SCSI in 2023: a struggle to keep good machines running

For the past few years I have been struggling with old Macintosh computers dying, trying to keep my film scanners in good running condition. I have an Imacon (now Hasselblad) Precision II for 35mm to 4×5, and a Microtek ArtixScan 2020 which can scan 8×10 negs, or prints up to A3. Both of these use different SCSI interfaces. When I bought the Imacon it ran on a Macintosh MDD, and when that died I moved to a Quicksilver, then a second Quicksilver. As far as I can tell, with these older macs the PSU was usually the first thing to die, and there was often a struggle with RAM modules malfunctioning.

If you are reading this, I will assume that you are in a similar situation, so I am taking notes on here.

My plan was to try to move to Windows, since this would permit a slightly bigger selection of hardware and software to meet my needs and, most importantly, I get to work with a 10 year old computer instead of a 20 year old computer, using a standard PSU that can be replaced. All SCSI cards are PCI, so you need a motherboard with at least one PCI slot (not PCIe), and there are a couple of generations of memory which are worth avoiding. My brother-in-law gave me a Dell Optiplex 755 which has a decent processor, SATA and 2x PCI slots.

First thing to do: install Windows 7 x86 (32 bit): this was the last version of Windows to support SCSI fully, and the scanner’s driver won’t work on 64 bit, I tried. Fortunately I found THIS article by Grav which was a huge help. In 2023 Windows 7 is not easy to get running properly: Internet Explorer no longer works with the internet (!), and the only modern browser that will work is Firefox, but I was unable to get Firefox to install until I had managed to install 160+ Windows updates. I found that the Updater itself would not work until I had installed SP1 and a couple of other updates manually. When Windows is all up to date with its last options, you can install Firefox and AVG Free since Win7 is also vulnerable to virii. Also, go over to the Hasselblad site and download/install FlexColor 4.0.3 (the last version to support SCSI scanners. Do note that you can use the current version to edit 3F files on the same computer, since the newer software is a little nicer to use. (3F is Imacon/Hasselblad’s RAW file format: the Precision II can produce a full resolution RAW file from anything it can scan, which later can be tweaked for colour grading, sharpening, etc.)

Next thing is getting the SCSI cards to work: in my case the Device Manager would find a driver, but then tell me that it was not compatible with my OS. Frustratingly the Device Manager does not tell you what driver you need (as in what chipset you need a driver for), however the cards I had were both Adaptec, and they have a chip on them with the generation written on it: I had one AIC-3860Q and one 2906. I found THIS repository which has a large number of Adaptec drivers: I think that the ones which worked matched the first two digits of the chip number, which probably corresponds to the generation. Install the driver by “browse for driver software on your computer” via the Device Manager. When the card shows as working correctly in the Device Manager, connect the scanner, turn it on and reboot the machine.

Thanks to Grav, I then checked the Device manager, saw the Imacon scanner sitting there with a question mark, clicked to update the driver and navigated to C:\Program Files\Hasselblad\Flex Color English v4.0.3\INF and it installed the scanner’s driver. This is probably the only part which is strictly 32 bit.

Launch FlexColor and everything should work. I will have to dig around for all my profiles which may or may not transfer to a Windows machine.

I still think the Imacon Precision II is the best scanner under 2000 dollars/euro/pounds for 35mm up to 4×5. I have made huge prints from its scans.

Tobias Feltus: