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New Nikon Scanners New Canon 400mm f4 IS Lens
Updated Epson 1280 Printer New Photo Software from Adobe - PhotoShop Elements

Nikon releases three new film scanners and raises the bar significantly.

Almost all of the images in this magazine were scanned with Nikon's LS200 film scanner - a machine that has performed flawlessly here at VLP for some time now.  At $1,600 it's not a cheap piece of hardware but the high quality scans we've gotten from it have made it seem like a real value.  

In our digital world things change quickly and other manufacturers have since rolled out scanners that were the equal of the LS-2000.

Now Nikon has raised the bar considerably with a bevy of new scanners positioned in the marketplace much as their cameras are: Advanced Amateur, Professional, and Professional with all the extras.  They are Coolscan IV ED ($895), Super Coolscan 4000 ED ($1,695) and Super Coolscan 8000 ED ($2,995) respectively.  Nikon expects the Super Coolscan 8000 ED to ship in April and the other two to ship in March. 

We'll spell out the specs for you to drool over here and will review all three units as soon as we can get our mitts on them.

Ice3 - Can you say "Ice Cubed"

If you've been looking at scanners in the last few years you're probably familiar with Digital ICE technology from Applied Science Fiction.  This amazing technology automatically removes dust and even surface scratches from you scans automatically - resulting in a dramatic savings in retouching time.  

The New Ice3 technology takes things to a whole new level including and enhanced version of Digital ICE, Digital ROC, and Digital Gem.

Digital ROC is used to automatically restore color and saturation in old faded negatives and slides and can be used for automatic exposure correction.  Digital GEM can be turned on to automatically  minimize apparent film grain in your scanned images.

All of these scanners now come equipped with the full version of Genuine Fractals from Altamira.  This software allows lossless scaling and compression of images.  How far can you go with Genuine Fractals?  At one point there was an ad in Times Square, three stories tall with no apparent pixelization - made with Genuine Fractals.

Other Unique Features

Nikon uses an new LED light source that improves the color accuracy of it's scans; and the same ED glass used in their high end camera lenses is now used in the scanner's lens array to ensure sharp, clear images.

The clunky, touchy SCSI interface is gone.  The Coolscan IV uses a USB interface making it plug and play with most Macs and PCs.  The Coolscan 4000 & 8000 use FireWire and are bundled with a FireWire interface card (IEEE 1394).  

All three scanners use the latest generation of Nikon's scanning software, NikonScan 3.0.  Nikon claims greater ease of use and greater capability over NikonScan 2.5 which shipped with previous versions of their scanners.  Photoshop LE is included with the Coolscan IV but not with the 4000 or 8000, the assumption being that the professionals buying these tools will already have Photoshop or equivalent pro-level imaging software.

Super Coolscan IV ED List Price $895

The Coolscan IV is intended for the Advanced Amateur Photographer.  At 36 bits with an optical resolution of 2,900 dpi producing files up to 68MBs the Coolscan IV actually outperforms the LS-2000 Nikon's previous professional model.  Nikon claims that this scanner is capable of scanning a 35mm color slides and negatives in around 42 seconds at 2,900 dpi which is nothing short of amazing.  Not only is this a step up in performance from the existing LS-2000 - that means that the Coolscan IV offers more performance then the venerable LS-2000 at half the price!

The ED in the name refers to the use of Nikon's low dispersion ED glass in the scanner's lens to increase the sharpness of scans.  The Coolscan IV also includes Nikon's Digital Ice3 (See the explanation of "Ice Cubed" above).

The Coolscan IV comes with a slide adapter, strip film adapter, and a strip film holder (to flatten film that has begun to curl).  Available attachments include an APS adapter, and a medical slide holder (for glass mounts).  

One surprising omission with the Coolscan IV is the fact that it does not offer multi-sample scanning (as did the LS-2000).  Multi-sample scanning is used to eliminate noise in shadow areas and is included on the Coolscan 4000 & 8000.

Super Coolscan 4000 ED List Price $1,695

Positioned as a profession scanner to the Coolscan IV's amateur status the Coolscan sells for double the IV.  At 4000 DPI optical resolution, a dynamic range of 4.2 and 48 bit color depth the Coolscan 4000 should be capable of producing  amazing scans with file sizes up to 130MB.  It features 2, 4, 8, and 16 times multi-sample scanning to reduce noise in shadow areas.  This is the scanner that really raises the bar for everyone else - and begins to seriously raise the question of why you would bother with drum scanning at all.

The Coolscan 4000 comes with a slide adapter, strip film adapter, and a strip film holder (to flatten film that has begun to curl).  Available attachments include a roll film adapter (2 to 40 frames), a slide feeder (up to 50 mounted slides), an APS adapter, and a medical slide holder (for glass mounts).

Super Coolscan 8000 ED List Price $2,995 

The Coolscan 8000 has everything that the 4000 has with the added capability of scanning medium format (120/220), full panoramic 35mm, 16mm (movie film), and microscope and electron microscope formats.  (remember Nikon is a leader in medical optics).  

