Scan this, Nikon

The infamous Nikon scanner decided it didn’t want to scan any more. Or rather, it would scan, but the scan head wouldn’t move, resulting in some interesting modern art. I took the case off and looked for any obviously fixable mechanical problems, but couldn’t see any. It would probably be possible to get it working by disassembling the mechanism, but I’m not that mechanically oriented. It’s not like I’ve abused the scanner, and it has only had light residential use.

Nikon, SCSI, Firewire, VueScan, Mac OS X

Since I know people find my web pages while searching for information about Nikon scanners and Mac OS X, I’d like to offer the following endorsement: The Ratoc FR1SX Ultra-SCSI to Firewire adaptor works perfectly with Mac OS X 10.3, and doesn’t need any drivers. Plug the unit in to the back of your SCSI-based Nikon film scanner, and you suddenly have a Firewire-based Nikon film scanner. This can then be used with Ed Hamrick’s excellent VueScan software to fulfil all your scanning needs.

Shuttle porn at 0.007 mpg

Someone with a new Nikon digital SLR took a bunch of photos of the Space Shuttle as it rolled out to the launch pad from the Vehicle Assembly Building. Sheesh, that thing looks skanky, the right side looks like a model that someone’s spilt coffee on. Now I understand what they mean by “ageing shuttle fleet”. I’m not sure I’d want to fly in it. There are more photos posted at keyhole.

Nikon digital: A sorry tale

In 2001–2003, I had a rather bad experience with Nikon Digital’s repair service. The product I had problems with was an APS adaptor for a high end film scanner, but other people have written to me with similar tales of woe regarding digital cameras and digital SLRs.


  1. I discovered that while Nikon are reknowned for the quality of their lenses, they also make some really shoddy products. High price and the Nikon name is no guarantee of quality.

  2. I found out that if you buy a faulty Nikon digital imaging product, such as a scanner or a digital camera, your chances of getting it repaired or replaced with a working product seem to be pretty slim.

  3. When Nikon were unable to get the product to work after four attempts, I couldn’t get a refund for the non-working product without a year of ignored letters, phone calls and faxes.

  4. The Nikon product jammed with some of my irreplacable negatives inside. I couldn’t open up the unit to get the film out without voiding the warranty, and Nikon failed to extricate and return the film.

I did finish scanning the rest of my APS film cassettes, no thanks to Nikon. I had to break open each cassette, pull out the film, and chop it up into individual frames. I then mounted each frame in a 35mm glass slide, adjusting for the size difference by using plastic spacers cut by hand from old subway passes using a sharp knife and a metal ruler. As you can imagine, the process was very fiddly and laborious and no fun at all.

Anyway, here’s the whole sorry tale…

Digital now clearly surpasses 35mm film

According to someone who’s compared, the new Canon EOS 1Ds blows away 35mm film, and is good enough that he’s abandoning medium format. I’m particularly impressed that it can take a picture of the milky way through an f/3.5 lens!

Sex and death

I spent most of the day scanning. I have finally finished digitizing the last of the APS cassettes. It was the same painful process of mounting each one in a slide mount with a makeshift plastic spacer cut from a T pass, scanning, removing the spacer, and storing the slide away just in case. Now all I need to do is get Nikon to give me the refund they promised me back in July for the non-working APS adaptor, and I can put the whole sorry episode behind me.

APS breakage (the Nikon saga begins)

Spent an intellectually stimulating but ultimately fruitless few hours trying to port a piece of badly-written Amiga software to Mac OS X. Copied a bunch of TV shows to tape for Laura. The APS adaptor for my film scanner broke. Luckily it’s still under warranty. I could do without the hassle, though. I’ve decided to ship it back to Nikon, and have them repair it—then I’ll try and scan every single roll of APS in as little time as possible.


How did Polaroid end up bankrupt? They’re looking at either selling the company, or filing Chapter 11. They expect to default on over $30m of loan payments in the next few months. It’s easy to say that they were caught out by digital cameras, but it’s not that simple. I remember the early days of digital photography, around 1996-97. For a while, Polaroid were leaders in the field—the PDC-2000 was well-reviewed, and praised for its outstanding image quality.

Burning inside: CD-R and archiving data

Some people may wonder why my web site was left unchanged for over a year. Well, I’m engaged in a lengthy project to digitize my entire photo collection, using a Nikon film scanner to produce 3000×2000 scans direct from the negatives. Some of the images are decades old, and often the film has deteriorated and needs careful restoration. Color film in the 70s really wasn’t very stable, and these negatives haven’t been particularly well cared for either.