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:
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.