We all have entered the digital age and keep every record like pictures, and photos into digital formats like in mobile phones, cloud services, and online storage. But still, we have a huge pile of old photos and negatives that remind us when we look back at these old photos and for that, we will need the best photo scanner for old photos to scan and convert them into digital format.
We want to convert these photos digitally to have easy access and preserve them in time and associate us with special moments that we want to preserve forever. For converting old photos and negatives into digital collections, we need photo scanners so that we can save them on our hard drives, USBs, or external storage devices to place them on laptops or PCs to view them later.
It makes it so convenient to store, retrieve and transfer old digital photos in case we lost the original pictures in the hard form. Scanning old photos brings lots of incentives like we can make more copies, edit pictures, print them on canvas and make a digital collection with ease.
Scanning old pictures and negatives require specialized photo scanners that have the capacity to scan high-resolution images in detail and transform them into digital photos.
Most people think that a mobile phone can do a job like a photo scanner to scan and transfer pictures or negatives into a digital one, but there will be a hell of a difference in the quality, sharpness, and feel of a scanner scanned image and image taken a smartphone camera.
If you compare a scanning vs taking picture image specification, you will come to know the difference between both. Only a photo scanner can help us to digitize our old photos in the true format that we can store in hard drives, NAS devices, and online storage safe and secure.
All you would need is a good photo scanner to convert old printed photos digitally. Do you have to spend money on a good scanner? With the right scanner, your digital assets can be preserved for generations.
We have tested out dozens of scanners that are user-friendly and enable you to take control of the scanning process without spending too much money.
Since you are not a graphic designer nor an expert who can turn your old photos into high-resolution digital images, you must rely on photo scanners for scanning old photos.
Most people don’t know about picture scanners and how they work. But they can read out the information available online to get the basic knowledge about scanners, their features, and the scan resolution of these scanners.
Do you have photos that are very special to you lying around in a pile, and wish there was a way to get them back? We all do. We’ll show you how easy it is to bring those photos into the digital age by scanning with the best photo scanners for old photos.
Best Photo Scanner for Old Photos 2021
Before you proceed further exploring the top-rated and best photo scanners, get some information about them. Learn the basics about image scanners, their design, and how they scan images or photos.
You need to know what resolution is, what is the best scan resolution for old photos, scanner type, i.e. flatbed or tower, and many more about image scanners.
Different Scanner Types
Why are there so many kinds of scanners? Wouldn’t one scanner do the trick? Not quite.
Each scanner performs a different type of scanning, making it suitable for a certain type of job but impossible to find just one scanner that falls under the umbrella of ‘all-in-one’.
Most scanners fall into one of 3 categories: Flatbed, Sheet-fed, Photo, and Portable. Do you know which category you need to scan your photos in? Whether you want portable scanners to scan documents when traveling or just use flatbeds.
If you are looking for a scanner to scan high-resolution images and restore old photos, then a flatbed scanner would be most convenient and recommended for the purpose.
Do you want to convert your old film negatives into digital color photos? Despite having a digital camera, you still prefer to take pictures with traditional cameras using films. But you will need to save them electronically and that’s why you will need a scanner with the capacity to scan negatives or a negative scanner that can give you the solution.
When you have a project that requires high-resolution document images, quality flatbed scanners come in handy. For a better understanding, let us take a page to see things from the scanner’s perspective, then talk about its electronic components, and finally examine the process.
We use flatbed scanners for scanning documents, photos, negatives, slides, CDs, and other items. They come in different resolutions and speeds for digital cameras. The image sensor is transparent to allow light through for flatbed scanners.
Flatbed photo scanners are universally considered being “true” scanners. When we lift the lid of the scanner, it exposes the glass platen of these scanners, enabling us to place a photo on it.
The size of the platen is usually a distinguishing factor between models, with most being either letter-size (8.5 x 11 inches) or legal-size (8.5 x 14 inches). It is important to pay attention to that specification based on what type of scanning you do.
