posted by iriscaddis View Post
    Thanks Cindy - great images btw. And yes I agree this is a broad question.

    OK here's the deal:
    -Software is Nikon Scan as supplied.
    -I did complete the calibration on my Mac.
    -Profiles are loaded for Epson and Hahnemuhle papers
    -Alternate software like Vuescan was not know to me...very cool idea and will check that out.
    -Focus is via the Nikon software and re-focus and re-preview but images are not at all sharp.
    -Flatness - their slides so not really an issue
    - I will try scanning w/ all prefs off and then mediate in PS. Question: why invert your image?
    -I am checking out Luminous-Landscape and posted a question there as well.
    -As for the digital M's - yeah : ) well, shooting digital removes this onerous step but it is so darn expensive!

    Thanks again for your honest and committed reply.
    A question, the scan result, does it show the grain of the slide? Is that grain sharp?
    I have experience in both nikon scan and silverfast, both should produce a shapr scan from the slide, that is the grain should be sharp. The image on the slide can be unsharp of course.

  7. #7
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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Quote Originally Posted by iriscaddis View Post
    Guys, this forum has been beneficial but I am looking for tutorials and training resources on scanning film.

    When I scan (not very often) there are issues of color: from monitor to print; from color transparency (velvia 50), and sharpness. My images just don't look sharp whether in digital or print. I know I am doing something wrong and Nikon's site is not too good of a resource. And I am not a pro. I'm just a guy who loves his Leica's and on the fence if I should drop 9K on a M9 (or M8.2)!

    Any links or thoughts would be most appreciated.

    Tools:
    Nikon CoolScan V ED (v4.0.2 software)
    Epson R1800 printer
    Leica M6, MP, M7
    Velvia, Kodchrome, etc.

    ...
    Thanks Cindy - great images btw. And yes I agree this is a broad question.

    OK here's the deal:
    -Software is Nikon Scan as supplied.
    -I did complete the calibration on my Mac.
    -Profiles are loaded for Epson and Hahnemuhle papers
    -Alternate software like Vuescan was not know to me...very cool idea and will check that out.
    -Focus is via the Nikon software and re-focus and re-preview but images are not at all sharp.
    Flatness - their slides so not really an issue
    - I will try scanning w/ all prefs off and then mediate in PS. Question: why invert your image?
    -I am checking out Luminous-Landscape and posted a question there as well.
    -As for the digital M's - yeah : ) well, shooting digital removes this onerous step but it is so darn expensive!

    Thanks again for your honest and committed reply.
    Your questions are quite broad and difficult to answer succinctly. Reading your original and the respone you made to Cindy seems to indicate you need to break the problem down into smaller parts that you can work on individually.

    There's an excellent site by Wayne Fulton which answers a lot of basic questions for those new to scanning and the resulting image processing work:
    http://www.scantips.com

    I've been doing film scanning and output to other media on my own work since the early 1990s (for NASA/JPL prior to that...). Wayne Fulton started this website above sometime in the middle 1990s; it's gone through many revisions.

    Briefly, there are three basic phases to the task:

    - Capture
    - Rendering
    - Output

    prior to which there is computer system setup/configuration.

    0 - Display calibration and profiling is very important, most important of course when you're doing color work to obtain natural, accurate results. Mac OS X has a good software calibration/profiling utility in System Prefs, but it's by no means the best way to do this task. The best way is with a good hardware colorimeter and calibration/profiling software designed to drive it. Good ones aren't that expensive ... $200 or so ... but you only need them every month or two with modern displays so a good strategy is to buy one together with a couple of other photographer friends and share it around as needed.

    The general topic of system setup is intended to promote efficient Color Management.

    There's also configuration and setup for your image processing software ... Photoshop and Lightroom in particular are what I'm referring to. I've written a couple of articles on this topic: they're freely downloadable as PDFs from my website: http://www.gdgphoto.com/articles/ see #s 3, 4, and 10.

    1 - Managing the scan process is best seen as data acquisition. While with modern tools and calibration capabilities you can achieve a very automated process where the scanner and its driving software is calibrated to produce near-finished results pretty consistently, I personally never bother with that and consider a more basic strategy for my scanning. I look to capture all the significant data I can, adjusting the scanning software to properly 'window' the data in the negative or positive without too much concern for the nuances of color balance and tonal scale. A good scan, to me, simply has as much data as possible in the captured file for me to apply image processing tools for rendering.

    Nikon Capture is good, but I prefer using VueScan as I find its controls and algorithms more specifically controllable and predictable.

    2 - The fundamental issue with image scanned from film is that they are less manipulable than images captured digitally in the first place due to film grain and other 'defects' that are embedded in the data. What this means is that you need to start with more pixels, more bit depth and do more rendering work to achieve the end results you want, and you can't push the medium as far as you can with the cleaner digital capture process.

    The Rendering process also implies a bit about the image management as well ... how to organize and mechanisms for annotating and finding images are essential to productive work.

    Books, videos, classes, etc have been written and sold on teaching people to use Lightroom, Aperture, and all flavors of Photoshop. Photoshop and other similar image processing tools are generally speaking focused on the pixels ... intended for pixel manipulation primarily ... without much support for image management. Lightroom and Aperture do a LOT more in image management and supply a good deal of the

    My recommendation is to start with Lightroom or Aperture ... pick one, whichever is more appealing to you ... and learn to organize and do basic rendering operations first without regard to printing and output. Get comfortable, add pixel editing with a Photoshop or Pixelmator or whatever other pixel editor you like when it seems appropriate. Learn to see and make adjustments on the display that are pleasing.

    http://www.lynda.com, Scott Kelby Training, Luminous Landscape and many others are good sources for training with these tools at reasonable prices (or free).

