Steve's Digicams

Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED

Review posted 3/27/01

Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED

The Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED is a high-performance yet affordable ($1695 MSRP) desktop scanner for 35mm and APS film and slides. It features a 3,946-pixel monochrome linear CCD that scans an area of 25.2 x 38mm (3946x5959 pixels) with an optical scanning resolution of 4000 dpi. A Nikkor lens with three low-dispersion ED glass elements and a fast and accurate autofocus system insures consistently sharp images. The 14-bit A/D conversion yields a wide 4.2 dynamic range and the 48-bit color depth generates up to 137MB size images with 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x or 16x Multi-Sampling

The Super Coolscan 4000 ED, the multi-format Super Coolscan 8000 ED and the Nikon Coolscan IV ED are the first scanners to offer AFS' Digital ICE3 technology, a suite of sophisticated digital enhancement tools for color correcting and enhancing images. Digital ICE3 works with the Nikon Scan 3.0 software to offer three image correction tools; Digital ICE, Digital ROC and Digital GEM which can be turned on or off to correct and enhance images, reconstruct original color and equalize and manage grain details in film.

TIPA Award winner
Best Film Scanner 2001-2002

Through the Nikon Scan 3.0 software, the Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED permits a variety of options for enhancing and restoring scans of positive and negative film. A scene analysis function automatically corrects tone and color in negatives. Images can be saved in a variety of file formats including JPEG or uncompressed TIFF or BMP. The software also offers the option of autofocus with manual override.

Nikon's sophisticated Color Management System ensures colors from the scanner are reproduced accurately on different output devices such as printers and monitors. It works in tandem with ColorSync on the Mac OS platform and ICM 2.0 on the Windows platform, allows users to scan and deliver the image directly into Photoshop in any of ten popular color working spaces. Using Nikon Scan 3.0,

Thanks to a speedy FireWire (IEEE 1394) interface the Super Coolscan 4000 ED scans and displays images on a monitor in approximately 38 seconds. Users have the ability to scan uncut film rolls up to 40 frames with the optional SA-30 adapter and up to 50 slides unattended with the SF-200S auto-slide feeder.

Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED

Included with the Super Coolscan 4000 ED is the MA-20 mounted slide carrier and the motorized SA-21 carrier that handles 35mm film strips of 4 to 6 frame lengths. For shorter film strips or strips that don't load properly in the SA-21 there is also the FH-3 strip film holder that is used manually with the MA-20.

Optional film carriers include the SA-30, which holds entire uncut rolls of 35mm film; the SF-200S auto slide feeder; the IA-20 Film Adapter that scans 15, 25 or 40 frames of Advanced Photo System film, and the FH-G1 Medical Slide holder for glass slides.

Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED

Don't have a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port on your PC?   Not a problem, Nikon includes this PCI-based, 2-port FireWire interface card and a 6-pin connecting cable. All you have to do is install it, load the drivers and you're scanning faster than SCSI-based scanners!  Operating systems supported include Windows 98 SE, ME and 2000 and the Mac OS 8.6 or later.

OK, so now we've covered the hardware - how does this thing work?   The proof is in the pictures. I dug around in my old negative shoe boxes until I found some that were so scratched and dust-spotted that I would never bother having them printed at the lab.

Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED

This is scanned using no Digital ICE3 enhancement whatsoever...

Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED

And this is the same negative scanned using the Digital ICE, ROC and GEM enhancements. Notice any difference?  The scanner removed the frame-long scratch as well as numerous surface defects, all the dust spots and brought back the original colors in just minutes - saving me easily an hour of PhotoShop retouching time.

The Digital ICE3™ Imaging Suite

Digital ICE3 Digital ICE3 from Applied Science Fiction eliminates scratches on photographic film or slides, restores accurate color fidelity and improves on a photograph's overall appearance by minimizing the visual noise known as grain -- quickly and automatically -- during the scanning process. This innovative new technology bridges the gap between photography and digital imaging for publishers, photo labs, service bureaus, minilabs and all users of personal computers who work with photographic images and desktop film scanners.

The Digital ICE3 imaging suite is a combination of sophisticated digital enhancement tools which, when integrated into a scanner by the OEM, automatically provides the user with a near perfect scanned digital image. Digital ICE3 is comprised of three proprietary technologies: ASF’s original, award-winning Digital ICE (Image Correction & Enhancement) plus Digital ROC (Reconstruction of Color) and Digital GEM (Grain Equalization and Management) technologies.

