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Author Topic: Silverfast 8 + Nikon 5000 + Kodachrome = scan lines/banding  (Read 9762 times)
syncrasy
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« on: March 15, 2012, 08:50:37 PM »
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I have Silverfast 8 scanning software for my Nikon Coolscan 5000 scanner hooked up to my Mac Pro [OS 10.6.8]. I am scanning Kodachrome slides @ 4000 ppi, 48 bit, tiff output. The colors look great but when I zoom in to 100% in Photoshop or any other image viewer, I can see very narrow, but distinct, scan lines/banding throughout the image. The lines are most noticeable in darker areas, and create jagged edges where dark and light areas meet. I have spent literally dozens of hours trying to troubleshoot this, including corresponding with Silverfast tech support in Germany. They can't reproduce the problem on their test machines and so they deny there is a problem with the software. I have had to go back to Silverfast 6.6, which produces far superior results but only when I engage multi-scanning (set to at least 8x). Silverfast 8 dropped the multi-scanning feature, so I'm not sure if that's the cause of the problem, or if there is some other problem. The software appears to be designed to create scans at only one speed: very fast, with no options to improve scan quality. I wish I could go back to Nikon Scan, but as you know, it doesn't work on Snow Leopard.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to eliminate this problem? Am I not using the software properly?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 08:58:08 PM by syncrasy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 09:01:18 PM »
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I have Silverfast 8 scanning software for my Nikon Coolscan 5000 scanner hooked up to my Mac Pro [OS 10.6.8]. I am scanning Kodachrome slides @ 4000 ppi, 48 bit, tiff output. The colors look great but when I zoom in to 100% in Photoshop or any other image viewer, I can see distinct scan lines/banding throughout the image. The lines are most noticeable in darker areas, and create jagged edges where dark and light areas meet. I have spent literally dozens of hours trying to troubleshoot this, including corresponding with Silverfast tech support in Germany. They can't reproduce the problem on their test machines and so they deny there is a problem with the software. I have had to go back to Silverfast 6.6, which produces far superior results but only when I engage multi-scanning (set to at least 8x). Silverfast 8 dropped the multi-scanning feature, so I'm not sure if that's the cause of the problem, or if there is some other problem. The software appears to be designed to create scans at only one speed: very fast, with no options to improve scan quality.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to eliminate this problem? Am I not using it properly?

I have EXACTLY the same set-up that you have, I have done tons of work with it, and I have not noticed this problem. I am not in a position to do so now, but come the end of the month (I know, not instant gratification) I shall be, and I would be pleased to run some tests to see whether I can reproduce the observations you've made here. My preliminary assessment based on what I've and seen before is that this should not happen.

Lasersoft Imaging eliminated multi-sampling because they introduced multi-exposure, as their testing indicated to them that multi-exposure achieves everything that multi-sampling did, plus the specific intent of multi-exposure which is to open up shadow detail in slides and highlight detail in negatives. I have no doubt that if they thought there would be value-added to preserving multi-sampling as a separate tool they would have done so.

Scanning speed depends on the scanner and the resolution you set in the software. The higher the resolution the slower the scan, so in your case, it would be scanning at the slowest speed. I don't think that's the problem. 
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syncrasy
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 09:29:02 PM »
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Thanks for the reply, Mark. I appreciate your offer to run a test. And no worries about the delay -- I'm using Silverfast 6.6 for now. Let me know if I can provide you with anything for your test. Would it be useful if I posted some samples here? Or should I wait until the end of the month?

Lasersoft Imaging eliminated multi-sampling because they introduced multi-exposure, as their testing indicated to them that multi-exposure achieves everything that multi-sampling did, plus the specific intent of multi-exposure which is to open up shadow detail in slides and highlight detail in negatives. I have no doubt that if they thought there would be value-added to preserving multi-sampling as a separate tool they would have done so.

I wish I had as much confidence in Lasersoft's tech team as you do. Upon launch of Silverfast 8, the tech support crew didn't believe me when I told them the software didn't work with the Nikon slide feeder. (Some time later they quietly released a bug fix.) And they tightly control their support forum so as to not allow any posts that might imply there is trouble with the software. I can't get even the most basic questions past the forum gate keeper. Maybe the developers are more on the ball than tech support, but the Silverfast 8 UI, while generally better than SF 6.6, still has some not-so-friendly elements (from a usability perspective).