    3 - The Output process to prints is generally a function of learning that portion of whichever rendering applications you find useful. All of the above ... Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop, Pixelmator , etc ... include excellent printing tools that allow both color-managed and direct, printer-driver controlled image output.

    Again, books have been written on this topic alone with all kinds of cascading and contraditory theories of process and workflow. The curious bit is that all of these bits can produce good work, but none of them are ever truly "right" for *all* possible images and system setups.

    The thing to take away from this that affects both the capture and the rendering portions of the task is that some notion of what you wish to achieve in making prints can help set the bases for capture (in terms of resolution requirements) and rendering (in terms of tonal range and sharpening required for that output goal).

    So ...

    - Read the scantips.com site.
    - Get your system setup to first order workable state.
    - Play with and learn your scanner and whichever scanner software you want to use.
    - Explore and become comfortable with the image management and rendering tools.
    - Study and experiment with printing etc until you understand how your printer works and outputs
    - Iterate through the above as you gain knowledge and skill, persevere until the results are to your liking.

    Hope that helps. :-)




    "There are no silver bullets.

    There is only desire to succeed and the application of effort towards that end.

    Success is proven to be possible."

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Godfrey hit the nail on the head when he said to break it down into small steps. If you don't, you will feel overwhelmed and will just give up. Unfortunately, these things take time to learn. Please don't get discouraged because there is a lot of help out there and Godfrey has listed some really good resources.
    Buying an M9 will only give you a new and different set of challenges to overcome.
    I re-read your original post and was struck by the fact that you said that neither your film nor digital files are sharp. I'm wondering if you have to start at the capture level and hone your technique. There are tutorials out there on focusing, DOF, choosing the correct aperture, etc. Do your film photos come out sharp when you have a lab process them? I would check that. If not, go back to square one and get a sharp capture. You can't get good results down the line if you don't start with a sharp capture.

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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    The Coolscan is actually pretty decent hardware for a CCD scanner. NikonScan is one of worst interfaces I've ever used but it can make good scans if you're careful. It will not let you use a custom input profile, but the built in one isn't bad. One of the things you absolutely have to do is dig into the scan settings and change the default black and white clipping to zero. If you don't, you will always clip highlights and shadows. Even on mounted slides - actually - especially on mounted slides, because they are never flat, you have to place a manual focus point on every scan about half way between the center and the edge, in order to have enough depth of field in the scan to carry focus through the curve in the slide.

    If your prints are consistently too dark, the chances are most likely that your monitor is too bright, but custom printer profile are always a good thing, and viewing conditions need to be taken into account as well.

    Your monitor needs to be hardware calibrated and the relationship between screen brightness and ambient room light is critical to how bright or dark you perceive images on screen. CRT screens are usually set to 85-90 cd/m2 with a very dim room illumination while LCDs need to be brighter - 110-120 cd/m2 with a correspondingly higher ambient room level to give the same appearance.

    Your profile says you're in Southern Ca. I could do a test drum scan for you sometime so you would at least have a reference when comparing. My experience is that Velvia is a very very sharp film when scanned on a good scanner.

  10. #10
    iriscaddis
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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Cindy, Godfrey and pfigen, WOW, what incredible replies. Well, I have some work to do. In all seriousness this work effort is not that foreign to me. My issue is what a commitment for a non pro. But the Leica is such a sweet machine.

    Let me ask the group- what about having the film developers do the scans and dump on a CD. I would assume the quality is not a good as if I had performed the scans but what are your thoughts?

    Pfigen, I may follow up with you on the drum scan.

  11. #11
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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    Quote Originally Posted by iriscaddis View Post
    ... Let me ask the group- what about having the film developers do the scans and dump on a CD. I would assume the quality is not a good as if I had performed the scans but what are your thoughts? ...
    Most of the local photofinishers who produce scans are not particularly good at doing them. They produce average to ok quality. You lose a lot of the control possible with scanning yourself.

    Scanning is both technological and an art form. No art form really works by having someone else do it for you. I had several hundred scans done of my film archives because I wanted to have them in the digital domain and they did a good job, but to do that on the work I'm actively pursuing ... well, I'd rather use digital capture and regain much more control.

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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    I would pretty much go so far as to say that any scan provided by virtually any lab you can find - are worthless. Labs, even those that advertise themselves as being scanning experts, invariably, aren't. Unfortunately, most of the people doing scans don't really understand the process all that well and too many have been taught by someone who doesn't understand really how to make great scans, passing on bad habits.

    The entire reason I got into making my own drum scans was that I was never satisfied with the scans I was getting from the most prestigious scanning houses in L.A. I started going and supervising the scanning sessions and soon realized how much B.S. some of the scanner operators were blowing and how little many of them really understood.

    I bought my first drum scanner about thirteen years ago and spent the first couple of months just learning the mounting process and really working the software. I ended up becoming the lead beta tester for Trident - mostly because I kept giving them the most useful feedback - finding bugs and making suggestions as to how to make it work better. Within four months I had paid for the scanner making scans for Memorex.

    Scanning, whether it's with a CCD or a PMT, is an art that takes years to learn to do well.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Scan issues and assistance (Nikon coolscan V)

    If I'm in a hurry, I let my lab scan my negs. I use the result as a digital contact sheet. I always find them too contrasty and way too sharpened.

    Godfrey and pfigen, we are lucky to have both of you contributing to this thread. You both have a wealth of knowledge and I appreciate you sharing it.

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