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Nikonscan ICE against Vuescan dust removal

Sam McMillan , Aug 14, 2008; 11:10 a.m.

I'm just about to start scanning a large number of slides (including Kodachrome) and negatives (colour and B&W) with a Coolscan V, and I'm reading everything I can to try and do this optimally and avoid rework if possible.

I want to do the minimum processing at scan time. I will use either Aperture or Photoshop to make adjustments. So the object is to capture the most data with scratches and dust removed and nothing else done. I know that there are challenges with Kodachrome, and that for B&W, the IR based dust removal technique doesn't apply.

For dust and scratch removal I'm trying to understand the relative merits of using the Nikonscan's ICE feature or Vuescan's dust removal. (Silverfast is not an option I'm considering - from what I read in the fora, my conclusion is that the premium for Silverfast is not worth it, at least for me). I would be interested in people's experience of both. I'm sure there's no simple answer, but your inputs would be much appreciated. Also, I understand that the ICE algorithm is provided by the Nikonscan software, and is not part of the Coolscan V itself, but I'd like to confirm that too.

Responses

Mendel Leisk , Aug 14, 2008; 12:32 p.m.

Why not just try both and compare. Vuescan can be downloaded for free and will watermark the output until registered but still can be used to compare.

My experience comparing a Minolta scanner with ICE: Vuescan cleaning is not as good, misses a lot more and does not blend in the repaired areas anywhere near as seamlessly.

OTOH, a lot of Nikon scanner users report good cleaning with Vuescan, on par with their OEM software with ICE, so maybe it depends on the hardware. Ed Hamrick recommends Nikon scanners (what else is there now?), so I would think that indicates he has good success getting Vuescan to interact with that line.

Vuescan is a worthwhile purchase. It's cleaning is ok for fairly clean film, and it has a host of useful functions and features. It will make a good counterpoint to your OEM software. I'd say get the Pro license: read up on his site to see the differences between reg and pro license. Keep in mind it's a constantly evolving program. Sometimes bugs get in, and then later get fixed.

Using Vuescan you need to evaluate your results and tread cautiously. There are sometimes undocumented, or misdocumented issues:

http://photo.net/digital-darkroom-forum/00QSvM

I would use it just for what you need to do. An example: Vuescan offers downsampling (when doing scan-from-disk). The type of downsampling is not really defined in the Help File, but Ed Hamrick has said on forums that it's similar to "nearest neighbour". I found it's results were very stepped and pixelated, compared to say Photoshop's Bicubic downsample method.

I also prefer to do all my cropping in Photoshop. Vuescan can crop scans, and offers autocrop, but it's hit-or-miss and even if you crop by hand in Vuescan, the display resolution is no match for Photoshop.

Les Sarile , Aug 14, 2008; 01:19 p.m.

Regarding Vuescan vs Nikonscan - and I am very new to using Vuescan, below are a couple of observations. In the first one, I scanned a frame of Kodak Portra 160VC using the profile for this specific film in Vuescan with the various settings compared to a completely neutral scan in Nikonscan using only auto expose/focus and all other color settings off or neutral.
750KB file - click thumbnail for full res version.

The next is comparing dust and scratch removal - IR in Vuescan and ICE in Nikonscan, and below are the results I get from the same frame of film above.
6.2Meg file - click thumbnail for full res version.

Needless to say these are showstoppers for me so I am currently sticking to Nikonscan as I have not seen the benefit of a more formal color management process as I have "calibrated" my scans to look close enough to my optical prints but I am starting to look at Silverfast HDR have read that they have addressed ICE to be as good as Nikonscan's implementation. So there seems to be at least two compelling reasons for me to consider it - HDR and Color management.

Benny Spinoza , Aug 14, 2008; 02:55 p.m.

I found NikonScan for Kodachrome the best. (I use the 9000) But Vuescan is also very good. But when it comes to faded slides from many years ago, I find the Digital ICE 4 suite (e.g., ROC) does magic.

Marc Bergman , Aug 14, 2008; 06:32 p.m.

I am a long time Vuescan user but I must say I am very impressed by the latest Nikonscan.

The ICE does an excellent job. I was recently scanning some faded color negatives from the 1980's. Nikonscan did a wonderful job.

I still use Vuescan for underexposed slides. I can dig out detail better than Nikonscan.

Sam McMillan , Aug 14, 2008; 06:42 p.m.

Thank you all for responding so quickly with helpful advice and information. I've downloaded the trial of Vuescan and clearly there's a learning curve with both packages. I was hoping to find a good enough reason to pick one and focus on it, but it's not that clear cut (surprise, surprise).