Regarding multi-exposure. . . Yes, they also told me multi-exposure replaced multi-sampling. I tried it, but I don't see any significant improvement (perhaps 10% at best). The lines persist. I thought the problem was due to the age of the slides (1930s and 40s), but then I scanned some 1970s slides in great condition and still noticed the lines. A casual observer might not notice them, but once I saw them, they were hard to ignore.

Regarding speed/quality: My 4000 ppi scans take only about 10 seconds. Does that sound normal?

Thanks,

-- (another) Mark
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 09:51:25 PM by syncrasy » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 09:51:57 PM »
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Hi Mark,

It would be best to receive your images when I am in front of a decent computer screen allowing me to evaluate them properly. When the time comes, I'll send you a PM with arrangements for uploading the full raw scan files so I can see the issues in full detail.

While the Nikon 5000 is a fast scanner, ten seconds for a 4000 PPI scan does seem a tad fast, but I have never really timed it, so that would also be something to verify when I have access again to my scanner.

Cheers,

Mark
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syncrasy
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2012, 10:00:55 PM »
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Thanks, Mark. I'll look for your PM in a couple weeks.

I should have mentioned that I also tried the VueScan demo and had similar problems (scan lines/banding).
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 10:37:15 PM »
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Oops - that's a very important observation. If two different applications produce the same results it points to the issue being lodged somewhere outside the software. But we'll get into that anon.
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2012, 09:30:23 PM »
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hi Mark (syncrasy) --

I have seen this happen with black/white film.. makes sense that kodachrome could exhibit it. I think it might only apply to the 8000/9000 but I recall an option to scan with a single line from the CCD on the Nikon software.. it cleared it up as I remember. It was a rare anomaly in my experience. If Silverfast has that option you could try it there...

As to the Nikon software not working on snow leopard, have you tried? I'm not advocating you switch, just curious.

The time you mention I would guess is way too fast, I don't think you are getting true 4000ppi scans in 10 seconds or less.

Last thoughts. Have you tried making a scan with the controls zeroed? Wondering if potential contrast adjust exaggerating edges.

And finally, have you checked the tiffs in another program or other display? I've seen screen previews and redraws do wacky stuff..

I know I'm reaching, sorry to hear of your troubles and good look sir.

all best -- sean


« Last Edit: March 18, 2012, 10:57:32 PM by SeanPerry » Logged
Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2012, 02:13:41 AM »
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You could try Super Fine Scan - it takes more time, but I heared, that banding problems which ocurred with the LS8000 were fixed by some people using SFS mode.
I never had banding problems with my LS9000 so far.

Concerning Silverfast - The new version is a mixed bag.
What is really good, is, that now the IR extraction for the Nikon scanners (finally!) works on windows, but they omitted the analog lamp control, which is bad.
There are also some bugs with the MF film holder for the LS9000 - I'm sure they'll fix it soonish.
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syncrasy
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2012, 07:49:05 AM »
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Sean, yes, when I first got my new Mac Pro last year, I tried Nikon Scan immediately because I had read that it wouldn't work on Leopard or Snow Leopard and I wanted to see for myself whether it was true. The software would not launch. I tried for about 30 minutes (fixing permissions, restarting the Mac, relaunching, etc.). It still would not launch. Officially, Nikon says it should not work and is not supported. So I purchased SilverFast.

Today, when I read your post and Christoph's post, I was going to reply, "tried it and it didn't work" and "please see my post above". But I thought, "let me try it again, just for kicks." I tried launching Nikon Scan and, to my disbelief, it launched successfully. Then I scanned two test scans (1x and Super-Fine 8x). They worked! Nikon Scan 4 now works on my Snow Leopard Mac! I don't understand why it now works, but this is very good and unexpected news. The only problem is that Nikon Scan 4 never played well with my slide feeder (it always crashed during batch scans). SilverFast generally plays well with the slide feeder. I'll test Nikon Scan again to see if (somehow) that feature works better.

As for Silverfast 8, my time estimate of "10 seconds" was incorrect. It was a subjective and emotional impression, but I had failed to actually time it. So here are some scan timings and results (all at 4,000 ppi):

  • Nikon Scan 4 (16 bit, multiscan Super-Fine 8x): 2 minutes, 15 seconds
  • SilverFast 6.6 (48 bit, multiscan 1x): 30 seconds
  • SilverFast 6.6 (48 bit, multiscan 8x): 2 minutes, 45 seconds
  • SilverFast 8 (48 bit, multi-exposure off): 1 minute
  • SilverFast 8 (48 bit, multi-exposure on): 2 minutes

All other settings are "zeroed out" (I always scan "raw" and process in Photoshop later). With multi-scanning, both NikonScan and SilverFast 6.6 produced acceptable images with no apparent scan lines. But SilverFast 8 creates scan lines. The problem is not a matter of previews or redraws. The scan lines are in the image (confirmed by opening in Photoshop and viewing at 100%).

