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best photo scanners

The Best Photo Scanners in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

Welcome to our big photo scanner test. Here we present you all photo scanners that we have tested in more detail. We have put together detailed background information for you.

We want to make the purchase decision easier for you and help you find the best photo scanner for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. You will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a photo scanner.

  • Photo scanners are ideal for digitizing analog photos in order to maintain their quality over the long term. The result is much better than that of a photo taken with a camera.
  • Flatbed scanners, portable scanners, multifunctional scanners and mobile photo scanners are particularly suitable for digitizing photos.
  • While the scan resolution is particularly good when scanning with a flatbed and multifunction scanner, portable and mobile scanners are characterized by their practical application and their compact size.

Best Photo Scanners

Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner

Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner
  • Scan documents quickly and easily with fast scanning up to…
  • Digitize documents and images thanks to 2400 x 2400 dpi…
  • Enjoy ease of use with 4 ‘EZ’ buttons. With auto scan mode,…

The Canon Lide 300 flatbed scanner is an affordable solution for people who want to scan photos and other documents in addition to books. It is characterized by its high resolution, which also allows high-quality scanning of images and graphics.

Due to the small contact surface, templates up to A4 are particularly suitable. If you want to scan larger formats, this is possible in several processes. The housing is black and can also stand horizontally on an attached stand.

Since the scanner is not intended for specific documents, it offers an extremely high resolution of 2400 dpi. In addition to scanning in text, this also enables complex graphics and images with many color gradients to be scanned.

The scanner is one of the most compact versions on the market and has dimensions of just 25 x 36.5 x 3.9 centimeters. With a weight of only 1.7 kilograms, it is also very light. Furthermore, it is suitable for offices with little space and for mobile work, as it has small dimensions and weight.

Plustek Photo Scanner - ephoto Z300

Plustek Photo Scanner - ephoto Z300
2,573 Reviews
Plustek Photo Scanner – ephoto Z300
  • The easiest way to scan photos and documents. Supports 3×5,…
  • Fast and easy, 2 seconds for one 4×6 photo and 5 seconds for…
  • More efficient than a flatbed scanner. Just insert the…
  • Powerful Image Enhancement functions included. Quickly…
  • ePhoto Z300 works with both Mac and PC : Supports Windows…

The Plustek ePhoto photo scanner falls under the category of photo scanners with feeder scanners. The image is drawn through the scanner by itself while it is connected to your laptop or computer via USB. No further buttons have to be pressed.

Appropriate software for image processing is also supplied with the device. This allows you to edit the photos and improve their appearance immediately after they have been scanned.

Epson FastFoto FF-680W

Epson FastFoto FF-680W
  • World’s Fastest Personal Photo Scanner(1) scan thousands…
  • Preserve your priceless photos safe touch technology for…
  • Second Generation Epson Fast Foto Software Scan, Restore,…
  • Flexible scanning offers modes for easy sharing (300 dpi),…
  • Powerful Document Scanning includes Epson ScanSmart Software…

Epson Perfection V600

Epson Perfection V600
  • Create extraordinary enlargements from film: 6400 x 9600 dpi…
  • Remove the appearance of dust and scratches from film:…
  • Remove the appearance of tears and creases from photos:…
  • Restore faded color photos with one touch: Epson easy photo…
  • Scan slides, negatives and medium format panoramic film:…

Magnasonic All-in-One Film & Photo Scanner

Magnasonic All-in-One Film & Photo Scanner
  • BRING BACK THE MEMORIES – Quickly and easily convert 4×6…
  • SCANS FROM THE BOTTOM – No need to remove photos from your…
  • SD CARD STORAGE – Save your scanned photos directly onto the…
  • NO COMPUTER NEEDED – No complicated photo-editing software…
  • QUICK & EASY SCANNING – Simple setup for frustration-free…

Frequently Asked Questions: Photo Scanner

What are the advantages of a photo scanner compared to simply taking photos of photos?

The easiest way to digitize a photo without a scanner is to take a picture with a digital camera, a mobile phone or another technical device with an integrated camera.

