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Old 01-15-2011, 09:32 AM
Telkwa Telkwa is offline
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Default Older Nikon scanners (LS30 & LS2000)

Good morning!
This forum seems to have the most knowledgeable folks regarding slide scanning. I hope you don't mind if I ask a few questions which undoubtedly have been answered before.

My 83 year old father's been talking about digitizing his slides for years. I told him I'd do it. I could kick myself for waiting.

I bought two older Nikons, an LS30 and an LS2000. The LS30 was cleaned by the eBay seller. I cleaned the LS2000. The mirror looked like a piece of gray plastic!

I've scanned a few hundred slides on both machines. Using VueScan Pro. Whenever I had questions about a scan, I'd pop it in the other machine and try again.

There's just no question about it. The scans look soft. ICE set to "Medium".
Some posts talk about manually focusing newer Nikons with Vuescan, but it sounds like a process that may not be available on these older scanners, or I don't know how to get to it. All I've found in Vuescan is a "Manual" setting for Focus under the Input tab. Nothing about telling Vuescan to tell the scanner "focus right here".

I have the funky old Nikon software, which can tell the scanner to pick a spot, but my limited testing doesn't seem to give any better results.

I'm willing to start over with a Nikon V ED (looks like about $1000 on eBay for a good one) if you guys say that there's a big leap between the older 2900 dpi Nikons and the newer ones. I understand that it's not just the dpi - the newer ones allow me to use Vuescan's calibration functions, the lens is better, etc. etc.

Plus it appears that gaining access to the mirror is not as daunting a task as it is with the older ones. That's a big issue right there!

Please be honest - if you wouldn't waste your time with an LS30, say so. I'm really hesitant to throw $1000 into the unknown and it would help to hear what some experienced folks have to say.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:06 AM
kevinkar kevinkar is offline
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Hi Telkwa,

I bought an LS-2000 new about 10 years ago for $1200. It's been fine though I sure would like a newer version that connected by USB instead of the 2000's SCSI. It also no longer works with W7 so I have to dual boot into XP to keep using it. Oh well. I recently had a guy on ebay clean and lubricate it for $100. Works like new.

I think you should be able to do what you need to with the existing scanner and not pay out another $1k if you don't have to. I have been using mine with Nikon Scan 3, SilverFast 5.x & 6.x and VueScan Pro. All three will work with the focusing capability of the 2000 though SilverFast 6.x refuses to auto focus every time. I have to use the manual focus every time. 5.x used to focus properly every time but 6.x won't and LaserSoft has no solution as they say their equipment auto focuses so mine must be broken. Of course VueScan will auto focus every time as will 5.x so the scanner is fine!

So the scanner does focus and you just have to do it right. I can write up some steps you can take to do this but I'm not home at the moment.

By the way, if you use ICE at medium, the scans will soften up more than you want. I used to use ICE but found the lack of sharpness to outweigh it's benefits on all but the dirtiest and most scratched images. So I scan with it off now. You might try Low instead. Take a scan you know is soft and scan it with ICE off and see how it looks. If you can be more methodical about blowing dust off the slide first, you might not need ICE. I'd definitely only use it when absolutely necessary.

You also want to add a small bit of unsharp masking to the image and some do it using the scan software but others use Photoshop to edit the file after. You have to experiment to find what works best for you. I use SilverFast mostly and have it apply a small amount of unsharp masking at scan time.

It also works with VueScan's calibration feature though the calibration profile is definitely different from that out of SilverFast. I have to experiment to get the best results. The LS-2000 does a good job out of the box but some slides definitely benefit from a proper calibration profile.

If you have the cash, a newer Nikon is a good thing but you should get respectable results out of the LS-2000 and not need to spend the money.

We'll see what everyone else says......

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Old 01-26-2011, 05:53 PM
bernard bernard is offline
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Originally Posted by Telkwa View Post
Good morning!
I bought two older Nikons, an LS30 and an LS2000. ... The scans look soft. ICE set to "Medium".
ICE as found in most scanners doesn't work well with Kodachrome slides. It relies on an infrared beam that confuses the top cyan layer of Kodachrome for dust and scratches. The Coolscan LS9000 is the only exception. It uses a more diffused infrared light which seems to work with Kodachrome.

You can see what details are taken out by the ICE process by saving as a 64bit raw TIFF in VueScan and looking at the alpha channel in Photoshop. That's the IR data captured. Most of what is shown in this channel is removed by the ICE process. Unfortunately with Kodachrome, you'll see distinct image details. Removing these details may contribute to the softness that you see.

There's no magic solution unfortunately unless you buy the expensive LS9000. A tedious solution is to save all of your scans as 64bit raw TIFF in Vuescan, manually edit the alpha channel with Levels and other tools to remove image details (remember, the details seen in this channel are removed by the ICE process), use the alpha channel as a selection and use the new content-aware fill to "clean" the selection (which contains dust and scratches). This gives excellent results but it is a manual process. I wouldn't do it on hundreds of slides.

Dust and scratches is one of the two big issues with Kodachrome scanning. The other is colour accuracy and that's where newer scanners like the LS5000 are markedly better than older ones like the LS2000. See Tom Hogan's review for instance.

VueScan comes with preset profiles which work fairly well. Most people are happy with this but you will get subtle or not so subtle colour casts in the mid tones, most often a blue. Details will also be missing in the shadows and highlights. If you want to improve from this point you will need to profile your scanner using an IT8 target slide. That's around $90 from either Kodak (B&H) or SilverFast. You basically scan the slide and use a profiler software to create an ICC profile that you attach to each raw scan. VueScan can be used to profile but it produces relatively poor results compared with better profilers like SilverFast or even the free open source LProf.
Profiling is a big time investment though. Most people are quite happy without it but if you really want the most out of your Kodachrome slides, you will need to go through the hassle of learning about it and getting it to work (LProf isn't friendly to install or use).

I assume that you're using a good LCD screen that is itself profiled. There's no point in investing time and money on colour improvement steps if your editing display can't even show them.
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