It’s time to simplify and demystify the dark art of connecting legacy film scanners and other hardware to modern computers. If you don’t know your USB-C from your Thunderbolt 3, this guide is guaranteed here to help.

If you, like me, have a film/photo scanner made at any time during the late 20th to the early 21st century and are struggling to get it to work with modern computer hardware, I’ve done my very best to give you a definitive solution. This includes but isn’t limited to devices from the following manufacturers/families:

  • Canon Canoscan
  • Kodak i250/i260/i280
  • Microtek ArtixScan
  • Nikon Coolscan
  • Minolta Dimage
  • Pacific Image PrimeFilm
  • SmartDisk SmartScan
  • Sony
  • …and more

I’ll first be covering background information on legacy and current connectors/standards and how to identify them. Next, I’ll be describing the combinations you’ll need to get your device plugged in and (hopefully) working.

As with all legacy hardware, the physical connection with your computer is only a third of the battle. You’ll still potentially have driver support and software support issues to deal with. For scanners specifically, this can largely be handled by third-party software such as Vuescan or Silverfast. Your mileage may vary.

This is not a short guide. Here’s how it breaks down:

Why am I doing this?

Still and motion picture film formats are positively glacial in their rate of change when compared to the innumerable options that have come and gone for connecting scanners, printers and other devices to computers over the past four decades.

There’s a new “gold standard” connector to contend with every few years or so, from SCSI to FireWire to USB, DisplayPort and Thunderbolt…and there are no signs of it stopping. All this adds up to headaches for users who are not locked into yearly/bi-yearly upgrade cycles; and when connectors go from simply being superseded to eventually being labelled “legacy”, well…God help you.

For some context, I recently decided to take the leap and get a dedicated scanner for 35mm film: a Nikon SUPER COOLSCAN 4000 ED to be exact. Like any reasonably sane person, I had done my research, however, the question if the daisy chain of up to four cables and adapters would actually work remained.

New laptop on the left with Thunderbolt 3 and 18 year old Nikon 4000 ED scanner on the right with FireWire 400...
New laptop on the left with Thunderbolt 3 and 18 year old Nikon 4000 ED scanner on the right with FireWire 400…

To further complicate issues, I wanted the flexibility of being able to use the scanner with anywhere up to five computers with connectors introduced some 20 years apart (ranging from 1996’s USB A to 2015’s Thunderbolt 3).

I should say that none of these natively provide the FireWire 400 connection I need:

  • 2012 13″ MacBook Air (USB-A and Thunderbolt 2 ports)
  • 2016 Dell Optiplex 3000 series desktop (USB-A, Mini DisplayPort ports)
  • 2016 27″ iMac (USB-A and Thunderbolt 2 ports)
  • 2017 Asus ROC laptop (USB-A, USB-C and Mini DisplayPort ports)
  • 2018 15″ MacBook Pro (Thunderbolt 3 ports)

In a haze of half-baked-knowledge with the prize of successful multi-device connectivity ahead of me, I reached out to a friend in the know for final-final-final clarification.

Everything you see here is a direct result of this my question and Mike’s simple answer. If you want to blame anyone, blame Mike. I do.

I’ll admit to some frustration once I jumped down the rabbit hole of standards, terminology and connector brand names. When I posted the photo above on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, many of the questions I received were from people asking exactly how I was going to connect it up – more than one person mentioned via DM that they worked for a lab which had the exact model just sitting around because they couldn’t figure out how to get it connected.

It struck me then that as a single collection of every rational connection option for legacy scanners and other devices was missing, I might as well write it out of sheer frustration.

Here we are.

Connector types

Naming conventions, cross-platform connectivity, needing to ensure adapters and cables support appropriate data transmission and power…what a mess. But it is totally doable and with less pain than one might think.

I’m going to quickly dive into the different connector types your scanner/peripheral might use. Use the photos here to identify the connector your device has and what you’re connecting to, then jump down to the combinations in the next section.

I have linked to a couple of Google searches and product pages for some of the cables/adapters below but you have my assurances that they are not affiliate links and do not earn me money. I’ve provided credit for appropriate images but if something’s out of whack, please let me know.

