Cleaning the Nikon Coolscan IV ED (LS-40) Film Scanner

I’ve recently been given some slides to scan, pictures from when Dana was a kid. After trying out the transparency adapter on my trusty Epson Perfection 1650, I realized that for these particular images I wanted more quality than the Epson could provide. It’s an excellent scanner, but the slide/film part is a weakness.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASo I purchased a Nikon Coolscan IV film scanner at the ol’ flea market. The description was terse, simply saying that it was in good condition. Due the brief text and poor title wording, I gather that not many people saw this particular auction, because no one else bid and I got a smokin deal on the thing.

I waited patiently for FedEx to deliver, and I was happy last night when it appeared whole and intact. Even happier when it powered up and make little whirring sounds. But then my heart sank: I made my first scans, and they were abominable. Something was definitely wrong with the scanner. Fuzzy, faded colors, and a horrible halo-ish, glowy cast to everything.

example-before

I went to bed extremely frustrated.

In the morning, by the light of day, I noticed that interior adapter slot was literally covered in a thick, fine dust. Not knowing much about this type of scanner, I guessed that it had to have a lens and possibly a mirror at the least, and that it probably was just as dirty. Sure enough, a mirror directly under the adapter slot (in line with all the dust). A quick search found some great information on dirty film scanners, and how to clean them. The images I had scanned looked just like the examples I saw, and my hope grew. The excellent walkthrough I found was for a Coolscan 5000, but it was obviously very similar to mine, and it gave me the confidence to proceed.

It’s easy to see why the mirror gets dusty, it’s essentially an unshielded flat surface, especially if the scanner is left to stand vertically.

So I set out to clean my Coolscan IV. What follows is a brief HOWTO illustrating the cleaning process. Please look at the above walkthrough too, it’s very applicable.

It should go without saying that if you follow this guide, you do so at your own risk. The process is not hard, but does require some coordination and patience. I assume no responsibility for your poor judgement, your small tool prowess, or your scanner’s future productive lifespan.

First, remove the screws around the outer edge of the rear face.

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Next, carefully slide the halves of the cover off.

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To get the front faceplate off, use a flat screwdriver to gently pry the tab away from the chassis:

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Here’s the naked scanner:

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Next, remove this front plate by removing its three screws:

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Looking in from the side, you can see the mirror housing. The mirror is held in by a thin metal bracket:

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You can see the two tabs at the top. These are what you need to gently pull away, so that you can drop the bracket and mirror down and out of the holder.

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Looking from below, you can see the back side of the mirror being supported by the bracket.

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Be extremely careful as you remove the mirror. I’m sure it will scratch or even break very easily.

Once you move the mirror assembly down, you can bring it out to the side of the scanner.

[Update 12/2008] One reader, Skinnyvoice in London, suggests inverting the scanner before removing the mirror bracket, so that the mirror does not fall out when removing the bracket. Thanks!

Here’s the mirror and bracket. Look at all that dust!

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I cleaned mine with lens cleaner and soft lint-free cloths. Be very careful, you really don’t want to scratch this baby.

Installation:

When installing the mirror, you could try to balance it on the bracket and put it back the same way it came out. I found this to be difficult with my big fingers, so I inverted the scanner itself. This allowed me to drop the mirror into the holder, and then install the bracket ‘over’ it. Turn the scanner back upside-right and I was in business.

Here is the inverted scanner, with the mirror installed and the bracket going on:

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After putting it all back together, I was thrilled to find that my problems were cured. The scanner had no problems focusing, and the images were crystal clear.

Before – This is roughly a 1/5-frame detail of the first slide I scanned:

example-before

After – (Note the photograph itself is not in great focus, but you can see the clarity in the dust and scratches on the slide):

example-after

From now on, I will use this scanner on its side, and store it covered, to minimize the dust problem.

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There are 100 replies to “Cleaning the Nikon Coolscan IV ED (LS-40) Film Scanner

  1. Somara

    FYI: I found out that it matters which way the mirror goes in even though both sides of the mirror looks identical. One side of the mirror creates a double image. I flipped the mirror and all was good again.

    Reply
      1. David

        I got one of these for $300 on eBay in 2005 and it still works great. In fact I have been converting negs-to-digital, and in 98% of my scans, I am getting color and detail I never ever saw in my prints (admittedly, getting them developed at One-hour kiosks in the 1980s and Costco thereafter. Many of my Kirkland, Fuji and Kodak negs result in near 35mm transparency scans. Unbelievable. (Sample here shot with either Kodak or Kirkland (Agfa?) or Fuji 100iso negative [print] film, developed at Costco. Scanned in 2013 with my Nikon IV and VueScan.