In one simple push of a button, Digital ICE3 eliminates all surface defects, yields uncompromising color fidelity, corrects under and over exposed images and automatically reduces the grain of a scanned image.

Digital ICE technology, ASF’s first suite component, removes surface defects instantaneously without altering the underlying image. The award-winning Digital ICE distinguishes itself from software-only solutions because -- unlike the competition -- it does not soften, blur or otherwise alter any underlying details and composition of the original image. Instead, ASF’s patented Digital ICE technology works from within the scanner itself, during the scanning process to provide the user with a clear authentic base image that generally improves on the original image.

Digital ROC technology works to restore the color quality of an image, regardless of the condition of the original. Digital ROC technology “reads” the dye signature present in color film and slides, using a complex set of proprietary algorithms. The degree of color restoration depends on the visibility of the image’s dye record. In the end, Digital ROC technology will always restore some of the original color, despite extensive color deterioration.

The last tool in this trio is ASF’s Digital GEM technology, which combats graininess in film. Film grain refers to a distracting visual pattern seen in photographs that is caused by “clumping” of silver grains in an original photographic image. Digital GEM technology is able to analyze a film’s unique grain pattern, extract all vital data related to image quality, color and sharpness and then algorithmically “remove” the grain from the scanned record of that image. This process greatly enhances the visual impact of resulting scanned images.

The Digital ICE3 package delivers consistent image quality regardless of the film’s age or extent of the defect. Simply put, Digital ICE3 makes good images better -- automatically.

Still not convinced?   Here's another set of "before and after" pics.
Click to see the bigger (~125KB) pictures!

Steve's Conclusion

Just to make it clear from the start -- I am not a film scanning expert. In fact, this is only the third film scanner I have used in the last five years. The other two were older technology devices, one was a Polaroid and the other was a top of the line Microtech scanner. Neither of them came anywhere close to the results that I have seen with the new Nikon Super Coolscan 4000. After weeks of use with the Microtech my best scans would not equal what came out of the Nikon within the first few minutes of use. I have yet to have seen a bad scan from the Nikon, even when scanning my worst negatives the results have been nothing short of spectacular.

My personal test results using a Pentium III/1000MHz 256MB RAM, Windows 98 SE, PhotoShop 6.0.1, Nikon Scan 3 are:

Preview scan, 35mm negative - 31 secs
4000dpi/8-bit/1x sample, no ICE - 1:20
4000dpi/8-bit/1x sample, with ICE - 3:50
4000dpi/8-bit/1x sample, ICE/ROC/GEM - 12:10

If you run a camera store or photo lab and want to make money restoring customer's old 35mm negatives or slides - the Coolscan 4000 is the machine for you. Depending on your business volume you should be able to recover the cost of this scanner within a month or two if not within a couple of weeks. What is your labor time worth?   Do you enjoy spending endless hours pushing a mouse around in Photoshop cloning out scratches and dust spots and re-coloring photos?   Just take a look at the two sets of scans above, the "after" scans required ZERO touchup time in PhotoShop and could easily be delivered to the customer as the finished product.

Avid amateur or professional photographer?   Then I'm willing to bet that you have quite an assortment of slides or negatives that you'd like to print but haven't because of their condition right?   Even if all of your film is in pristine condition you can still benefit from the resolution and performance of the Super Coolscan 4000. This is the perfect scanner for those wishing to bring their film images into the digital age. Photo retouching is more easily done on the computer with PhotoShop and incredible prints can be made from hi-res digital images. The Coolscan 4000 turns 35mm film into 5959x3946 pixel images with a 64MB (8-bit) or 127MB (16-bit) file size. Nikon even includes the full version of Altamira's Genuine Fractals Version 2.0 so you can take your images to even higher resolutions for generating poster-size prints easily.

Maybe it's a good thing for me (and you) that this scanner didn't come along five years ago or I'd probably still be shooting with a film camera today -- and there would be no Steve's Digicams web site. If you get the feeling that I like this scanner then you'd be right. Considering the price, the technology involved and the results achieved by even novice users the Super Coolscan 4000 is a winner!