The following problems can arise when taking photos:

Reflection
The reflection can be seen on the digitized version. This causes the digital file to lose quality

Perspective
The proportions can be distorted if the photo is not shot from the optimal perspective

Edge
By simply taking a photo, it can also happen that the edge of the analog photo does not match the frame of the digital photo optimally

Distortion
When photos are bent a bit, it is difficult to capture the photo without distortion

If you want to receive reflection-free digitized photos from the perfect perspective and with precise edges, you should get a photo scanner instead of simply taking pictures with your camera.

How big is the difference between standard and professional devices?

Basically, you can say with photo scanners that the resolution of the images is definitely higher, the more money you spend on it. The differences between standard and professional devices are often only noticeable to the “normal user”.

A guide value for the image resolution is the dpi (= dots per inch) value. At a value of 300 dpi one says that the resolution is sufficient. Anything below that results in poor image quality.

Who should get a photo scanner?

Photo scanners are suitable for both private and professional use.

Since these devices can also be used as document scanners and partially as slide, negative or film scanners, these devices are really suitable for everyone who wants to convert printed files into a digital version.

What is dpi and what does it say about a photo scanner?

In order to digitize printed original photos with the photo scanner, the highest possible resolution is desirable. This provides information about the number of pixels that are captured by the photo scanner on a certain area and is often specified with the unit dpi (dots per inch).

A high scan resolution is necessary so that the most accurate copy of the original photo is produced when scanning photos. If this is high, however, larger amounts of data also arise. As a rule, paper photos do not have a high depth of field, and they are usually already available in relatively large formats.

For a photo printout in the same format as the original, 300 dpi are generally sufficient for scanning in order to produce a sharp image on the screen. If you want to enlarge your image after the scan or just want to zoom in on it, you should adjust the scan resolution accordingly. With a scan in 600 dpi, the photo becomes more detailed and you can digitally enlarge the photo afterwards.

Photo Scanner: Purchase Criteria

In the following section, criteria are presented that you can use to decide on the photo scanner that best suits your wishes and needs.

It will be about the following factors:

  • Image resolution
  • Scanning Speed
  • Scan Format
  • Interface
  • Photo scanner size and weight
  • Storage capacity
  • Display and color

In the following paragraphs we want to bring you closer to the important differences between photo scanners so that you can then make your purchase decision easier.

Image Resolution

One of the most important distinguishing features of photo scanners is the image resolution, which the digital photos have after the scanning process.

It should be noted here that all modern photo scanners have a fairly high optical resolution. To get a digital photo that has a similar format to the original photo, 300 dpi (dots per inch) are sufficient.

In contrast to the other types of photo scanners, feeder scanners, mobile photo scanners and portable scanners have a rather low scan resolution. Photos that are scanned with flatbed scanners or multifunction scanners generally achieve a higher optical resolution in digital form.

The resolution you need for the photo scan depends on how big you want the photo to be scanned. If the later print is to be the same size as the original, 300-400 dpi (dots per inch) is sufficient.

In the event that the 15 × 10 cm original should be 30 cm wider, you should use 600-1200 dpi. In the case of fine structures, such as small lettering, at least 600 dpi is generally recommended.

Of course you can also scan every image with the highest resolution of the device, e.g. 4800 dpi, but you should bear in mind that these not only take up a lot of storage space, but also take a lot of time for scanning, data transfer and image processing.

Sheet-feed scanners are generally more suitable for scanning documents or paper photos than for photos with a smooth surface. Since the digitized version of a document does not usually have to be larger than the original document, the resolution is also not particularly high. This type of scanner usually achieves between 300 and 600 dpi.

The resolution of portable scanners and mobile photo scanners is higher and is between 600 and 1000 dpi. The compactness of the scanner does not allow much higher image resolution.

In contrast to this, flatbed scanners and multifunction scanners usually achieve a significantly higher scan resolution. So if photos are scanned and are to be reprinted in a much larger format, this type of scanner is recommended. Flatbed and multifunction scanners produce digital photos with an average optical resolution of 2400 to 9600 dpi.

Normally, the more money you spend on a photo scanner, the higher its scan resolution.

Scanning Speed

In many cases, the speed of the scanning process is not a particularly important purchase criterion for a scanning device. But if you want to scan a large number of photos, it is of course an advantage if you don’t have to wait hours for your scans.

