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For professional applications, ICC profiles and a robust color-management system are essential for 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 its manual that the color management system both slows the scanning process and dramatically increases memory requirements.) When we tested the original LS-2000, we simply left the Nikon CMS turned off. With the Super Coolscan 4000 ED, we left it on, and used the Apple RGB color space setting, with our (uncalibrated) monitor set to a gamma of 1.8 and white point at 6500 K. While we didn't delve deeply into CMS systems here, we did note that the scans we obtained with the Apple RGB setting were much more color accurate and didn't lose as much detail in highly-saturated colors as the scans in the sRGB system did. For critical professional work, the Super Coolscan 4000 ED's full support of the ICC workflow is an important feature.Film HandlingThe Super Coolscan 4000 ED comes with three film holders, one for mounted 35mm slides, one for loose 35mm film strips, and a third "clamshell"-style holder for handling badly-curved strips of film via the slide adapter.The various film adapters plug into a long cavity in the front of the unit. Some adapters (such as the filmstrip feeder) have an electrical plug on their back that carries power and signals between the film transport and the scanner itself. The various media adapters can be plugged and unplugged with impunity at any time the Super Coolscan 4000 ED isn't actually scanning, and the scanner and driver software automatically recognize which adapter is currently in use.The SA-21 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 excessively curved, although the SA-21 appears to be much more forgiving in this respect than the earlier SA-20, which shipped with the LS-2000. The SA-21 can handle film that is curved side-to-side by as much as 6mm, while the SA-20 was limited to film curled 2mm or less. Lengthwise, the SA-21 can handle film curled into rolls larger in diameter than 30mm. For film that's curved more in either direction, use the FH-3 clamshell adapter. Ragged edges or torn film perforations will also cause problems. In our own use, we had no film feeding problems whatsoever, but then we didn't have any with the earlier SA-20 either. The SA-21 film holder is much easier to open than the SA-20, and doing so reveals a much more robust-looking transport mechanism. Overall, one of the heartier film transports we've seen on a desktop scanner.Nikon's FH-3 clamshell film holder deserves special mention, thanks to its construction and ease of use. It did an excellent job handling badly-curled negatives, and was a noticeable improvement over the already-excellent design of the FH-2. In our experience, clamshell holders of this sort are often awkward to use with curled negatives, but we had no problem with the Nikon version. The Nikon device is a composite of metal and plastic, with the structural support and latching mechanism made of metal parts, and the actual film registration made of plastic pieces. Where the Nikon holder differs significantly from others we've used, is in the film guides, which take the form of two continuous ridges in the plastic, and run the entire length of one half of the clamshell assembly. Thus, you simply lay the film between the guides, and you're 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 FH-3's design uses heavier plastic in the film guides, making them more rigid, and also provides a more pronounced recess for the film to lay in, further simplifying the mounting of badly curved film strips.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 that manually ejects 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 Super Coolscan 4000 ED in the same fashion as other adapters, but its construction requires both devices to rest on their sides. (The Super Coolscan 4000 ED has rubber feed on both its bottom 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 (former) 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 posted notes and photos of "slide gate" devices they've attached to their LS-2000's. Regrettably, the Nikon Tech forum appears to be no more, so these comments are lost to us now, but the gist of them was that you need to shim the surface the stack of slides with a thin piece of slippery plastic (one or more thicknesses of photographic gel material might work). This raises the position of the bottom slide in the stack high enough so that two slides can't inadvertently fit into the throat of the feeder, thus avoiding the jams.The SA-30 roll film adapter is new with the Super Coolscan 4000 ED. It allows you to scan 35mm film in uncut rolls up to 40 frames long. The adapter consists of two parts, the feeder mechanism (which looks a lot like the SA-21 strip film adapter) and a large circular magazine that attaches to the back of the scanner, allowing the roll of film to curl around its inside. As mentioned earlier, the SA-30 adapter