The Current Issue
Nikon Owner Issue 18
Scanning Simplicity by Ben Oxley
Ben Oxley offers some advice on setting up Nikon Scan and using some of its key features.
The current range of Nikon Coolscan desktop scanners offers probably the most cost-effective method of producing very high quality scans, and I hope Simon Stafford's review of the Nikon Coolscan 5000ED in the previous issue of Nikon Owner magazine whetted your appetite for giving your film-based pictures a new lease of life.
However, the scanner hardware is only half the story; to use it effectively it is important to apply the features of Nikon Scan appropriately. The following comments and illustrations are based on the processes I use with my own Coolscan 5000ED, which I run with version 4.0.1 of Nikon Scan, and are intended as a starting point for developing your own scanning workflow. (If you have another Nikon scanner model, or run a different version of Nikon Scan you can apply the following information where it is relevant.)
Once you have connected your scanner and switched it on, you can launch Nikon Scan. The desktop will comprise three distinct areas:
In the main control panel (it is the pane to the left that contains the 'Preview' and 'Scan' buttons) click on the drop-down menu below Settings and choose the appropriate film type. I will use Positive as this covers all transparency films with the exception of Kodak Kodachrome. Next click on the "Prefs" button.
A window is displayed that contains a menu and a variety of tabbed and/or button selected options. Start by clicking on the Color Management option and select "Use Custom Monitor Profile" then select your pre-determined monitor profile.
Note: If you have not calibrated your monitor you should do so immediately. Unless you use a profiled monitor there is no chance that Nikon Scan will display colours correctly for your specific system.
After selecting the monitor profile click on the RGB button to set the RGB colour space. My preference is for Adobe RGB, and make sure you turn on the "Use Nikon Colour Management System" by checking the button. Moving down the menu click on the Single Scan option and check all the boxes for "before scan" actions. Options for "after scan" are a matter of personal preference; if you are running the scanner as a twain device from Adobe Photoshop the "Save to disk" option does not need to be checked.
Finally, whilst in Preferences, click on the Preview Settings option and ensure all three boxes in the upper half of the window are checked. Your own desired set-up and how the scanner is to be used will dictate the remaining choices within the Preferences options. Now close Preferences and click on the Tools button in the Control Panel.
The default Tools Panel will appear. For the sake of convenience you can re-arrange the tabs of each tool by simply dragging and dropping them into any order you wish. If there are tools you do not wish to use drag these out of the Tools window and drop them on your desk top; this will create another tools palette, which you can then close to hide it. Again much will depend on personal preference but for what it is worth I use a palette that shows just six tools.
I hide the following: Information - the details shown here also appear in the main Control Panel so this is unnecessary duplication, Color Balance - too crude; there are better options in Photoshop, LCH Editor - again I prefer to control matters pertaining to the luminance, chroma, and hue in Photoshop, Analog Gain - you should not have to resort to this tool to achieve a good scan from any well-exposed film (transparency or negative); if you do there is probably a fault with the light source of your scanner.