Nikon Scan 4.0.2, Windows Vista RC1, and Slide Jamming

A few weeks ago, I purchased a Nikon Super COOLSCAN 5000 ED and the SF-210 slide feeder accessory. My dad has somewhere around 2,000 old 35mm slides that I’d like to help him get into a digital format. It’s been years and years since I’ve seen most of the photos, and there are many that I’ve never seen at all. And scanning four slides at a time on my Epson Perfection 2450 PHOTO would take forever. The Nikon SF-210 accessory will feed up to 50 slides at once…much more convenient!

So, I installed Windows Vista RC1 on my home machine this past Friday. I didn’t notice it at the time, but Vista wasn’t able to automatically find a scanner driver for my new Nikon (I didn’t do an upgrade…I reformatted my hard drive and started fresh). I popped the Nikon Scan CD into the drive, but it wouldn’t install. Remembering the Program Compatibility Wizard, I fired it up, manually pointed to the Welcome.exe file in the root folder of the CD, selected Microsoft Windows XP (Service Pack 2) as the compatible operating system, told it to run as an administrator, left everything else at default settings, and the Nikon driver and associated software installed perfectly. I’ve been running automatic scans all day, and everything is working as-expected.

Since I’m writing about 35mm slide scanning, I thought I’d throw in another tidbit that will help people that are using the SF-210 to scan their own slides. The SF-210 is a pricey unit…pricey enough that you’d think it could reliably feed almost any slide. But, for many of the older cardboard mounted slides, it likes to jam. Of course, this happens as soon as you leave the room. 🙂

I did some searching on the ‘net and found a guy who drastically improved his scan success rate by wedging a wooden dowel between the white plastic “pusher” and the slides. I didn’t have a wooden dowel, so I tried a AAA battery (see photo), and it works beautifully! The battery has the effect of “fanning” the right side of the slides so that the next slide to be scanned is clearly out of the way and won’t catch on the slide that’s currently being fed. This works for thinner slides, slides that have a cardboard mount, and slides that are slightly warped. I still have the occasional jam, but it’s much better than it was before. Hope it helps you too!

Comments (7)

  1. Robert Schroeder says:

    I have considered purchasing this unit, but the price seems a little high still (about $1500 for the complete Setup, correct?) because of the time horizon of its usefulness.

    For example, once you scan those 2000 slides (which you probably could have outsourced for about $2000), what are you going to do with the unit? If you are thinking of giving it away, please keep me in mind. (I actually have a busted NikonScan III (I forget the actual name) that was supposed to be a ls-4000, but I went through a disreputable company and ended up with this unit.

    I do not have 2000 slides to scan, but I probably have 750, and then if you include friends and friends of the family, I could justify the cost vs. outsourcing, but I am not sure I want to be unjamming slides for all my neighbors.

    If  I get one, thanks for the tip on the AAA battery, that could be very useful, and good luck.

  2. mswanson says:

    @Robert: yes, you’re correct…it does cost about $1,500 for the setup. However, I’ve found that a lot of people are buying these units, using them to scan some old slides, then reselling them on places like eBay. I’ll probably do the same. If you figure that you have total control of the scanning process, and that this unit will scan at a very high quality, once you’ve sold it to someone else for the same purpose, it’s worth it in my opinion.

  3. Axel says:

    The price for the SF-210 is more like $320 (new) on eBay, or $1300 *with* the LS5000 scanner.

  4. mswanson says:

    Dale Austin posts another great looking solution to this problem:

  5. David Robins says:

    The AAA battery trick didn’t work too well. It is too large diameter, and fans the slodes so much that the first slide sometimes is too angled away from the face of the unit, and jams against the metal gate.

    I used a piece of bamboo skewer perhaps 1/8 inch in diameter, in the same location, taped to the pusher, which helped. This, coupled with weakening the spring force by lengthening the spring with a piece of paper clip, as described on another web site, make most of the jams disappear.

  6. Will Cowman says:

    Holy Cow!!  The AA battery actually worked like a charm.  This jamming problem with the old cardboard slides has vexed me for nearly a year.  I found your page; because, midway through my scanning project, I had to replace my computer and the new one was Vista — i.e. incompat w/ Nikon (thanks for the Vista tip too, by the way).  So your blog post has doubly-made my Christmas Day!

    In this day and age, I find it quite awesome that the solution to my high-tech woes lie with ignoring error messages and a little 1.5 volt battery.

  7. Gary Groff says:

    I too have this setup and have been in the  process of scanning about 10,000 slides.  But, I am having a difficult time finding a good general default set of settings.  Any suggestions?  What did you end up using on most of your slides?  Thanks.