To avoid destroying delicate materials, do not scan your photos (or any other type of old photos, for that matter) using a sheet-fed document scanner, whether a standalone model or one built into a printer (more on that in a moment).
Flatbed scanners use an optical CCD light sensor to capture the image of the item to be scanned. Light reflects off the document and is directed towards the sensor, creating an image that can then be digitized into a bit-mapped raster image.
Prices and capabilities of photo scanners vary. Photo-scanning devices with low cost can scan prints and documents only and that is not of excellent quality. It is possible to find one for less than $100 that does a good job of this but you need to research extensively.
You can buy scanners that can digitize film negatives or slides for around $200. Several slides or negatives can fit in a plastic frame during scanning, which secures them in place during scanning.
By using this technique, alignment and spacing can be achieved while scanning, reducing the need to handle transparency directly off the platen.
Scanning devices offer basic and advanced modes that can be accessed through the scanner’s driver or scanning utility. These extra features make the scanner easier and simple.
The program will select basic scanning software utility settings on the fly, but advanced scanning will let you customize them.
Best Photo Scanner Reviews
1. Epson Perfection V550 Color Photo
From negatives, slides, and photos, the Epson Perfection V550 Color Photo Scanner delivers high-quality scans. With 6400 dpi optical resolution, it can scan 35-millimeter images and documents up to 8.5 x 11-inches.
Get better results when scanning prints that are warped or crooked. The Perfection V550 includes Easy Photo Fix one-touch photo restorations, which lets you automatically improve images to look their best.
This high-performance scanner features an advanced CCD that can capture images in 6400 dpi optical resolution for perfect photo restorations. With its multiple scanning modes, you can quickly scan stacks of photos or old negatives one at a time.
Its optional removable transparency unit can scan up to four 35mm slides, two rows of six negatives, or four sheets of medium-format film.
It automatically detects the size of multiple photos, the photo print size and crops them, saving each with its auto edge detection technology that corrects the size.
Digital ICE, a hardware-based film scanning technology that removes dust and scratches digitally, is included in the V550. V550s also have software-managed dust removal for prints, but Digital ICE technology is more effective.
Plugin the power cord and USB cable that came with the scanner, and turn it on. It is easy to put the V550 scanner together, Just install the software and plug in the power cord.
It supports scanning from virtually any Windows program that uses the scan command, Twain, and WIA drivers.
A flatbed scanner of this price provided very good scanning quality. An LED-based light means the scanner warms up quickly, whether you just finished scanning or you are starting from scratch.
The second benefit of LEDs is that they do not contain mercury like most scanners use and are opposed to cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL). Thus, making the V550 models more useable and recommend for scanning.
Its impressive scan quality, coupled with features like scanning multiple 35mm slides or film negatives, and the Digital ICE hardware-based solution for film scanning combine to make the V550 the most recommended image scanner for old photo scanning.
- Scans variety of images
- Perfect for old photo restoration
- Great picture quality and color balance
- Great scanner but its software is not user-friendly
2. Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner
This is a flatbed scanner that can digitize photographs and convert them into high-quality images. It can scan documents at homes, small offices, and home offices. The Canon CanoScan LiDE 300 is an entry-level flatbed scanner.
If you compare the Canon CanoScan LiDE 300 with LiDe 400, you will find the major difference of resolution between the both. The latter one comes with a little higher resolution and scans a bit quicker.
However, LiDE 300 is still a great option at this price. It can scan digital files and is quite helpful in the restoration of old images and negatives. It is a lightweight machine and does not take much space.
Canoscan LiDE 300 offers USB 2.0 connectivity for data and power but doesn’t offer any mobile or cable connectivity. You can just upload your scanned images on cloud services for later use.
The scanner allows you to scan photos or images into PDF and other formats, facilitating scanning in multiple formats. Users can generate copies for prints with this scanner and email them directly through various applications. This is a functional scanner that can scan a variety of images.