FireWire 400 (6-pin)

FireWire 400 to FireWire 400 cable (Credit: Ali Express)
FireWire 400 to FireWire 400 cable (Credit: Ali Express)

Created by Apple and also known by the designations IEEE 1394 / IEEE 1394-1995 / IEEE 1394a-2002 and i.LINK, FireWire 400 was released by Apple as a built-to-order option in 1997. It was a HUGE deal and many scanners, as well as other audio/video gear, used this connection type. There is a smaller 4-pin version but I’m not aware of any scanners using it. Shout if I’m wrong.

FireWire 400 provides a maximum of 400 Mbps of throughput (speed) and if you have an expandable PC on hand, you can pretty much skip this entire article and just go out and buy a FireWire PCI card and hook up your device.

If you’re daisy-chaining connections to something newer, it makes sense to either get a FireWire 400 to 800 adapter or a FireWire 400 to 800 cable to act as an intermediary.

Further reading about FireWire 400 on Wikipedia.

FireWire 800

FireWire 800 to FireWire 800 cable (Credit: Ali Express)
FireWire 800 to FireWire 800 cable (Credit: Ali Express)

Released as an update to FireWire 400 in around 2003, FireWire 800 bumped the theoretical maximum data transmission speed to 800 Mbps and changed the connector type.

Further reading about FireWire 800 on Wikipedia.

Parallel port

Parallel port cable (Credit: Ali Express)
Parallel port cable (Credit: Ali Express)

This is generic 25-pin (DB-25) connector used primarily to connect printers, old video capture devices, ZIP drives (remember those?) and other weird and wonderful archaic devices to pre-USB computers. The connector is was pretty much killed by USB upon its arrival although some devices are still made for legacy devices if you REALLY need them.

Further reading about Parallel ports on Wikipedia.

Thunderbolt 1 and 2, Mini DisplayPort

Thunderbolt 2 cable (Credit: Apple)
Thunderbolt 2 cable (Credit: Apple)

Developed by Intel in collaboration with Apple, Thunderbolt 1 and 2 share an identical physical connector with Mini DisplayPort.

Do not be fooled into thinking that you can connect a Thunderbolt device into a Mini DisplayPort port and have your scanner work, it probably won’t. If you happen to have a PC with Thunderbolt 2 support (not just a Mini DisplayPort), the odds begin to stack in your favor but it’s still a crap shoot.

I won’t be covering the full-size DisplayPort here unless a suitably large portion of commenters make me.

Further reading about Thunderbolt / Mini DisplayPort on Wikipedia.

Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 cable (Credit: Apple)
Thunderbolt 3 cable (Credit: Apple)

It looks like USB-C, it smells like USB-C but it is anything but USB-C.

As with Thunderbolt 2, unless your computer has a dedicated Thunderbolt 3 port – that is, a port that looks like USB-C and explicitly supports Thunderbolt 3 – the device you’re trying to daisy chain to your computer will likely not work.

At the time of writing, Apple produce the least expensive Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. At $50, it’s not cheap but is cheaper than other options right now.

Further reading about Thunderbolt 3 on Wikipedia.

SCSI (aka “scuzzy” not “sexy”)

SCSI cable (Credit: Ali Express)
SCSI cable (Credit: Ali Express)

So, so old…but a few very high-quality scanners used this interface, abbreviated from “Small Computer System Interface”.

Generically called “scuzzy” by those who have to know what it is, Larry Boucher, the inventor of the interface really wanted people to pronounce it “sexy”. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t stick and computer engineers were saved a life of awkwardly telling customers they had “a problem with a defective sexy port…”

This interface was around from around the 1990s to the turn of the 21st century and supported both internal and externally connected devices – mostly data storage and high-throughput (for the time).

Further reading about SCSI on Wikipedia.

USB Type A

USB A to USB B cable (Credit: Belkin)
USB A to USB B cable (Credit: Belkin)

Ah, ubiquitous “try three times and it’s in” connector. Love it or hate it, this wonderful little cable is probably the most easily recognisable of all those listed here. While it doesn’t offer the high-speed connectivity of some of today’s newer options, things would be much more confusing right now without it.

“Type-A” refers to the physical connector shown above and for the purposes of this article, I’ll be ignoring Mini, Micro and all the other versions out there. Cables to convert those to Type-A exist.