        I NEVER knew the color could have been this good!

        I had this haloing, mentioned in the article above, too. My mirror was coated in micro dust — almost like smoke. This is almost always the case when light areas “bleed over” into shadow areas — it is evidence of moisture, grease, oil or dust on the lens. Same with webcams, camera phones, eyepieces, binoculars, etc. In this case, it could be either the mirror or the lens or both.

        The reason you have to clean it carefully is the same reason for the double-image problem: The 1/8″ thick glass is mirror-coated on one side of the glass — usually by a process similar to electroplating — electrically attracting microscopic particles (almost gas-like) from a precious metal to the glass surface.

        The mirror is intended to be used with the coated side toward the lens so that there is NO GLASS in the way, which could interfere with light waves, therefore focus.

        It cannot be overstated how delicate this mirror surface is. Handle with great care.

        This is a great tutorial, and would be a little better if the close-up images were not so dark — perhaps lighten “Shadows” in LightRoom or Aperture, and repost?

        Reply
        1. sebastian Post author

          Thanks so much for the comments David. Your scan looks great! I agree on the photos, I didn’t do a great job on them many years ago. I may end up doing the process again on my scanner at some point, even though I keep it covered and on its side I may open it up just to get new photos.

          Cheers!

          Reply
    1. Anonymous

      That nugget of information did indeed help me tonight! I thought I had ruined my LS-50, but flip mirror – voila!

      Reply
      1. Imtiaz

        Thanks Somara. I spent a day trying to figure out the fault and no result in Google. Your information made my day after reassembling the Nikon LS2000.

        Reply
  2. john

    Hey Sebastian, thank you for this tutorial. After getting a $275 quote from Nikon to clean my LS-40, I’m going to give this a try. I can’t see spending $275 to clean my Coolscan IV when I can get a brand new Coolscan V with USB 2.0 for about $575. Here I go………………….
    Thanks, John.

    Reply
  3. George

    Many thanks for this walkthrough…was a piece of cake with some decent precision screwdrivers. The suggestion to flip over the machine when re-installing the mirror is an EXCELLENT one.

    Mine wasn’t nearly as dirty as yours was (still dirty, mind you) and that was AFTER being in a room where drywall repairs/sanding were being made. I shudder to thing what your unit must have been put through!

    Reply
  4. Paul K

    Been looking at my Coolscan for a couple of years, thinking I’m not paying over £100 to have that cleaned. I do mostly digital camera work now. Someone sent me a slide from Austria so I had to get it working. Found your walkthrough, previously got stuck with that 5000 one. Did yours in 30 minutes flat, easy. Images are nice now, even though it always reports a hardware error to the application. So now it’s like I’ve got a new scanner for nothing!

    Reply
  5. pellicle

    Hi

    I found that putting the scanner on its side and then using a chopstick with a blob of blue-tac on it was the best way to remove the mirror. This is then touching the non-silver side (the silver side must be facing the lens to obtain maximum optical results and avoid double images from the then two surface reflections).

    thanks for the post it helped me clean and get best results from my LS-IV. For what its worth, I’ve just posted my comparison between this scanner and my Epson 4870. http://cjeastwd.blogspot.com/2009/03/nikon-iv-ed-vs-epson-flatbed.html

    I was surprised.

    Thanks again for the page

    Reply
  6. Nitin

    I hadn’t used my scanner for sometime. I wanted to scan some old slides only to find the scans having a lot of colour bleeding. I called the folks at Nikon(Pune, India) and though the service fee they quoted Rs. 2400 (less than US$50) wasnt exorbitant, it would have taken a few weeks…so I decided to do some googling, which lead me to this post.

    Thanks to the confidence I got from this post, I did it myself- it was simple and quick(40 min)…and I was up and running without a problem.

    The dust on the mirror was really thick, it had almost solidified on the surface….I was surprised I was getting any scan at all!. I had to use a lens tissue with lot of lens cleaning fluid. I think I even left a very very faint scratch from the edge of the paper…but the scan has no evidence of that.
    Thanks once again!

    Reply
  7. valerie

    I agree with Nitin- the confidence that your clear, well-illustrated post gave me was a great help. I think I have the best time on record, but that’s perhaps because my mirror turned out not to be very dirty (despite my not having used the scanner in years). Many, many thanks!

    Reply
  8. sf

    Which face should face the lens when replacing the mirror?
    I thought it was NOT the one producing a double image.
    I replaced the mirror and get a double image when scanning…
    like the example given above….

    Could it be stated and shown once for all, which side it is?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Stacy

      It took me quite a few attempts but I think I finally got it right. If you examine the mirror under a bright light you should notice one side has a blue hue, which is probably coating, and produces a sharper reflection. That side should be placed away from the bracket, and the neutral side against the bracket.