The scanning process of sheet-fed scanners and portable scanners takes on average longer than that of flatbed, multifunctional and mobile scanners.

When scanning with a feeder scanner, you have to place the photo in the device. Only then does the motor pull the file inside and digitize it. This takes about as much time as scanning with a portable scanner. You have to move it slowly and carefully from the top of the photo to the bottom so as not to blur the scan.

After you have placed the photo to be scanned on the glass surface of a flatbed or multifunction scanner, the scan only takes a few seconds. Even a mobile photo scanner on the phone or on other devices only takes a few seconds per photo.

Scan Format

Another factor that could be important in your purchase decision is the maximum size of the document to be scanned. The question arises as to whether one only wants to digitize photos, or also documents, slides and / or negatives.

If you only want to digitize photos in standard formats (smaller than A4), all of the scanner types described here are suitable for you. However, if you also want to scan documents, some multifunctional scanners are not necessary, as these are often suitable for photos, slides and negatives, but not for A4 documents. Even photos that are larger than 13 x 18 cannot be digitized with it.

Mobile photo scanners, on the other hand, scan photos and documents in all sizes and materials, as you can move away from the photo when taking photos, depending on the image format. You cannot scan slides, negatives and films with it.

When buying, pay attention to which format you mainly want to scan and whether the scanner supports all of these. It is possible that your scanner cannot process all types and formats if it specializes in some content.

Slides, negatives and films can only be converted into a digital format with multifunction scanners and flatbed scanners with a transparency adapter.

Interface

Basically the interface of every modern scanning device is a USB connection.

This makes it easy to connect the Scan Apparatus to a computer. However, some scanners also work without a PC and run independently using a WLAN connection. These then do not necessarily need a USB connection.

Portable scanners and some multifunction scanners do not need to be connected to a computer, but function independently. Feeder and flatbed scanners work to a large extent with a PC connection, but the latter also occasionally with the help of a WiFi signal. Mobile photo scanners have the advantage of being available anytime and anywhere without an extra drive device.

Photo scanner size and weight

Since a photo scanner is often used in the home environment, for example to digitize old family photos, the size and weight of the device are less important. It doesn’t have to be transported particularly often.

Usually several photos are scanned in each time the scanner is used. So the product is rarely used, but when it is, it is used for a longer period of time. If the scanner is not used the rest of the time, it is stowed on a shelf or the like. That is why it can also be important that it does not take up too much space and that it is not too heavy for the selected piece of furniture.

Portable scanners are particularly space-saving and lightweight photo scanners. Some flatbed and multifunction scanners are very compact, with most sheet-feed scanners being larger and heavier.

Since mobile photo scanners are installed on an electronic device, this type of scanner does not take up any additional space.

The length of a portable scanner is never much more than 297 mm (i.e. the length of a DIN A4 sheet of paper). Its width is around 3 cm, which means that this hand scanner is very practical and easy to transport – hence the name “portable”.

Flatbed scanners normally only slightly exceed the dimensions of a DIN A4 sheet. There is only a more or less wide frame around the glass surface. However, the depth of older models is often much greater than that of newer models.

Since you cannot scan documents with most multifunction scanners, the devices are not very large either. In contrast to flatbed and sheet-fed scanners, the shape of multifunction scanners is roughly similar to that of a cube.

Feeder scanners are rather large because the support surface of the A4 sheet to be scanned protrudes from the device itself. The feed motor takes up some space inside the scanner.

Storage capacity

The storage capacity of a scanner can often not be divided precisely according to type. Some devices have internal RAM memory, others work without it.

Portable scanners do not have an integrated main memory because there is simply not enough space for it. The larger a sheet-feed, flatbed or multifunction scanner, the more likely it is to contain a large amount of RAM such as a DDR3 SDRAM.

Mobile photo scanners use the internal (RAM memory) of the electronic device to save the work steps of the scanning process.

Scanned photos are either saved on an external memory card or transferred to the connected computer with a USB cable and saved there.

In general, an external memory card is used for models that work without a computer connection. This particularly applies to portable scanners and mobile photo scanners (if the storage capacity of the cell phone is insufficient). Most other types of photo scanners store photos directly on the computer.

