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filmscanners: Problems with LS40 and Nikon Scan 3

I am using version 3.1 of Nikon Scan with an LS40 and I'm trying to scan
negatives, mostly Fuji Super G/HG and later versions, with some Kodak Gold -
all ISO 200.

Overall I'd characterise the scan "problems" I'm having in two ways:

1. super-saturated - colour tends to be rather more saturated than I was
expecting.  Odd colours just seem to "pop" out in a way that can be
disconcerting.  Skin *always* seems to be too red/pink.

2. dark scans - using Photoshop, when I set the black point of the scanned
image to register as RGB:0, 0, 0 (ish), using auto-levels, say, the overall
tone of the image becomes objectionably dark.  If I look at the histogram
before applying auto-levels, it shows that the black point is at around
20-25.  I have to apply a gamma correction of roughly 1.3 to 1.7 to produce
something reasonable, once I've done auto-levels.  (PS produces really awful
results applying this gamma - it turns out that applying auto-levelled black
and gamma 1.3-1.7 in NS produces *vastly* superior results.)  It seems to me
that NS is failing to take account of the density of negative film (DMin I
guess) when it performs a scan.

All the settings in the Color Balance and Analog Gain palettes are set to
neutral (0), so I'm not introducing any colour cast or brightness/contrast
changes that way. I'm using the filmstrip motorised scanner gadget (i.e. I
just push each naked filmstrip into the front of the scanner).  The image
comes out with white borders along the long sides and black borders along
the short sides (respectively: light blocked by scanner and the film mask)
and I'm careful to exclude the white/black borders by performing a crop,
ahead of doing any auto-levels.  I use Auto Exposure in the Preferences.
Digital ICE is on the whole time  - I bought this scanner because I was
going barmy eradicating scratches from images out of another scanner.

I have NS Color Management System turned on and I have configured NS to use
the Adobe RGB 98 profile.  Photoshop is used to acquire via TWAIN and PS has
colour management on, set to a working space of Adobe RGB 1998.


1. How can I tame the colour within NS, for all my scans?  Is Fuji Super G,
say, known for being rather too saturated and twisty-turny in its colour?
(I have similar "saturation" problems with a friend's Kodak Supra 800/400
and Fuji NPH 400.)  If I turn down overall saturation (say -20) and change
the hue (+10)  the image seems pretty good, though I have to play with these
depending on the film/scene.

2. how can I persuade NS not to leave a gap of 20ish where the shadow data
should be filling in?  It seems to me that if I don't set the black point on
incoming scans, the images have a good overall tonality - but somewhat milky
in the shadow range.

I bought Vuescan last night (I started getting really good results with the
demo version) and I'm using Vuescan as a kind of "reference".  I'm
outputting files using the ProPhotoCD gamut and obviously retaining this
gamut when loading into PS.

Vuescan definitely doesn't produce skintones that make me want to puke - but
at the same time I feel it produces results that are a little flat looking,
both in contrast and in colour.  Often two colours in an NS image will tend
to "merge" in a VS scan.

Vuescan has a seriously disappointing user-interface.  I often have real
trouble getting a frame centred so that I can crop it properly.  There seem
to be 5 offset settings I can play with, but with some images I just can't
get at the whole frame.

So I have a mild preference for the images that I can get out of NS after I
use gamma/hue/saturation adjustments and a strong preference for NS's user
interface - but I wonder if it is possible to configure something in NS to
reduce the adjustments I have to make.

The way NS only uses 20-255, and the impact on gamma it results-in when I
set the black point, REALLY bothers me.

Are others having these kinds of problems?



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