Most low-end scanners give you no choice about the "color
space" the scan is performed in, simply making some broad
assumption about the sort of monitor you're using, and how it
is set up. By contrast, Nikon Scan and the LS-2000 provide a
choice between uncalibrated RGB, the new sRGB standard, CMYK,
and HSL (hue, saturation, level) color spaces. With the color
management option enabled, Nikon Scan also supports ICC-standard
For professional applications, ICC profiles and a robust color-management
system can be important to repeatable color and an efficient
workflow. Since we don't have any methodology for evaluating
color-management systems, we didn't experiment with Nikon Scan's
color management options. (Nikon also points out in their manual
that the color management system both slows the scanning process
and dramatically increases memory requirements.) Thus, while
we take it as a very positive indication for graphics professionals
that the LS-2000 includes an ICC-compliant color-management system,
we can't offer any assessment of its effectiveness. (In our evaluation,
the scanner was connected to a PowerMac G3 system, with an uncalibrated
monitor set to 5000K white point, and a gamma of 1.0. Since the
sRGB standard uses a much higher gamma setting, and is otherwise
geared more to the default conditions of Windows machines, we
found that we obtained the best results using the uncalibrated
RGB mode. If we had a calibrated monitor system though, and were
working in a production environment, we almost certainly would
have used ICC profiling for all our work.)
The LS-2000 comes with three film holders, one for mounted 35mm
slides, one for loose strips of 35mm film, and a third "clamshell"-style
holder for handling badly-curved strips of film via the slide
The various film adapters plug into a long cavity in the front
of the unit. Some adapters (such as the film-strip feeder) have
an electrical plug on their back that carries power and signals
between the film transport and the scanner itself. As mentioned
earlier, the various media adapters can be plugged and unplugged
with impunity at any time the LS-2000 isn't actually scanning:
The scanner and driver software automatically recognize which
adapter is currently in use.
The SA-20 film strip feeder can handle strips of film from 2
to 6 frames long. The Nikon manual cautions against attempting
to feed film strips that are curved side-to-side (across the
narrow dimension of the film) by more than a couple of millimeters.
To help judge whether a piece of film is too badly curved to
feed safely, Nikon provides a gauge on top of the film strip
adapter. In practice, only our "severe damage" test
negative was curled appreciably in this direction, most chose
to curl along the length of the film. Even negatives that were
fairly tightly curled along the length of the film fed without
problem. (In fact, in the course of feeding many dozens of pieces
of film into the unit during our testing, we never had a single
problem with film transport.) Some users on the Nikon tech forum
have reported film jamming problems with the SA-20, but many
of these appear to be due to film with slightly ragged edges:
Based on various end-user reports, cutting with a razor-sharp
scissors or razor knife seems to cure many problems. Others reported
difficulty with thin film, but our experience with the resolution
target on Kodak Tech Pan (a relatively thin film) was flawless.
Nikon's FH-2 clamshell film holder deserves special mention here,
thanks to its construction and ease of use: It did an excellent
job handling the badly-curled "severe damage" negative:
In our experience, clamshell holders of this sort are often awkward
to use with curled negatives, but we had no such problem with
the Nikon version. The Nikon device is a composite of metal and
plastic, with the structural support and latching mechanism provided
by the metal parts, and the actual film registration by the plastic
pieces. Where the Nikon holder differs significantly from others
we've used is that the film guides take the form of two continuous
ridges in the plastic that run the entire length of one half
of the clamshell assembly. Thus, you simply lay the film between
the guides, and are assured that it will properly align as you
close the holder, even if the piece of film consists of only
a single frame. Other holders we've used employ alternating ridges
and recesses on both sides of the clamshell. This can make it
difficult to keep the film aligned as the clamshell closes, particularly
if the piece of film is short.
The MA-20 35mm mounted-slide feeder couldn't be much simpler:
It's basically a passive chunk of plastic that plugs into the
scanning aperture, with a slot to manually push the slide into,
and a button to press to manually eject the slide when you're
done: Not much to go wrong there!
