Best Photo Scanner to Digitize Old Prints & Negatives
This is a guide to the best photo scanners of the year to help digitize your prints and film for backup, viewing and sharing.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got piles of old photo prints and negatives in a cupboard somewhere collecting dust…
Thankfully, you can use photo scanners to convert them all into digital files, so you have an online backup in case your house burns down… or maybe you want to order from an online photo printing service to get some prints or canvases.
After researching and experimenting, we’ve chosen one clear winner – the Epson Perfection V600, which we’ve named the best photo scanner for most people.
At up to 1 photo per second at 300 dpi, this scanner offers unbeatable power, speed and image quality.
This product is perfect if you only have a few photos to scan since it’s what’s known as a ‘flatbed scanner’.
(If you’re looking to do hundreds of photos at once, we have a ‘sheet-fed scanner’ recommendation for you below.)
Most of the best photo scanners offer general-purpose scanning with optical character recognition (OCR) for digitizing documents, while others allow you to scan film negatives – useful for when you’ve lost the original photo print.
While you can get all-in-one printers that can scan photos, for the best in image quality, we recommend the dedicated scanners below.
(We’ve also included a handy FAQs section that answers all the most common queries.)
So dig out your old photos and negatives and let’s take a closer look at the best photo scanners of the year.
Table of Contents
8 Best Photo Scanners in 2021
|Epson Perfection V600||View Price →|
|Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1500||View Price →|
|Epson Perfection V39||View Price →|
|Epson Perfection V850 Pro||View Price →|
|Plustek Photo Scanner||View Price →|
|Kodak Slide n Scan Film Scanner||View Price →|
|Canon CanoScan LiDE 400||View Price →|
|Kodak Mobile Film Scanner||View Price →|
Epson Perfection V600
- High-resolution scan output
- Scans negatives and slides
- Digital ICE technology for both prints and film
- Reasonable price
- Includes OCR software
- Scanning software not user friendly
- Has some Windows 10 issues
One of the more affordable and versatile flatbed photo scanner options, the The Epson Perfection V600 is a great starting point for photographers who need high-resolution scans, but don’t want to fork out the money for the pricier high-end options.
It comes with trays for photo slides and negatives, OCR software for document scanning and editable text, and produces great results from both 35mm and medium format photos.
There’s also digital ICE technology for removing dust and scratches from both photos and film, which is a great help in restoring old photos – even the best photo scanner models don’t include this feature.
Sure, it doesn’t quite come to par with the top-of-the-range photo scanners out there, but for just a little over $200 you’ll get quality that will meet the needs of any but the most demanding of photographers.
Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1500
- Super fast
- Extremely easy to use
- Touch screen
- Nice software bundle included
- Lower optical resolution (600 dpi)
- No ethernet connectivity
If you’ve been wondering what the fastest way to scan old photos is, you might want to look into the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1500.
Using its automatic sheet feeder, the ScanSnap ix1500 can ingest literally piles of photos at once – up to 30 photos at a time. It’s a full 5 pages faster than its closest competitor, making it the best photo scanner if you’re in a hurry!
Even at this speed, its scan quality is surprisingly good. Photos come out quickly, even with an optical resolution of 600 dpi – a lower resolution than its competitors, but enough for most users.
At about twice the price of the Epson Perfection V600, the ix1500 photo scanner isn’t cheap, but if you have a huge photo collection, you can’t really go wrong. High-resolution photo scanning has never been quicker than this.
Epson Perfection V39
- Sharp scan quality (4800 dpi)
- Lightweight and compact
- Scans to Google drive
- Doesn’t scan slides or film
- Cheap parts
At just under $180, the Epson Perfection V39 is definitely one of the best budget photo scanners on the market. It’s a bit lower resolution than the V600 and doesn’t do slides or negatives, but is a great low-price option if you only need to do photo scanning.
Other features include the ability convert documents into editable text or searchable PDFs and to scan directly to Google Drive.
As long as you’re not needing a slide scanner or a particularly high scan resolution, the V39 is definitely one of the best budget options available.
Epson Perfection V850 Pro
- High-quality scans (4800 dpi)
- Dual-lens scan system
- Removes dust and scratches
- Scans film and slides
- Sub-par software
- Large footprint
One of the more expensive scanners on this list, the Epson Perfection V850 Pro was designed for pros who want quality and are willing to pay a little more to get it.
With a dual-lens system and what Epson calls “High Pass Optics,” the V850 Pro yields extremely high-quality photo scans with great accuracy and color depth.
For slide scanning, you can get up to a 6400 dpi optical resolution, which makes for a pretty impressive scan size from 35mm film. There’s even an extra pair of film holders for streamlining your workflow.
The only real drawback to the v850 (other than price) is the software that comes with it. It’s definitely not as user friendly as it could be.