Want all the info on these Nikon film scanners:

Coolscan IV ED brochure

Super Coolscan 4000 ED brochure

Super Coolscan 8000 ED brochure

Continue on to
Nikon Scan 3 Software

Imaging-Resource Coolscan 4000 review

Super Coolscan 4000 ED Specifications

Film Type: 35mm/Advanced Photo System Film (IX240) (Advanced Photo System adapter optional), Slide glass for microscope (with optional adapter) (positive, negative, color, or monochrome)
Reading Resolution: 3,946-pixel monochrome linear CCD; 4,000 dpi optical resolution
Film Adapter: Slide Mount Adapter MA-20(S); Strip Film Adapter SA-21 (2 to 6 frames); Strip Film Holder FH-3 (1 to 6 frames); IX240 Film Adapter IA-20(S) (15,25,40 frames, optional); Roll Film Adapter SA-30 (2 to 40 frames, optional); Slide Feeder SF-200(S) (1 to 50 frames, optional); Medical Slide Holder FH-G1 (for slide glass, optional)
Scanning Area: 25.1 x 38mm (3,946 x 5,959 pixels)
Effective Scanning Area: SA-21: 23.3 x 36.0mm (3,654 x 5,646 pixels)
Effective Scanning Area: MA-20(S): 25.1 x 36.8mm* (3,946 x 5,782 pixels) *Actual effective size depends on slide mount aperture size
Effective Scanning Area: FH-3: 24.0 x 36.0mm (3,762 x 5,646 pixels)
Effective Scanning Area: IA-20(S): 16.1 x 26.9mm (2,525 x 4,219 pixels)
Effective Scanning Area: SA-30: 23.3 x 36.0mm (3,654 x 5,646 pixels)
Effective Scanning Area: SF-200(S): 25.1 x 36.8mm* (3,946 x 5,782 pixels) *Actual effective size depends on slide mount aperture size
Effective Scanning Area: FH-G1: 22.9 x 35.0mm (3,591 x 5,488 pixels)
Illumination Method: R, G, B and D-LED Array
Color Separation: RGB line sequential
Imaging Optics: Scanner Nikkor ED glass lens (7 elements in 4 groups including 3 ED glass elements)
Focusing: Autofocus and Manual Focus
Scan Time: Approx 38 seconds at 4,000 dpi (35mm), 16-bit output (typical scan time with display, Windows®, CMS off)
Optical Density: 4.2 dynamic range
Thumbnail Scanning and Batch Scanning: 35mm (135) strip film; 2 to 6 frames; IX240 film cartridge: 15,25,40 frames (with optional adapter); 35mm (135) strip film (with SA-30): 2 to 40 frames; 35mm (135) mount film (with SF-200(S)): 1 to 50 frames
A/D Conversion: 14-bits
Output data: 16-bits, 8-bits per color channel (user selectable)
Digital ICE³(TM): Digital ICE(TM) - automatic removal of surface defects; Digital ROC(TM) - automatic restoration of lost color values and exposure correction; Digital GEM(TM) -automatic minimization of film grain in scanned images
Multi-sample scanning: 2, 4, 8, 16 times (user selectable) for reduced noise
Color Management System: Built in; uses standard ICC profiles to color match across input devices. Apple ColorSync® and Microsoft® ICM compatible
Panel Indicators: READY, BUSY and ERROR status indicated by front LED
Scanning Software: Nikon Scan® 3.0
Interface: IEEE 1394 (OHCI Compliant)
Operating Systems: Mac®OS 8.6 or later, Windows®98 Second Edition, Windows® Me, and Windows® 2000
Power Requirements: 100-240 VAC, 0.3-0.2A, 50/60Hz
Environmental: Temperature: 50-95° F (10-35° C); Relative Humidity: 20-60% (non-condensing)
Dimensions (WxHxD): 3.7 x 6.6 x 12.4 in. (93 x 169 x 315mm)
Weight (approx.): 6.6 lbs (3kg)
Includes: IEEE 1394 cable (6 pin, 6 pin), IEEE 1394 Interface card (works with Windows® & Macintosh® G3 or later computers) Altamira Genuine Fractals(TM) 2.0 FULL version, Canto Cumulus(TM) 5.0 Demo, Nikon Scan® 3.0 Driver software, Slide Mount Adapter MA-20(S), Strip Film Adapter SA-21, Strip Film Holder FH-3, AC Power cord, software manual, and user manual.

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