The lid of the LiDE 300 holds a lot of variety and accommodates thicker items, such as books and magazines, besides paper-thin media.
CanoScan LiDE 300 has bundled software that is compatible with platforms like Windows, Linux, and macOS and lets users scan photos conveniently.
LiDE 300 scan utility performs multiple functions like doing OCR, scanning photos and documents, and converting the text into editable formats.
Canon LiDE 300 gives terrific performance for reproducing old photos like the original one. It includes filters like Fading Correction, Scratch removal, and auto-correction, making it an ideal machine for photo scanning that is kept in film folders.
- Great picture quality
- Compatible with multiple OS
- Ease of use and portable
- No support for mobile connectivity
Digitize your old photos, negatives and slides with the Plustek Photo Scanner. This scanner transforms your old pictures into a digital format in a matter of seconds. And you don’t have to be a computer whiz to use the Plustek scanner.
Simply slide your photo or negative into the device and press a button. In one second, it saves your photo on computer memory, CD, or DVD.
The Plustek scanner recognizes over 200 different picture formats, eliminating the need for you to go through complicated scanning procedures.
The Plustek ePhoto Z300 sheet feed scanner is one of the cheapest scanners available, and it’s well built to handle photo scanning and produce high-quality results.
Plustek Photo scanner gives easy scanning of your photos and converts them digitally in no time. This scanner can scan photos at a maximum of upto 600 dpi, and take only 5 seconds to scan 8×10 images at either 300/600 dpi.
This is a recommended scanner for scanning images of standard sizes like 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10. It is the best photo scanner for scanning old photos and negatives to reinvent them digitally.
The setup of the Z300 is extremely simple. With a USB cable, you plug the scanner into a computer and install the software (Windows or Mac) on a computer to scan old photos. Since this is a sheet-fed scanner and it scans faster than flatbed scanners.
Stacks of photos or documents won’t fit on the Z300. With multiple sheets inserted in the feed slot, it will scan only the bottom sheet at a time.
This manual-feed machine does a decent job of scanning when compared with scanners with automatic feeders. At 300 dpi, 36 photos of 4×6 inches were scanned in just 2 minutes, 9 seconds in a test, which is quite reasonable. This is the best option for scanning old original photos and converting them into digital copies to share with others.
- Good quality scan
- Easy to set up
- Affordable and easy
- Lacks Automatic Document Feeder (ADD)
This scanner comes with a simple design, incorporating all functional buttons on the front panel of the scanner. The scanner isn’t that small being a flatbed, so it will take up some desk space because of its weight i.e. 4.1kg and size 48.5cm long.
If you lift the lid, you’ll see a flatbed for storing papers, photos, and transparencies, along with removable padding to prepare the scanner for scanning negatives and films. The film holder in V600 accepts 35mm, 120 films, and slides for scan and converts them into digital photos.
Epson V600 can achieve a maximum resolution of 6400dpi at 48 bits of color depth. This model uses LED illumination as most pro scanners do. Installation of the scanner software is easy, and you can choose which package of software you need to install like OCR, or install everything at once.
Using the buttons on the scanner or the Epson Scan software, you can start scanning after all the settings have been made. The technology is designed for professional photographers and eager hobbyists who intend to convert a large number of slides or negatives using extensive software such as the V600.
The V600 cannot be calibrated or profiled using the included software. A V600 scanner is the perfect solution for home users scanning films, slides, and documents, provided you are willing to tweak the images afterward. This printer detects the size of photo prints automatically and begins the scanning.
5. Epson FastFoto Scanner
Epson FastFoto FF-680W is the latest scanner in the market. It has all the features and specs that you need to scan images, documents, or any other type of paper with utmost clarity. If you are looking for an efficient scanning solution then this one is perfect for you.
This scanner provides excellent quality scans which can be used as a backup copy of your files, photos, books, etc. And it offers storage options like an SD card slot, USB port, or even cloud storage facilities like Dropbox or Google Drive to make sure that your data is safe and secure at all times.
