I've had the Nikon Coolscan V for a week or so now. The output is the best of the three scanners I've tried (my ancient Epson Perfection 2450 flatbed and a Plustek 7600i). Clean negatives come out nice and sharp. Old, faded negatives come out decent. Scanning is still a slow process, especially if you add more processing. But the XPS 8700 and the Coolscan V work well together, allowing me to do other things while a scan is going on (unlike the Epson and Plustek that would only let you scan when connected to my old XPS 420).
I still haven't had much luck cleaning film. PEC-12 works on some negs, but leaves bad scratches that ICE can't clean up. Old slide film holds up better than negative film. I'm not sure if it's the film itself or the quality of processing. I'm storing the negs in archival sleeves as a lot of the PVC (and other unidentified plastic) sleeves tend to attach to and damage the film.
Film just doesn't hold up to digital; The grain structure takes away detail and sharpness when compared to today's digital cameras. The only exception would be black and white film. There's something about it that I can't re-create in digital, no matter what plugin or preset I've tried.
My technique also sucked big time. Lots of good shots were ruined by being out of focus, or having bad exposure. AF is definitely a big help for me. Not having EXIF information, I can only guess at the camera and lens combinations along with exposure settings.
But the fun part is discovering a few gems.