Video tutorial: Using Nikon Scan and ColorPerfect to create perfect photos from your negative scans

Video tutorial on increasing the quality of your slide and negative scans from Nikon Scan with ColorPerfect! Find out more about how to scan with Nikon Scan. ColorPerfect processes scans with color integrity and gives unprecedented flexibility in creative image editing. To harness the full potential of our Photoshop Plug-in it's important to obtain image data that has been subjected to as little processing as possible (RAW data). The following video tutorial gives a step by step explanation on how to achieve this with Nikon Scan.

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Using Nikon Scan and ColorPerfect

In this video I'd like to show you how to create linear scans using Nikon Scan. What that means is that we are going to configure Nikon Scan so that it won't perform any image editing at all and will save the data it gets from the scanner straight into a tiff file.

Using Nikon Scan 4 on Mac OS X (up to 10.6)

I am currently running Nikon Scan on Mac OS X Snow Leopard which was the last version were Nikon Scan for OS X could be used because the Nikon Scan software was authored for the old Power PC platform and Snow Leopard was the final version of OS X to support that via emulation.

Using Nikon Scan 4 on Windows (including 8 and 64 bit)

On Windows computers Nikon Scan can still be used on all versions although to use it on 64-bit Windows you will have to use a special technique we detail on our web page on using Nikon Scan for ColorPerfect.

Setting up Nikon Scan preferences

To get started with creating linear scans we first have to change a couple of preferences, so we chose Nikon Scan preferences. What we'd like to do is setting the Gamma from 1.8 on the Mac or 2.2 on Windows computers to 1. In order to be able to do so we first need to disable the Nikon color management system. Changing back to the Gamma tab we find that Gamma is now editable and that we can set this to 1. If you are not using a fresh installation of Nikon Scan we should also take a look at the Advanced Color tab. Please make sure that the white point targets are all set to 255, the grey point targets are set to 127 and the black point targets are set to zero. After having set this up OK out of the preferences and note that we will have to restart the Nikon Scan software. So lets exit Nikon Scan and restart it. All right.

Always scan in mode for positives

Once the general preferences are set it is important that we chose positive for our scan because we don't want Nikon Scan to invert our image as we intend to do that using ColorPerfect's ColorNeg mode later on.

Setting up Nikon Scan's Crop tab

So next let's discuss the various settings on the tool palette. On the Crop tab we can set up the desired resolution. When scanning for archival purposes it is usually best to set this to the maximum optical resolution the scanner is capable of. For the modern Nikon scanners this will usually be 4000 dpi.

Tabs to disable in Nikon Scan 4

Next we can disable the Curves tab, the Color Balance tab, the Unsharp Mask tab and the LCH Editor tab if they were accessible.

Setting up dust and scratch removal by Digital ICE 4

On the digital ICE 4 tab we can enable the automated removal of dust and scratches. Whether this is best set to normal or fine depends on your image but we have found that we like normal better more often than not. Do not enable any of the post processing options ROC or GEM and also do not enable digital DEE.

Set bit depth to 16 bit (or 14 bit)

Next it's important to set the scanner bit depth to either 16 bits per channel for the latest generation of Nikon scanners or to 14 bits per channel for the previous generation of Nikon scanners. If you like you can also set up multi sampling. For this tutorial video I'll stay at normal mode.

Special settings for the Coolscan LS-8000

When using a Nikon Coolscan LS 8000 be sure to enable the superfine scan feature because there was a problem with the stepping motors in that scanner, which produce banding effects in the darkest parts of a scan which in case of negative scans correlate to much brighter areas after the inversion so the effect will be much more visible and usually disturbing.

How to use analog gains (optional)

When scanning color negatives it is also generally permissible to use analog gains to eliminate the orange mask and to increase per channel detail. For scanners with an actual 16 bit analog digital converter this is usually not required. For the previous generation of scanners a quality increase was more noticeable. Still I'm going to show you how to set that up. For color negatives red is usually the brightest channel. The data recorded by the green channel is darker. So it should be fine if we used an exposure increase of one F stop here and it should even be fine to use about 2 F stops of an exposure increase for the blue channel. Please note that enabling the analog gains will increase lamp brightness as long as that's possible and after that will lengthen exposure time, which will effectively slow down your scan. For the modern scanners what I'd recommend is finding out what values do not lengthen your scan time noticeably and do stick with those.

Saving your settings in Nikon Scan 4

I know that the frame I am going to scan is at index 3. However when switching to index 3 all my settings will be lost as we did configure the frame at index 1. Let's go back to index 1 and save our settings. We chose settings, save settings and give the settings a descriptive name. Linear negative 1x for the multi sampling, 1G2B for the analog gain settings. And let's confirm that by pressing OK.

Restoring settings in Nikon Scan 4

Now we can switch to index 3 and restore the settings we just saved from our settings list. Since I know that I did insert the film into the holder there is no need for a preview scan and I'll create the final scan right away.

Save the linear scan or configure auto save in Nikon Scan 4

Since I did not configure the Auto Save feature in the options we will now have to save our scan. Let's say . . . and let's save it on the desktop. Of course you can also use Nikon Scan's batch scanning features when creating linear scans which will usually automatically save your scans to disk. After having created the scan we can now leave Nikon Scan.