Many people have a box or two of slides stored away somewhere that they would like to save and be able to look through. Creating digital copies of your slide either by scanning them yourself or using a service is a great way to make sure they are save for years, allowing you to preserve old memories and share those images with family and friends electronically. If you have 35mm slides or negatives that you would like to digitize then you will need a good slide scanner.
Today there are many flatbed scanners that can scan both photos and slides, some more affordable than others. Choosing the right slide scanner will depend on how concerned you are with image quality and how much you are willing to pay. You don’t need to buy the most expensive scanner though to get great scans of your slides, film or negatives.
Many traditional photo scanners have the ability to scan slides and film with additional attachments and are the best choice for high quality scans. But there are also few dedicated devices (better known as “slide converters”) that make the process a bit easier and faster.
Here are the Best Slide Scanners for 2021:
1. The Epson Perfection V600
The V600 has been the bestselling scanner in this category for the last few years because of it’s winning combination of features and price. This unit is able to scan 35mm film and mounted slides as well as medium-format film using the included holders. It is also a great photo scanner if you need to scan prints.
This Epson scanner provides 6400 x 9600 dpi resolution for quality image output. It also comes with Epson’s Digital Ice technology which removes dust and scratches from your scanned images. Read our full Epson Perfection V600 Review for more details on this unit.
2. Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II
The Canoscan 9000F was the bestselling slide and film scanner for many years but has slipped in popularity compared to the Epson V600. But this Canon slide scanner is still a solid offering for scanning negatives, slides and photos.
Overall, the 9000F MarkII is comparable to the V600 as far as performance and price. The main differences come in hardware which can be difficult to differentiate on paper. This Canon slide scanner has a “Super Toric Lens” which is purported to offer sharper and brighter scans. It also offers dust and scratch removal. Read our Canon 9000F Review for more information.
3. The Epson Perfection V800
The Epson V800 is kind of the the cadillac of best film scanners. The V800 has a duel lens system that allows the unit to determine the optimal results based on what is being scanned. It also comes with a higher optical density (4.0 Dmax) allow for better shadowing.
Like the V600, this device also scans 35mm film, 35mm slides and medium-format film but it also can handle 4×5 film. But where the Epson V800 vs V600 comparison most lies is in the quality of the scans. Users who have tried both have found superior results using the V800, especially for slides and film. The V800 also has a faster scanning speed if
Film and Slide Converters
If you are willing to swap quality for speed and ease, an image converter is another option for digitizing slides, negatives and film. Learn more about the key difference between converters and scanners by reading below.
1. The Wolverine Titan
This Wolverine film converter is a top-selling device for fast and easy digital conversion of slides and negatives. These units are much smaller than a flatbed scanner and can be used without a computer. But the output quality, while more automatic, will generally be much lower.
Before buying, read the information below to understand the difference between a digital converter vs a scanner. You can read more about this unit in our Wolverine Titan Review.
2. The Jumbl 22MP
The Jumbl is a newer competitor to the market and offers similar features to the Wolverine scanner. But like the Wolverine, the converted images will be of a lower quality than you would get with the Epson or Canon options above.
But if quick and easy is more important than quality, this option is certainly worth checking out.See our Jumbl 22MP Review to learn more about this digitizer.
If you have taken a look at the list of best picture scanners you will see that two of the devices listed above are also on that list. That’s because the top photo scanners have all of the requirements for creating excellent scans of film, negatives, and slides. If you want high quality scans of your film products, then the scanners listed about are some of the best for home use.
Converter vs Slide Scanner
I have also included two slide converters which are a popular option for scanning negatives and slides. Converters are different than scanners. They essentially take a picture of your slide to provide an image file for archiving and general use. The quality is not as good as the quality achieved by using a photo scanner, but these little devices can convert negatives and slides to an image format very quickly and easily. Not everyone needs the resolution quality of using a slide scanner but instead wants speed or ease of use. In those cases a slide to digital converter may be preferred.
But if most photo scanners are equipped to scan slides and 35mm film, why buy a slide converter? Well, the answer is primarily speed and simplicity. A traditional scanner will be hooked up to your computer and scan to the associated software. Each scan will take a few seconds to complete. If you have a big box of old slides from family vacations to get through, scanning them all will seem like a monumental task.
Slide and film converters were created for automatic push-button scanning without a computer. The slides are quickly converted to a digital image which is then stored on an SD card for later retrieval. This makes the process of archiving a huge pile of slides much quicker. But it is important to point out that these aren’t scans, these are photos of your slides so the image quality will not be as good as if you used a real slide scanner.
