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kpmedia 03-15-2010 12:15 PM

Scanning with ICE vs no ICE [Sample Images]
8 Attachment(s)
Some members have recently asked what ICE was for scanners. Here's the answer. :)

Digital ICE (or ICE^3 a.k.a. "ICE cubed") is a hardware filter found in some higher-quality scanners that removes dust, scratches and lint from a color negative or slide. ICE works by adding an infrared light source to the scanning pass, which is used to determine the presence of foreign objects on the film or defects in the surface of the film. Below are several quick examples of a 35mm scan, both with and without ICE.

Note that it DOES NOT work on B&W film; color-process B&W film is excluded. Kodachrome scans at somewhat degraded quality.


The scanner used for these tests is a Nikon Coolscan V ED professional film scanner -- a very popular model among photojournalists, wedding photographers, and other various media agencies.

This is a preview of the original full image, with an inset outline of the first before/after samples:

Attachment 753

Inset crop (25% downsize from scan), with ICE:
Attachment 754

Inset crop (25% downsize from scan), with no ICE:
Attachment 755

Inset crop (25% downsize from scan), with no ICE and dust/etc highlighted:
Attachment 756

Further crop (100% to original scan), with ICE:
Attachment 757

Further crop (100% to original scan), with no ICE:
Attachment 758

So this is NOT a nitpick, the dust/scratches/lint/etc noise is still viewable even at smaller sizes. Unlike grain that disappears as the image is downsized, this noise does not disappear, even at 10-25% of original scan size.

More details (from various sources) about ICE tech:

Originally Posted by
Scanners use three different techniques for doing this:

1. Nikon film scanners use four colored light-emitting diodes which are pulsed on and off, one at a time. These LEDs are pulsed on and off at each scan position, the light is gathered by a linear array and then the CCD is moved to the next scan line.

2. Minolta film scanners use a constant visible light source with a pulsed infrared light source. At each scan position, the scanner uses an RGB linear array to scan the film in RGB and RGB+Infrared. This is as fast as the Nikon approach, since only one physical pass over the film needs to be done.

3. Flatbed scanners and some film scanners have two different light sources, an RGB light source and an infrared light source. These scanners make two passes over the film - once for RGB and once for infrared. This is slower than the Nikon or Minolta approach, since two passes need to be made over the film. It also produces lower quality since software methods need to be used to align the two passes. In addition, the two light sources usually have a different focus position and produce images that are stretched in the CCD direction, which results in another source of lower quality.

Again, these tests were done on the Nikon V ED scanner. The Nikon image tends to look a bit better than a Minolta scan -- the ICE just seems to work better, in my experience and opinion. Due to the popularity and ubiquity of digital photography, film scanners have slowly disappeared -- including these better high-end Nikon units. However, they are not completely unavailable just yet; check Amazon USA or Adorama for available Nikon scanners. Expect to pay $600 to $2,000+ for one.

Minolta scanners don't look quite as nice as the Nikon, for the ICE feature. Again, due to the popularity and ubiquity of digital photography, film scanners have slowly disappeared -- including these better high-end units. I can't find a Minolta scanner for sale at all, new or used. These were also in the $1,000 to 2,000+ range, back in the day.

The Epson V600 scanner would be an example of a flatbed with ICE. You can get the Epson V600 at several locations, currently:
Another detailed explanation of how ICE works:

Originally Posted by
Digital ICE works by building a record of defects in the image during scanning. Scanners normally work with three input channels - red, green, and blue. Scanners equipped with Digital ICE add a fourth channel called the D channel (defect channel). During scanning information on defects, surface dirt, and scratches is collected. Digital ICE then applies a series of algorithms (formulas) to rebuild the missing information. The result is scans that are scratch free and dust free even if the original film has serious defects.

In case you're wondering what this shot is...

It's a photograph I took the night of 9/11/2001, because there was a major panic (for obvious reasons), and rumors were spreading that there would be a gas shortage. There was a run on the pumps, with lines forming down streets, not seen since the 1970s. At the time, I was a freelancer. This was a random shot from that film roll, selected because it had a lot of black in it, making dust/scratches easier to see.

manthing 03-15-2010 01:23 PM

kpmedia thanks for that. does give me more info about ICE.

i have one final question (well, final for now!).

do i need to prepare the slide before doing the scanning?

any special cleaning process?
cleaning solutions to be applied?

admin 03-15-2010 04:54 PM

Clean slides by
  • Blowing them off with "canned air" (or "duster")
  • followed by a cleaning with PEC-12 solution and a PEC-PAD
  • followed by another shot of "canned air"
  • then put it directly into the scanner
With the air can, NEVER hold it sideways or upside down. Be sure to pre-spray away from the film, in case the initial blast is liquidy. You NEVER want the liquid propellant to touch the film.