Your device might have a squarish USB connection on it. This is called USB B and is normally found on printers, scanners, etc. Pictures of that follow in the next section.

Further reading About USB Type A on Wikipedia and a little more about the history of USB.


USB-C cable (Credit: Ali Express)
USB-C cable (Credit: Ali Express)

Looks like Thunderbolt 3 but isn’t. Think of it as a slightly less capable identical twin. A super-fast update to USB with a brand new universal connector. Not to be confused with USB 3, USB-C (also known as USB 3.1) is hopefully going to become the new defacto connector standard…until it’s updated again.

If you have a computer made from around late 2016 onwards, odds are you have one or more of these on it. The good news is that if you have a USB scanner, you’ll either be able to use a single cable, or cable-plus-simple-adapter to get it to work.

Further reading about USB-C on Wikipedia.

How to connect your gear

This section is going to be as device-agnostic as possible. I’ll be focusing only on the physical connections between the devices you want to use, any intermediate connectors and the computer you want to use it with. Specific examples with the Nikon 4000 ED scanner and computers noted above to follow in the next section.

There’s a lot of information below, so please make sure you have identified the type of connection on your scanner or other device and on the computer you want to connect it to before you dive in.

You can use the links below to jump to the section most appropriate to you. When you see an image, click/tap to expand to full screen. For the sake of continuity, I’ve used smaller versions of the connectors you’ve already seen above.

FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 devices

SCSI / Parallel devices

Thunderbolt devices

USB Type-A devices

FireWire 400 devices

FireWire is/was brilliant and ample support is still out there for converting it to work with other connectors. If you have a device with a FireWire connection you’ll need as many as four cables and connectors before you can plug it into your computer if you take the long way round.

FireWire 400 device to FireWire 800 port

Very simple: either use a FireWire 400 to FireWire 800 cable (top image) or attach a FireWire 400 to FireWire 800 adapter to an existing FireWire 400 cable (bottom image).

FireWire 400 device to Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 port

Either use a cable (top image below) or adapter (bottom image) to give yourself a FireWire 800 connection. Next, connect your new FireWire 800 connector to an Apple Thunderbolt 2 to FireWire adapter.

I am using the FireWire 400 to 800 cable (two-step) method below to connect my Nikon SUPER COOLSCAN 4000 ED to both a Thunderbolt 2-equipped 13″ MacBook Air and 21″ iMac.

FireWire 400 device to Thunderbolt 3 port

As with the FireWire 800 to Thunderbolt 1 or 2 example, either use a cable or adapter to give you a FireWire 800 connection and connect your new FireWire 800 connector to a Thunderbolt 2 to FireWire adapter.

You now really only have one option: use Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. It’s currently ~$50 but it substantially cheaper than others out there, which I’ve seen going for as much as ~$70.

I am using this method to connect my Nikon SUPER COOLSCAN 4000 ED to my 2018 15″ MacBook Pro.

FireWire 400 device to USB Type-A port

FireWire and USB are technically incompatible technologies and as such, there is no guarantee that a simple FireWire to USB adapter will work for every device you wish to connect. Still, they’re cheap, so you could try.

Interestingly, FireWire 400, although technically slower than USB 2 provides better performance when writing larger files to disc.

FireWire 400 device to USB-C port

Remember, FireWire and USB are not technically compatible but if you managed to convert yours to read off a USB port, you can probably have a crack at USB-C. I wasn’t particularly successful with the Nikon (see below).

My convoluted story: having converted my Firewire 400 cable to 800, then to Thunderbolt 2, I tried a “Mini DisplayPort to USB-C adapter” to connect it two of my computers. The dongle technically uses the same physical connectors as Thunderbolt 2 and 3.

I can confirm that I am unable to get the scanner recognised on Windows 10, although macOS 10.14 (Mojave) did pick up the scanner as a wireless mouse…useful.

Bottom line, if you want to go from FireWire 400 to USB-C, try converting to USB Type-A first and then to C (as above). You could, like me, try the FireWire 400 device to Thunderbolt 3 solutions above, although there’s still no guarantee there.

FireWire 800 device to Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 port

Simplicity itself: plug your FireWire 800 cable to an Apple Thunderbolt 2 to FireWire adapter.

