Noise/Grain with Nikon Coolscan V ED and silverfast 9

Hi folks,

I unearthed my dad’s Nikon Coolscan V ED the other day and decided to give it a shot with Silverfast 9 and NLP. I have noticed that there is an excessive amount of noise/gain in all of the images i have scanned so far. The same negatives on a V850 flatbed and camera scanned with a D850 + 60mm Macro do not have nearly the same level of noise. Any idea what might be causing this? I am scanning with no sharpening, GAME or digital ICE. Here is an example of whats going on:

Nikon Coolscan V ED. 4000ppi saved as a 48bit TIF and converted in NLP. you can tell its pretty noisy without zooming in.

Same image as above but cropped in to show detail. Nikon Coolscan V ED. 4000ppi saved as a 48bit TIF and converted in NLP. lots of noise/static in the skin tones. looks like film grain but way cranked up.

Epson V850. 2400ppi saved as a 48bit TIF and converted in NLP. not as sharp as the coolscan but way less noise in the skintones.

Nikon D850 with Micro Nikkor 60mm F/2.8. Shot RAW and converted in NLP. Good sharpness and the film grain is grainy, not noisy.

Has anyone else ran into these issues with a coolscan? thoughts on if its a hardware or software setting that can be tweaked?


When looking 1:1 at scans from my Minolta Scan Elite 5400, I also think ‘wow what a noise / grain’. But it’s also way sharper compared to my 1st scanner, Reflecta Crystalscan 7200.

When I size the images down to +/- 2000 dpi, they are quite similar however (and the Crystalscan is still not as sharp. It can only yield around +/- 3000 dpi).

I know that your Epson can’t even get close to the reported 2400 dpi, so it’s way way less sharp so also way less aliased noise. But a good D850 DSLR-scan should yield the same sharpness.

I can only think about something like ‘diffused lighting’. It might be that the light source of the Coolscan is less diffused, which means you get very sharp sharpness/contrast pixel-to-pixel, but that also means the grain is more aliased so more noticeable.
My Minolta Scan Elite has an optional light diffuser which you can enable / disable (which seems broken on mine, but :man_shrugging: ) to combat this. But I’m not sure if this is really the case here.

Also note that if you downscale such a large image, things like Bicubic / Lanczos have a sharpening effect so that will only highlight grain if it’s heavy in the source image.

Have you checked if the Coolscan V mirror is clean?

The Coolscan is noticeably sharper than the other two. My initial observation is that the amount of noise in the three scans seems to correspond to the sharpness of the scans.

The Nikon D850/60mm pair is excellent in my experience. Your D850 scan does not look focused accurately; with that camera and lens I achieve sharpness of film grain, albeit not as hard edged as the Coolscan image. What aperture did you use? Did you auto focus or do it manually? I find auto focus to be not as accurate as manual at this level of precision. Try again, viewing a section at 100% or even 200% on your camera back. You could focus bracket for this test, and do not stop down past f/8 as diffraction will limit sharpness.

I own the same scanner.

Looks like a dirty mirror to me too. Seeing as you chose the verb “unearthed”(impying a prolonged period of disuse) this is quite plausible and would explain the pattern you are seeing.

Cleaning the mirror is not difficult but requires a certain patience/care. First surface mirrors are very fragile. Here is a useful resource

Thank you to everyone that has responded. I was able to do a few more tests this week. @CLetelierG @mightimatti Thanks for the tip off about the dirty mirror and cleaning instructions. I cracked the scanner open and yes, the mirror had some dust built up. Not excessive but dusty nonetheless. Here is a before and after of the scan with no ISRD or any sharpening:

here is the image with ISRD applied. Left is pre mirror cleaning, right is post mirror cleaning:

@jeffstev I went back and reshot the negative with my D850/60mm combo to make sure focus was tack sharp. Here is a side by side, DSLR on the left (60mm F/8, ISO 64, 1/8 sec), Coolscan on the right (ISRD, ME turned on):

@Ektachrome @jorismak I think your observations are spot on, the scanner is just too dang sharp! Here is the sample image with some noise reduction in LC dialed in (luminance 10, detail 10, color 10, all other values 0):

Also film speed seems to be a factor at hand, the sample photo was shot on portra 400. here is a scan of some portra 160, IRSD on and ME on, no LC noise reduction:

the noise is way less present with the iso160 film.

So long story short, I am happy with the coolscan over the v850, it just required a little bit of troubleshooting to get there.

An excellent series of tests. I’m not surprised the Coolscan is so sharp as the lenses on them are superb and optimized for wide-open flat-field performance. Of course, that goes hand in glove with exacting alignment from the factory; with any homemade duping rig, achieving precise alignment is critical and difficult. Your 60mm micro/D850 combo is still quite good, and if shot at f/4 might be a tad sharper than the f/8 sample shown, but the Coolscan scan will likely be that final increment better. Your noise-reduction sample is pretty darn close to the straight D850 dupe, the dupe being a higher magnification of the original. For prints up to desktop-printer size, you might not see a difference, particularly with discrete sharpening applied to the D850 scan. You can weigh that off against the increased time spent with scanning on the Coolscan.