Display and color

Another decision criterion can be the presence of a screen. This is an important point especially with photo scanners, which do not work connected to a computer, but independently.

With scanners with a computer connection, the digitized photo is displayed directly on the computer screen. If the scanning device works independently and has no display, the scanned images can only be examined later on another electronic device.

A screen is often integrated, especially with multifunction scanners. Flatbed scanners sometimes have a display, but feeder and portable scanners rarely do. With mobile photo scanner apps, the digital version of the photo can be examined directly on the screen of the electronic device.

With a multifunction scanner you can digitize not only photos but also slides and negatives through a somewhat more complex process. For this it is very important to know the quality of the digital file.

The compact size of a portable scanner does not really allow a screen to be integrated because it would have to be so small that the file would not be recognized properly. Some portable scanners have a small display that shows the selected actions, but not the scanned image.

The color of the scanning device, i.e. its design, can also be a purchase criterion for some consumers.

Almost all scanners, whether feeder, flatbed, multifunctional or portable scanners, are available in black, white or gray or silver. Some portable scanners are also available in bright colors.

Types of Photo Scanners

There are many different ways to digitize photos. One of them is scanning with a photo scanner. Basically, one can differentiate between the following types of photo scanners:

  • Flatbed scanner
  • Multifunction scanner
  • Feeder scanner
  • Portable scanner
  • Portable photo scanner

They differ not only visually, but also in their size and, above all, in how they work.

Which one is right for you depends on the type and scope of the source material and also on the budget and the desired scan quality.

The following text describes the respective types of photo scanners and their advantages and disadvantages to make your purchase decision easier.

Flatbed Scanners: Advantages & Disadvantages

The scanning works through light sensors that recognize the colors of the photo and finally convert it into a digital file.

During the scanning process, the photo or document to be scanned is placed face down on a glass plate, whereupon a lighting and scanning unit passes under this glass plate. A mirror in the scanner breaks these 8,000 or so light sensors down into the primary colors red, green and blue.

The scanner has a sensor line for each color, which consists of light-sensitive capacitors (also called CCD elements). Depending on the strength of the light reflected by the scanned object, the capacitors emit charge. These changes in charge are converted into numerical values, i.e. digitized. Light signals are ultimately converted into digital signals.

Advantages

  • Easy handling
  • Automatic capture of the entire image
  • Can also be used for documents
  • Good value for money

Disadvantages

  • Error in color coverage due to deviating light sensitivity
  • Sometimes poor optical quality: distortion, depth of field
  • Exposure cannot be controlled
  • Time consuming

Since the light sensors are only converted into the three basic colors, errors in the coloring can occur in some photos. This tends to reduce the overall quality of the photo.

The ease of use is particularly positive. This type of scanner is not recommended if you have many photos to scan, as each photo has to be placed individually in the device. This is quite time consuming.

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In order to digitize slides and negatives in addition to photos and documents with a flatbed scanner, a transparency attachment can also be mounted. Here, the object to be scanned is illuminated from above and then converted into numerical values. The lighting unit under the glass plate is switched off.

Multifunction Scanners: Advantages & Disadvantages

As the name suggests, this type of scanner fulfills several functions. Documents and photos as well as negatives and slides can be digitized. The functionality corresponds to that of a flatbed scanner with a directly integrated transparency attachment:

When scanning a multi-function scanner, the photo or document to be scanned is placed down on a glass plate, whereupon a lighting and scanning unit passes under this glass plate. A mirror in the scanner breaks these 8,000 or so light sensors down into the primary colors red, green and blue.

The scanner has a sensor line for each color, which consists of light-sensitive capacitors (also called CCD elements). Depending on the strength of the light reflected by the scanned object, the capacitors emit charge. These changes in charge are converted into numerical values, i.e. digitized. Light signals are ultimately converted into digital signals.

When scanning slides and negatives, however, the lighting unit under the glass plate is switched off. The object to be scanned is now illuminated from above by light sensors and then converted into numerical values.

Advantages

  • Easy handling
  • Suitable for photos, documents, slides and negatives
  • Very good value for money
  • Rather high scan resolution

Disadvantages

  • Error in color coverage due to deviating light sensitivity
  • Sometimes poor optical quality: distortion, depth of field
  • Exposure cannot be controlled
  • Time consuming

Since the light sensors are only converted into the 3 basic colors, there are some photos with errors in the coloring, which means that the general quality of the photo is limited.