could prove a boon to small labs looking for a high-resolution scanning solution for uncut film.System Interface and Included SoftwareAs we mentioned earlier, the Super Coolscan 4000 ED is an IEEE-1394 ("FireWire") based scanner. For those unfamiliar with the interface, it's a very high-speed serial connection originally developed by Apple Computer a number of years back. It's becoming increasingly popular now as a way of connecting high-speed peripherals to computers. (Digital camcorders and digital video editing seem to be driving much of the popularity of the interface.) The FireWire interface is very fast, although we never clocked the Super Coolscan 4000 ED at as high a scan speed as Nikon claimed in its literature. (It's possible that the numbers were determined for operation with the color management system turned off. All our scanning was done with the CMS enabled.) It's important to note too though, that the various advanced features, such as Digital ICE and (especially) multi-sample scanning, greatly increase scan times.On Mac systems with built-in FireWire connectors (in the current Mac lineup, all but the lowest-end iMacs have FireWire), connecting the scanner is as simple as plugging the FireWire cable into the computer's port. Windows users and owners of older Macs face the more daunting challenge of adding an IEEE-1394 adapter board to their systems. 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 1394 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 1394 card to work at all! If you're not comfortable messing about with the innards of your computer, we recommend finding a knowledgeable service organization to do the installation for you. Another important note: The Super Coolscan 4000 ED uses a 6-pin 1394 cable, while some computers (Sony VAIO laptops are mentioned in the manual) have a 4-pin connection. If your computer is one of those, you'll need a 6-pin/4-pin adapter.Included software consists of the Nikon Scan software drivers (along with Photoshop and TWAIN drivers). No photo-editing application is included, since most purchasers of an Super Coolscan 4000 ED are likely to already own one (or two). We'll talk more about the Nikon Scan software below, but two facts deserve mention at the outset: First, the software is very memory intensive. Thankfully, memory has gotten dirt cheap lately, so you can afford to buy plenty. When we last checked, 256MB DIMMs could be purchased for less than $100. Buy one. We also had severe trouble with the Photoshop plug-in on our G4 Mac. It simply would not run, regardless of how we pared down the system folder, or how much memory we allocated to Photoshop. We had no trouble with the Nikon Scan 3 application, but it would have been more convenient to be able to scan directly into Photoshop. Hopefully this will be fixed with a software patch in the near future. (It's possible that it could have been our system software, too. We were running Mac OS 9.0.4, which has known issues with its FireWire support. OS 9.1 would doubtless have been a better choice.)Finally, our overall observation about Nikon Scan 3 is that it's exceptionally powerful, but can also require a fair bit of patience to use to its fullest. If you can get by with the (surprisingly accurate) one-click automatic adjustments it provides in several areas, you'll be able to scan pretty quickly. Once we got into the deeper parts of the software though, our throughput dropped markedly. In fairness, we were really pushing the scanner to its limits, in some instances, and the results were worth a fair bit of pain. At other times, however, we were just manipulating the curves and controls to achieve a particular color balance, and the process seemed to take quite a bit longer than should have been necessary. Overall, a bit of a mixed blessing: Incredible power, but a fair bit of effort required to make use of it.Operation and User InterfaceLike the LS-2000 before it, the Super Coolscan 4000 ED 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. This flexibility comes at some cost, however, in terms of the learning curve (and 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 level!)OverviewAll scanner operations are controlled from the main window of the Nikon Scan application. The system of "drawers" used to organize scanning controls in Nikon Scan 2 has been replaced with the much more convenient and intuitive tool palette shown below. We'll step through the various operations in roughly the order one would encounter them during normal scanning.Normal Operating SequenceAs we go through the myriad functions of the various control panels and interface screens, it would be easy to get lost in the maze of features, and end up with little idea of how the scanner and software actually work. To counter this, we are providing 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 offering the excruciating detail for which we're known.Here are the basic steps: 350c69d7ab


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