Best Photo Scanners for 2016

In addition to the individual scanner reviews on this site, I have created a list of the top rated scanners for each category. If you are thinking of buying a scanner then a good place to start your research is by checking out some of the current bestsellers. I have also provided some general buying advice on this particular category at the bottom of the page.

Now that everyone has a digital camera I think we can recognize how nice it is to have digital versions of every picture we take. You don’t have to have a stack of photos laying around and you can share photos online in a matter of minutes after taking it. But what about all those old family photos from the days before digital cameras. Wouldn’t it be great to have digital versions of those also? That is where a photo scanner comes in.

If you are looking for a picture scanner you will find there are many choices. In fact, there are almost too many choices which can make it difficult to decided what to buy. This list should help you narrow down your choices.

Here are some of the Best Photo Scanners for 2016:

epson v6001. Epson Perfection V600
Read our Epson Perfection V600 Review. The V600 is the bestselling photo scanner because of it’s combination of quality scanning and reasonable pricing. Scanning at a higher resolution is not only important for capturing crisp images, it is also important if you want to make enlargements. This Epson scanner is also a great film and slide scanner if you need to scan those formats also. Compatible with Windows and Mac.

 

See the Epson V600 on Amazon.

 

 

 

canoscan 9000f mark ii
2. Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII
Read our Canon 9000F Review. The Canon 9000F Mark II is fairly comparable to the V600 by Epson and was the bestselling photo scanner for many years. But it seems like Canon has been moving out of the high-end scanning category and focusing more on lower end models. Still, this is a great scanner for pictures and film.

 

Check out the Canon MKII on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

3. Epson Perfection V550
The V550 from Epson is a replacement for the V500 and is a small step down from the V600 in terms of price. The main difference between the V550 vs the V600 is the inclusion of Photoshop Elements. Also, the V600 incorporates digital ICE for prints and film while the V550 only offers ICE for film.

 

Learn more about the Epson Perfection 550

 

 

As far as photo scanners go, Epson and Canon are the two recognized leaders in the the field. Above I have given you the top scanners in this class but there are certainly cheaper models will also do an effective job. Both Canon and Epson make budget-priced image scanners if money is a factor and you won’t lose too much in quality if you choose to go that direction. In general, the cheaper photo scanners lack some of the fancier photo-editing features or bonus software but still provide good image quality. If cost is a factor, I would recommend you check out the Epson Perfection V19.

If you need high quality scans of your photographs then a flatbed scanner is the way to go. There are some compact, portable photo scanners available which are great for speed and travel, but you will lose a fair amount in image resolution. In fact, speed versus resolution is usually the balancing act when it comes to both scanners and printers and is one of the things you will need to evaluate when deciding what kind of scanner is best for you.

Film Scanning

Most photo scanners will also allow for scanning of film, slides and negatives. In fact, the reason that the resolution of many of these scanners is so high is to accommodate slide and negative scanning as you really don’t need 4800 dpi scanning resolution for photo prints (learn more about resolution needs by reading the “Buying a Photo Scanner” section below).  If you hope to later print photos from your film or slides, then you will want the high resolution scanning function of a picture scanner as opposed to a simple slide converter.

Epson vs Canon

Of the three scanners listed above, the Epson V550 is the cheapest but it does not come with additional photo-editing software. Both the Epson V600 and the Canon 9000F come with Photoshop Elements so that you can edit your photographs, make cards, etc. The Canon 9000F claims the highest scanning resolution of these three scanners but again, that is really only necessary if you plan to scan film. But the Canon has been the consistent bestseller of the year and customers seem happy with it.

Comparing scanners can sometimes seem confusing but the good news is that any of these scanners are a great choice. That is why they are already bestsellers with high customer ratings. And make sure you check things like product dimensions as some people are surprised by the size of these flatbeds. The product images often make these items look a bit more dainty than they really are, so make sure you have enough space on your desk to accommodate a scanner before you buy.

Automatic Photo Scanner

Just releases this year, this new scanner from Epson is worth highlighting. Unlike the flatbed scanners above, this device has an automatic feeder to allow a stack of photograph to be scanned quickly. This is a huge benefit for people trying to archive old photos.

epson-fastfoto

 

 

The Epson FastFoto FF-640
The FastFoto claims to scan at 1 sec per photo which is very fast. It can scan 4×6, 5×7 and 8×10 photographs. It has has built-in technology to scan both sides of the photo at once so any handwritten notes on the back of photos will be preserved. Each picture is saved as it’s own file.

 

Check the price on Amazon.

More Tips on Buying a Photo Scanner

Buying a photo scanner can be a bit more involved than just buying a flatbed scanner or document scanner because there are a few extra features that need to be evaluated. But it doesn’t have to be complicated, it is just a matter of understanding what all the features are and why they are important.

