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Nikon CoolScan Software Downloads

The following software works with the Nikon CoolScan IV, the Super CoolScan 4000 and the Super CoolScan 8000 film scanners. As of 11/28/2002 the following are links to the latest complete software installers from Nikon:

Nikon Scan v3.1.2 (Macintosh) Compatible with Mac OS 8.6 and OS 9.0 and up.
Nikon Scan v3.1.4 (Macintosh OS X)

Compatible with Mac OS X v10.1.3 and higher.
NEW!  Support for Mac OS X Jaguar v10.2.x
Download Nikon Scan 3.1.4 for OS X ReadMe (pdf)

Nikon Scan v3.1.2 (Windows) compatible with Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, XP Home, XP Pro

For general Nikon digital inquires, go to Nikon's Digital Tech Support Center and then click on the desired product for FAQs, manuals, firmware and driver downloads.

If the above links don't work for you, you notice that there are newer software versions or find any errors in the tips discussed below, I would appreciate a brief email with that information. Thanks!


Nikon CoolScan Software Tips

Windows Driver Installation Issues
Tips for all Nikon scanners
Super CoolScan 4000 Specific Tips
Super CoolScan 8000 Specific Tips


Following are some tips for using Nikon's latest crop of film scanners. The software is essentially the same for all three scanners with some minor functional differences. The information below is not intended to be a complete guide to the Nikon software and is no substitute for Nikon's reference manual, however it does offer some tips and recommendations based on my experience using these scanners.

Windows Driver Installation Issues

Until the software has been downloaded and installed, ensure that the scanner is not connected and switched on. Download and decompress the software. Run the Nikon Scan installer and follow the instructions provided. Restart your computer and then connect and switch on your scanner. When Windows indicates that new hardware has been detected, you should manually choose the driver INF file that was included in the download. In the directory of the decompressed Nikon Scan download, there will be an INF folder. Inside this, there will be various folders corresponding to your scanner model. Inside these folders you may directly find a Windows .INF file or you may have to go one level deeper and select which operating system you're using. Select the appropriate INF file and then let Windows finish installing the driver. You should now be able to run the Nikon Scan software and it should find your scanner.

During the driver installation phase, Windows may ask you to supply an original Windows install CD so that it can copy USB or Firewire scanner drivers from it. You need to do this! Cancelling this phase of the install will likely prevent your scanner from working properly, so make sure you have your Windows install disk handy before starting. Note that depending on what version of Windows you have and what devices or software you have installed on your system already, Windows may or may not ask for the Windows install CD during the scanner install.

When you switched on your scanner for the first time, if Windows did not show the "new hardware detected" window or pause in the driver installation window to let you choose an INF file, then it already had drivers installed for your scanner. At this point, your scanner may or may not work! It is worth trying the Nikon Scan software to see if it recognizes your connected scanner properly. If you are able to do a preview scan, then everything is fine.

At this point, if your scanner is not recognized, you will have to go to the Window's Device Manager and manually update the driver for the scanner in the hardware device list. You will need to choose the appropriate INF file from the downloaded files as was described above. Also, if you skipped or cancelled a request for a Windows install CD during the driver install and the scanner doesn't work, you will probably have to delete the entry for the scanner in the device list and tell Windows to refresh the list. This should identify your connected scanner as new hardware again and will start the driver install process from scratch. At this point you should follow the same procedure as directed above. You should not need to reinstall the Nikon Scan software however but only update the Windows drivers as prompted.

Explaining how to do all this in greater detail for all the various versions of Windows is beyond the scope of this article and for more assistance with the Windows Device Manager, you should refer to your Microsoft Windows documentation. Also, you could locate up-to-date help documentation for your scanner or contact tech support on Nikon's Tech Support Center website.

At this point, if all else has failed, you could always switch to a Macintosh...(No wait... I was only kidding...)

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Tips for all Nikon Scanners

To ensure the fastest and most efficient scanning possible, there are several preferences that should be changed from their installed default settings. Although screenshots of Nikon Scan's Mac OS X windows are shown, the Mac OS 9 and Windows versions have essentially the same layout. These recommendations apply to all versions of Nikon Scan 3.0 or higher on Macintosh and Windows platforms.



Preferences: Preview Settings - Turn off (un-check) all items except Auto exposure for negative film and Cache preview image... Auto-expose for Negatives will ensure that you get a well colour balanced preview scan to work with. Auto-expose for positives (slides) is not recommended since it will often result in a scan with too much contrast or a colour cast. Auto focus, Digital ICE and Multisampling may obviously be wanted for the final scan, but on the preview scan they are just a waste of time.



Preferences: Single Scan - Ensure that Before Scan: Auto focus is checked, but make sure that Auto expose for positive and negative film is not checked. You want the final scan sharp, right? That's why you have checked Auto-focus here! You have unchecked Auto-expose since presumably you have just fine-tuned your preview scan and wouldn't want the scanner to override those adjustments. If you are using the stand-alone Nikon Scan software and are not scanning from Photoshop, also check After Scan: Save to disk since this will speed up scan times as well. It will prevent Nikon Scan from spending time opening the completed scan, then prompting you for a filename after the fact and subsequently saving the scan to disk.