FireWire 800 device to Thunderbolt 3 port

Connect your FireWire 800 cable to an Apple Thunderbolt 2 to FireWire adapter, then use Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.

SCSI / Parallel devices

Converting these connectors to straightforward USB Type-A is relatively simple but ensuring driver support is going to be tough. If you absolutely must connect these devices to a new computer, the simplest method is a USB adapter, as described below.

Parallel device to USB Type-A port

Use a specialist dongle to convert your parallel port connection to USB Type-A.

Parallel device to USB-C port

First use a specialist dongle to convert your parallel connection to USB Type-A and then use a USB A to USB-C connector.

SCSI device to USB Type-A port

Use a specialist dongle to convert your SCSI connection to USB Type-A.

SCSI device to USB-C port

First use a specialist dongle to convert from SCSI to USB Type-A and then use a USB A to USB-C connector.

Thunderbolt devices

Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 device to Thunderbolt 3 port

Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter is currently the most cost-effective way to do this and ensures 100% compatibility.

USB devices

USB Type-A device to USB-C port

Very simple: all you need is a USB Type-A to USB-C adapter or cable (adapter shown below).

Real world examples

The Nikon SUPER COOLSCAN 4000 ED (LS-4000) that started all this has a 6-pin FireWire 400 port. As previously mentioned, I have five possible devices I need to connect the scanner to, none of which natively have FireWire ports. They are:

  • 2012 13″ MacBook Air (USB-A and Thunderbolt 2 ports)
  • 2016 Dell Optiplex 3000 series desktop (USB-A, Mini DisplayPort ports
  • 2017 27″ iMac (USB-A and Thunderbolt 2 ports)
  • 2017 Asus ROC laptop (USB-A, USB-C and Mini DisplayPort ports)
  • 2018 15″ MacBook Pro (Thunderbolt 3 ports)

The adapters/cables I’m using to connect the scanner to the above are as follows:

  • FireWire 400 to 800 cable – ~$10
  • FireWire 800 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter – ~$30
  • FireWire PCI card – ~$20
  • Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter ~$50

A total investment of $110. That said, if you only need to connect to one computer, you might only need to spend $10 …or $80 for the newest devices (hello Apple). The examples below should give you a better idea for your set up.

With the Nikon connected to the devices above, I’m using VueScan to drive it. Although I have the ability to run the scanner using NikonScan software and some OS tweaks, it’s unnecessary for me. VueScan gives me the results I want.

Nikon LS-4000 (FireWire 400 to FireWire 800)

The simplest solution for the Dell desktop PC: a FireWire PCI card. $20, two ports, clean and simple. Add a new ~$10 FireWire 400 to 800 cable and it’s a solid $30 solution.

Nikon LS-4000 (FireWire 400 to Mini DisplayPort)

To connect with the two Windows PCs, I also tried the solution described below for Thunderbolt 2. both machines have Mini DisplayPort connectors, so I figured I’d give it a try. It didn’t work (for me). The scanner was not even being picked up when turned on. Total fail.

Nikon LS-4000 (FireWire 400 to Thunderbolt 2)

My optimal $40 solution to connect to all computers with dedicated Thunderbolt 2 ports: a FireWire 400 to 800 cable connected to an Apple Thunderbolt 2 to FireWire 800 adapter.

The solution originally involved using an existing FireWire 400 cable and an adapter to convert it to FireWire 800 (bottom image below). This just added another link in the chain and was excess to requirements and I now use a FireWire 400 to 800 cable instead.

The solutions described work on both my 2012 MacBook Air and 2017 iMac.

Nikon LS-4000 (FireWire 400 to Thunderbolt 3)

This is the same solution as the Thunderbolt 2 chain above with the addition of an Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 to the mix. I’m using the chain shown in the top image below for my 2018 15″ MacBook Pro. It works perfectly.

Nikon LS-4000 (FireWire 400 to USB-C)

At the time of writing, I have not yet completed this test. To date, I have used the FireWire 400 to Thunderbolt 2 solution described above, to which I added a Mini DisplayPort to USB-C adapter. When plugged into the Asus laptop, the scanner would only be recognised as an “unknown device” and no amount of loading and reloading stock or custom drivers worked.

