>> Nah, for starters knowing which film would help in making like-to-like comparisons. Also any idea on how dense your negatives are.
Well, I was an available light freak (in fact I didn't even own a flash for the first 15 years). So most of my black and white was pushed Tri-X (1600 ASA, developed in Diafine). That's probably what the 120 scan was (it was taken when I was in college, fall of '71 I think). The 35mm shot was Plus-X in D-76, normal ASA. Both negs were pretty average, densitywise ... tho lord knows I produced more than my fair share of thin negs over the years. But they scan nicely too if you take your time... here are some concert photos that were pretty thin (especially the second link):
Anyway, mount your negs in the carrier emulsion side up, that's what the instructions say. It seemed like common sense to me that you should mount them the other way so that you wouldn't be scanning thru the film base (they'd be reversed but you'd just flip them in software)... but I tried it both ways and it really does seem to work better emulsion side up. Watch out for curled negatives... if they hit the glass you'll get Newton rings which are nearly impossible to retouch (well, not impossible, but a MAJOR pain in the butt). If you have severely curled negs, stick them in the carrier and then gently breathe on the emulsion side... the moisture will flatten them instantly, for a few minutes anyway.
I can't remember all the options I set in 'Configuration,' but most are easy to figure out. If you are scanning multiple negs, the autothumbnailer works great, it will bring up what looks like a contact sheet and let you adjust each image individually, select the keepers and scan them to individual files (beats the old way we had to scan each neg individually, or a strip at a time and crop them later). Just be sure you set 'thumbnail cropping area' to 'large,' this will give you a little safe area around each neg and ensure that you don't lose any of your image (a really annoying trait of early software versions).
By default, the preview scan seems to produce a pretty good histogram automatically. It's a bit confusing to read tho... the histogram will come up with values bunched together and the black point and white point set well within each end of the curve, while below that, the black point and white point sliders will also have values set below each extreme. You can click and hold "show output" and the histogram will stretch out in a representation of the mapped values of the final scan (wish they'd had used two windows, or ghosted before/after as in Phtotoshop). If you see clipping in the output histogram you can go back and adjust the sliders accordingly.
The auto setting works well enough for most images but I've found that I can often get better values doing it by hand. I move the white point and black point sliders closer to the extremes (0 and 255), then adjust the histogram black and white points to each end of the curve. But don't include the spikes at the end where the thumbnail includes light that may have bled thru the film holes or areas of pure opacity like the film carrier. Actually you can crop this stuff out first, then it won't appear in the histogram at all. Or you can use the eyedroppers to set pure white and pure black directly from the neg.
I usually leave unsharp masking off, tho there are times it does seem to improve things, it's just something I prefer to do later. As for the other tools, Grain Reduction, Color Restoration, Backlight Correction, Dust Removal, and Digital Ice... I usually leave these off but there are occasions when they are useful (Color Restoration did seem to do a really nice job on some color negs I had from the early '60's so I'd encourage you to experiment... some of these tools really can save you a lot of work on troublesome scans). The version of Digital Ice on the V500 does not have the infrared component so it is not as powerful as what you may be used to on Nikon Scanners, but I've heard this is much improved on the V600.
Did I mention cleaning? Getting rid of dust beforehand is a lot easier than retouching it later so you'll need a soft sable brush, cotton gloves, dust-off or rocket blower, and any other tools you can find (I've had good luck with a Zerostat gun, an old tool used to neutralize static on vinyl records, also with a Staticmaster brush which I guess you can't get any more because they're radioactive or something, which probably would explain my slurred speech and facial tics. No matter what, you're still probably going to have a lot of spot removal in Photoshop, probably enough to make you wonder if this whole scanning thing is a good idea after all. ;-)
One thing to watch out for is overscanning... it eats up time and hard drive space. Experiment until you find the magic number that will resolve individual grains of film and no more (seriously, if you can see each grain of silver, what more do you need?). It depends on the film but for the stuff I've done so far, between 3200 and 4800 dpi seems to be the sweet spot (but I've gone as low as 2400dpi and still gotten nice results).