In North America, you can get the PEC products at:
In the UK, you can find the PEC-12 solution and PEC-PADs at

There's really nothing else that you'd want to use on slides. This has been the product to use for about 30 years now -- it's more or less a monopoly on several kinds of cleaning supplies.

Be gentle, too -- you don't want to add scratches. Although the PEC-PADs are rather gentle and non-scratchy, so you'd have to be a brute to scratch up the film!

This works with negatives, too. :)

manthing 03-15-2010 04:59 PM

merci beaucoup.
i think that is my last question on this topic.
you believe me right?!

you both have been very helpful.
this site is great.
"real" pros who know what they're talking about and no BS.

again, my deepest heartfelt thanks.

manthing 03-16-2010 08:25 AM

2 Attachment(s)
you guys just knew i'd have at least one more question, right?
ok, this is the last one. i promise!

have attached 2 pics.

my slides are more like slide1, ie more square shaped, rather than like slide2.

so, will the epson v300 (and the v600) handle slide1 type slides?

i'm 99.99% sure it will.
but just need confirmation from the experts.

further, from naked eye scanning of the slides, there is very little dirt, scratches, grain etc on the majority of the slides.

this is by pure luck and chance than by planning.
basically they were put away in a container, in a cupboard and left alone, out of the sunlight, humidity, heat etc.

so, i'm leaning towards the v300 for my needs.

if all i need is a bit of tweaking for adding a bit of brightness, or changing the contrast and color a tad, then the v300 is good enough, right?

and if i have to, i can further manipulate the image in photoshop, right?


admin 03-16-2010 09:18 AM

Is the overall size of the slide the same? It's just the image inside that is a different size/shape?

If so, then yes. The scanner holder for the V300 is square, you can actually scan slides vertical or horizontal.

The Epson software has some really good filters in it, and you can further tweak in Photoshop as needed.

I use TWAIN acquire from Photoshop, which calls up the Epson scanner, and then drops the image directly into Photoshop to be edited/saved.

My slides/negatives as super-duper anal-retentive clean, too. But when you're scanning something that small, you're going to pick up dust/debris, even from the cleanest of film. You can't see most of it. So don't think you can get a V300, some PEC cleaning gear, and then have a clean scan -- you'll be killing yourself with cloning/healing in Photoshop, or by using the Polaroid filter software -- both of which are wholly inferior to just using ICE.

But again, budget and need will obviously play a part in these decisions.

manthing 03-17-2010 03:27 AM

i lied. i have broken my promise.
i have 2 more questions.

1) software
2) calibration

if i do get the v300, i'll get some bundled software with it right?

but i have read that there may be better software to use with any scanner. example, SilverFast Ai.

so is SilverFast Ai a better option than the bundled software?
or can any software be used?
what is the "best" software to use with any scanner?

next, calibrating the scanner.
is this a simple procedure?

is this done using my eyesight to judge things?
like when you calibrate a monitor with those color bands etc?

i may have a slight problem if this is the case as my eyesight is good, but not great.

please get back to me with your knowledge on the above.


manthing 03-17-2010 03:32 AM

sorry, there was one other thing.

i did google around to try and find the dimensions of the slide holder. to see what the max size slide i could fit into it.

alas, i could not find that info.

my slides are 50x50 mm.
that is the size of the entire slide, ie the cardboard outer holder.

the inner image varies between a rectangular shape and a sqaure shape inside the cardboard holder.

also, some of the images are held in plastic holders.
which are fatter than the cardboard holders, but same dimensions.

so, with the plastic holder, will the fact that the image is higher up in the slide holder impact the scan? ie not as near to the surface of the scanner as compared to the cardboard holder?

worse comes to worse, i'll simply remove the image from the plastic holder and put it into a cardboard holder.

again, thanks for your help.

kpmedia 03-18-2010 07:22 AM

4 Attachment(s)
All scanners come with scanning software -- they pretty much have to. There are several "layers" to software, when it comes to scanning.
  1. Drivers
  2. TWAIN scanning interface
  3. Post-scan editing software

Drivers tell the computer operating system (Windows, Max OS X, etc) how to interact with the device. The helps the hardware communicate. Technically, this is software.