If it was a desktop PC, I would have used the expansion card solution (per the Dell) and damned the rest. As is, I cannot and thus cannot yet use the Nikon 4000ED with this laptop.

Furthermore, using the same daisy chain to connect the scanner to my 2018 MacBook Pro using USB-C caused the Mac to display its “mouse connected” icon on the screen. The device was not visible in System Report.

Shout if you need help

That’s it for now. I know this is a lot to take in, it was a lot to get down onto paper! Even with double and triple checking, there are bound to be a few slip-ups here and there and of course, your devices and results my vary. Please share your experiences in the comments below so I can update this article accordingly.

Thanks for reading.

~ EM

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  1. Apple didn’t invent Firewire. Phillips, Sony, and Matsushita (Panasonic) all have as many or more patents each on the technology as does Apple. Apple got in on it, throwing in money with the proviso that every device using the interface they “invented,” had to pay Apple a royalty of a dollar per port on every PC motherboard or adapter which featured the connector.

    You can imagine how well that went over in the PC world. Sony had enough of the patents (actually more than Apple) to get around it by calling it iLink and using the smaller 4 pin (unpowered) connector. Plus they were too big for Apple to sue. But by the time Jobs had gotten a grip and reduced it to 25 cents per port, the CEO of Hewlett Packard-absolutely livid at the thought of having to give Steve Jobs money for every FW port on their computers-got on the phone with Intel and said hey, we need something faster than FireWire and for which we don’t have to pay Apple. Intel agreed, and USB 2.0 was the result. It’s not technologically as good or robust of an interface, but it’s nominally a little faster. And Intel let everyone make it without a royalty. Intel had even let Apple put it in their iMacs.

    Microsoft didn’t want to give Apple any more money either, so they kinda slow rolled/broke the Windows drivers for Firewire and by the time they got ’em working, well, USB2 was a thing.

    That’s much of why Firewire didn’t take off bigger. It could put 28 watts of power on its bus, could daisy chain up to 63 devices, had isochronous file transfer guarantees, a better connector.. it really was the better standard. But then Steve Jobs.

  2. Just wanted to add something that I haven’t been covered by anyone just for the sake of completion.

    I piled up two apple adapters (Thunderbolt to firewire and Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3) and connected them to my Dell XPS laptop. Its USB-C connectors were branded as thunderbolt compatible so I told myself I should give it a shot.

    I then plugged my recetly acquired firewire Coolscan 8000 to it. Long story short : the scanner is recognized and it works perfectly with Vuescan in Windows 11 !

    So : For PC users, as long as your USB-C connectors are thunderbolt compatible. You can get a firewire scanner with confidence as long as you pair it with the apple adapters.

  3. the problem with scsi scanners is that they won’t work with 64 bit operating sytems even with adaptors as you need aspi drivers for the scanners to work. The only way I have got round the problem is to use an old pc with pci slots and install windows xp

  4. I’m trying to connect a HP flatbed scanner to windows. It is HP ScanJet IIc. It is Scsi. I was using Microtech Xpress scsi. which is a DB25 to USB. their driver only runs on WinXP.
    Prior to this, I was running a virtual machine with XP on it. I would like to at least get it to run with Win7 +.

    I cannot find any updated drivers. I will buy a new interface adapter, but cannot find anything.

    Any suggestions?

  5. A long time ago I used a Nikon LS 2000 via PCMCIA adapter on a Windows XP laptop (Dell Latitude 620).

    I use VueScan as the software to scan all kind of pictures an I know that Linux Mint supports VueScan flawessly with my USB scanners.

    I assume that Linux Mint can also support the PCMCIA card I mentioned above but I am not sure (chances are very good!!!). I will check it with my firewire Ninkon LS 4000 soon.

    Maybe this is a solution even with older devices

    1. If you can’t find a USB adapter, the only reliable method I am aware of is dropping a SCSI adapter card into a PCI slot on a desktop.

      1. I used a pcmcia adapter to connect a nikon slide scanner (ls 2000) with a windows XP Dell laptop. I use VueScan to scan.

        I haven’t used this computer for quite a while.
        I know that VueScan works flawlessly under Linux mint together with a USB scanner.

