Today’s photo scanners are vastly improved. And not only can they digitize photos of precious memories, many now offer broad functionality to complement. And they do so with ever higher resolutions, better retouching features, and superior versatility. Some even create editable PDFs and are perfectly apt to tackle 100 back-to-back scans in succession. As such, traditional photo scanners are now well suited for most applications, even office spaces focused primarily on converting documents.
Even so, they remain the ideal means to digitize precious memories from the past. And they’re a surefire way to keep your treasured memories immortal and safe from degrading with age. As such, they’re also indispensable for those wanting to preserve time and save family heirlooms.
But, when it comes to photo scanners, the list is vast. And each varies in how they digitize images and the types of documents supported. With that, we’ve compiled a list of the best photo scanners on the present market. And we’ve also included a brief guide on some of the relevant factors to consider beforehand.
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7 – Epson Perfection V850 Pro
Epson’s V850 Pro is their high-end flagship flatbed scanner ideal for professionals wanting the utmost detail available.
The V850 Pro offers an impressive working resolution of 4,800 DPI and 48-bits of color using a clever dual-lens system, specializing in exact reproductions with excellent detail, high dynamic range, and color accuracy. But, you can also scan film and slides to reproduce either. And in this case, it produces both with a 6,400 DPI and a 4.0 Dmax. And it also has dedicated holders for 35mm slides, film strips, and medium format to simplify the workflow. Plus, Epson added their Digital ICE technology which automatically repairs old, slightly damaged photos and removes dust or scratches. Other bonuses include a warranty.
Overall, Epson’s V850 Pro is the ideal choice for professionals wanting class-leading detail with 1:1 accuracy. And it’s a nice upgrade to the V800 with better general versatility.
6 – Doxie Go SE Wi-Fi
Doxie’s Go SE is the ideal take-anywhere scanner. And it’s a smart one at that.
The Go SE uses a minimalistic design that’s only 31 cm wide, 4.5 cm tall, and 1.3 lbs, so it’s easy to carry in a small backpack. But, crucially, it uses rechargeable batteries, eliminating the need for hassling with cables and letting you use it on the go when a wall outlet isn’t available. But, it’s ready for up to 400 pages on a single charge, none of which strictly require a computer either. Instead, it connects via Wi-Fi, allowing you to scan with mobile devices using the Doxie app. Or you can skip both since it has 8GB’s of internal storage, archiving up to 4,000 documents as a stand-alone device. Yet, despite its size, it still offers a resolution of 600 DPI for high-quality archival quality scans. Doxie also includes image enhancements, such as smart cropping, contrast, and de-skewing. Other bonuses include editable text, scan-to-cloud, and a warranty.
Overall, Doxie’s Go SE brilliantly combines portability with convenience. And it’s a solid option for those wanting a versatile wireless scanner.
5 – Canon CanoScan LiDE 400
Canon’s LiDE 400 is compact and purpose built-in for easy operation.
It offers an excellent resolution of 4,800 DPI and 48-bit color, creating high-quality, detailed scans in as little as 8 seconds. Yet, at only 1.7 inches tall and 9.9 inches wide, it’s relatively compact compared to its peers. But to save even more precious work real estate, it also has a convenient kickstand, tilting the device upright. Plus, it also boasts a USB Type-C connection for data transfer and power, a rarity amongst rivals. Otherwise, Canon provides their companion software to restore colors, remove dust, and perform image enhancements and an auto-scan button to optimize the settings automatically. Other bonuses include scan-to-cloud, editable text, and a warranty.
Overall, Canon’s LiDE 400 is a solid wired scanner that’s perfect for casual users wanting something compact and straightforward with modest speed.
4 – Epson Perfection V39
Epson’s V39 is their flagship flatbed scanner and quite a specialty among rivals. In that, it sports excellent resolution, along with an affordable price tag.
This scanner produces images with 4,800 DPI and 48-bit color for exceptional clarity and detail. It also has a removable lid, perfect for scanning oversized documents, photo albums, or artwork using the included Scan-n-Stitch software. Afterward, you can make restorations and adjustments using the included Easy Photo Fix software. Plus, it also has a built-in kickstand and a light, compact design. Together, you can flip the unit vertically to save space, and it’s well-suited for traveling. Other bonuses include scan-to-cloud, editable text, and a warranty.