(Disclaimer: The next two paragraphs are based solely on information
collected from Nikon's published materials, since we didn't have
access to the devices in question for this review.)
The IA-20 APS film adapter plugs into the scanner in much the
same way as the 35mm film strip adapter, projecting from the
front by the same couple of inches. APS cartridges are simply
dropped into the front of the unit, and the software will scan
"thumbnail" representations of the entire roll of film
in about 80 seconds (for 25 frames - longer and shorter rolls
will vary proportionately in their pre-scan times).
The SF-200 auto slide feeder plugs into the LS-2000 in the same
fashion as other adapters, but its construction requires both
devices to rest on their sides. (The LS-2000 has rubber feed
on both its edge and its side, to support operation in either
orientation.) The auto slide feeder can hold and process up to
50 slides, and can unload one slide and load the next in about
12 seconds. A warning about the SF-200 adapter from the Nikon
tech forum though: While it appears to work fine with modern
(plastic) slide mounts, there are apparently significant problems
with older cardboard mounts. These seem to arise as a result
of the higher frictional coefficient of the cardboard mounts,
often causing two slides to feed at once. (Some old mounts are
particularly rough, and more likely to cause problems.) The problems
with the older mounts appear to be very solvable though, as several
users have posted notes and photos of "slide gate"
devices they've attached to their LS-2000's. - Highly recommended
reading for anyone planning to scan old slides! (This is a natural
application for the LS-2000, particularly in light of the unique
"ICE" dust-removal technology.)
System Interface and Included Software
As we mentioned above, the LS-2000 is a SCSI-based scanner. (For
those unfamiliar with the SCSI interface, this is a high-speed
connection originally developed for hard drives, but now utilized
by various scanners and even some high-end digital cameras.)
Nikon rates the LS-2000's data-transfer capability at 3 megabytes/second,
a number consistent with the 20-second scan time for images acquired
without use of ICE, multiple sampling, or Nikon's color management.
(This is very fast, with many competing units struggling to achieve
minimum scan times under 60 seconds.) Note though, that the scan
time increases greatly when any of the special features are engaged,
such as color management, Digital ICE, or multi-sample scanning.
On Mac systems, connecting the scanner is as simple as plugging
the SCSI cable into the built-in SCSI interface port. Windows
users face the more daunting challenge of adding a SCSI adapter
board to their system. Speaking from prior experience, if your
system is relatively "clean" (not very many added pieces
of hardware), and you only have a single hard-drive interface
device or card in your system, the SCSI card addition can be
trivial. On the other hand, if your PC is stuffed to the seams
with extra cards and interfaces, you may have problems getting
a SCSI card to work at all! One tip: The SCSI card Nikon ships
with PC versions of the LS-2000 is a PCI device. If you can't
get this card to work, consider getting an ISA-bus card (assuming
your machine has an ISA slot available). The ISA card won't be
as fast as the PCI one, but by switching busses, you may be able
to escape a hardware conflict. (If all this talk of PCI, ISA,
and hardware conflicts has you confused, you're not alone! Thousands
of computer service outlets exist for a good reason - Consider
paying one of them to install your SCSI card for you if you're
not comfortable messing about inside your computer...)
We're concerned that all this talk about SCSI cards might give
some potential buyers pause: It shouldn't. When it comes right
down to it, for the next year or two (until "Firewire"
becomes common), SCSI is really the only choice for interfacing
a scanner with the power of the LS-2000. If you need professional-level
quality and speed, don't consider for a minute a device connecting
via a parallel port -- you'll never get the throughput necessary
for professional production! (Parallel port-connected devices
are fine for personal or home use, but if your time has value,
and you need to do a lot of scans, you need a SCSI-based unit
like the LS-2000.)
Included software consists of the (excellent) Nikon-Scan software
drivers (along with Photoshop and TWAIN drivers), and a toss-in
copy of InMedia's Slides and Sound Plus slide-show application.
No photo-editing application is included, since most purchasers
of an LS-2000 are likely to already own one (or two).