Thank you Les for posting the comparison samples. I suspect I would lean towards the Nikonscan software most of the time where I have significant scratches.

One initial frustrating issue seems to be that the RAW output from Vuescan is not accessible to Aperture. I would really just like to take a minimally processed scan (probably only ICE turned on) and then do the rest in Aperture. I need to spend more time looking at the two packages from that point of view.

Les Sarile , Aug 14, 2008; 07:00 p.m.

In my in my Film 2 Album, I have a collection of neutral scans using Nikonscan with only auto expose/focus, crop, orientation and ICE (except for b&w) - no pre or post scan anything except for copyright and where stated, all other settings either OFF or neutral from the various films that I have shot and scanned. I also have other comparisons with other scanners and grain reduction and such if you're interested. I have already scanned over 7000 frames of film - some old and some new, and some 110 film as well.
Marc, I would interested to see your comparisons of scans related to underexposed film as I also have done considerable amount of this and using Nikonscan's Analog Gain and post processing Shadow's tool with good film brings out previously unrealized results for me as shown in the examples below.
The first one is Fuji RVP100 using analog gain, the second is the same one using multi exposure and Photomatix and the third is analog gain and post processing on Kodak E100G.
Click on thumbnail for full res - 4.5Meg, 5.2Meg & 1Meg files.

J. Harrington USA (Massachusetts) , Aug 14, 2008; 07:46 p.m.

35MM Slide Scanning Tips

If you use NikonScan, make sure you set the "film type" to "Kodachrome" if that's what you're scanning. Otherwise, the dust and scratch removal process will cause unwanted artifacts, visible as ghosting or double edges around are areas where contrast changes.

"Ice" at least the dust and scratch removal portion, is a combination of hardware /software. It involves passing infrared light through the film. The IR does not pass through debris on the film and leaves a picture of the debris. The software then "grows" the image into the specks, eliminating most of them.

When scanning NON-Kodachrome film, you get a more complete dust and scratch removal if you set the film type to positive.

When set to Kodachrome film type "Ice" seems to be low power (to reduce the ghosting artifacts) and does not eliminate specks as effectively.

Ice dust and scratch slows scanning a bit on my Nikon 5000 scanners, but not nearly as much as DEE, GEM or ROC.

For more slide scanning tips visit this page I published:

http://www.slidescanning123.com/tips/

Mauro Caroti , Sep 19, 2008; 05:51 a.m.

Hi all, I have a Nikon Coolscan V ED, and I have worked out many trials in order to get the best out of it, that is correct images, true colours and the best cleaning action (scratches, dust, etc.). I have made accurate testing of Nikon sw that came with the scanner, SilverFast and Vuescan; I don’t know any about other products. I have come to the result that the Nikon sw may be the best to use, as for the overall result of the scanning: the Digital ICE4 function works as well as the other products (sometimes even a bit better), and the colours are the “more true” ones than the ones I got out of the other two products (compared to a professional print of the images). As for colour rendering, I had some cases with “wrong colours” like the examples in the Les Sariles previous post. I use Nikon sw, when scanning after the preview, with the only Digital ICE4 function set up, and all other function disabled, saved in TIFF-16bpc format, and after the scanning I treat all the images with Noiseware (great product for reducing grain/noise effect, also for my D200 shots at high ISO values) and with Pixelgenius PhotoKit sharpener; this workflow is very good for colour negative films, while for B/W I am waiting for indications from a technician of Imagenomic (the sw house of Noiseware). I have found out that with this workflow I usually get correct and “true” images that are a very good input to Photoshop CS3 for the definitive treatment, getting out of it TIFF-8bpc pictures. One thing has surprised me navigating in the Digital Darkroom pages of this web site; almost no one has ever mentioned about the multiple scanning of an image. Unfortunately, my scanner doesn’t allow that, and from my trials I have found out that in several cases scanning 2 or 3 times the same images gives (especially with Vuescan) considerable differences, in particular for the dynamic range of the image you get at the end of the scanning process: this is why I intend to get Vuescan or SilverFast, knowing that there is always a possible problem of “true colours” rendering.

Robert Budding , Sep 19, 2008; 09:03 a.m.

I tried Vuescan, but I'm back to Nikon Scan. I make linear positive scans and invert negs using a Photoshop plug-in, ColorNeg by CF Systems. I've posted a couple of examples in this thread:

http://photo.net/digital-darkroom-forum/00MRuZ

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