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filmscanners: Nikon 8000: An Unbiased Review

Lest I come off as a shill for Nikon, here's my 
summary on the Nikon 8000 ED, after three weeks 
of fairly intense usage.  There's a little bit 
of ammo for Mr. Hemingway here, but also some 
stuff that ought to concern him.

The Good:

* overall, excellent scans, especially on 645 
  negatives.  Quality on par with the Leaf 45, 
  maybe even marginally better.  (Sorry, Austin.)

* ICE really works.  I'm very impressed.

* Fast.  645 scans w/o ICE in about 5 minutes.
  (on Athlon 700 MHz machine with 512 MB RAM)
  Add about 50% more time for ICE.  [But one other 
  user has emailed me about very slow scans...]

* surprisingly good auto-exposure, at least on 
  most negatives.  I use it often -- and I'm 
  usually very fussy about scanner settings.

* no film-type "profiles" to choose from -- 
  scanner is uncannily accurate at properly 
  "inverting" different types of C41 film

* good software (NikonScan 3.1) despite some 
  conflicts and issues with installation.  It 
  has all the essential controls I want, 
  including histograms and a good curves tool.
  All in all, one of the best vendor-supplied 
  scanner drivers that I've worked with.

* clever, sturdy film holders (but not without 
  some problems -- see below)

* good 24/7 tech support by phone, very little 
  waiting.  Rapid escalation to "2nd Level" 
  support if need be, but 2nd-Level is only 
  available during "normal working hours."

The Bad:

* large, noisy machine.  Scanning mechanism 
  has a suprisingly coarse sound.  Offhand, I 
  don't see why the machine needs to be this large.

* Film holders sometimes seem to wiggle as 
  they're being moved about by the scanner 
  (during thumbnail and preview acquisition, when 
  the carrier reverses direction.) This does not 
  inspire confidence in the mechanics.

* 35 mm film holder:  very flat negatives can 
  slide around.  I find I need a tiny piece of 
  tape at the edge of the filmstrip to prevent 

* 35 mm slide holder: possible auto-focus 
  issue (but I need to investigate this further.)

* 645 film holder (glassless): occasionally a 
  negative at the end of a strip can't be made 
  to lie flat.  When this happens, focus goes 
  to hell.  (Apparently not much depth-of-field.)

* 645 holder:  4 images (max) per film strip.

* 645 holder:  the method used by NikonScan to 
  locate the images is ridiculous and error-
  prone.  It can be worked around but that adds 
  some time, as one needs to iterate between 
  an "offset" setting and another thumbnail/

* I long for a "non-batch" film-loading mechanism 
  like with my earlier film scanners.  The movable 
  film-holder slows everything down.  Each time you 
  enter the TWAIN driver you need to re-acquire 
  thumbnails and the preview of the image you want 
  to scan.  Slows things down a lot.

  This could be avoided by using NikonScan "stand-
  alone" but the problem there is that its TIFF 
  file "save" operation is so dreadfully slow, it 
  would negate any time savings.  (Takes as long 
  to save a 170 MB TIFF file as it took to make 
  the scan in the first place.)

* Banding issues on dense slides/negatives.  The 
  workaround is to use "SuperFine" scan mode but 
  that slows down scanning by a factor of three.

In summary:  it does the essential functions very 
well, but with a number of quirks and bothersome 
user-interface headaches.  The banding issue is the 
most worrisome; I've only seen this in the last 
24 hours or so.  The "Super Fine Scan" fix seems to 
work so far, but I'll feel better about this after 
I've tested it some more.

rafe b.


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