Interface issues aside, installation of the scanner itself was
very simple and straightforward. Note though, that there are
TWO locking screws which must be removed before attempting to
operate the scanner. You'll also need to check the setting of
the SCSI ID switch on the back, and set it to a number not presently
in use on your system. The scanner has it's own internal power
supply, running from standard 110/220 line power. The back panel
SCSI connectors are the "HDI-50" fine-pitch type common
on SCSI-III peripherals. The provided cable is a DB25 to HDI-50
type: If you have other SCSI devices on your computer, you'll
probably need some sort of adapter cable to chain from the LS-2000
to the other units. (Unlike some units, the LS-2000 provides
two SCSI connectors on the back panel, allowing you to "daisy-chain"
other SCSI devices with it.) In a nice touch, the LS-2000 also
includes a switchable internal active terminator, should you
want to place it on the end of your SCSI chain.
Operation and User Interface
Wow! This is going to be a big section! The LS-2000 has one of
the richest user interfaces we've ever seen in a desktop scanner.
The extent of control it provides over the scanning process is
unmatched, but this flexibility comes at some cost in terms of
the learning curve associated with it. (And in terms of the number
of words and pictures we'll need here to describe it all to you.)
Stay with us, we'll try to fit it all in! (We'll resort to a
more terse presentation of some of the features, based on heavy
use of screen shots. Hopefully, this will make the information
easier to scan through, while keeping the word-count to a reasonable
All scanner operations are controlled from the main window of
the NikonScan application. A system of "drawers" let
you access the full range of scanner options with relatively
few mouse-clicks, although we found this interface initially
took some getting used to. We'll step through the various operations
in roughly the order one would encounter them during normal scanning.
Normal Operating Sequence
As we step through the myriad functions of the various control
panels and interface screens, it would be easy to get lost in
a maze of features, and end up with little actual idea of how
the scanner and software actually work. To counter this, we present
here a very basic outline of the sequence of operations, with
links to the appropriate parts of the more-detailed operating
description. Our hope is that this will concisely convey a sense
of how the scanner works, while still allowing for the excruciating
detail we're known for. Herewith the sequence:
Launch application or acquire module
Insert film strip
Pop open thumbnail drawer, if film strip or APS feeder (Main
Select thumbnail (Main control
Preview scan (Main control
Set cropping and resolution (Scan
Tonal adjustment (Curves and
Color correction (Color balance
Scan it! (Main control panel)
The main control panel, showing an
image preview. The "handles" of the control "drawers"
appear as the thin gray buttons along the far left-hand edge
of the window.
Main Control Panel Overview
Given the unusual number of parameters and controls that NikonScan
incorporates, the user interface was a significant challenge
for the program's designers: How to effectively display the huge
number of controls without using-up all the available "real
estate" on the computer screen? Nikon's answer was to develop
a main control panel with multiple "drawers" that slide
out to reveal various groups of controls. At first, we weren't
too keen on this interface, as there seemed to be a lot of opening
and closing drawers necessary to getting the scans done. As time
went on however, we (a) got used to the interface, to the point
that it seemed quite natural, and (b) had a hard time imagining
how the designers could possibly have fit in as much functionality
any other way. As shown above, the main control panel exists
primarily as a gateway to the drawers, although it does display
some status information, such as scan type (negative/positive),
color space (RGB, sRGB, CMYK, HSL), and the current crop size
(in pixels), and crop position within the active scanning area.
Just under the scan-size window, a pixel data display provides
RGB or CMYK readouts for the pixel beneath the cursor in the
preview window. (Note that the two sets of number shown on the
RGB readouts correspond to the values before and after the current
tonal correction is applied. Thus, the upper set of numbers represents
the "raw" values recorded by the scanner hardware.
This information can be useful when setting the Analog Gain Control
mentioned earlier and again below.)
The tab at upper right on the main control panel pulls out to
reveal a thumbnail display, whenever you're using a film adapter
that supports multiple scans. (The APS or 35mm strip-film adapters).
