Photo ScannerCanon CanoScan 9000F MKIIEpson Perfection V800Canon CanoScan LiDE220Pandigital Personal Photo ScannerDoxie Flip DX70
Product Image
Stand AloneNoNoNoYesYes
Scanner TypeFlatbedFlatbedFlatbedSheetfedFlatbed
Optical Resolution9600 x 9600 dpi4800 x 9600 dpi4800 x 4800 dpi600 dpi600 dpi
Dimensions10.7 x 18.9 x 4.4 inches10.2 x 24.8 x 17.8 inches9.9 x 14.4 x 1.6 inches11.2 x 2.3 x 8.4 inches10.23 x 6.46 x 1.34 inches
Maximum Document Size8.5" x 11.7"8.5" x 11.7"8.5" inches x 11.7"8.5" x 11"4.1" x 5.8"
Operating SystemWindows/MacWindows/MacWindows/MacWindows/MacWindows/Mac
ReviewsRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review

* $$$ – Price above $500, $$ – Price above $150 but less than $500, $ Price less than $150

What Is a Photo Scanner?

Flatbed Scanner

Flatbed Scanner

Even though digital cameras are the norm in today’s technologically savvy age, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any physical photos lying around. If you want to share them on your social media page or store them on your computer, you need a photo scanner. Before you learn which is the best photo scanner, however, you must understand what a photo scanner is.

Like other scanners, a photo scanner is an optical scanner designed to capture information. It then transfers this information to the computer. Unlike a typical printer-scanner combo, however, a photo scanner is specialized and designed to scan photos. They are often smaller than other scanners but give the scanned photos a higher resolution. As a result, they appear clearer and crisper on the computer screen. On average, a typical photo scanner scans 3×5 inch and 4×6 inch photos at 300 dots per inch (dpi). Some offer higher resolutions or can even scan negatives.

Scanning photos is perfect, whether you’re a student, professional or business, and it has many great advantages:

  • Protecting your older photos and slides by backing them up on your computer
  • Sharing them with your friends or family on social media or via email
  • Being able to print them off and make copies
  • Use in conjunction with photo editing software to restore photos

Photo Scanner Buying Guide

There are many different photo scanners out there, and each one comes with its own set of benefits and disadvantages. They key to finding the best scanner for you is finding the right balance between the pros and the cons to meet your specific needs. When looking at scanners, make sure to ask yourself a few questions, which will guide you to choose the right scanner for you.

What are the common types of photo scanners?

First, you should understand the various types of common photo scanners available:

  • Flatbed scanner
  • Sheetfed scanner
  • Film scanner
  • Transparency scanner
  • Drum scanner
Sheetfed or Autofed Scanner

Sheetfed /Autofed Scanner

A flatbed scanner is the most common type of photo scanner, and they can scan photos and documents. Flatbed scanners tend to cost less than film scanners, but you sacrifice image quality. Sheetfed scanner or also known as manual/automatic feeder is smaller scanner compared to flatbed. While not compromising the quality of the image, the sheetfed scanner feeds the photo and rolling it out rather lying it on the surface. Film scanners have the ability to scan film, such as the negatives to your photos. As a result of scanning the actual negative, the photos are high-quality, but they cannot scan documents.

A transparency scanner can scan slides, but it can also scan larger transparencies. They are designed for professional use and are high-end. A drum scanner is another professional scanner for businesses. This type of scanner captures the highest resolution possible from photos and transparencies.

What are you scanning?

Not every scanner has the ability to scan each type of media. For example, a flatbed scanner cannot successfully scan negatives. Therefore, you must know what you expect to print, such as:

  • Prints
  • Black and white negatives
  • Slides
  • Color negatives
  • Paper documents
  • Large transparencies
  • Professional pictures

If you expect to scan only prints, a flatbed scanner may be enough, depending on what you are doing with the scans. A flatbed scanner is also a good option if you need to scan documents too, since a film scanner cannot scan documents. If you are scanning slides, a slide scanner is an excellent option, unless you need to scan particularly large transparencies, in which case, you’ll need a transparency scanner or a drum scanner.

Make sure you know exactly what you want to scan. Even if you purchase a film scanner that works for black and white negatives, it may not be suitable for your color negatives. You should even know the size of the pictures or film you plan on scanning, so you don’t end up with a product that is completely incompatible.

What are you doing with the scans?

Now that you know what you’re scanning, you need to know what you’re doing with these scanned images once they are on your computer:

  • Sharing online or via email
  • Just storing them on your computer for backups
  • Making copies
  • Large transparencies
  • Using for business

If, like many people, you just want to share them online with friends and family, the solution is easy. A flatbed scanner with low to medium resolution won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and it will give you an acceptable resolution for viewing pictures online. Plus, when you share pictures online or upload photos, you don’t want the resolution to be too high. It only makes the file and the image itself bigger, which makes for awkward viewing on a computer screen.

On the other hand, if you are storing them for backups or making copies, it’s best to go with higher resolution, like a film scanner. When you print pictures with low resolutions, they don’t come out as vibrant as the original, and you end up with obvious copies of the picture. In particular, a scanner with higher resolution is the best photo scanner for old photos, which may look blurry or faded at lower resolutions.

If your businesses routinely print large transparencies, your best bet is to get a transparency scanner. However, if you only expect to print a handful, consider a transparency adapter to your current flatbed scanner.

If you use pictures for your business, for example, you are a professional photographer and print the photos for your client, you may want to invest in a drum printer. They offer the best resolution possible to make professional, beautiful pictures.

What type of computer do you have?

The best photo scanner for Mac and PC may not be the same product, so make sure you know what type of computer you have before you buy.

  • Mac
  • PC

If you have a PC, you’ll have less problems finding a compatible device. However, if you have a Mac, finding a device that works with your computer may prove challenging. You may even need to take some extra steps to ensure it actually works. Make sure to see if the device is compatible with your computer, and if you have to do anything special to connect it.

The Best Scanner for You

There is no single best photo scanner out there. The best one for you may not be the best one for someone else. It all depends on your needs. To summarize, if you are using the scanner for personal reasons and expect to scan prints or documents, and/or you are sharing via email, a flatbed scanner with medium resolution is a good option. However, if you expect to print images, you’ll want something with higher resolution. If you want to scan negatives or film, you’ll need a film printer. On the other hand, if you are a business, consider a transparency printer if you print large transparencies or a drum printer for the highest quality possible.