See the attached JPEG. In the SilverFast 8 image on the right, you can see tiny scan lines along the edge of the roof and the roof beam. They make the roof line look jagged.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 09:06:21 AM by syncrasy » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2012, 08:01:46 AM »
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I hope you labelled the images correctly, because the Nikon Scan image looks the worst of the lot - the sky looks like coarse sandpaper, not the case for the two to the right. As for the two to the right, it made no difference with versus without multi-exposure - which can indeed happen when the deep quarter-tones are just too dense. I wonder about the colour balance of the SilverFast scans. Were you using a scanner profile?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 08:03:26 AM »
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You could try Super Fine Scan - it takes more time, but I heared, that banding problems which ocurred with the LS8000 were fixed by some people using SFS mode.
I never had banding problems with my LS9000 so far.

Concerning Silverfast - The new version is a mixed bag.
What is really good, is, that now the IR extraction for the Nikon scanners (finally!) works on windows, but they omitted the analog lamp control, which is bad.
There are also some bugs with the MF film holder for the LS9000 - I'm sure they'll fix it soonish.


Christoph - they didn't "omit" lamp control - but it isn't present yet.  :-)
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syncrasy
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2012, 08:35:41 AM »
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I hope you labelled the images correctly, because the Nikon Scan image looks the worst of the lot - the sky looks like coarse sandpaper, not the case for the two to the right.

Yes, I agree. Is that because Nikon Scan can only scan up to 16 bit (versus 48 bit for SilverFast)? Presumably Nikon would recommend fixing this using their grain smoothing tool during scan (e.g., GEM, or one of those acronyms that I can never remember).

As for the two to the right, it made no difference with versus without multi-exposure - which can indeed happen when the deep quarter-tones are just too dense. I wonder about the colour balance of the SilverFast scans. Were you using a scanner profile?

Sorry, but are you referring to sky courseness/fineness (which is the same in the two SilverFast scans)? Or are you referring to my claim of jaggedy scan lines (which are apparent in the right image, but not in the center image)? I'm not so worried about the color balance as I can fix that in Photoshop. And I'm assuming that color balance is a separate issue from the scan line issue. Are you suggesting the two issues might be related?

Regarding profiles, the initial SF8 scan had no profile (I guess it got deselected after a recent software update), but then I re-selected the SF Kodachrome for 5000 profile and got the same results (scan lines).

Attached are two color management preferences: (1) after reselecting the Kodachrome profile and (2) after resetting the SilverFast 8 software (which deletes all preferences). Jagged scan lines persist.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 09:35:16 AM by syncrasy » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2012, 09:28:33 AM »
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…Nikon Scan can only scan up to 16 bit (versus 48 bit for SilverFast)?

Mark

16 bit and 48 bit are the same! Nikon are quoting the per channel bit depth 16 red bits + 16 green bits + 16 blue bits = 48 total bits, whereas SilverFast are simply quoting the total bits. (The same occurs with 8 bits per channel versus 24 bits total). Note that some scanner files may include an extra channel for an infra-red channel that is used in some scanners for dust reduction giving either 32, 56 or 64 total bits per channel (note: 56 bits is a 16 bits per channel colour image with an 8 bit IR channel).

Regards
Nigel

Modified to correct typo.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 05:25:26 PM by Nigel Johnson » Logged
syncrasy
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2012, 09:31:02 AM »
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Thank you for the clarification, Nigel.
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« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2012, 09:53:00 AM »
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Mark

16 bit and 48 bit are the same! Nikon are quoting the per channel bit depth 16 red bits + 16 green bits + 16 blue bits = 48 total bits, whereas SilverFast are simply quoting the total bits. (The same occurs with 8 bits per channel versus 24 bits total). Note that some scanner files may include an extra channel for an infra-red channel that is used in some scanners for dust reduction giving either 32, 56 or 6 total bits per channel (note: 56 bits is a 16 bits per channel colour image with an 8 bit IR channel).