The screen shot below was taken with the thumbnail drawer open,
showing thumbnails for four frames of a film strip, and a preview
image of the highlighted frame peeking through from behind. To
save time, you can also disable the thumbnail previews and revert
to a mode in which each frame is indicated only by an icon and
a frame number.
This view shows the thumbnail "drawer"
opened over the preview area. Here, the first thumbnail is selected
for manipulation. You can set up multiple images for batch-scanning,
by selecting thumbnails in turn, and configuring the scanning
parameters for each separately.
Variable Preview Size!
A very welcome feature of the NikonScan software is the ability
to resize the preview area to take in as much screen real estate
as you have available. In professional applications, proper setting
of highlight and shadow points based on pixel-value readouts
can be critical. The small, fixed-size preview images employed
by many low-end scanners can make it difficult or impossible
to select the exact area you want to take a brightness/color
reading from. In NikonScan, you can take advantage of professional-sized
monitors, by expanding the preview window to the edges of the
screen. Note though, that doing so greatly increases preview
scan times, because the software automatically scans at a resolution
appropriate to the size of the preview window you're using.
Across the top of the panel, a double row of buttons provides
the following functions: Eject media, autofocus (two options),
zoom out, zoom in, rotate right, rotate left, flip horizontally,
and flip vertically. The autofocus process may be conducted at
a user-selected point in the image, by holding down the option
key on the keyboard (the ALT key on PCs?) when clicking on the
button, and then clicking on the desired point within the preview
The main control panel contains six named buttons. Here are their
pref - brings up the preferences window (more on this
prescan - normally, a prescan is performed to automatically
adjust exposure settings whenever the preview button (see below)
is pressed. If you want to see a completely "raw" scan
for yourself, click the Prescan button.
cont - automatically sets contrast to optimize the image.
Automatically selected settings can be canceled or adjusted in
the exposure & contrast "drawer."
preview - normally (if option is set in preferences) prescans
image, auto-adjusts exposure, and displays in preview
window for cropping or manual tonal/color adjustment.
scan - performs full-resolution scan, incorporating any
manual exposure, color, or tonal adjustments.
cancel - cancels scan in progress.
Accessed via the "pref" button on the main control
panel, the preferences window (shown below) allows you to control
many of the most basic scanning characteristics. Most of the
settings here fall into the "set it and forget it"
category, as you won't need to change them frequently. It is
accessed via the "pref" button on the main control
panel, mentioned earlier. When this button is clicked, the window
at right appears. Five different tabs select different scan parameters
to adjust. The five tabs and their associated controls are described
below. This window defaults to the "gamma" adjustment
screen shown when opened.
The "Preferences" control
panel contains infrequently-accessed "set it and forget
it" controls. It opens to the gamma setting screen by default.
gamma - for adjusting the output "gamma"
values used in displaying preview images and in making the final
scan. (To drastically over-simplify, gamma is a measure of how
"light" or "dark" midtone brightness is relative
to the ends of the tonal scale. This is a fairly important adjustment,
particularly for a device that may be used on either Macintosh
or Windows platforms, which have significantly different default
color management - as mentioned earlier, the LS-2000 supports
a very sophisticated "color management" system, allowing
it to be calibrated to different display or output devices. The
Color Management preferences allow you to choose ICC-standard
color profiles for the preview, main scan, and CMYK output respectively.
NOTE that messing around with the color management settings can
significantly mess up your images! Unless you know what you're
doing, leave these settings at the factory defaults. ANOTHER
NOTE: The color management system is very powerful, but is also
a huge consumer of system resources. If you find scans running
excessively slow, or the scanning software requiring massive
amounts of memory, try turning the color management system off
Device - You won't need this tab unless you have more
than one Nikon scanner connected to your computer: Its only function
is to select from multiple scanners, and to determine which scanner
should be used as the default unit.