        What I haven’t checked yet is whether Linux mint accepts the SCSI adapter… but chances are really good.
        If you have an even older laptop with pcmcia slot, that’s the procedure I would try.

  6. The use of cheap passive chinese FireWire 400 to USB crap is a very bad idea – you may fry your equipment.
    FireWire to USB converter is a very complex device, as these two standards are totally incompartible.
    The only working solutions to convert FireWire to USB that you can obtain are Pinnacle 700-USB and Pinnacle 500-USB.
    These are analog to digital video converters that have built-in FireWire to USB adapter inside, which can be used to connect any FireWire device to USB port, not only digital cameras. Operating system sees this adapter as a FireWire controller.
    Drivers are available for both x86 and x64 Windows systems (don’t know about Macs).
    Search for these devices on ebay or other places.

    1. I’ve settled on daisy chaining Apple’s FireWire to Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapters for my Nikon 4000.

      Thanks for your notes 🙏

  7. Thank you for your thoughtful approach. You’ve helped me keep my love of film alive by showing me how to connect my nikon 4000 ED Scanner connected to a succession of Apple computers. i’ve just ground to a halt though with my new Mac mini. I’ve tried your 3 cable solution (FW400 to FW800; FW800 to Thunderbolt 2; Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3), but no joy yet. Any thoughts on what I might try next?

    1. I’m using this very scanner/cable combination on my late model non-M1 Mac running macOS 11.3 with no issues whatsoever.

      Are you seeing the scanner appear in your device list when you plug it in and turn it on? Out of interest, are the Thunderbolt cables all first party Apple, or third party?

  8. Brilliant. Thanks very much. I just needed a lead (sorry) for Nikon 4000 to iMac 2020. Great info. Had fw400 to tb2. Just needed to know how to go…

    1. Apple TB2 -> TB3 adapter for around $50. It’s daylight robbery but does the job. I just started using that daisy chain for my own scanners after my old Macbook Air finally gave up the ghost!

  9. I’m running a Coolscan 4000 hooked up to a Dell Optiplex 7020, i5-4590, 16GB Ram, 8TB HDD, Windows 10 Pro. Required a PCI Firewire card I had lying around (Win10 found drivers.). Had to fudge things a little. The scanner driver is unsigned, so you need to grab the Vista version of the Nikon scanner software (4.0.3), install that, grab the .dll file, find a modified “scanners.inf” file (theres instructions on another site how to do that), then reboot with “unsigned driver install” option, install the driver, and reboot.

    Scanner just works under Nikon Scan, but still trying to figure out Twain through GIMP.

  10. My issue is simpler, but I’m probably more ignorant.
    I have a precious Nikon CoolScan V ED. The USB Cable UC-LS2 that came with it needs replacement. I have the requisite USB port on my MacBook Pro (early 2013) but don’t know if I need that exact cable – or if there is a reliable substitute for it.

  11. I am using a 2020 MacPro, Vuescan and Coolscan 4000, connections are Firewire 400 to 800,F/W 800 to T/B 2, T/B 2 to T/B 3 .
    VueScan does not recognise the Coolscan and gives my Brother printer DCP-1610W as the source, I have changed ports and restarted everything to no avail.

    As a complete scanning novice any suggestions would be appreciated.


      1. As mentioned below, my Coolscan 4000 is only recognized in the moment I actually insert film or slide or tray. Could that be the case with your problem?

  12. DON’T use those cheap ‘FireWire 400 device to USB Type-A port’ connectors. If you’re trying to run a Nikon LS-4000 (which is Firewire) off a USB port, you’ll probably fry the Firewire chips on the scanner’s motherboard.

  13. I was really happy to find this article. I have a Polaroid Sprint Scan 120 that I’ve kept going using a 2009 vintage Mac Pro via FireWire 400 and Vuescan. I also have a MacBook Air and had wondered if all those adapters strung together would work. TB3 to TB2/TB2 to FW800 and a 800 to 400 cable does work on Mojave with the latest version of Vuescan. I did have to restart after everything was plugged together and the scanner was turned on for it to be detected…smooth sailing after that!

  14. Great article. Very comprehensive. thanks.

    But what happens if the LS4000 scanner suddenly doesn’t show up in the imac Vuescan source box (been using it for years)?