Regards
Nigel

Nigel,

Yes it occurred to me too that it is just another numeraire for the same file format. In the case of SilverFast, if you select a 16 bit format preserving the infrared channel (such as HDRi it becomes a "64-bit scan" - 16 added for the IR channel.

Mark Segal
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« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2012, 09:57:56 AM »
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Christoph - they didn't "omit" lamp control - but it isn't present yet.  :-)

Well - in version 6.6 it was there .... whatever it means.
I still like Silverfast, but they have to do some homework.
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« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2012, 10:00:36 AM »
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Yes, I agree. Is that because Nikon Scan can only scan up to 16 bit (versus 48 bit for SilverFast)? Presumably Nikon would recommend fixing this using their grain smoothing tool during scan (e.g., GEM, or one of those acronyms that I can never remember).

Sorry, but are you referring to sky courseness/fineness (which is the same in the two SilverFast scans)? Or are you referring to my claim of jaggedy scan lines (which are apparent in the right image, but not in the center image)? I'm not so worried about the color balance as I can fix that in Photoshop. And I'm assuming that color balance is a separate issue from the scan line issue. Are you suggesting the two issues might be related?

Regarding profiles, the initial SF8 scan had no profile (I guess it got deselected after a recent software update), but then I re-selected the SF Kodachrome for 5000 profile and got the same results (scan lines).

Attached are two color management preferences: (1) after reselecting the Kodachrome profile and (2) after resetting the SilverFast 8 software (which deletes all preferences). Jagged scan lines persist.

I regret that I am working from a MacBook Pro laptop for the time being - perhaps that combined with the JPEG low resolution makes it impossible for me to see the problem of jagged scan lines. I don't see a problem with the sky in the two SF scans, but the sky in the NikonScan version is unacceptable. While you can fix colour balance in Photoshop, it is far easier to do this with SilverFast's neutral pipette tool, or with Lightroom's white balance eyedropper tool, provided there is the slightest bit of data in the scene that should be neutral.

The lower profile set-up looks fine to me - except that you may wish to consider using ProPhoto as the internal colour space, because the most recent crop of Epson printers exceed ARGB(98) in some areas of the spectrum.

None of this however addresses the issue of the jagged scan lines you are seeing, but unfortunately in light of my current set-up I cannot. As I said, beginning of next month I shall be able to do some testing for this condition.
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« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2012, 10:08:52 AM »
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Well - in version 6.6 it was there .... whatever it means.
I still like Silverfast, but they have to do some homework.

What it means is that in those particular scanner models (and few others), you could control the exposure of each channel through software controls over the actual amount of light hitting the CCD in any channel. One possible advantage of this is that if you notice most of the scanner noise embedded say in the blue channel, you could increase blue channel exposure to increase the signal to noise ratio in that channel. One can also do some colour balancing with that tool, but I don't recommend it over other purely software based remapping approaches that are easier to manage.

My understanding is that the "homework" is being done.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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syncrasy
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« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2012, 10:16:46 AM »
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I regret that I am working from a MacBook Pro laptop for the time being - perhaps that combined with the JPEG low resolution makes it impossible for me to see the problem of jagged scan lines.

Mark, just to prove that I'm not hallucinating, I've attached another comparison (SF6.6 vs SF8), blown up to 300%, so you can see the difference on your laptop. The scan lines, while exaggerated, are obvious on the right (SF8) image. The SF6.6 is holding up well even at 300%.

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« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2012, 10:48:11 AM »
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Mark, just to prove that I'm not hallucinating, I've attached another comparison (SF6.6 vs SF8), blown up to 300%, so you can see the difference on your laptop. The scan lines, while exaggerated, are obvious on the right (SF8) image. The SF6.6 is holding up well even at 300%.



Hi Mark - I didn't think you were hallucinating - I ascribed all the blame to my temporary viewing conditions. Thanks for the blow-ups - by comparing the two scans it's now clear what the phenomenon looks like. I am intrigued that the left image name suggests no multi-exposure and the right image name suggests with multi-exposure. If this is the only difference between the two scans, it does raise a question about whether there could be a slight registration problem between the two scan passes that multi-exposure creates, or an inordinate exaggeration of the dark pixels relative to the lighter edges - I'm purely drawing inferences or hypotheses here, and even if either were true, not clear whether it is software or hardware-related, but perhaps interesting avenues of further investigation - provided the image names correctly identify the differences of scan treatment.
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