Scratch - Due to its high resolution and great bit depth,
scans made with the LS-2000 can be huge, often far larger than
your system memory would support directly. To accommodate such
large amounts of data, NikonScan uses hard drive space for "scratch
memory," to hold pieces of the image data on a temporary
basis. This panel lets you specify which of your hard drives
you want the application to use for this purpose.
Miscellaneous - As the name would suggest, a miscellany
of scan-related functions. Here's the list:
perform autoexposure before preview - normally, a prescan
is performed to determine exposure prior to a preview scan. To
save time, you can turn this function off with this checkbox,
but your previews may be a little hard to interpret on light
or dense film.
Perform autoexposure before main scan - Normally, no autoexposure
is performed before the main scan. (Presumably, you've set the
exposure prior to this point, and don't want the scanner to mess
with it again.) You may want to use the preview only for cropping
though, and let the scanner determine the exposure itself before
the main scan. This button lets you do this. NOTE though, that
regardless of your choice for either this option or the one preceding,
the scanner will always perform an autoexposure determination
whenever the "prescan" button in the main control window
Perform autofocus before main scan - By default, the (rather
time-consuming) autofocus operation is only done when you click
the autofocus button in the main control window. If you're batch-scanning
slides in a variety of mounts though, you'll probably want/need
the scanner to reset its focus before every scan.
Batch scan stops on error - If you're scanning a filmstrip,
an APS roll (with the optional APS adapter), or a batch of slides
in the optional slide-feeder, you can choose to have the scanner
stop whenever an error is encountered. (The default is to proceed
ahead with the next scan, even if an error occurred with the
current one.) This option could be useful to make sure the scanner
stops if/when it runs out of disk space when batch-scanning slides
or an APS roll.
Close thumbnails after preview - by default, the thumbnail
drawer closes to get itself out of the way after a preview scan
has been performed. Click this box to have the thumbnail drawer
Close window after scanning - normally, the NikonScan
window will close after a scan has been passed-over to the host
application (if running as a TWAIN or Photoshop plug-in). This
option lets the scan window stay up after the scan. (Handy if
you find yourself going back and forth between NikonScan and
Photoshop on a particularly tough scan.)
Acquire thumbnails - If you're scanning a filmstrip or
APS cartridge, the default is for the scanner to create and display
thumbnails for all the frames when the thumbnail drawer is opened.
If this checkbox is off, frames will be indicated by number only.
(Handy if you don't feel like waiting for the whole APS roll
to spool by, if you know you're interested only in frames 14
Cache preview images - Only applicable to the slide-mount
adapter: When you zoom in on a preview image, NikonScan normally
stores the previous preview image to speed the image refresh
when you zoom back out again. If you turn this option off, the
scanner will repeat the preview scan every time you zoom back
Live picture updates - By default, changes made in the
Curves & Levels drawer only take effect in the preview window
after you stop dragging the particular control involved (such
as a point on the gamma curve). With this option enabled, preview-window
updates happen continuously while you're dragging. Nikon warns
that this may "require a powerful computer," but we
suspect anybody shelling out nearly $2,000 (November, 1998) for
a film scanner will already have a powerful-enough CPU.
Pop-out "Drawer" menus
Finally, we get back to the actual scanning controls! - A series
of four pop-out "drawers" along the left-hand edge
of the main control panel hold controls governing the most commonly-used
scanner functions. These are generally arranged in the order
in which you would encounter them during the normal scanning
The first pop-out menu controls the scan size or resolution.
