BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Robert Aberman

Calibrationt/Col. Magagement of Monitor & Scanner

I am scanning 35mm colour transparencies using the Nikon Coolscan IVED. The Coolscan has a ‘Colour Management System’, which I turn on. I am using a PC.

However when I view the scanned images on my monitor, (Hansol 17”) most of them appear too dark. I therefore open the scanned images in Photoshop 7 and make slight adjustments using Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast and sometimes Colour Balance, if necessary.

Several people have now told me that there is no point in making any adjustments whatsoever to brightness/contrast etc. if the scanner and monitor have not been properly calibrated. Is this correct?

With regards the monitor, when it was initially bought & set up, (± 2 years ago) a friend, who knows what he is doing, ‘calibrated the monitor & created an ICC profile for it’ by doing the following. (Desktop>My Computer>Control Panel>Adobe Gamma) Is this adequate?

Also I am trying to understand improving scanned images using Image>Adjustments>Levels in Photoshop 7. Is this a good thing to do, assuming I have sorted out calibration/colour management?

I look forward to hearing from anyone who can help me with my queries.

To love this question, log in above
10/31/2002 11:53:04 AM

doug Nelson   I am exactly where you are with a Nikon 2000 that uses the same 3.0 scanning software you seem to be using. I get really murky scans that adjust very easily in Photoshop.
Go onto Nikon's web page and print out all they have on that scanning software. Read it carefully. That's what I'm doing right now, and I think that's where the answer will be.
I scan into the Adobe 98 color space and archive my good stuff on CD. I don't remember if going with Adobe 98 meant turning Nikon's color management off-I'll look it up this weekend. Before I put something on the web, I convert to the sRGB color space (Image Mode/Convert to Profile).

I find that Adobe Gamma brings the basic tonality right in the ball park. I am waiting for the industry to come up with a better color matching system, and a lucid explanation for how to use it. I don't see it yet.
I think you should be using Levels in Photoshop. Brightness/Contrast is a meataxe approach, doing too much too fast. Check out for some basics on using levels. (He's talking about scanner software, but the operation is exactly the same). Read up on using Curves as well. Basically, a shallow S-curve will increase contrast nicely, and too much contrast can be tamed with a shallow reverse S curve. NikonScan has a curve function, but I have yet to master it. I generally push the round half-moon button by the curve graph for an instant adjustment, and undo it with the check mark when I don't like it. Also, check out what says about the Nikon scanner. He has the 4000, but the software is about the same, except for ICE cubed.

To love this comment, log in above
11/1/2002 2:41:47 PM

doug Nelson   Did some further checking. Choosing a color space (use the preferences menu) does not opt you out of the Nikon color management (NCM) system. There is a separate check box for NCM. I see no reason not to leave that box checked.

Further down in the archives in this Q&A someone discusses a monitor-to-printer color control system that he/she likes. You'll have to dig to find it.

Just a comment- I'm reading over the instructions again and again. There has to be a reason we're having these problems. I don't think Nikon's software is as intuitive as it should be. They'll have to make improvements in later versions or someone in this competitive market will eat their lunch.

To love this comment, log in above
11/3/2002 10:31:05 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.