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FireSCSI Xpress adapter; will it work with the LS-2000?  
Friday, July 21, 2000 | by
Two years ago, when Apple began dropping the SCSI ports from Mac computers, photographers with SCSI devices had to scramble to find alternate methods of connecting their scanners, CD writers, ZIP drives and other peripherals. Over time, solutions were developed, including Mac-friendly SCSI host adapter cards for G3 and G4 desktops and USB-to-SCSI adapters for iMacs, In addition, USB and FireWire versions of the peripherals themselves began to appear.

The only essential component that, even today, is left partially out in the cold is the 35mm film scanner. Specifically, there has been no way to connect certain midrange SCSI desktop scanners, like the Nikon LS-2000, to the ports on an iMac, iMac DV or new Powerbook G3/400 and G3/500. That's because none of the SCSI-to-USB adapters on the market are compatible with this scanner, or most others from Canon, Polaroid and Minolta (though there are some exceptions). And the USB and FireWire scanners on the market that will handle film scanning in some fashion are not worthy of consideration by a pro photographer.

Ultimately, compatibility with the Nikon LS-2000 is a must. And that may be just around the corner.

That's because Microtech this week introduced FireSCSI Xpress, a SCSI-to-FireWire adapter that should not only be much faster than USB-to-SCSI adapters, but is also expected to work just fine with the LS-2000. Microtech's Al Conte indicates that an adapter will soon be on its way to Nikon USA for testing, but he isn't expecting any unpleasant surprises. This adapter should enable the LS-2000 scanner, and a range of other SCSI devices, to be connected to the FireWire port on a Mac or PC. This won't help owners of iMacs without FireWire ports, but it could help bridge a significant gap for iMac DV and new Powerbook owners, as well as PC users including those with Sony Vaio laptops with iLink (FireWire) ports.

Microtech FireSCSI Xpress SCSI-to-FireWire adapter

Microtech's adapter joins the Orange Micro Orange Converter (both devices look suspiciously similar) as the only two SCSI-to-FireWire adapters I know of that are designed to work with a broad range of SCSI peripherals. Orange Micro's Brett Scotten says that no testing has been done with the LS-2000, so compatibility with the Orange Converter is unclear. As Microtech is pursuing testing with the LS-2000 specifically, it seems wise to wait for the outcome of that testing before settling on either adapter. I'll post a story on this site once testing is completed.

FireSCSI Xpress features include:

  • A DB25 (female) SCSI connector, the same as that found on older SCSI Macs, as well as on popular host adapter cards like the Adaptec SCSI Card 2906 and Orange Micro Grappler SCSI 906F.

  • A 6pin FireWire connector. A 1 metre 6 pin-to-6 pin FireWire cable is included that enables the adapter to be connected directly to most Mac and PC FireWire ports.

  • Works at up to Fast SCSI (10MB/second) speeds.

  • Includes a power input port for use with an optional external AC power supply. Most devices should function without additional power to the adapter, though Microtech doesn't specify which devices may require the adapter to be AC powered.

  • SCSI devices cannot not be daisy chained; only one device will work at a time.

  • Most devices should be hot-pluggable; that is, they can be connected and disconnected without first shutting down the computer.

  • Includes a 1 year warranty.

It's worth noting that SCSI-less Powerbook owners have another possible alternative in the form of a SCSI PC Card. Two are available: the Adaptec SlimSCSI 1480, and the Ratoc CB31Pismo. The CB31Pismo, for example, is deemed compatible with several film scanners, including the LS-2000, Canon Canoscan FS2710 and Polaroid SprintScan 4000 (see the Ratoc web site for a complete list of compatible devices). I would much rather use a port on the back of the computer, however, leaving the PC Card slot free for modems and digital camera cards.

The FireSCSI Xpress adapter requires a Mac G3 or newer, running OS 9.0.4, and an available FireWire port. On the PC, Windows 98 SE or Windows 2000 and an available IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port is necessary. Pricing and availability have not been announced.

The Orange Converter is US$99, includes a power adapter and 1 metre FireWire cable, and is shipping now.

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