      Reply
    1. sebastian Post author

      Sorry you’re running into trouble. I don’t know how to advise you for sure, but based on previous comments it sounds like it does indeed matter which way the mirror goes in. If you got a double-image one way, but a totally blank scan after flipping the mirror, I might try flipping it again but turning it 180 degrees compared to your first try.

      Good luck, and let us know how you make out. It will be good info for the next person.

      Reply
  9. Margaret

    I cannot thank you enough for your beautifully detailed and accurate description for cleaning the Nikon Coolscan IV ED scanner. I didn’t know what caused the glowy effect on my scans and was ready to toss my scanner. Thank You sooooooooo much!

    Reply
  10. Mikey

    Please see ‘naked scanner’ at the top of this thread.
    I did not realize that removing the covers and some screws allowed the whole assembly to split ~ unexpectedly. It happened to me {I have a Gamekeepers Thumb injury that makes my right hand very unreliable} and I ripped the ribbon cable. Despite repeated attempts to repair it with silver epoxy, the scanner is inoperable.
    Nikon will not send the instructions to disassemble and reassemble the unit; even with a replacement cable, so I will no doubt have to send it in for repair. My mirror was horribly dirty, but trying to save money to clean it was subject to a risk that I want to share with this group.
    Have fun.
    mikey

    Reply
  11. Susan

    Thanks very much for your useful instructions. Have managed to successfully clean the mirror in a second hand dusty scanner, with very good results – got rid of some huge halos.

    Reply
  12. Duncan

    Every year or two, I dig out a slide and try to get my scanner working again – leading to an afternoon of frustration, and the temptation to just toss all my old slides.

    This time around, I found your web page, and happiness prevails. It was particularly handy to have the comment about the double images too, as I managed to get my mirror in back to front on the first attempt.

    Now, maybe, I’ll find those old negatives and see what I did on my holidays in 1994 :-).

    Reply
  13. Peter

    Had problem scanning with my second hand ls-40, had almost same experience as you.
    So followed the above tutorial, and surprise! Sharpness is back, no halo like effects etc. Very happy!

    So Big Thanks!

    Reply
  14. Jason

    After I removed the mirror and cleaned it, I put the Coolscan IV ED back together and now the software doesn’t recognize anything. The mirror and its holder are the only things I removed from the scanner. Anybody else experience this?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  15. Lucy

    Thanks so much for your help here. We followed your instructions and went from blue, blury pictures that looked like people were in halos to clear one.

    A few extra points though – we found if we also cleaned the light that is behind the mirror the pictures became even clearer. This is tricky but do-able with the help of a lens cloth and plastic cotton bud that we could bend to fit (the lens cloth going over the cotton bud – you don’t want lint on the light or the mirror)

    Additionally using machine oil to the bars that carry the scanning light/mirror to make the scan movement smoother removed a number of faint lines that were appearing. All able to be done at home, very very carefully.

    Reply
  16. sdk

    Thank you for your tutorial. The operation, at first glance tricky, is manageable provided that we take our time and follow scrupuloulsy your instructions. And especially a special mention to your valuable advice on the last step about how placing the miror in its holder prior to the bracket. My scans were previously with a halo and had washed colours, and even sometimes with a dominant colour (yellow or magenta). After that cleaning, my scanner is working like in his early days (9 years ago): sharpe images and bright colours. Once again thank you.

    Reply
  17. Carlo

    Guys, I have not used my the LS40 since 2003. I moved house and it ended in a box. I would like to use it again but I do not have drivers or any software that came with it. Can you remind me what is needed? Where can I find the drivers? Cheers Carlo

    Reply
    1. VultureX

      For Windows Versions up to Vista you only nedd to download the Software “Nikon Scan” from the Nikon Website

      For Windows 7 there is no support from Nikon available, however I was able (with help from a forum post) to get it going under Windows 7, 64-bit:

      1. Download the Version of Nikon Scan 4.0.3 for Windows Vista
      http://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/14463/related/1
      Make sure to start the setup program with administrator rights! (right click, choose “execute as administrator”)
      At install time, choose “user-defined setup” and install WITHOUT drivers.
      (The Software “Nikon Scan” itself works under Win7, it’s the drivers that come with it that don’t work anymore with Windows 7 – so we need to find working drivers for Win 7.)

      2. Download a Test-Version of VueScan and install it. There is no need to use Vuescan for scanning or to pay the registration fee, but if you use the scanner a lot a registration of VueScan would only be fair!
      http://www.hamrick.com/
      This installs drivers that enable “NikonScan” to use the Scanner again under Windows 7. Make sure to download the 64bit or 32bit version of Vuescan according to your version of Windows 7!