A 35mm film converter is also much smaller than a traditional scanner. If your only need for a scanner is for scanning slides, you may not be happy with the amount of space that will be taken up by a flatbed photo scanner on your desk. Since most slide converters scan to an SD card, they do not need to be tethered to your computer and can be used and stored anywhere.
If you need quality scans of your 35mm film or slides or also want to scan photo prints, then you need to take a look at the best options in Canon and Epson slide scanners. But if you simply want to convert a bunch of slides or negatives to digital images for preserving, investing in an image converter will be quicker and easier.
CanoScan 9000F Mark II Vs Epson V600
All of the devices listed above are great film scanners but there are some key differences to point out. First, the Canon 9000F Mark II and the Epson V600 can scan 35mm and medium format while the V800 can handle 35mm all the way up to 4″x5″ film. Most people will only need to scan 35mm slides or 35mm negatives, but for old film or photographers the larger film capacity may be needed.
Second, the number of slides or film strip that can be scanned in a run varies. The Canon 9000F and the Epson V600 can scan 4 slides at a time while the Epson V800 can scan 12 slides at a time. Finally, all three scanners come with a copy of the photo-editing software Photoshop Elements but the V800 also includes an imaging software called SilverFast.
The Epson models all have additional photo enhancing options within their software that can be useful when scanning older or damaged film products. Epson’s Digital Ice feature will remove dust and scratches from scan and there is also a one-touch restoration feature called Easy Photo Fix. Canon has it’s own feature for dust and scratch reduction called FARE level 3.
I should also not that Epson also has some lower-priced scanners like the Epson Perfection V370 that has less features than the scanners listed here, but is still a decent slide scanner. If you need something a bit more budget-friendly, these two models may be a good option for you.
Epson V800 vs V850
When a product has a ‘perfection’ moniker as a part of its official series label, it better rise to that exceedingly high standard. Both the Epson V800 and V850 are premium flatbed scanners of the ‘perfection’ line.
However, when one thinks of something as best or perfect, there are some key factors to be considered:
- Is it suited for your needs?
- Is it too expensive for what the product offers?
- Does the uncompromising scanning quality override all other positives and negatives?
If the last concern is the most important to you, you will not go wrong with choosing either of them.
Both V800 and V850 offer massive 6400dpi scanning resolution, and incredible tonal range of 4.0 Dmax. Simply put, everything that these devices scan will be absolutely impeccable in terms of detail, color reproduction, shadow detail, and smooth gradations. And both have premium features, like the Digital ICE Technology, which removes many surface defects from film and prints in order to minimize the time-intensive and costly post-scan retouching.
Also, they both have dual lens system, which enables you to select from 2 lenses for the most nitpicky professional requirements.
So, it seems that all the core features and capabilities are the same, but the price difference between the V800 and V850 is a few hundred dollars. What exactly does V850 do extra to deserve such a significant price disparity?
The difference can be summed up in two words – productivity scaling.
Unlike the V800, the V850 can batch scan multiple slides and negatives, medium and large format film with two sets of film holders, which are included in the bundle just like with the V800.
Additionally, the V850 is spruced up with ‘Advanced optics’, meaning it has a high-reflection mirror and anti-reflective optical coatings, both of which ensure minimum optical distortion. However, it is hard to notice any difference with final scanning results, but a trained, professional who has decades of experience may argue otherwise.
Premium hardware requires premium software, and Epson does not disappoint in this area as well. The included LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast SE Plus allows for full control of your scanning results: selective or global color, descreening, scaling, highlights, shadows, gradations. Everything you would find in a specialized photo-editing software.
Therefore, if you value increased modicum of convenience through slightly increased productivity you can choose the V850 for extra money. If not, the cheaper V800 will still offer you uncompromising photo scanning experience that is currently available on the market.
How to Get the Best Images from Your Scans
- Make sure your scanner glass is clean if you are using a flatbed. Any dust or dirt will show up in your scans so be sure to wipe down the glass with a lint-free cloth in-between scan.
- Make sure your slides, film or negatives are clean. At a minimum, clean off dust with a cloth or canned air. For dirty or moldy slides, a cleaner may need to be used. Check out our article on cleaning slides for tips.
- Do a few practice runs. Pick one slide and try scanning it a few times while tweaking the settings in the scanning software. Compare the images and see which settings give you the best output.
- Be sure to save your images as PNG or TIFF if you have the hard drive space. These formats are larger than JPEG but maintain a higher quality image.
If you need more information on slide scanners in general, check out the article on Scanning Slides and Film which provides some general tips which may also help you with a purchasing decision.