We found this menu to be rather confusing, as the interaction
between its various controls wasn't immediately obvious. The
region of the image which will be scanned is set in the preview
window, via a click & drag operation. One the area of interest
has been chosen, you need to tell the scanner what resolution
to scan it at. There are two sections in the scan size menu,
corresponding to input and output specifications. The dimensions
shown in the input section show the actual (physical) area of
the scan, as selected in the preview window. You can "lock"
this area by clicking on the "input" button, to prevent
the scan size from inadvertently being changed in response to
changes made in the "output" section. Frankly, describing
all the interactions between input size, % scale, output size,
and output resolution would take more time than we care to spend
here. Suffice to say that we found ourselves routinely locking
the input size, and then changing the output resolution to produce
the desired scan size. Users scanning images for inclusion in
printed publications (where the output dimensions matter) may
also need to use the percent scale setting, or the output dimension
This drawer is the one we found ourselves using most often for
adjusting the tonal balance of our scans. It displays the tonal
content of the image in a histogram window, with the curve indicating
how many pixels in the image have each brightness value. This
is an interface familiar to us from Photoshop, and is our preferred
method of making tonal adjustments in images. (The one feature
we found lacking is one available only in the Macintosh versions
of Photoshop: The ability to see what parts of the image are
"blowing out" to pure white or "plugging"
to solid black in response to the settings of the white/black
point sliders.) This control in Nikon Scan is interesting though,
in that it combines histogram controls with a tone curve, either
of which may be manipulated from the same control panel.
You can choose to adjust the tonal balance in the image either
automatically or manually. The "auto" button seems
to do a pretty fair job of setting highlight, shadow, and gamma
values, but we usually found ourselves manipulating the controls
manually, to achieve best results. As in Photoshop, the black
point slider sets a minimum brightness value for the image: Any
pixel values below this level will be set to zero. Likewise,
the white point slider sets the maximum brightness value: Any
pixel values above this level will be set to 255. Values in between
the extremes are stretched to cover the range specified. The
"gamma" slider in the middle controls how the midtone
values are mapped from input to output, by setting the brightness
value the program will map to a 50% gray. Thus, sliding the gamma
control to the right will darken the image, while sliding it
to the left will brighten it.
For tricky images, you can add control points to the gamma curve
simply by clicking anywhere in the histogram/gamma grid: A point
will be added wherever you click, and the curve adjusted to pass
through the new point. This provides very fine control over input/output
tonal mapping, which experienced users can take advantage of
to make optimal use of the available tonal range.
You can also operate on each of the color channels separately
with the curves-levels controls, simply by clicking on the channel
menu button (the one that says "RGB", at the top of
the window), and pulling down to select the specific color channel
you're interested in. This feature can be very useful for working
with images that have color casts or unusual lighting.
Finally, Nikon Scan provides eyedropper controls for setting
white and black points directly from the preview image. This
is probably the fastest method, and simultaneously removes most
color casts from your images.
Hue-Saturation-Level (HSL) controls
All of the preceding discussion is based upon the RGB or CMYK
color space options: In Hue/Saturation/Level color space, the
curves-levels controls work quite differently.
Quite frankly, we didn't experiment much with the HSL controls
in Nikon Scan, but they appear to offer very powerful tools for
selectively correcting colors in an image. In particular, the
Hue channel control lets you shift a specific color to a different
one, without affecting other colors in the image. For instance,
you could change a red flower to a yellow one, without affecting
blue or purple flowers. However, any other red objects in the
input image would also be shifted to yellow as well.
This HSL control is unique among the scanners we have tested
to date (November, 1998), and appears to be an exceptionally
powerful tool, albeit one that could require a bit of learning
to use to its full effectiveness. We regret not being able to
cover it in greater detail here, but frankly it's beyond the
scope of even one of our reviews! (If a reader wanted to write
a detailed explanation of how he/she uses this function though,
we'd be happy to post it separately, on a linked page.)
As a simpler alternative to the curves-levels drawer, the "Color
Balance" drawer provides fairly rudimentary controls to
adjust the brightness, contrast, and color balance of the image
as a whole. (In grayscale scanning mode, only the brightness
and contrast sliders will appear.) These controls work exactly
as you would expect, but in our experience are of limited value
for obtaining professional results. Nonetheless, they can be
a quick way to make overall image adjustments, and may be the
fastest way to process large numbers of non-critical scans.
This is the menu that controls all the special "goodies"
the LS-2000 offers! We mentioned most of these earlier, but will
run down the menu entries here for completeness.
The Scanner Extras menu has eight different options, available
via a drop-down menu. (In the screenshot at left, it says "CleanImage".