      Voilá, working Nikon Scan under Windows 7!
      It might be necessary to run Nikon scan the first time with admin rights, so it can write its settings properly to the registry (see point 1 above).

      Hope this helps other people a bit and saves them from buying a new scanner! ;-)

      Reply
  18. David

    This is very useful indeed–thanks for posting it. And inverting it before removing the mirror certainly made it a lot easier. A pair of line-free archive gloves also helped.

    Reply
  19. Russell

    Found this very useful Thanks. I bought one of these scanners at a car boot sale for £2.00! at first the scans were showing a green cast but after following your instructions it is working perfectly.

    Reply
  20. Steve Dowd

    Man, I took your advice, and the scanner is running perfectly! Kudos for you taking the leap and breaking yours down, so a bunch of us can save a few hundred bucks. Seriously, we were very close to putting it up on ebay. We now can do what we have been unable to do for years, scan our images from our honeymoon in India! If it craps out after that, we have still saved a bunch of money, from either renting one or buying a new one. Forget sending it to Nikon for $350 just to clean that teeeeeeny little mirror.
    Nikon customer service makes me want to go Canon next time…

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  21. Pawel

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I used it along with http://www.pearsonimaging.com/articles/howto/ls5000cleaning.html and managed to clean my Coolscan V ED. It wasn’t really dirty but at least I know the whole process now and will be able to do it in the future.

    The mirror is really tiny and delicate. Took me some time (and in some moments I was really scared I’m going to damage it) to take it out and then place it back but all in all wasn’t that hard.

    Thank you again!

    PS. Turning the scanner when the mirror carriage is in the front is quite useful because you have a bit easier access to it.

    PS.2. Turning scanner upside down so that the mirror does not fall out is also very helpful. I turned it upside down when removing the clip but then places it on a side and slid the mirror out of the carriage.

    Reply
    1. Pawel

      “PS. Turning the scanner when the mirror carriage is in the front is quite useful because you have a bit easier access to it.”

      I meant turning scanner off while the carriage is in the front.

      Reply
    2. Pawel

      Oh and when I opened the scanner and took out the mirror, I used compressed air to blow the dust out of it.

      I cleaned the mirror with pure alcohol (like 97% one), some cotton ear cleaning sticks and a very soft (and clean) lens cloth. When placing the mirror back I was holding it through the lens cloth (I have big fingers so every time I was holding it by the edges using my fingers I would leave some fingerprints)

      Reply
  22. darius

    You guys seems all been very lucky… I’ve cleaned the mirror and lens, put the scanner back together and now my compiuter/ software doesn’t see the scanner…. should I bin it?.. sell it as parts on ebay? ( but don’t know really what’s wrong with it)… call nikon service?… and pay houndreds of pounds…
    buy digital camera and get rid of all my film equipment?…. haha….
    seriously guys.. what You think?

    Reply
  23. Vladimir

    Sebastian and all, did anybody EVER measured that Coolscan mirror with any more or less precision instrument? We all know how fragile is the mirror and one day it needs replacement. To order that front Double Front Surface Mirror from any decent company it would be better to know exact size to avoid further cutting/grinding.
    Anybody?

    Reply
    1. sebastian Post author

      Hey, sorry but I’m not aware of the precision measurements. I would certainly be willing to help if you ever find yourself in that position :)

      Reply
  24. Robert

    hi,
    a big thank you from austria. i’ve read your instructions even before i got my Coolscan IV on ebay and i was a little afraid to open the box. i didn’t have any issues, thanks to the information provided by you.
    i’ve skipped the front plate removal, because the screws were too tight for my cheap screwdrivers. didn’t have any problems, though! i’ve also used lens cleaner and removed a couple of dust and grease spots.
    i’m curious what the scans look like. the one test i’ve made prior to the procedure had a couple of white spots…
    kr, robert.

    Reply
  25. Warren

    You my friend are a legend. Had had my scanner in storage for a number of years and pulled it out to digitise my negative collection. Problem was bleeding of colours (particularly reds) and a halo effect which was rather annoying.

    Used your directions for cleaning (complete with blu-tac chopstick suggestion) and it has worked a treat – thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Reply
  26. Ben

    Sebastian, thanks for taking the time to post this. We’ve had this scanner for years and I couldn’t figure out why it was giving foggy images. I finally had the bright idea of googling it and up came your page. Worked beautifully.
    Thanks again.

