How To Scan Slides Using the Nikon CoolScan


This document covers the step-by-step process for transferring a mounted slide to the computer. At the end of this how to, you will have a high quality digital image suitable for archiving and ready for sizing, saving and manipulating for use in other applications.

Color positive film is typically mounted in slide mounts, and often is used as a way to archive images or to be projected for presentations. The Nikon CoolScan scanner does not support APS film types.

Important note: Use this excellent scanner when you need a high resolution scan of a mounted slide or when you have a slide where the color has faded or developed an unwanted color cast.

Scans made with this particular scanner, because of how it is configured, will take longer to process, so if you are scanning a number of mounted slides and don't need the special image processing capabilities it offers, or if you need to scan negatives, we recommend you use one of the GroundWorks flatbed scanners equipped to scan transparencies.

Before you get started...

You will need to perform the following tasks:


Bring your images. Gather the slides you plan on scanning. It would be best to come with the slides you wish to scan well organized to save yourself time later on.


Have a place to save your images. Make sure to prepare a place to save your files. While you are scanning, it is a good idea to first save your files to a folder on the desktop of the computer you are using. When you are finished, you can then transfer your files to your IFS space, another network storage area, Zip disk, or CD.

Step 1: Open Scanning Application and Insert Slide


Find and open the Nikon Scan application.


Insert your slide face up, right side up, into the slot in the scanner.

Step 2: Preview your slide

The Nikon Scan application utilizes the following four windows:

The Nikon Scan window is the main window for the program and will remain in the background throughout the scanning process. This is also the window where you will save your file.

The Nikon CoolScan IV window is the second most important part of the application. It is where the main controls for the program are, and also you will view your slide,

The Tool Palette is the window in which most of the editing options are available for your scan.

The Progress Window shows the progress of your scan.

In the Nikon CoolScan window:


Select your slide type from the second pull down menu in the Nikon CoolScan window.


Click the Preview button in the lower left corner of the CoolScan window. An image of your slide will appear when the scanner is done previewing it.

Step 3: Select scan settings

Select Scan Area


In the Tool Palette, open the Crop menu.

Note: if you can't locate the Tool Palette, click the purple Tools button in the CoolScan window. In the menu that appears, select Tool Palette 1.


The Crop menu allows you to select which setting takes priority when adjusting the settings for your scan. While each setting is selected, it will ensure that those particular selections remain stable, while the other settings will change.

In the next step, you will want to freely select the area to scan, so select Keep this crop.

The scan area is the area enclosed by the selection marquee.

In the Nikon CoolScan window:


Position the cursor over the right-hand border of the selection marquee. The cursor will become a double-sided arrow.


With the double-sided arrow, click and drag the marquee border to resize it and select the area you wish to scan.


Use this technique to adjust all four borders of the scan area.

Set Output Settings

Now you will set your output size and resolution in the Crop menu.


Once you have your scan area selected, the physical size of your scan take priority, so select Keep this output size.


Enter the size you would like your finished scan to end up. The width and height will change proportionately, according to the scan area you previously selected.


Enter the appropriate resolution. If you'd like to have a high quality image ready to print on a printer, select a resolution of 300 Pixels/Inch. For an image that is perfect for screen display or web display only, select 72 Pixels/Inch.

NOTE: If you choose to, you could change the options in the Color Balance, Curves, menus at this point. However, we recommend using Adobe Photoshop to color correct your images, rather than using the Nikon CoolScan program.

Step 4: Scan your slide

When you are finished, click the green Scan button at the bottom of the CoolScan window.

The Progress Window will show the progress of your scan.

Step 5: Save your image file

Your scanned image will now appear in the Nikon Scan window.


To save your file, choose Save As from the File menu.


In the Save As dialog box that appears, type a descriptive name for your image document, choose where it is to be saved, and select a file format to save it as.

We recommend to save the first copy of your image as a TIFF file (.tif). TIFF is a widely used, cross-platform format that can be compressed without any loss of data. After you have saved a copy in this format you may save alternate copies as other file types.


When you are finished click Save.

It is a good idea to save your files to the hard drive of the computer you are using. When you are finished with all of your scanning, you should then transfer your files to your IFS space or another network storage area. You may also copy them to a Zip disk though we have found them to be problematic and unreliable.

At this point you may use Adobe Photoshop to color correct, resize or change the resolution of your image.

After your image file is saved you may scan more images by following steps 1 through 5 for each additional image.

To eject your slide, press the round button directly beneath the slide slot, and then grab your slide.


You now have a high quality digital image file which you can incorporate into electronic presentations, put on the web, or use however you wish.

Links to related resources

Adobe's Tips & Techniques for Photoshop

Adobe has many online tutorials for Photoshop, the mainstay image editing application.

Photoshop Tips and Tricks

A collection of cool things you can do with Photoshop, collected by The Internet Design & Publishing Center.

This document written by Heather Campbell.

Last modified September, 2003