The device is easy to use and it always captures the entire photo including its edges. However, when you have a few photos to scan, it takes a lot of time because you have to place each photo individually in the machine.

The resolution of the photos digitized with multifunction scanners is quite high. The photo can therefore be enlarged in the digital version without sacrificing image quality. For such an S

Feeder Scanners: Advantages & Disadvantages

The feed scanner pulls in the photo or document, whereupon scanning sensors recognize the colors and then converts them into digital signals.

Such an apparatus consists of a few CCD sensors which, however, are not movable but fixed. A motor feeder, similar to how a fax machine works, transports the photo or document into its interior via rollers on the scanning sensors.

These sensors recognize the colors of the scanned object and convert them into electrical charge, similar to a flatbed scanner. Light signals are then converted into digital signals and thus saved in a digital version.

Advantages

  • Easy operation
  • Also suitable for documents

Disadvantages

  • Color registration errors due to low light sensitivity
  • Movement of the photo by motorized retraction → reduced image sharpness
  • Low scan resolution
  • Older models only scan A4
  • Time consuming

The surface of a photo is usually much smoother than that of a paper document. As a result, it often happens that the motor retraction shifts the photo while the photo is being fed in. This causes the photo to be blurred and the image sharpness is poor.

This type of scanner used to be a document scanner only. Although newer models also scan small-format smooth photos, scanning A4 still works much better today. However, paper photos in A4 format can normally be scanned in without any problems.

The device is easy to use and the entire photo is always captured by the device. However, when you have a few photos to scan, it takes a lot of time because you have to place each photo individually in the machine.

Portable Scanners: Advantages & Disadvantages

With the help of a portable scanner, the manually scanned document or photo is converted into electrical charge and thus digitized.

There are light sensors on the underside of the pen-shaped device. Depending on the length, you move the scanner horizontally from the top edge of a maximum A4 document or photo to the bottom or vertically from the left edge to the right. As a result, more or less intense light stimuli are recorded in the sensor line, which are converted into electrical charge. Thus the photo or document is converted into a digital form.

Advantages

  • Handy size
  • Good value for money
  • Also suitable for documents

Disadvantages

  • By manual actuation “risk of blurring” → reduced image sharpness
  • Complicated, very careful and slow operation
  • Time consuming

The portable scanner has a very practical size and can easily be carried in a handbag.

However, since it is operated manually, there is a risk of blurring the scan. You have to proceed very slowly and carefully to maintain the sharpness of the digital version. The scanning process therefore takes a long time.

Standard portable scanners are priced in the middle class.

Portable Photo Scanners: Advantages & Disadvantages

With the help of a mobile photo scanner or a photo scanner app, photos are photographed with the camera of a smartphone or tablet and thus saved digitally.

A special recording process enables some mobile apps to minimize the reflection of the photo. In addition, some apps can correct a wrong perspective when taking a photo of the photo and receive an automatic cropping of the file, since the edge of the analog photo is recognized in the digitized version.

Advantages

  • Inexpensive to free
  • very good value for money
  • Practical and handy thanks to the mobile app
  • Simple and very fast operation
  • Direct editing and filter application with other apps possible

Disadvantages

  • Depending on the battery of the electronic device
  • If the photo is not straight, the edges will not be recognized perfectly
  • Not very high resolution

Since the mobile photo scanner is directly integrated in the mobile phone or tablet, it is very practical to carry with you and does not need an external power supply. During the scan you are of course dependent on the battery of your mobile phone or tablet.

The app is easy to use and photos can be scanned in pretty quickly, as all you have to do is press the camera shutter button and the rest will happen by itself. After scanning, the photos can be edited directly using other apps.

However, if the photo is bent a little and not resting perfectly on a surface, sometimes the edges of the photo will not be recognized properly. In this way, stripes of the background can be found on the edge of the photo on the scanned image, or edges can be cut off.

The resolution of the digital photo is not particularly high, but acceptable for private use. You can usually download mobile photo scanner apps for free, sometimes for a low price.

Last product update on 2021-01-24 | Source: Amazon Affiliate