(By default, it opens to the "pixel data size" option.)
Once an option is selected, the lower drop-down menu becomes
active, to turn the function on or off, or set appropriate parameters.
Herewith the "Scanner Extras" options:
Pixel data size - Choices are 8- or 12-bit, referring
to the bit depth of the R,G, and B color channels. 12-bit images
are converted to 16-bit depth when opened by compatible applications,
or to 8 bits if the CMYK color space is being used. Images in
HSL color space are always processed at a bit depth of 16 bits
per pixel, but converted to 8 bits when passed to the host application,
if the 8-bit option is selected.
"Clean Image:" Digital ICE defect correction
- This is one of the major features of the LS-2000, described
earlier. Options are off, on, or on with sharpening applied.
See our description of this function toward the beginning of
this review for full details.
Manual focus adjustment - We found the LS-2000's automatic
focus to be particularly effective, especially when using the
option that allows you to select a specific (preferably high-detail)
portion of the image to focus on. To focus manually, you adjust
the slider on this menu, then observe the results in the preview
window. No numeric feedback is provided as in some scanners,
a feature we sorely missed. On the other hand, the automatic
focus was so good that we were never able to improve upon it
through manual adjustments, so this entire function may be moot.
Analog gain control - Described earlier, this control
allows you to boost the brightness of the illuminator LEDs, to
bring out deep shadow detail, at the possible expense of strong
Multi-sample scanning - Also described earlier, this option
allows you to select 1, 4, or 16 samples per pixel. Greatly lengthens
scan time at the higher settings, but dramatically reduces noise
in deep shadows.
Miscellaneous - The sub-options here include the interpolation
method to be used for scans beyond the scanner's maximum resolution.
Pre-scan choices are labeled the not-terribly-informative "Normal"
and "Alternative." "Alternative" is intended
for use with images that don't have any clear black or white-point.
(The example cited by Nikon in the manual is close-up photos,
in which a narrow range of colors predominates.)
Strip-film offset adjustment (SA-20 module only) - This
option only appears when the SA-20 strip-film adapter is inserted.
It allows you to adjust where the scanning process begins relative
to the film frames. We fortunately seldom needed this, but found
it a bit frustrating when we did: In order to see the results
of your adjustment, you need to click the Reload button to do
another preview scan, a time-consuming process. (You'd think
it would have been fairly easy to provide some visual feedback
while making the adjustment itself.)
Initial crop setting (IA-20 module only) - This option
only appears when the IA-20 adapter for APS film is present.
It allows you to set the initial cropping in the preview/crop
area to suit photos made at the three APS aperture settings of
"classic," "wide," and "panorama."
Feed images (SF-200 module only) - This option only appears
when the SF-200 bulk slide-feeder module is attached. To support
batch scanning, you can enter a number in the "Feed Images"
text box, representing the number of slides to be scanned with
the current scan settings when the scan button is pressed. Set
to "999" to scan all slides in the feeder.
Whew! We thought we'd never get through describing all the functions
of this scanner!
If one thing's clear with the LS-2000, it's that you (sometimes)
clearly get what you pay for. While scanners we've tested selling
in the $300-$500 range are capable of producing nice results
(and in the process, far exceeding the performance of all but
the highest-end professional digital cameras), the Super CoolScan
LS-2000 completely blows them away! Of course, this should probably
come as no surprise for a scanner costing almost $2000, but we
were surprised at just how great the difference was.
First and foremost, the LS-2000 is capable of producing great
scans simply by using its default settings: Far less twiddling
of the scan parameters are required to obtain excellent results.