    I have checked all the possibilities I know of — replaced the Firewire 400 cable (w/800 adapter), tried on another MB computer, made sure green light stopped blinking on the scanner, checked that the Firewire bus is listed on About this Mac –> Hardware –> firewire (though no mention of the scanner connected), re-plugged in everything after restarting imac, etc. etc. Tried same procedures on an older white MB, plus newer silver MB Pro, etc. Always the same error message: No scanner detected/connected. The source box doesn’t even appear (i guess it only appears when a scanner is detected?).

    I’m at a loss, only to consider that maybe the fireport port on the scanner or imac went bad?
    Very strange, as I was scanning slides yesterday, and no indication of malfunction, noise, or anything.

    1. Ron, I want to join in your discussion because (if you see 10 May question I posted) I too am trying to get my old (90s?) Nikon LS 4000 ED to connect to my new ((2018?) MacBook Air. However I am out of the state, away from both the scanner and MB and want to be correct about my cables from the 4000 to the MB. So, I’ll just say I’ll try to connect back to this discussion in August (2020).
      I can say I ordered the configuration above in the article: NIKON LS-4000 (FIREWIRE 400 TO USB-C). I got an error message from MB about (don’t remember the exact wording), something about “too much power.” At least there was a message. My son, who works with cables, wasn’t sure what the message meant. I also tried another cable configuration that was not even recognized.
      So, thus far, I have not even been able to apply VUESCAN to be able to see if it finds a driver. Anyway, just wanted to let you know your problem, though not the same, seems to be applicable to my problem and I want to get back to this when I return back to my home office.

    2. Hi Ron, I don’t mean to sound stupid after you really checked about everything, but did you make sure “something” is inserted into the Coolscan? In my setup, VueScan only recognized the scanner once I had inserted the slide holder and an actual slide.

  15. This article was helpful, if only because it addresses my problem, which I assumed was unique (because it seems so old). I have a Nikon LS 4000 ED film scanner (purchased in the 90s? (we ran a publishing company back then) and want to connect to my MacBook Air (purchased about 2018 or 19? and kept up-to-date software wise). That’s the background. From what I read, above, it looks like the “NIKON LS-4000 (FIREWIRE 400 TO USB-C)” solution is NOT workable… Is that right (sorry, I am Not a tech specialist, just general user). If a solution for this (I do have the FIREWIRE 400 cable) is Not workable, would you confirm, please? If it has been found to be workable, doable, then do I need to download some software into my MacBook Air to make it operate (scan and receive)? I sound like a novice, … but I am. (I don’t know if this discussion even still exists and If there’ll be any response). Thanks and thanks if you can help.

    1. Hi Todd. you are correct, the NIKON LS-4000 (FIREWIRE 400 TO USB-C). If your MacBook Air has a Thunderbolt 2 port, you can use Apple’s FireWire to TB2 adapter to connect it. After that, I’d suggest using VueScan to run the scanner. Hope that helps!

      1. I sincerely appreciate the quick reply (one never knows). And, yes, from my (amaturish research), I was pointed to VueScan. I, too, hope it works. That’d be cool. Thanks again.

        1. I use Vuescan with both my Nikon 4000 and newer Epson flatbed with absolutely no issue at all. I think you’ll be fine, Todd!

  16. From what I can gather here, there is still no way to connect my Dell XPS-15 Laptop (with usb-c and usb ports) to my Nikon Coolscan 4000 ED (firewire 400). Or is there?

  17. Thank you soooo much for sharing! Now I know it is probably worth the effort grabbing my Nikon Coolscan from the basement, buying the FW800 > TB2 > TB3 adapters and giving it a try on my new Macbook Pro 16. I could not really believe before that this might actually work. Will let you know whether Catalina on a MBP 16 works.

    1. Just wanted to confirm that the setup described above works like a charm for me now:
      – Nikon Coolscan LS-4000 ED
      – MacBook Pro 16″ (2019) with Catalina and VueScan
      – FW800 -> TB2 -> TB3 with 2 Apple adapters.
      Thanks again for the post!