The TWAIN scanning interface is the piece of software that does the actual scanning. This is where you select the various scanning options (300dpi, ICE, de-dot filters, color/contrast filters, etc), as well as do your previewing of what's in the scanner. This is also where you'll click a big "scan" button of some kind. This software can exist as standalone (such as Nikon Scan 4 with my professional Nikon 35mm scanner), or as a TWAIN plugin for other software (Photoshop, for example). The Epson flatbed scanners come with a pretty nice interface, launched from another image editing program -- it is not a standalone app.


Originally Posted by wikipedia
TWAIN is a standard software protocol and applications programming interface (API) that regulates communication between software applications and imaging devices such as scanners and digital cameras. .... The word TWAIN is not an official acronym; however, it is widely known as "Technology Without An Interesting Name."

The post-scan software is where you work with an image. While the full professional version of Photoshop is not free, the lighter Photoshop Elements version is very affordable for consumers ($75-100) Some scanners are bundled with free -- and often supremely crappy! -- software, but I'd suggest dumping the free-on-disc junk for a Photoshop version. Paintshop and Photo Impact are okay, too. If you need freeware, then look at Gimp or Gimpshop. Photoshop still best!

Buy Photoshop Elements (best prices from Amazon):
Or download from Adobe for slightly more, no discs. Links at

SilverFast is great software, but it only works for scanners where it has a profile built. Not all scanners have profiles available, and therefore this software will not work on those machines. I use Silverfast on my Nikon -- sometimes -- but it is completely unavailable for my Minolta. Contrary to fans of the program, it's not always perfect -- I still bounce between it and NikonScan, depending on the film type and image issues.

There's really nothing for an end-user to calibrate, for the scanner. Your only job is to keep it clean, never scratch it, and use it. Remember that some types of cloth will scratch glass -- use a PEC PAD for a flatbed scanner, too. Use "canned air" -- but again, don't spurt liquid.

Use a Spyder to calibrate your monitor:
There are several to choose from, depending on budget. The more you spend, the better features/options you get.

Sometimes photos/pictures are easier than words, to explain something. With that thought...

Flatbed with white background installed (slides in/out of groove)
Attachment 796

Flatbed with slide/negative mount installed (slides in/out of same groove)
Attachment 797

I suggest using a piece of temporary Scotch tape to firmly press the slide/negative holder in place. You'll notice there are only slotted grooves on bottom, not on top. The flatbed white background doesn't move, but the slide/neg tray can sometimes flop down (and slides can fall out).

Close-up of the tray
Attachment 799

Tray measured:
Attachment 798

You had read some reviews about this or that being "flimsy" -- which I consider to be pure rubbish. Optical imaging equipment is all sensitive and delicate. Treat it like a petals of a flower, not a toss it around like a wooden log. Poor handling by brutes and morons is what leads to most negative feedback, when it concerns build quality and optical/imaging gear.

Done yet? :D

kpmedia 03-18-2010 07:26 AM

Looking back, it may only scan slides horizontally, not vertically. On larger slides, you may have to scan in two pieces, and re-merge in Photoshop. Basic task, if you're any good with the Free Transform tool and layers.

I did these shots really quick, so the slide tray might be in backwards. Didn't really do this for practical use, just examples of what everything looks like.

manthing 03-18-2010 09:01 AM

kpmedia - thanks for all the info.
very helpful.

i have ordered the pec pad, as instructed by mr. admin, for the slides. so i'll use the same ones on the scanner when needed.

i have full blown photoshop.
and am more than able to handle tansform tool & layers.

just have to get the TWAIN plugin for photoshop.

i am done asking questions!
(yeah, right!)

have placed an order with for the v300 + pec pads.
did it with affiliation links, so hopefully a few pennies will come dFAQ's way.

it is time for me to get my hands dirty with the slides & scanner.

i'll report back when i do my first trial runs.

again, thanks for all your help.
much appreciated.

-- updated, merged --

got the v300.
am playing around with it.

so far, so good.

i can see the difference pec pads make.
and the difference the software dust removal makes.

so can imagine how much better the image would be with a ICE built scanner.

but for my needs, the v300 will suffice.

one question... which way do i insert the slides into the holder?

meaning, which side of the "film" is meant to be face down?

i have been placing them one way down, so am consistent.
could be consistently correct. or consistently wrong!

altogether, your advice has been wonderfully helpful.

admin 03-25-2010 07:33 PM

Look at the images in this post: --- You'll notice there are little pictures on the slide tray, telling you which way is correct (and which was is wrong).

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