Coolscan 9000: Cleaning mirror and lens

Published on 20 February 2015

Call me brave or foolhardy, but today I followed these instrux to clean my Nikon Coolscan 9000. It’s fairly easy to do and the step-by-step info is quite comprehensive and easy to follow. Two points may assist others, though:

First, two cables are attached to the front cover – one leading to the green LED and one to the Eject button – and the instrux do not describe how to remove (or what to do with) them, and secondly, that the ribbon cable at the far back fairly easily gets unseated which causes an inoperable scanner.

The front cover cables

The best is to let the cover lie at the side of the scanner while removing the cables from where they are connected further back on the vertical circuit board. They’re long enough for the front cover to lie next to the scanner. The LED cable is easy enough to remove, but on my scanner the Eject cable’s connector was very tight so I didn’t want to force it.

The ribbon cable

The wide ribbon cable has to be removed from the connector on the vertical circuit board. However, because one has to lift the scanner’s whole interior a centimetre or so to place it at an angle (and thus at the slightly elevated edge of the bottom of the chassis), one of the ends of the ribbon cable can move in its fitting. When I connected the scanner afterwards the green LED blinked slowly a few times and then went on flashing 2-3 times per second which indicates that the scanner failed the self-test [edit: Nikon appears to have removed this page since I wrote this article]. When I opened the scanner for some nerve-wracking troubleshooting I saw that the ribbon cable was not entirely pushed in.

The results, then?

The mirror looked clean to me so I initially thought of aborting the operation. But when I took a microfibre cloth wrapped loosely around a Q-tip I discovered that the lens was covered by a very fine layer of dust. The space where the mirror is located is very tight:

A dirty mirror supposedly causes a ‘haze’, especially surrounding bright highlights or blacks, basically in areas of strong contrast. I hadn’t seen that on my scans and, to be honest, cleaning the scanner didn’t improve my scans in any discernible way. It seems that the mirror can be quite dusty without affecting scan quality.

The lens (which is off to the left outside the frame on the above photo) was spotless.