    Reply
  27. Anonymous

    Never posted before but I used this site to take my Coolscan apart and clean it. Have to give it to you, this was a miracle. The cleaning was simple, far easier than replacing a hard drive on my laptop, and the results are spectacular. My old Kodachrome slides are having a new life and it was FREE! Many Thanks.

    Reply
  28. Anonymous

    Some say do not use alcohol to clean the mirror, but some say they used alcohol to clean. Is it ok to use Isopropyl alcohol to clean the mirror? Or do I have to buy special alcohol-free lens cleaning solution like Purosol Optical Cleaner from Amazon. It is about $13 for 2oz, and $16 for 4oz.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. RedDog Steve

      Avoid the rubbing alcohol out on the shelf, it’s 30% water which leaves water spots.
      Go to the pharmacist’s counter and ask for pure anhydrous alcohol.

      rd

      Reply
  29. Perry

    Just finished cleaning the mirror on my Coolscan IV ED as per your instructions. WOW!! No more blooming whites. The scanner is forever to be called “Sebastian” and you are my hero. I did invert the scanner to remove the mirror. I wrapped small needle-nose plier tips with masking tape to remove and replace the mirror. Worked well. Thank you!

    Reply
  30. Swiss Blues

    Thanks Seb and folks, for additional statements!
    The cleaning of my 4000 worked perfect and was quite easy.
    I used a pair of line-free archive gloves, pure alcohol and optical lens cleaning papers.
    Inverting it before putting back the mirror certainly made it a lot easier.
    Thank you and cheers from:
    http://www.chocolate-and-cheese.ch/en/

    Reply
  31. Chuck

    I was scanning some old Kodachrome slides and decided they should
    have a bit more snap than I was seeing. I also noticed bleed from the
    bottom of the slide.

    I found this blog and got out my tools. Some of the screws were really tight
    and I had to get inventive to unscrew them. Before removing the mirror
    I used a magic marker to make black marks on the edge of the mirror
    and an adjacent piece of metal so I could put it back the same way.

    I read mention of cleaning the lamp. Is there a lens to clean?

    I am getting better results, I think. The bleed was a side effect of Vuescan’s
    infrared clenaing software. Vuescan’s infrared cleaning works surprising well
    on Kodachrome slides. That alone is worth the price of regtistration.
    Another Vuescan trick is to right click on a neutral colored object (shade of
    gray) to set the white balance. This is working well on Kodachrome slides
    up to 75 years old.

    Reply
  32. Neill

    I’ve been looking at buying a replacement film scanner after having the familiar “halos” on my scans but decided to look it up and found this site.

    Thank you, I have saved myself a lot of money for a job that took me 20 minutes and my Coolscan IV works perfectly now!

    Thank you!

    Reply
  33. Anonymous

    Thanks to your pictures, unassembling the scanner and cleaning the mirror was a snap. The dust was so old that even after wiping with a pec pad and a Microfiber cloth, it still looked dirty. Since I didn’t have lens cleaner on me and I was concerned that the film cleaner could cause damage, I ended up using windex on a pec pad.

    The only hard part was trying to get the front plate screwed back in. A third hand would’ve come in handy. I finally got it in by screwing the longer side screws (starting with the side that had more space), then finishing off with the tiny front one. A magnetic screw driver helped a little as well. If it wasn’t for the hassle with the front plate, I think I could have finished in about 15-20 minutes.

    Regarding the mirror direction, one side has the metallic mirror and one side is thick glass. If you look at it at a slight angle, you can see which side has the glass. The glass side needs to go against the back plate.

    Reply
  34. Didi

    Hi from Germany!
    I switched on my scanner yesterday and got a message about a hardware problem. Found this site, cleaned the mirror and the pics are great again!
    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  35. Tutejszy

    So today I stumbled upon that my scanner together with SA-21 stripe feeder didn’t want to accept 6 frame strips (Nikon software on OSX). It popped up an error that strip should be between 2 and 6 frames. So I cleaned my SA-21 but it didn’t help. Then I thought that maybe your advice would help. And voila! scanner now accepts again 6-frame strips and even “hardware error” warning from the start disappeared!
    I’ve used window cleaning liquid on earbud. BAD IDEA. leaves smudges hard to remove. So I used afterwards distilled water, wiped with eyeglasses wipe, then film white glove (just gentle strokes, no pressing), then blow of compressed air and repeated few times.
    In very bright light (my phone led) mirror showed some unremovable tiny spots. I was worried I destroyed the mirror, but photos get just fine!