Notes about autofocus: By default, Nikon Scan will always try to focus on the center of your scan. If your slide or negative is lacking contrast at this spot, the Nikon software will do the best job it can at focusing but not report that it is having difficulty. The result may be a less than perfectly sharp scan. I would recommend that for every scan, you manually pick a focus point for the software by selecting the focus tool (this button  ) and clicking on a part of your preview scan that has good contrast. For example, the eye of a portrait subject, sharply defined branches against a sky or the edge of a building perhaps. You should choose a high-contrast point that is somewhat near the center of the image if possible, or is on the obvious subject in the frame (an off-center mountain-biker for example.)

Notes about Digital ICE: Do not use on Black & White Negative film! You will get weird looking pixelated and super high-contrast scans that are nearly unrecognizable!

On most other types of film, Digital ICE can work wonders in helping to clean up dust and scratches. With some types of film, Digital ICE can negatively impact the sharpness of the final scan, especially on very high resolution (>2000 dpi) scans, but usually this reduction in sharpness is very slight. A little judicious unsharp-masking in Photoshop will usually bring sufficient "snap" back to the image.

Also, Digital ICE will likely slow down your scan times significantly, especially on slower computers, since a lot of software processing is involved in retouching the scan on-the-fly. Digital ICE works by pre-scanning the film using infrared light. Most film emulsions are essentially transparent to infrared (except for B&W negative film!), however dust particles are generally opaque to infrared. Additionally, scratches in the emulsion will also refract infrared light allowing the scanner software to map out all these defects in advance. Then, during the final scan, the software retouches these identified defects using the areas immediately surrounding the dust or scratch - similar to what you would do with the cloning stamp in Photoshop. On a really dirty slide or negative, the results can be astonishingly effective!

In my experience I find Digital ROC (restoration of faded colour) and Digital GEM (film grain elimination) to be far less impressive. Since these functions slow down scanning even more, you will need to do some testing in advance to see if you like the results and if their use is beneficial in your application.

Scanner settings: When you have achieved settings in your preview scan that you are happy with and expect to be able to use them for subsequent scans, select "Set User Settings" in the Scanner Settings popup menu (near the top left of the main scanning window) to save your current tool settings as defaults.

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Additional Tips - Super CoolScan 4000 (LS-4000)

Preferences: Preview Scan - Turn off multi-sample scanning since it would unnecessarily slow down the preview scan times. If you have enabled multi-sample scanning in the Scanner Extras pane, it will still be used on the final scan even though you have turned it off here for the preview scan.

Multi-sample scanning can significantly improve shadow detail and reduce noise on scans of dark or underexposed slide film. It will, however slow down your scan times significantly as well. With a little practice, you will get a feel for which scans will benefit from multi-sample scanning and which don't require it. The settings range from 2x to 16x with noise-reduction improving with higher numbers but resulting scan times also slowing down. With 16x multi-sample scanning, the shadow detail that the LS-4000 can pick up rivals that of some drum scanners!

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Additional tips - Super CoolScan 8000 (LS-8000)

All the tips mentioned above apply to this scanner as well.

Scanner Extras pane: For any high resolution scans, I would always recommend that "Super Fine Scan" mode is enabled. Without enabling this feature, you might find that some high-res scans will have noticeable horizontal banding, especially in darker parts of the image. Enabling this feature will slow down scan times -worst case scenario, up to 3x- but on anything other than web-resolution scans, the increase in quality will be well worth the wait.

Notes on medium format scanning: Make sure that you have selected your frame size (6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7 etc.) in the main scanning window before performing a thumbnail scan. The scanner will try to automatically identify the edges of your frames if you are scanning a strip and an incorrect frame size setting will confuse the driver. Also, if the edges of your frame are very dark (slide film) or very light (neg film) then the software may not detect your frame edge properly and you will see the thumbnail scan as being offset to one side or other. In the Scanner Extras pane, there is an offset override slider that you can use to center the thumbnail before performing a preview scan. Adjust the slider and click on "Reload Thumbnail" to see the results of your adjustment.

If you are scanning a single frame of medium format film and the frame was cut out with only very narrow unexposed edges, you may find some optical flare noticeable in dark parts of the frame, right near the frame's edge. You might find it useful to use a piece of unexposed slide film as a mask, by positioning it right next to the edge of the frame you're scanning in order to block extraneous light from the scanner's light source.

Grain and ICE: Due to a more diffuse light source (since it has to illuminate the full width of medium format film), some people prefer the scans of very grainy film from the LS-8000 (compared to the LS-4000 or CoolScan IV) since they can appear smoother with less emphasis on the grain texture. In addition, I find the Digital ICE function on the LS-8000 not quite as "jaw-droppingly" impressive as on Nikon's other scanners. I believe this also has to do with the diffuse light source since the edges of dust particles and scratches will not be as sharply defined during the scanner's ICE detection phase.

Whew!  That's about it for now, although I hope to have some more screenshots posted here in the future.

Happy scanning to all, and to all a good night...

Mike Mander
Beau Photo Supplies
December 3, 2002

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