Taking a physical photo and turning it into digital images requires a special touch. To do this well, you need a high quality photo scanner that matches your desired result. In terms of speed and quality, the best photo scanner on the market is the one Epson FastFoto FF-680W. Compared to a standard document scanner, it offers a higher resolution and the color rendering is far superior. You can even do some photo editing tasks and add a little cherry to an already impressive cake.
As with the selection of a camera, prioritizing the functions simplifies the selection of the best photo scanner. Auto-feed scanners are better suited for digitizing large photo collections, while high-end flatbed scanners offer the highest quality for serious photographers who want to scan both prints and films. From budget options to professional models, here are the best photo scanners you can buy.
At a glance:
Best photo scanner: Epson FastFoto FF-680W
Why should you buy this: Fast scans with automatic backups in the cloud
Who is it for: Each with a box of old photos to digitize
Why we chose the Epson FastFoto FF-680W:
Few tasks are more boring than scanning boxes of old photos, frame by frame. The Epson FastFoto FF-680W is one of the fastest personal photo scanners on the market, not only because of the quick one-second scans, but also because of features such as an automatic feeder and automatic cloud backups that automate much of the process.
The scanner can scan stacks of 36 images up to 8.5 inches wide and 36 inches long and will scan through these photos at a rate of approximately one photo per second. Despite the speed, the scans maintain a resolution of 300 dpi, which is respectable given the speed and the category of personal – not professional – photo scanners. With the automatic upload option, these images can be saved in a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive. The images can also be saved to USB.
Double-sided scans are an option that is useful for both pictures with notes on the back and for scanning receipts and documents. We were thrilled with the speed and practical tools for the original FastFoto FF-640, while the latest generation integrated several updates based on previous users.
The quality of the scan isn't the highest on the list, but the FastFoto still delivers great results without you having to bend over a flatbed for hours – and that's why it is the photo scanner that works best for many users.
Best photo scanner for professional film photographers: Epson Perfection V850 Pro
Why should you buy this: Excellent resolution and color depth for high-end scans
who is it to the: Professionals and other detailed film photographers
Why we chose the Epson Perfection V850 Pro:
For smaller scanners, the Epson Perfection V850 Pro is what a DSLR is for a camera phone. With a resolution of up to 6,400 x 9,600, there are many details for the most demanding photographers. This resolution is mixed with a 48-bit color depth and a dynamic range of 4.0 Dmax to keep the colors and details consistent from print to digital file.
The scan area is 8.5 x 11.7 inches to process 8 x 10 inch prints. However, the scanner can do more than just print. Multiple film holders enable scanning 35mm negatives and positives, including mounted slides, as well as medium format and 4×5 films. Multiple film images can be scanned at the same time to speed up the process. The software automatically recognizes and separates the individual images.
For the most demanding photographers, the V850 offers a wet-mounted scanning solution that keeps the film perfectly flat between two glass plates. This ensures that the focus stays sticky across the entire piece of film, which can otherwise vary slightly from the center to the edge if the film bends naturally.
Color print scans can be completed in about 12 seconds, while a 35mm negative is scanned in less than a minute. The included software increases efficiency even further and automatically removes dust, scratches, hair and fingerprints using digital ICE technology. The disadvantage? The high resolution and advanced features make it an expensive option. However, if you shoot a lot of film, it won't take long for the scanner to pay for itself compared to having your photos scanned by a laboratory.
Best photo scanner for film lovers: Epson Perfection V600
Why should you buy this: High-resolution print and film scans – without breaking the bank
Who is it for: Photographers and casual users can scan both prints and films
Why we chose the Epson Perfection V600:
Are you still suffering from a sticker shock over the V850? The Epson Perfection V600 combines some of the best features of the high-end model at a quarter of the price. With the maximum resolution of 6,400 x 9,600 and the same color depth of 48 bits as the V850, the V600 offers high-quality scans without the high price.
The V600 is suitable for both photos and films and offers space for 35 mm and some medium format sizes. The transparency unit is built in to easily accommodate the film. Digital ICE software that automatically removes imperfections such as dust and scratches is also included. However, the V600 is not compatible with the wet mounting plate of the V850.
The V600 also does not offer advanced features such as duplex scanning or auto feed, so the scanner may be a bit tedious to work with large amounts of images. The film holders also hold fewer pictures than those of the V850. However, for the price, it's hard to beat the resolution and double scanning of films and photos.
Best cheap photo scanner: Canon CanoScan Lide 400 Slim
Why should you buy this: Scan photos quickly, easily, and inexpensively
Who is it for: Budget conscious consumers
Why we chose the Canon CanoScan LiDE 400:
Digitizing photos doesn't always mean investing hundreds of dollars. The Canon CanoScan LiDE 400 is below the three-digit price and still offers the indispensable functions and some extras. With an optical resolution of 4,800 dpi, scans from the cheap photo scanner are still of good quality. The scans are also pretty fast. A 300 dpi scan only takes eight seconds.
The scanner takes photos and documents up to 8.5 x 11.7 inches in size, but uses a sleek, lightweight design. An included stand can hold the scanner upright to take up less space on your desk. The control scheme is just as simple and this scanner is very easy to use. An organized desk can be maintained with just a single USB cable for power and data.
The CanoScan LiDE 400 is a budget model, but it also offers the option of sending scans to the cloud storage. Unlike Wi-Fi enabled scanners, however, it must be connected to a computer to do this.
Best cheap 35mm film scanner: Kodak Mobile Film Scanner
Hillary Grigonis / Digital Trends
Why should you buy this: Film scans that are incredibly cheap
Who is it for: Anyone looking for a film scan that's good enough to share on social media
Why we chose the Kodak Mobile Film Scanner:
The Kodak Mobile Film Scanner, the Google Cardboard for film scanners, turns the camera in your phone into a “scanner” and offers backlighting, stands and film holders to complete the setup. The scanner is little more than a cardboard platform with a light under the film holder. So the image quality mainly depends on the camera of your phone. During our practical tests, we found that it doesn't work perfectly with a phone with a lens due to the wide-angle characteristics of the lens. However, phones with a second telephoto lens may offer better results because less cropping is required after the fact.
Since this is just a snapshot of a movie, the quality is not ideal for much more than social media sharing. The design also means that scans are only one exposure at a time and not an entire strip. While the price isn't ideal for serious photographers looking for high quality scans or wanting to process large quantities quickly, the price is hard to beat. For users who just want to scan a bit of old film and are likely to stop looking at the scanner, the Kodak Mobile Film Scanner is worth a look because of its affordable price.