    Reply
  36. Paula

    I have a big problem with the optical mirror.
    I have a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED film scanner.
    Scanner mirror is now damaged, scratched and dust.
    I can not find a new mirror for anything.
    The mirror is a small 24,0 mm x 20,0 mm and a thickness of 3,0 mm.
    The mirror has an optical coating.
    Where can I buy a new mirror? …or where the mirrors will be corrected …

    Reply
  37. Ace

    After cleaning, which was simple and quick, I tried scanning and come up with blank scans. What have I done wrong? Maybe the mirror is in at a wrong angle? It goes in at an angle right? Not flat?

    Any info would greatly help.

    Reply
    1. sebastian Post author

      Sounds like you might have the mirror reversed. Make sure it’s facing the right direction and the holder is seated well so it’s in the intended alignment.

      Reply
  38. PMarques

    Man, this is indeed a great help!
    Simple and very straightforward, just had to look at your post and follow.
    I advise all the people to also read the comments below, you learn a lot with other people experience too.
    Turning the scanner upside down is a very good idea and I believe that using the chop stick with blue stack can also be good. I didn’t use it, I used my fingers, but at some point I was thinking that it would been better.
    I cleaned the mirror with alcohol in ear cotton sticks ( I had a real thick layer of dust) and then a final cleaning with a fiber cloth for cleaning glass. I placed the mirror back with cotton gloves to avoid finger prints.
    Now I have a great scanner again!!! Yeahhhh!!!

    Reply
  39. Matthew K

    Thanks so much for the tutorial – I just finished scanning 750 35mm slides with my IV ED as a family archive, getting more and more frustrated by haloing and bad infra-red cleaning performance. Occurred to me that maybe someone else had similar issues and … you know the rest. The mirror was filthy and I’ve started over, with far better results.
    Thanks for the time you took to make a detailed explanation – it was a great help. And it’s nice to have a 12 year old scanner working perfectly.

    Reply
  40. Peter

    I have my scanner apart, the mirror is installed the correct way. However, there is absolutely no way I can get the clip back in place to hold the mirror correctly. It also seems there are two angles the mirror can sit. One fits the back of the clip correctly, but I cannot get the clip far enough down to get the top holding it in place. Is there a magic way to install the clip?

    Reply
    1. sebastian Post author

      Hi Peter, are you trying it inverted? All I can think of is perhaps the mirror should be rotated 90 degrees? I don’t recall if it’s perfectly square or not.

      Reply
  41. Serge CARASSUS

    Hi, I’m living in France and I’ve got a Nikon coolscan LS40 several years ago. I’ve forgot it in 2005 when I got my first digital camera (Nikon DX70). A few weeks ago I found it back and I tried to make some scans. First of all I had to update the Nikon scan software with windows 7, but I was really disapointed with the results. The scans where like ‘ghosts pictures’… I was ready to throw the coolscan into my bin but I tried to find some tips on the subject. I’ve followed your tutrial, cleaned the mirror, (it was disgusting with black dust) and now the scans are perfect. Thank you very much Sebastian, you are a hero …

    Reply
  42. Jade

    I have a Nikon Coolscan IV ED (LS-40) and I have cleaned the mirror with your instructions which made a huge difference – thanks…!
    I still have a strange colour cast and I would like to clean the LEDs or lamps as I suspect they are also dirty.

    Can you give me any directions on cleaning the light sources in this scanner…?

    Many thanks

    Reply
    1. sebastian Post author

      Hi Jade, I haven’t taken it that far myself. But it should be easy to identify the bulb vs the sensor. I would look at each if you can access them and see if there’s anything obvious. I bet it’s a possibility.

      If you do this, take pics! I’d love to add them to this page.

      Reply
  43. James

    Dear Sebastian,
    Your instructions are perfectly illustrated and have made my 45 year old Kodachrome slides look like I remembered. The difference is astonishing. I had scanned about 30 images and was so disappointed, thinking their was a deterioration with the film. I manipulated them in Photoshop and still second rate to my memory. After the cleaning my Nikon LS40 scanner as you so clearly described just perfect. Thanks
    James

    Reply
  44. Charlie

    Hallelujah! This is probably the most useful post I’ve run across this year. My LS-40 is 10 years old and I noticed that when I had an exceptionally dark slide with something bright white in it, the white would bleed over and leave a fuzzy halo. Otherwise, I was satisfied. This clearly illustrated procedure worked perfectly for me. I especially appreciated the comments that suggested turning the unit upside down to remove the clip holding the mirror and also the comments about the potential for getting the mirror reversed or oriented incorrectly. I used isopropyl alcohol and no-lint lens cloth for cleaning. The whole project took less than 30 minutes and when I did a scan on one of the bleeding slides, it was crystal clear with no bleed. I do use Vuescan software and I’ve found it very useful – the IR cleaning options, the multiple pass scans, the many, many options etc. I think it’s definitely worth the cost, and I seem to scan batches of film and slides more quickly even using multiple passes. A big thank you to everyone who posted here. I thought I was going to have to splurge on a new scanner and now find I don’t.

