DPR Forum

Welcome to the Friendly Aisles!
DPRF is a spin-off of dpreview. We are a photography forum with people from all over the world freely sharing their knowledge and love of photography. Everybody is welcome, from beginners to the experienced professional. From smartphone to Medium Format.

DPRF is a community for everybody, every brand and every sensor format. Digital and film.
Enjoy this modern, easy to use software. Look also at our Reviews & Gallery!

Which scanner Minolta or Nikon


I need some help choosing between the Minolta Scan Dual III and the Nikon Coolscan IV ED. Both scanners have similar resolution, 2820 dpi and 2900 dpi respectively, but the Minolta has 16 bit depth and a dynamic range of 4.8 (computed???) compared to 12 bit depth of the Nikon and a dynamic range which I am assuming is less (the NIkon Coolscan 4000 ED is 4.2). The Nikon uses LEDs for its light source which apparently should result in sharper scans. So based on specifications only the Minolta appears to have the edge but specifications are not everything. Some reviews I have read give me the impression that the Nikon is every bit as good as the Minolta if not a bit better despite it being an older model. I realize that the Nikon also has digital ICE but I would like to leave that out of the comparison if possible for the moment.
So this is my dilemma. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Oh, yes, my printer is an Epson 830U, A4 size only.
Hi Steven,

I'd suggest taking a look at the Minolta DiMAGE Scan 5400 -- it's the latest Minolta 35mm unit and it should be in reach if you're considering the Nikon. It's a very good unit, although I wouldn't rule out the Nikon as a contender. The main point with the Nikon is that the light source is considerably more diffuse than the Minolta's, which may be of benefit if you do a lot of B&W work. The Minolta's light source is very "hard", which leads to a very contrasty and grainy image on traditional B&W neg films (chromogenic films like T400CN are not so badly affected). I posted a fairly comprehensive review of the Minolta on Photo-i.co.uk, with a fair number of s&le scans which may help you decide:


I should add that this hard light source is a general characteristic of Minolta scanners in my experience. It's definitely shared by the larger units (Scan Multi and Multi Pro) but I would suggest getting hold of some B&W s&le scans from the Scan Dual III if you come back to that for cost reasons and B&W matters to you.


-= mike =-

PS. If it's sharpness you're after, I doubt you'll have many complaints about the 5400!
>The light source would make me choose for the Nikon. > Another advantage of the LED's is that they don't loose their color calibration when they are aging compared to cathode lights. Forget about the dynamic range. IMHO any number above 4 is nothing else than marketing babble. As you leave the ice cubes out of the equation I won't mention them.
Hi Claus,

I would agree that some of the quoted Dmax figures are very unrealistic, but I can vouch for the exemplary dynamic range and noise control of the 5400. If you are into Kodachrome then I doubt there is anything better this side of a mid-range Imacon. I have yet to find a frame (of any film type) that benefits noticeably from multi-s&ling, which I take as a good indicator that the CCD and converters are quiet.

-= mike =-
>Mike, I must admit that I haven't seen any real life results of the 5400, yet, and barely shoot slides. > Both the "small" Minolta and the Nikon the original question was about are teriffic for their resolution. And as I said: The LED bring me on the Nikon side. For the rest the results I've seen were undistinguishable (negatives scanned full res and printed in a Fuji Frontier Lab).

the Minolta 5400 is appealing but here in Australia it is about 80% more expensive than what I can get the Nikon for and more than 100% up on the Dual Scan III, so it is a little out of my price range. B&W is important to me so I take your comments on board. Regardng the different light sources, I have read that the Minolta light source tends to produce a slightly softer image whereas the Nikon light source is supposed to create a slightly sharper image. Any opinions or experience with this?

Claus, thanks for your comments on dynamic range. Specifications can be misleading. I note that the top line Nikons (Coolscan 4000 and 8000) are "only" 14 bit with a dynamic range of 4.2. This is less than cheaper scanners but perhaps represents the true practical specifications of the scanners.

Thanks to you both for your advice. I'll go and read that review now, Mike.

Hi Steve,

Be wary of manufacturers' specs for dynamic range, all they are doing is re-expressing the numeric value range of the converter as a log value. Because a 14-bit scanner can produce output values in the range 0-16383, they say the dynamic range is 4.2 (= log 16383). That's not the same thing as saying that the scanner can retrieve useful image data from film having a Dmax of 4.2. That ability depends upon the dynamic range and noise floor of the sensor itself and of the analogue circuitry between the sensor and the converters. CCD desktop scanners tend to have a true range somewhere in the high twos. Most of Imacon's units are rated somewhere in the threes. Whatever you do, I would strongly recommend finding a dealer who will let you try before you buy, or has a no-quibble return policy. It's easy to be disappointed by low-cost scanners if you are in any way critical. I think I have tried something like eight different units up to now, of which only one was worth keeping IMO.


-= mike =-
if both scanners are not too different from technical points of vieww, one may want to take into account the software bundled with the scanner. I'd think it is a good idea to consider the whole system - software/scanner- and not only the scanner itself. AFAIK the Nikon is bundled with Silverfast which is an excellent scanning software. If the Minolta is coming only with inferior scanning software I'd recommend the Nikon rgds Thomas