Otherwise, this is one of the best photo scanners for photographers who really want pro-quality, high-resolution scans.
(If you don’t like the v850’s price, check out its lower resolution little brother: the Epson Perfection v800.)
Plustek ePhoto Z300
- Faster than a flatbed scanner
- Great Price
- One-touch sharing to social media sites
- Scan quality could be higher (300 dpi)
- Limited scanning resolution options
- No automatic document feeder
Plustek ePhoto Z300 is one of the more popular budget photo scanners for those with lots of photos to scan. \It’s not the fastest sheet-feed photo scanner on the market – it uses a manual document feeder – but it’s certainly faster than flatbed scanners.
While its scan quality isn’t as good as it could be (300 dpi scan resolution), we found that it’s more than good enough for everyday household use.
You’ll be delighted at how easy it is to use and you won’t find a better price, despite it not being the best photo scanner for photographers with higher imaging demands.
Kodak Slide n Scan Film Scanner
- Quick-feeding tray technology
- Nice 5″ LCD screen
- Good image quality
- Nice software
- Only stores to SD cards
- Cannot convert super 8 rolls
If what you’re really looking to do is scan film, take a look at the Kodak Slide’n Scan Film Scanner.
This handy little scanner beautifully converts just about size film you have into digital files. Everything’s convneintly saved onto an SD card or transferred through a USB cord.
Like it’s big brother the Kodak Scanza, the Slide’n Scan has a scan resolution of 14/24mp – more than enough for most purposes.
Scanning with this little guy takes mere seconds. Loading the film is particularly easy with its Quick-Feeding Tray technology. We also love the included software which is a breeze to use.
Though definitely not a pro-level photo scanner, the Slide’n Scan is definitely one of the best photo scanners for household and everyday use.
Canon CanoScan LiDE 400
- Small footprint design
- Good scan quality
- Easy to use
- Saves to cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive
- Connects via USB C
- No support for wireless or wired networking, mobile apps, or remote scanning
- Many users have problems with the software
Another popular option for photo scanning, the Canon CanoScan LiDE 400 is especially good for photographers with small businesses that need to do document scanning as well.
It’s not the quickest nor most powerful photo scanner out there, but it certainly hits the sweet spot for a combination of decent price, great out-of-the-box photo scans, and a simple setup.
A quick glance on the forums does reveal a few complaints regarding the software, but we were unable to find any issues when testing.
Definitely a worthy entry-level flatbed photo scanner.
Kodak Mobile Film Scanner
- Scans directly to your phone
- Decent companion app
- Made of cardboard
- Mediocre scan quality
If you’re looking for a fun gift for your favorite film photographer, check out the Kodak Mobile Film scanner.
Built like Google Cardboard, this little film scanner is made from cardboard and collapses nicely back into a box when you’re done.
It’s fun, minimal, simple to use, and connects directly to your phone, so there’s no need for a computer or other device.
Lightweight and portable, the Kodak Mobile Film Scanner retails for around $40. Nothing more is needed beyond a couple of AA batteries.
A fun, cheap option for someone who wants to go super low tech.
Scanning Photos – FAQs
Where can I convert my photos to digital?
If you don’t want to buy your own photo scanner there are many professional scanning services available. These will scan everything for you at a professional level. A quick Google search will reveal the best options in your area.
What is the best resolution to scan old photos?
This depends on what you want to use the photos for. For photo prints a higher resolution is ideal – no less than 300 DPI and ideally far higher. If you’re planning to use them on the web only, a DPI resolution of 72 to 96 will be enough.
How do I digitize photos at home?
- Choose the photos you want to scan in this session
- Clean off the photos and the scanner bed
- Make sure the scanner is set to “color” (even for black and whites)
- Review and select the settings for resolution, etc.
- Scan the photos
How do I digitize old photos on my smartphone?
You can digitize old photos onto your smartphone using the Google PhotoScan app. You can also use a photo scanner like the Kodak Mobile Film Scanner above.
Is it better to scan or photograph old photos?
While photographing old photos with your smartphone might be more convenient, you’ll get much higher image quality by using a photo scanner.
How do I digitize thousands of photos?
If you have the budget for it, take them to a professional service. Otherwise invest in a sheet-feeder photo scanner like the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1500.
Is it better to scan photos as PDF or JPEG?
Saving to a Jpeg format is fine for anything online. PDFs are good for images that contain text. Saving as a TIFF will give you the best image quality.
So there you have it, this year’s guide to the best photo scanners on the market.
Any one of these models will help get you on the way yo digitizing your prints and film for backup, viewing, sharing and anything else you can think of.
What do you think? What’s your favorite way to digitize old prints?
Usnea Lebendig is a travel and landscape photographer who loves trekking in the wilderness, exploring other cultures, and using photography for social activism.