The Coolscan 8000 comes with 35mm and 120/220 slide adapters, a strip film adapter, 35mm & 120/220 strip film holders (to flatten film that has begun to curl).  Available attachments include a 120/220 strip film holder with glass, a 120/220 rotated film holder with glass, a 16mm film holder, and a medical slide holder.  The roll film adapter is only available on the Coolscan 4000.

The scanner utilizes a large diameter lens made of 14 elements in 6 groups.  6 of the elements are made with ED glass to achieve scans with an optical resolution of 4000 DPI with a dynamic range of 4.2 and 48 bit color.  With multi-sample scanning on tap to eliminate noise in shadow areas scans of 790 MB are possible!  That's more then you can burn onto a CD-R disk!


Frankly we can't wait to get our hands on these machines and put them through their paces.  As we said earlier Nikon has raised the bar significantly for their competitors in the desktop scanning market and caused us to question the need for drum scanning.  Rather then testing against other desktop scanners it might be more appropriate to test the 4000 & 8000 against a drum scanner to see the results - as a matter of fact that sounds like a good idea for an article...

Canon releases a new 400mm IS lens that is half the size and weight of their existing 400mm lens.

At PMA I had a chance to try out Canon's new 400mm f4 IS lens.  The lens uses Canon's new diffractive optics technology which allows Canon's engineers to shave off half the size and 1/3rd of the weight compared to their 400mm f2.8 lens.

Diffractive lens technology is similar to fresnel lens technology, but rather then using these optical properties to diffuse the light, this lens' optics focus the various frequencies of light together at the film plane - reducing color fringing and chromatic aberration.

So how good is this lens.  I had a chance to try the lens fitted to Cannon's D30 digital camera.  I filled the frame with a head shot of a dancer on the other side of Cannon's booth.  The stage lights provided a good hair light, and even on the built in LCD on the D30 I was able to make out every individual hair.  The lens had a solid feel, excellent balance, and focused quickly in the changing light on the show floor.

Cannon expects to begin shipping the lens in July or August.  Pricing was not yet announced at the time of the show.  

Epson updates it's ubiquitous 1270 Printer

Epson has announced the expected update to it's 1270 printer, the workhorse of many photographers and graphics shops, the new 1280.  The 1280 is essentially a 1270 with Epson's updated 2880 dpi print technology.  

For those of you not familiar with the old 1270's specs, the 1280 will allow you to print photo quality prints up to 13"x19".  An improvement over it's predecessor is that the 1280 will do a full 13"x19" full bleed print with a maximum print area of 13"x44".

Unlike it's predecessor the 1280 includes a roll paper handler and is USB only (no parallel connection).  

Epson rates the print life from the 1280's prints at approximately 25 years before noticeable fading occurs their own ink and Heavyweight Matte Paper and approximately 6-7 years with their Photo Paper.

The 1280's software bundle includes Adobe Photoshop LE, EPSON Software™ Film Factory™TE, QBeo™PhotoGenetics™, Monaco EZ color™' software offer, PostScript Option - Epson Stylus RIP (available April '01) 

We'll have more details when we test this printer in an upcoming issue.

Adobe Announces New Photo Software - PhotoShop Elements

Adobe rolled out a new version of PhotoShop at PMA.  No we're NOT talking about 6.0.  The new software is called PhotoShop Elements and it's aimed squarely at amateur photographers.

The thing that makes this program so different from LE and Deluxe is it's user interface.  Deluxe has a simplistic interface aimed at beginners, using canned scripts to do common photo functions.  But Deluxe doesn't allow you fine control over those functions or the ability to do more advanced tasks.  

PhotoShop LE has a traditional PhotoShop interface that allows you into the meat of things, but this interface has proved daunting to new users.  The problem is how do you get a new user up the steep learning curve fast enough that they don't get frustrated?

Elements has a unique solution called recipes.  Unlike a canned function in Deluxe, when you choose a recipe every step in that recipe is shown in a pop-up box.  You can choose to run the recipe as is, or you can click on any part of it and tweak that part.  This allows you to understand how the operations work together to get a final result, while allowing you full control of that result.  The full PhotoShop interface is available once you know you way around.  The beauty of recipes is that they're teaching you how to use the larger feature set of PhotoShop while you're working and getting things done.

Want more recipes then what ships with Elements or want to find out how to do something new?  Go to Adobe's Web site for Elements and you can search and download new recipes - expanding Elements capabilities.

Other unique features in Elements include a new filter browser that lets you browse through available filters and then drag and drop them onto your image.  A photo merge feature that allows you to stitch images into panoramas.  Support for digital cameras is built in, as is an interface to ShutterFly to make it easier to get prints of your digital images.

Elements will begin shipping sometime this month and is expected to be priced at around $99 for both Mac and PC users.  A $69 upgrade will be available for existing Deluxe and LE users.  At that price point I wouldn't be surprised to see Elements replacing PhotoShop LE and Deluxe in the software bundles for many printers and scanners.

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Nikon has raised the bar...









The Coolscan IV offers more performance then the venerable LS-2000 at half the price!














... it might be more appropriate to test them against a drum scanner.


text and photography copyright © 2001 Vivid Light Publishing