Why Buy a Photo Scannerpicture scanner

People primarily look to buy a photo scanner to scan old photographs or even new ones (your children’s school portraits) but there are other uses. Most photo scanners are also designed for film and slide scanning which is actually a better way to preserve old images when possible. Or some people scan three-dimensional objects like shells they found at the beach and make greetings cards or scrapbook pages from the scanned images.

You can actually use a photo scanner for scanning just about anything, including everyday documents, receipts, magazines, children’s artwork, etc. Being able to scan so many different things is the great benefit of having a scanner. However, if you only need to scan documents or random paperwork you could either buy a faster document scanner or save money on a cheaper flatbed scanner.

The reason to purchase a photo scanner versus a document scanner or general flatbed scanner is because of the features it has for handling photographs and film products. If you have a lot of photos to scan and want high-quality images for enlarging and printing, then you want to buy a photo scanner. If you only have a few photos but want to mostly be able to scan a variety of things, you may be able to get away with a something a bit cheaper and lower quality as far as image resolution.

Main Features of a Photo Scanner to Compare

Scanners have come far enough today that there are many great models with many fine features at reasonable prices. Even if you buy a picture scanner on the cheaper side of the price range, you won’t be giving up much in quality unless you need to scan film. Slide and film scanning will benefit greatly from paying more.

Here are some of the features and specifications to focus on when comparing these scanners:

  • Optical Resolution
  • Auto-corrections
  • Software
  • Film Accessories
  • Operating System Compatibility
  • Size
  • Price

I want to spend most of my time talking about resolution as I think it is the most confusing. Many people think that the higher the resolution specs of a scanner are the better off they are, but that isn’t quite true. It all depends on what you need to scan.

Understanding Optical Resolution

Optical resolution is basically the amount of detail a scanner can extract from the item being scanned. The value is given in dpi which is “dots per inch” and the higher the number the crisper and sharper an image will be, in theory. I say in theory though because the quality of the scanned image will also depend on the resolution of the item being scanned.

For example, most photo prints only have about 300 to 600 dpi of resolution. If you scan a 300 dpi photo print at 4800 dpi, you won’t be gaining much because there is only 300 dpi of detail to be captured. Now, if you have a small photo that you want to scan and enlarge to print out at 8 x 10”, then scanning at a higher resolution than the print itself is necessary, but even then you won’t need to use the 4800 dpi that many photo scanners offer.

Where high resolution becomes important is for scanning film, slides and negatives. Prints made from film are limited in resolution by the printing process used to make them, but the original film has much more detail that can be captured when scanning. You also need to increase scanning resolution stepwise based on the amount of enlarging you want to do. Since slides are so small and detailed, scanning them at 2400 or even 4800 dpi may be necessary to create a large print later.

Scanning three-dimensional objects is another area where high resolutions (2400 dpi and up) may be necessary. A leaf from outside will have more detail than a photo print and some people like to zoom in on an area to create unique designs. Some artists even you use high-end photo scanners to capture details for their own creations so resolution is important in this case also.

So if you only have photo prints to scan, you probably won’t need the scanner with the highest resolution. It won’t hurt to have it and if you some day need to scan slides or want to get creative and scan objects then having the high resolution capabilities will be beneficial.

Other Features

Once you decide the amount of resolution you need, you can focus in on some of the other features listed above to compare scanners. Most photo scanners for sale have in-built features like auto-scan and auto-correction, but make sure the model you are considering has these as they make scanning easier {auto-scan) and can improve you image quality (auto-correction).epson scanner

Another thing to compare between scanners is the type of scanning and additional software that is included. All photo scanners come with basic software for scanning and basic image-editing. But some scanners have additional software like Photoshop Elements for photo-editing or OCR software for creating editable text from documents.

If you plan to scan film, slides or negatives then you will need a scanner with guides and mounts for holding the film for scanning. The number of slides or film strips that can be scanned at once varies depending on the scanner model, so if you plan to scan a lot of film products you will want to consider the capacity of each scanner.

Finally, let’s just touch on the last few features to compare and those are OS compatibility and footprint. Most photo scanners on the market are compatible with both Windows and Mac but be sure you check before you buy, especially if you are running an older operating system. The footprint is just the size of the scanner and most of the better photo scanners will be similar in size, but if you have limited space you may want to look for a compact option.

The price of a scanner versus the features and options is where the decision is usually made when comparing different models of scanners. The lower-priced models will generally have lower optical resolutions, no film scanning accessories and basic software. Whether you need all the extras will be up to you and want you want to do. There are certainly some affordable photo scanners made by Epson and Canon which will work great for people with basic needs.

Okay, I said buying a photo scanner doesn’t have to be complicated but I still gave you a lot of information to digest. Take some time to read the photo scanner reviews here and go back to the list of bestselling photo scanners above to see what other people are buying and why. Canon and Epson are certainly the leaders in the field and it is hard to go wrong with any of the current bestsellers based on the customer reviews.

If you need more help deciphering all of the various specifications and features, be sure to check out our buying guides listed in the sidebar. Also check out the individual photo scanner reviews to get a feel for the main features of each of the models available.