This deserves some special comment: If you're in a production
environment, you need to crank out scans with the absolute minimum
of fuss and bother possible. While many scanners can produce
reasonably good images given sufficient tweaking of the controls,
the LS-2000 consistently produced good results using only default
settings: With these results as a starting point, the process
of making fine adjustments to arrive at the final scans went
much faster. Unfortunately, other than making a brief observation
to this effect, we really have no way to quantify for you just
how "fast" or "slow" a scanner is in this
When you do need to tweak the settings, the LS-2000 provides
you a tremendous range of control, in some cases allowing you
to affect the basic operation of the scanner to extract the most
from each frame. As you might imagine, the wealth of capabilities
means there's a bit of a learning curve to traverse to become
comfortable with this product, and to effectively make use of
all its capabilities. Overall though, once we'd ventured up this
learning curve ourselves, we found the LS-2000 quite straightforward
to operate. The one area we never seemed to get used to though,
was specifying scan size and resolution. Given more routine use
of the unit, this doubtless would have become clear also, but
in our relatively brief experience, we always found ourselves
fumbling around a bit each time, before we finally got the scan
size set to where we wanted it.
We really came to appreciate the power of the LS-2000 when we
were working with our perpetually challenging "train"
image. This slide is SO dark that most scanners can't handle
it, and we're usually left with considerable post-scan tweaking
in Photoshop to get anything remotely usable. With the LS-2000
though, we used a combination of analog gain control, 12-bit
data depth, and multi-sample scanning to produce a remarkably
good image straight from the scanner. This is not to say that
we didn't spend a lot of time tweaking the scanner controls and
re-scanning to achieve the final result! The bottom line though,
was that we were able to produce a very clean, detailed scan
of an almost impossible subject, on a desktop scanner.
While on the nebulous subject of how long it takes to get a good
scan, we feel compelled to make at least some mention of quoted
"scan times." As noted, the Nikon Super CoolScan 2000
is a very fast desktop film scanner, with a minimum scan time
of 20 seconds. In practice though, this doesn't mean you'll be
able to crank out a couple of scans a minute. A variety of factors
combine to reduce the actual throughput of any scanner, relative
to it's spec-sheet value, and the CoolScan 2000 is no exception.
Preview scans will take an appreciable amount time, particularly
if you have the preview window expanded to a fairly large size.
Then, there's the time for auto focus and autoexposure, usually
required before every scan. Finally, your system configuration
may be such that the scanner can't achieve maximum data throughput,
due to other demands on system resources, etc. All this is to
say that the specmanship engaged in by all the companies around
the value of "minimum scanning time" may be completely
meaningless in the real world. Overall, the LS-2000 is a fast
scanner, but your normal usage of is very unlikely to be such
that you'll actually see 20 second scans. Face the fact up front
that reasonable-sized previews are going to take upwards of 30
seconds to create, and that full-resolution scans will require
on the order of a minute, and you'll be quite happy with the
unit: Expect 20 second scans all the time, and you'll be disappointed.
And, on those rare occasions like our tough "train"
scan, count your blessings when it takes 5 minutes for a full-res
scan with multi-sample scanning, Digital ICE, etc. -- Think of
how that compares with sending out for a "drum" scan,
or the hours of retouching it would take to equal what Digital
ICE does in a few minutes!
There's much more to say about how the LS-2000 performed with
our standard test images, and we say it all on the separate "pictures"
page. Rather than repeating all of that here, we'll just refer
you over there for the scoop.
Without a doubt, the Nikon Super CoolScan 2000 is a world-class
scanning instrument. It's excellent "default" performance
minimizes the amount of tweaking needed to produce superb scans
from common subjects. Yet, when the occasion demands it, there's
a powerful set of hardware and software capabilities to let you
handle images that would simply be impossible with a lesser machine.
At a "street" price of $1700-1800 (in late November,
1998), it clearly won't be a casual purchase decision for most
users. If you're serious about your 35mm or APS photography though
(whether professional or amateur), it would be hard to find a
more suitable scanner.
View the Test
Images from the LS-2000
what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about the
Super CoolScan 2000, or add comments of your own. (Do
you have a Super CoolScan? Share your experience!) Read what's here,
then add your own!
Visit the Nikon
Web page for the LS-2000
View the Nikon
specifications page for the LS-2000
FAQ & user's manuals for the LS-2000
Dealer Locator page to find a dealer near you!
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