Overall, Epson’s V39 is compact, budget-friendly, and ready to deliver high-quality results. And it’s a solid option if you don’t need to scan film but want high-end archival quality.
3 – Epson FastFoto FF-680W
Epson’s FF-680W is the perfect option for bulk processing. This wireless scanner can tackle large stacks of documents or photos digitized at 600 DPI in three seconds. Or set it to 300 DPI, and it can scan a photo in a single second, making it among the fastest in its class. And it can also scan various sized items in that batch, preserving both front and back sides using duplex scanning. So merely load the tray with 36 photos or 100 sheets of paper, and go about your day. It also includes Epson’s FastFoto software and SafeTouch technology to enhance the scans or protect old photographs. Other bonuses include scan-to-cloud and a warranty.
Overall, Epson’s FF-680W is the ideal option for bulk processing an extensive collection of photos. And it’ll do so with the fastest speeds in its class.
2 – Plustek ePhoto Z300
Plustek’s ePhoto Z300 is an ultraportable hybrid that’s ready to tackle bulk processing. It can scan 4×6 inch photos in as little as two seconds, letting you quickly get through a library or tackle large workloads in minutes. It also offers a 600 DPI option, great for archiving images. But, crucially, it uses a simple drop-in roller system for button-free scanning. And it’s more efficient than traditional flatbed scanners in this regard. Plustek also added a soft roller to protect fragile photos from scratches and creases. And the scanner also automatically detects the documents’ size and crops the blank areas so that you can scan various-sized documents with ease. Yet, at only 3.3 lbs, it’s compact and ultra-lightweight. Other bonuses include social media and scan-to-cloud.
Overall, Plustek’s Z300 is an excellent option for those wanting a portable photo scanner that’s easy to use and affordable.
1 – Epson Perfection V600
Epson’s V600 is a solid all-rounder with high-resolution that surprisingly doesn’t break the bank. It offers an outstanding resolution of 6,400 DPI and Digital ICE technology to clean dust, scratches, and tears from photos or film. It also has a transparency unit to scan negatives, photo slides, and even panoramic film to boot. And it does all of this with a ReadyScan LED light, which eliminates the warmup time. Other bonuses include four customizable buttons, editable text, and scan-to-email.
Overall, Epson’s V600 is hard fast to beat given its price point and feature set. And it’s an excellent all-around scanner and photo restoration platform that’ll meet the needs of most photographers.
What to look for in Photo Scanners
You can find photo scanners with one of two feed types, automatic or manual.
Manual flatbeds use a hinged design and a glass platen. Here, you’ll manually load each photo onto the platen by hand. However, the platen size varies. And you can find models in letter size (8.5×11 in) or legal-size (8.5×14 in). Thus, you’ll want to know what size documents or photos you plan on scanning beforehand.
Automatic feeders, on the other hand, let you stack multiple photos or documents into the scanner simultaneously. There, it gradually goes through and scans each document.
Generally, manual flatbeds are recommended for more sensitive documents and delicate original photos as you can risk damaging them if there’s a paper jam. Manual scanners also provide higher quality scans too. Even so, automatic scanners are faster and much better for bulk processing.
Scan resolution is quantified in DPI (Dots Per Inch), which measures the number of pixels that fit into a particular surface area. The higher the DPI, the more detailed and higher the quality of the final image. You can find scanners with a wide range of DPI’s, ranging from 300-6,400. And scanners with a higher DPI rating will always outperform their lower-specified counterparts. As such, consider your final output here. If you’re merely looking to upload images online, a 300 DPI scanner is sufficient. But, if you want to print with high fidelity and enlarge photos, 6,400 DPI is best.
Scanners have varying color depths, which define the amount of color information they reproduce in an image. 24-bits is the standard and great for general purpose use. However, if you want to scan pictures for enlargements or prints, you’ll want to get a scanner with a higher bit depth, somewhere closer to 48-bits. These scanners also produce better monochromatic images, with more nuanced gradations.