  18. I own a Nikon LS 4000 (Firewire) and a Canon 8000F (USB) and would like to connect it to newer computers.
    During the last months I got in touch with Linux Mint, Windows 7 / 10, MacOS.
    I was able to install vuescan (which I used to scan with all my scanners) on all these machines.
    Now vuescan even runs on RaspberyPI boards.

    I would like to connect both scanners to a RaspberryPI and do the rest via Remote Desktop.
    This is basically very easy. I do it with my other Raspberries as well.

    Problem: Firewire –> USB (or any other interface Raspberry PI understands)

    Any good or even better: working idea is apreciated

    1. I have yet to find a FireWire to USB solution that works. If you can get a Thunderbolt 2 or 3 adapter for the Pi, that should do the trick but make sure it’s Thunderbolt as Mini Display Port and USB-C although physically identical, will not work!

  19. Nikon 400 ED > FW400-to-400 cable > FW400-to-800 adapter > FW800-to-Thundebolt 2 adapter… Under Mojave system recognises scanner correctly. The big problem is author uses Display Port to TB3 adapter which is big mistake. He should use Thunderbolt 3 > Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
    The other things are FW-to-USB adapters which burn i.e. Nikon scanners controllers quite quick.

  20. I had no problem connecting my Nikon Coolscan LS-5000ED to Windows 10 64-bit. I use the Nikon software, it installs fine with some tricks that you can find online.
    I am aware that VueScan does that with a straight install. I tried the demo (it’s fully functional with a watermark) but didn’t like it.

  21. What a fantastic article! Having started in audio visual post production in 1998 and latterly IT based roles I’ve had my tussles with most if not all of the above.

    If there are people with issues where a device, driver or software really doesn’t want to use a modern operating system I’d be happy to investigate virtualising an older OS and templating builds for a device. The only issue would be where a PCI / PCIe card is required as ‘pass through’ – these are a little more complex with a feature not available on the free hyper-visors under Windows 10 (Hyper-V) or Virtual Box (Win 7-10, Mac, Linux), or paid VMWare Workstation. It is available under VMWare ESXi (paid) and OpenStack, Libvert/Virsh (free), so if desperate could investigate that route too?

    1. That a very kind offer, Richard! I hope someone out there who is truly stuck drops you a line 🙂

  22. I still use a Powermac G5 for scanning which has firewire so you’ve semi-convinced me to be on the look out for a good deal on a coolscan!

  23. I have an Nikon Coolscan 5000ED that runs under Windows 10. I have it run on my desktop and notebook. It’s a bit tricky to install it, but possible. Whole procedure takes a few Minutes. I do use the original Nikon Coolscan software (forgot the version but you need the latest one that can run under Windows 7, I think 4.03?). Viewscan works too (even easier, modern software), however I like to ol’ Nikon software more.

  24. This is the first comprehensive review that I know of with regards the cables needed to run a legacy scanner to a modern PC. Kudos on the superb graphics.

    Over the years I’ve managed to migrate my trusty Nikon 4000ED from a Windows XP platform to both a 2013 iMac and 2018 MacBook Pro, thanks to Vuescan. More to the point of this article, I use the very same cabling solutions that are mentioned for FW 400 to Thunderbolt 2 and FW 400 to Thunderbolt 3. They work.

    With regards to the next great Mac 0S, Vuescan 9.6 is 64 bit.

  25. While connecting these scanners physically is an issue, a bigger problem is getting them to run under current operating systems, such as Windows 10.

  26. Getting a SCSI scanner to work on anything later than Windows XP is a non starter, the same goes for Apple. SCSI to usb adaptors are not that great, and do not get round the software problems. I tried a few of them on a PC and a pre Intel MAC, and have gone back to a PC running Windows XP

  27. While the physical connection may be an issue, running these legacy scanners on Windows 10 is a real problem. Somebody needs to break the code on that.

  28. Comment on the USB Type a connector and the USB-C. My Canon 9000 has the older Type A and I have learned with the MacBook Pro, that instead of adapters (micro-B et al) there are sometimes cables. For a lot of devices (Nikon camera, card reader, hard disks, etc) I have USB-microB to USB-C cables saving a load of space (and relatively cheap – Belkin et al). I also found a USB Type A to USB-C cable, again quite cheap and avoids the use of adapters. What I have found, however, these are rarely in the shops and I had to buy all of these online.