The company also offers customer care service to provide assistance if there are any issues with using this product so users don’t have to worry about anything.
The best part about this scanner is that it can scan your files in just less than a minute which means you don’t have to wait for hours before getting your scanned data back. This makes sure that users are not inconvenienced and they receive their reports, photos, or any other documents on time.
Epson FastFoto FF-680W scanner also has an option to scan up to seven pictures at once. This is useful when you are scanning multiple documents or images for a school project, presentations, etc. Its resolution can be set as high as 19200 dpi (dots per inch) and it scans both color and black & white photos.
Epson has a built-in card reader that can read most of the formats including SD, XQD, and CF cards making it easier to transfer files from your camera or mobile phone directly to your computer. It takes up less space on your desk with its compact size yet is powerful enough to meet the demands of both home and office.
This scanner is definitely one of the best scanners available in its price range. It has all the features and specifications that make it better than other competitors at an affordable price.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
There are two main ways to scan photographs: with a flatbed scanner or using a dedicated film scanner. Flatbed scanners are cheaper and can handle multiple types of documents, but don’t generally deliver very high-quality scans as film scanners do. But for occasional use, the flatbed scanners are best because they are affordable and get you quite an acceptable scan quality. Flatbed scanners with good specs come at hefty prices and they do good scanning as well. On the other hand, Less expensive models are more prone to damage or dust that will affect scans, while the high end of the market is dominated by dedicated film scanners – generally producing better results with less hassle. However, they are quite pricey and unaffordable for personal use.
Scanner manufacturers use two different techniques for scanning film-based media: CCD (charge-coupled device) and CIS (contact image sensor). While the CCD scanners use a traditional light source passed through an optical system that focuses the reflected light on a 2-D area array of photocells, CIS technology is based on capturing light from one small spot at a time using LEDs instead. The main benefits of CCD scanner technology are a higher maximum optical resolution and a larger light area in which you can put your film. CIS devices generally have lower resolutions but tend to be both faster and less expensive.
Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to scanning color negatives. CCD scanners provide better image geometry, color saturation, dynamic range, and tonal detail. CIS scanners are generally more cost-effective, provide better sharpness, can handle mixed-format batches, and produce lower manual intervention.
The differences appear when scanning color slides. CCD scanners are the clear winners here. CCD technology yields finer details with less noise in high-contrast areas of images while preserving bright colors – which is especially important, as correct color reproduction is critical for high-quality scans of slides.
The general consensus is that you should scan photos as a PDF. But why? I’m going to compare and contrast three different file formats for scanning: PDF, JPG and Bitmap (BMP).
PDF: Portable Document Format has many benefits when it comes to preserving photo quality in a digital document – PDFs maintain their image quality when scaled, can embed metadata and preserve file information, as well as being compressed. But the only drawback with PDF is that it doesn’t support an interactive interface – there’s no way for a user to view a page of the document or interact with it in any way.
JPG: Jpeg files are also very good at displaying photos, especially after they’ve been modified through resizing. This can be done in-camera or via an editor like Photoshop. The downside with JPG is that it doesn’t support transparency – you’re very limited when it comes to combining photo documents with other things (although there are some tools that allow you to make selective edits).
BMP: Bitmap images are uncompressed, so they maintain all the information in the photo. BMPs take up much more disk space than JPGs (and remember – the larger the file size, the longer it takes to upload). If you want to edit a BMP in an external editor like Photoshop then you’ll need to convert it to another format, like using the Save for Web option in Photoshop.
If you want to create a digital document with the highest quality photo images then scan your photos as a PDF.
If you want to create a digital document and share your photos with others who may want to edit them then scan your photos as JPGs.
If you only ever use the same external editor on all of your documents then scan your photos as BMPs (Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro).
If you plan to make selective edits or resize them (and don’t mind losing metadata) then scan your photos