    Reply
  45. Johan

    Thanks a lot for this! My scanner is feeling much better now.. ;) Things are waaaaaay sharper, awesome!

    I think it took around 30-40 minutes to clean the mirror and put everything back together (just be careful). Mine wasn’t looking too bad but bad enough to notice a big difference afterwards!

    Some quick crops/scans:

    Crops:
    http://www.jedi.se/kodak_portra_160nc_crops.jpg

    Before:
    http://www.jedi.se/kodak_portra_160nc_full_before.jpg

    After:
    http://www.jedi.se/kodak_portra_160nc_full_after.jpg

    THANKS! ;)

    Reply
  46. HGL

    Used your guide today for my Coolscan IV ED… Worked great and the results are spectacular! thanks so much for your effort to put this together!! :-)

    Reply
  47. Todd

    I’m totally new to all of this. What would you recommend for cleaning, as I really don’t want to scratch the mirror, much less leave any kind of residue? Would lens cleaning paper tissue be enough? Or use it in tandem with some alcohol?
    Thanks!!
    Todd

    Reply
    1. sebastian Post author

      Hi Todd,

      I used a spritz of lens cleaner and a soft microfiber cloth. I would expect anything you’d use on a lens would be fine.

      Reply
      1. Todd

        Purosol? ROR? (Sorry, just nervous about ruining the coating on the mirror). And a BIG THANKS for your article. I’m looking forward to cracking open my Coolscan V soon.

        Reply
  48. Edison silva

    When I ve tried to clean the mirror, I ve discoverd, that it is damage by fungue. I need to realce it. Someone can tell me where I can find a new one.
    Thanks

    Reply
  49. Steve Priske - Geneva Marketing

    Outstanding – after I finished RE-SCANNING everything, am going into the scanner repair business ! So easy, thanks. Might point out, the tiny ‘sugar cube’ size mirror is two sided. I tried both sides after through cleaning and found the ‘unused’ side even clearer ! Yeaaah! Steve Priske

    Reply
  50. Hugo

    I really hope this discussion is still alive (after all, it has been going for 7 years already!)

    First of all, greetings from Holland, and many thanks for the clear howto.
    I managed to get through every step without problems, but then I ran into a problem that I haven’t seen mentioned in the discussion above: I have reinstalled the mirror, but when I try to install the bracket it does not snap tight: there remains tension that pushes the tabs out again, and the bracket does not lock. My first thought was that the mirror was not properly in place, but there does not seem to be much I can do about that: it more or less finds its own position when you drop it in (with the scanner reversed). I tried a number of times, but without succes. (If I place the bracket without the mirror it locks just fine.)
    I must say the bracket looks slightly different from the pictures above (it does not have the holes in the corners), but well, it worked before I took it off.

    I would be very grateful for any suggestions, as the scanner is not functional now, and will not be until I find out how to fix this. Thanks in advance,

    Hugo

    Reply
      1. Hugo Streekstra

        Sorry, I missed this question – in the end I brought it to the Nikon service center (yes they still can do these in the Netherlands, which I did not know when I started doing it myself). It was fixed (and fully serviced), but I don’t know how it was done, sorry.

        H.

        Reply
  51. Julien

    That would be useful to find a way to clean the lens too ! If the mirror is dusty, the lens should be the same way …

    Reply
  52. Julien

    but cleaning it without seeing is nonsense. Drill a hole on the plastic facing the lense, just enough to see and use a swab or something better to clean it. Use an air blower to remove all the particles. Find a way to drill but blocking the whole moving part. Seems almost impossible, but the idea is here.

    Reply
  53. Jim

    I might give a glowing/gushing commentary about Sebastian at a later date but I’ll just be consice, and say THANKS!!!!!! Inverting the scanner is the way to go for mirror removal.
    I have the LS-4000 firewire model and use it on a Mac. I got the scanner from an E-waste
    dumpster (I enjoy reviving stuff). I thought that if its dead well it just goes back in the dumpster. I found it to be almost fully functional except that I had alot of trouble getting the NikonScan 4 software to recognize it. I figured it was the software (running vers. 4.0.2) as that version was stated as working under Tiger 10.4 and no guarantee that it would work on later OSes it is also PowerPC software and I was running it on Snow Leopard via Rosetta on an Intel Box (of course). It seems to work fine on SL. The LS-4000 would throw up a blinking light error when I turned it on wether it was connected to the Mac or not.
    Cleaning the first surface mirror not only got rid of halos and glowing areas but the errors went away too!! If you’re planning to do a lot of scanning, I would suggest using VueScan as it’s (ICE) alternative works like gangbusters on Kodachrome slides, no artifacts, and will save you hours of time at post processing chores.
    I usually just lurk sites and mine data but Sebastian deserves major Kudos. First surface mirrors are easily scratched so go gently. Prepare your work area, have it well lighted, have all your tools to hand and be Patient , slow, and methodical. So thanks for the $2000 scanner Seb. :-p))

