Mobirise

Nikon Coolscan Photographic Scanners - Servicing & Repair.

Nikon Coolscan photographic scanners

The discontinued Coolscan range of slide and film scanners has proved extremely reliable and durable. This includes models LS-40, LS-4000, LS-50, LS-5000, LS-8000 & LS-9000. Although Nikon no longer supports the Coolscan range, all of the above models may still be considered mid-life with many further years of service ahead of them given some periodic maintenance. Contact me at coolscanuk@gmail.com. I do not support the earlier SCSI interface Coolscan models which are becoming increasingly rare due to the long-obsolete interface and the problem of running a host computer to support it.  

Service & Repair

Standard servicing involves careful cleaning of the primary mirror in the optical path and cleaning/lubrication of the moving parts using Nikon-specified lubricant. The scanners with Firewire (IEEE1394) connections (LS-4000, LS-8000, LS-9000) have a tendency to failure of the interface chips. One of the chips suffers age-related failure while the other is susceptible to damage from external causes including the Firewire cable and host computer. One of the chips is long obsolete but I hold good stocks and replacement of both is possible. The USB Coolscans (LS-40, LS-50, LS-5000) suffer most frequently from PSU failures although there is also damage that can occur through the USB port. Both these are repairable. It is rare for failures to be mechanical and, aside from becoming noisier, the scanners show little sign of age that affects their performance.

NikonScan software and alternatives

The included NikonScan software is a good starting point and will probably be sufficient for most user's needs. With the settings at "factory default", NikonScan will produce excellent scans and provide a useful reference point for further experimentation. The alternatives, Vuescan & Silverfast, offer more functionality but at the cost of complexity. NikonScan4 can work with all Windows versions although Nikon's support ended with Windows7 32-bit (see Using NikonScan for Windows 7 64-bit and Windows 8 & 10 instructions).

The last supported MacOS version was 10.4. and users of later versions will need either to use the above alternatives to NikonScan or run Windows as a Virtual Machine on their Mac and use the Windows version of NikonScan. Details of the latter technique will be posted here shortly.

Care of Coolscans - DUST

The most common cause of scan degradation in Coolscan scanners is dust and other air-borne contamination. Because of the orientation of the primary mirror it is susceptible to both debris falling from the media being scanned and dust settling from the air. This will tend to degrade contrast and if the dust is also contaminated (typical domestic location), this can attack the protection over the silvering on the front of the mirror and cause pitting. Three precautions help to avoid this...
1.  Ensure that all media is free from loose dust & debris during scanning.
2.  When not in use, consider storing the scanner on its side which places the mirror face vertical. The large Coolscans may be placed on their left side and the small Coolscans can ideally be stored upside-down.
3.  A dust-proof container or plastic bag is also essential for long periods between use. 

Care of Coolscans - Firewire


The following precautions apply to the Firewire Coolscans:
1.  Always switch off the Coolscan before plugging or un-plugging the Firewire connector (as Nikon instruct in the manual).
2.  Never plug the Firewire connector without visually confirming correct orientation. Don't assume it will only fit one way round; it can be forced in reversed which will blow the Firewire PHY chip. Place a mark on the upper side of the connector to make this easy to check.
3.  Never strain the Firewire cable. Extreme sideways force on the plug can short contacts and blow the PHY chip.
4.  Always use a high quality branded Firewire cable eg Belkin. Some cheap ones are un-screened and non-precision plugs can promote the problems of 2. & 3. above..

Care of Coolscans - HOST COMPUTERS & MAINS POWER

The stand-alone Coolscans are extremely robust but the host computer connects to the heart of the scanner and can inflict serious damage upon it. Most is repairable but some is not. Interruptions or variations of the incoming mains supply can upset the combination of Coolscan and computer connected together by USB or Firewire. Interruptions and reconnections of mains supply while both are switched on are very likely to cause damage. The defence to this is an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS). An Amazon search shows that these once very expensive items are now remakably cheap, around £100. This is essential protection for the high-end LS-5000 & LS-9000 if not all Coolscans if your mains supply is not reliable. Note that both Coolscan and computer should run from the UPS.

Care of Coolscans - TRANSIT MODE

All Coolscans have a "transit mode" to protect the mechanism against shock when not in use or being transported. Refer to the relevant user manual for details.

Further Information:

I am based in Lincoln UK. If you have a Coolscan scanner in need of service or repair then please contact me by emailing coolscanuk@gmail.com (Please be aware that due to the volume of work, emails may not be answered immediately)

Webpage last updated 17 January 2021