I have started to scan my slide collection (made between 1980 and 2000), using a Nikon CoolScan V-ED, and found that nearly all scans look flat and boring, and many have a magenta cast, some badly. They often also feel like they are missing a lot of red/orange.
Here some examples:

somewhere in Italysomewhere in Italysomewhere in Italy

I don't want to use the more elaborate options in the scan software (Nikon Scan 4.03: ICE, ROK, DDE, GEM, etc.), as they slow down the scanning a lot, and bring only limited improvements.

I have Adobe LightRoom, and can normally adjust pictures easily; I consider myself familiar with all the sliders and options. However, I struggle to find the right adjustments that make those scans look good.
I tried of course Temp, Tint, Contrast, Clarity, Vibrancy, Saturation, and many variations of adding / removing selective Saturation (for example, adding red and orange, and removing magenta); the results are better but still unconvincing. I know that it is often not easy to see what a photo is 'missing', so:

My Question is: are there typical adjustments that are proven / recommended for older slides?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Try the calibration section in the develop tab. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 5:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does the scanner backlight the slides? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 7:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BobMacaroniMcStevens The Nikon CoolScan V-ED is a 35mm film scanner. I haven't encountered any working film scanners that don't use some sort of backlighting. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 3:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do the same pictures look when scanned using Nikon’s software? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 3:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ You mean ICE, DDE, ROK, etc? Mostly fresher but many have still color casts, and they take 3+ minutes per picture. Unfortunately, I didn't buy the version that can do batch processing, so it would mean to spend 1000+ hours scanning, not an option. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aganju
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 14:09

1 Answer 1


are there typical adjustments that are proven / recommended for older slides?

Not really. Images can vary a lot.

I would work on global issues, like tint, before local issues, like contrast. Attempting to correct local issues first can cause global issues to vary at the local level. For example, increasing contrast can affect color so that a constant tint is made to vary across the image.

Aside from what you've already mentioned, you could try levels and curves. Some scanner drivers and software have curve adjustments built in.

To remove the magenta cast, you can adjust the green channel. If the color cast is not pure magenta, you may need to adjust the Red and Blue channels.

I applied the same set of curves to all three of the images you provided to remove the tint. It's not perfect because the color cast is not the same in all images, but it's a reasonable starting point for further adjustments.

image 1 image 2 image 3

The first two images might also benefit from increasing gamma or exposure.

To increase contrast, you can try an S-curve.

Many other adjustments are possible with curves.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. Going through eight more rolls, I see that each roll has very different issues (some are near perfect, others are all kind of color cast). After trying some more days, I have come to accept that I need to work every (worthy) picture one-be-one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aganju
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 3:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's lots of variation with film, from exposure to development to aging. Some people even enjoy the unpredictability (lomography). \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 3:54

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