    Reply
  54. Tomas

    Hey, thanks for your excellent tips and step by step guide. I had several issues with my scanner, scanner reported hardware error every time, the scans were ugly red-blue, sometimes it had autofocus problems, and the strip feeder reported it cannot scan strips of 6 frames, only less then 6. Nikon service informed be they dont provide any service of this scanner anymore. After cleaning the mirror according to your easy to follow instructions, all of the issues miraculously disappeared. BIG THANKS!

    Reply
  55. Howard Barnes

    My Coolscan IV no longer connects with my Apple eMac, something is wrong with the USB connection, any ideas?

    Reply
  56. Bob Hobbs

    Excellent article. My CS IV ED has been collecting dust for several years and I decided it was time to finally scan all the old family slides that I had bought the thing for in the first place. Of course the scan quality sucked. Followed this article and the reply’s and cleaned the mirror. Worked like a charm although I found putting the mirror back in was the biggest problem.

    Many thanks to you and all the wonderful suggestions.

    Reply
  57. Ian

    Trying my scanner after a couple of years careful storage — everything looks purple!
    Any suggestions?
    Would be very welcome!

    Reply
  58. Dave Marlin

    I have a Nikon Coolscan IV ED which has served me very well for 6 years. Last week it would no longer scan color slides. (scan works but there is no image) It will scan color negatives and will scan B&W negatives although the B&W are not as clear as they used to be (grey scale does not have as much contrast). Are there trouble shooting steps I can follow to determine the problem and if the scanner is repairable. I’m wondering if one or more of the LED’s are out.
    I have:
    1) pulled the cover and used canned air to blow out the interior
    2) removed the mirror and cleaned it
    3) tested the negatives by scanning them on my coolscan 8000 which produced a great image for which I use the same PC & software with a 1394 interface board for the 8000 and USB for the 4000.
    4) reinstalled the Nikon software on a PC running XP
    All of these were done since the slides started producing no image.

    Reply
  59. Ian

    Great website, dismantled and cleaned as per you guys’ instructions, and all seems to be OK now. Thanks — this discussion thread just gives and gives and keeps on giving!
    My mirror didn’t look too dirty but I guess it’s a fussy beast. I cleaned with vodka (Polish, must be very old!) and some cotton wool discs.

    Reply
  60. Dave Marlin

    I cleaned my ls-40 and wondered how it ever scanned as well as it did. I also cleaned (now that I know how) a used 4000 I just picked up and found that mirror completely covered. Maybe that’s why it was sold. It sure scans good now.
    Good information. Now I need to figure out what is the problem with my LS-40 as it will not scan slides. Just B&W negatives. Is that the sign of a burned out LED ?

    Reply
  61. Darrell

    Thanks so much for your instructions, very kind of you to post this. I bought a LS 4000 back in 2002 when I was in college and after using it for a few months I parked it in a corner because I got busy with Video Production. After all these years the mirror wasn’t dusty but it did have a lot of film on it, almost like smoke . There was no way I could have cleaned it without your help. It was quite straight forward and easy and only took about 20 minutes.

    Reply
  62. Ralph

    Hello from germany,
    my coolscan IV ED eventually showed up with “hardware error” when switched on and scanned with a colour cast in bright yellow :(.
    Even though I didn’t really trust in my bold fingers, I took the challenge to clean the mirror, and it was quite easy, following your instructions step by step. To remove the metal bracket, I used little tweezers. To clean the mirror, I used eclipse optical cleaning fluid in combination with pec-pad lint-free wiping cloth, which I also used for cleaning the sensor of my older DSLR. The hardware error is gone, and my scans are perfect now.
    So thank you very much for your detailled instructions, I still have to scan about 20.000 slides…

    Reply
  63. Peter

    Hello from Germany and thanks for the good tutorial. After a few months of scanning, I cleaned the mirror of my 4000 ED with micro fiber cloth. But now I have the issue, that the metal mirror holder wont stay again in position. With enough pressure it will snap in again but when the pressure is release, the two holding fingers snap off again. On close look you see that the “U” shape does not rest on the plastic but is now about 1mm above it. Any ideas to fix this?

    Thanks,
    Peter

    Reply

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