Monthly Archives: February 2012

Nikon Film Scanner: Replacement Auditions

In June 2011, my Nikon LS-9000 scanner was damaged due to my hasty clumsiness. That saga is related previously. This post deals with the education I got when was hunting for an interim replacement.

When the 9000 was drydocked, I learned that Nikon had stopped making scanners as of December 2010. Period.

Why should they? The profit center is digital. Why screw around with building semi-large, delicate and expensive machines for the 500 who might buy them in one year, compared to the year’s US camera sales. I’m not counting their electron microscopes and industrial optics in this graph:

2010 Nikon camera sales in proportion to the discontinued LS 9000 Coolscan ED

In short order I began to research my remaining options:

  1. A Nikon LS 8000 or 9000
  2. An Imacon Flextite
  3. An Epson 700 or 750

Prices for Nikon LS-8000s ranged from $1600-2500, while the 9000s ranged from $2500-4000. Imacons start at $2,800 [SCSI connections] used, to  their lofty current plateaus of $15,000.

The Epson 700 is the same as the 750. Yes, it will scan film. But the results are softer than either 9000 or 8000 Nikon Coolscan. Its OK for FPO placement. The scanner sweeps the platen, and you have to break out each frame—because its a flatbed scanner.

Long story short, I became a serial scanner buyer. I’d buy one, find out the vendor had not properly packed the machine, shipped it the slow way, which results in a jarred, misaligned machine expiring on your watch. Which would then be shipped back. And refunds would be extracted.

SCANNER 1: A tortuous trip through eBay Dispute Resolution

This Nikon LS-8000 came from a squirrel in Oregon, $1800. It was improperly packed, and expired less than 24 hrs after arriving. Contacted the vendor, who then began to weasel out by the following tactics:

  1. Asked me to file a claim with USPS. USPS damage claims have an automatic 21-day lead-in period, are subject to examination by postal inspectors, and would run out the ebay Buyer Protection plan, which is only 45 days. Nice.
  2. Tried to have me send it to Nikon to be fixed, and pay for the repair.
  3. Tried to have me let his wife “pick up the machine when she was in LA”, in an email outside the ebay mail interface. Wrong, and wrong again. Releasing the machine invited mischief. Better to have a neutral 3rd party (ie USPS) handle the delivery.
  4. Machine packed and shipped, insured, with USPS, then notified him.
  5. Squawks and indignation from Oregon. I requested my refund. He refused. Tried to have me accept a 50% refund.
  6. I filed a complaint through the ebay Dispute Resolution. He chose to fight it.

Bad moves. All those emails are being read by gimlet-eyed lawyers who are working to a checklist of Shit You Shouldn’t Do. Six weeks after this all began, I was refunded my $1800, less the Paypal fee. Couldn’t leave bad feedback because being a dewy-eyed optimist, I’d posted before actually working the machine. Never again.

Scanner 2: LS 9000, on styrofoam sheets

While Scanner 1 was sucking air and life out of my wallet, this LS 9000 arrived, and stayed less than 24 hours. It arrived double-boxed, but with 2″ styrofoam sheets as the padding. Good idea, but not scanner-worthy.

Contacted the vendor, and we amiably agreed that I would send it back, he would refund my money, and call it a day. He did, I got my $2500 back. He got good feedback.

Scanner 3: Summer-stock headliner

Finally, the winner. Somebody in St Louis was selling an LS-8000. The hook was that it had recently been serviced by Nikon Repair, and had a 6-month warranty. Buy-It-Now was $2700. I hit it. Now I could go back to work.

Conclusion

When my 9000 came back from Nikon Repair, I unplugged the 8000 I’d bought. As a precaution, I shipped it to Nikon Repair to have it tuned, and extend the 6-month repair warranty for resale. When it returned, I plugged it in, tested it, and then listed it. Sold it for $2200, free shipping. The market had slipped from its peak in the summer. Such is life.

Nothing is forever. Everything is constantly changing, Take care of stuff, and postpone fright-intervals like these.

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Aside

I regret to my everlasting shame that I was taken in by Precision Camera’s website. I should have sent my damaged scanner directly to Nikon. PCR is clearly incompetent! Continue reading