Scanning photographic film with a Nikon Coolscan 5000ED.

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I have been pursuing photography as a hobby for over 30 years. As such I have amassed a lot of images shot on photographic film prior to my moving to digital a SLR in 2006. Most of these older images were shot on: B&W negative film, E6 colour slide, and Kodachrome.

Despite having a slide projector and the ability to print out B&W and colour prints, in reality it was always too much hassle and thus I never tended to ever look at these old images. Digital photography is so much easier as viewing is just a click away, and printing is trivial with a good colour inkjet. Thus I decided it was time to start scanning my old film stock onto the computer so that I could begin to enjoy those images.

This section describes the processes I have developed to do this scanning (which is an ongoing project).

Scanning Environment

Nikon Coolscan 5000ED and adapters.
Nikon Coolscan 5000ED and adapters.

The equipment I use to scan photographic film consists of:

  • A PC running 64-bit Windows 10.
  • A Nikon Coolscan 5000ED film scanner connect to the PC by USB.
  • Nikonscan and Vuescan film scanning software.
  • Adobe Lightroom 6.14 and ON1 Photo RAW 2022 software.
  • Adobe Photoshop CS4.
  • A Giottos blower and a soft brush for cleaning film before scanning it.

The key (and most expensive) item was the Nikon Coolscan film scanner. I mainly bought this partly for the high dynamic range it offered at the time, needed for slides, but also because it allowed the use of a bulk slide adapter to scan multiple slides unattended.

I have a number of different Nikon film adapters for my Nikon Coolscan for scanning different types of media

Nikon MA-21

Nikon MA-21 single slide adapter

MA-21 single slide adapter

Nikon FH-3

Nikon FH-3 film strip adapter

FH-3 film strip adapter

Nikon SA-21

Nikon SA-21 film strip adapter

SA-21 film strip adapter

Nikon SF-200

Nikon SF-200 bulk slide adapter

SF-200 bulk slide adapter

In the following sections for scanning individual film types I will describe how I use the above.

Installing Scanning Software

For scanning software on the PC I use both the Nikon Scan software that came with the Nikon film scanner and also the Vuescan application.

The process I used to install this scanning software into Windows 10 is detailed in this article: Install Vuescan and Nikon Scan

Scanning Traditional B&W Film


Scanning Colour Negatives

I don’t use colour negative film so have no experience in scanning this type of film.

Scanning Colour Slides


Scanning Kodachrome Slides

I scan Kodachrome slides with the Nikon Coolscan 50000ED scanner and Nikon Scan software. The process I used to install this scanning software is detailed in this article: Scan Kodachrome.


Scanning Kodachrome with a Nikon Coolscan 5000ED.