5 best photo scanners to scan your old photos safely
Most of us have analog photos lying at home that takes us back in time, bringing back the happy moments that we spent with our family and friends. Without much scope, we just leave it there and remember this only when we next watch those photos still lying there.
This is where the photo scanners that we are going to list in this article help you scan these photos. Well, the advantages of bringing them back to the digital world are:
- Replicating them to as many copies as possible
- Share them with your family and friends in a secure cloud space
- Protecting them from further deterioration
- Transferring them to any device that supports digital images and view them there
- Enhance the photos and upscale them to High Definition where required
- Convert them to Gray-scale or colorize them giving them to professionals
With these many advantages, why not digitize the photographs all by ourselves. For this, we would need photo scanners. If you want to know the different types of scanners available, you can check them out in this article.
Let us try to list out the types of photo scanners that are out there to convert your analog photos to digital.
Photo scanners are mainly of two types. The first and our favorite at ScanJunction, and faster and not so reliable one, that we don’t use here unless specified.
- Flatbed Scanners
- Auto Photo Feeder
Let us get in-depth into these two types of scanners and learn the advantages and disadvantages, along with the scanners in each type.
The first type of scanner as always is the one that we have always been using at ScanJunction.
These are the typical scanners that I have been seeing in the market since the earlier scanners came into existence.
In this type of scanner, a CCD sensor moves from one part of the glass bed to another, scanning the object kept on its transparent surface. CCD is expanded as Charge Coupled Device, and while it runs on the object, the object gets converted into an array of proportional electrons. If the charge developed is more, it means that the intensity of light is more too.
We have been talking about these flatbed scanners right from the initial days, and trust me they have been extremely helpful in scanning photos, especially the priceless old collection.
Why do we use flatbed scanners over ADF to scan photos?
Old analog photos are priceless as they can neither be replicated nor can they be protected from physical damage. This is the very reason why things are to be done really carefully and this is when the flatbed scanners, the safest scanners ever, that we have used to date, come in handy.
Imagine you are using an automated document feeder to scan your photos, which is a kind of scanner that sucks in the documents or photos, scans them at the selected resolution, and ejects them out into the output tray. The problem here is with respect to the sucking of photos. While it does this, it might tear the photos apart, which means that your priceless memory is in danger.
Moreover, there are instances when the ADFs, with even a slight scratch on the glass, might not scan the photos neatly without producing a mark on each of the scanned copies. In addition to that, in most of the scanners that we have scanned, there is a possibility of either a green or red colored line on the image.
The hardware that comes with the scanner, precisely, the rubber roller grip, that sucks the photos one by one, will lose its grip very soon and the part might either be expensive or be unavailable.
With these many problems when it comes to an ADF scanner, we can see the advantages and disadvantages of using the flatbed scanner.
What are the advantages & disadvantages of using a Flatbed?
As opposed to the cons of using automated document feeders, flatbed scanners are straightforward to use. Here we list the advantages of using the flatbed scanners:
- The first thing that you should be happy over flatbed scanners is that they are not unnecessarily expensive
- They are pretty easy to handle
- You can scan about four postcard size photos at a time cropping each one individually without any manual intervention
- The glass bed on which the photos is placed is easy to clean
- Photos that are even stuck to the albums can be scanned without removing them from the albums
- You can change the resolution by a couple of mouse clicks
- After all this, the best thing is that the original hardcopy not getting damaged
When it comes to the disadvantages, there are a very few, like:
- Slower than the automated document feeders, for the fact that we need to manually place every other photo on the flatbed
- You need to be careful about the fingerprints and nail scratches on the glass as they are prone to such things. The best thing is to cover your hand inside a glove
Best Flatbed Scanners to Scan Photos
We will start from a basic scanner and move ahead with much sophistication and see what is the speed difference from different scanners to scan at different resolutions.
To start with the best budget scanner is:
Epson Perfection V39
If you just want to scan at home, this is the best budget scanner that you could ever get. This judgment comes after trying their competitors from Canon and HP.
This is a lightweight scanner for modern laptops. The best thing about this scanner is that you don’t even need an exclusive power-supply, it just works using its USB power cable, which you need to connect to your computer’s USB port.
Limitations of Epson Perfection V39
Of-course, there is certainly a major limitation when it comes to productivity and turn-around-time.
- It comparatively takes a longer time to scan than its better versions
- The scanner will not support higher resolutions like 2400 dpi and above
- This scanner does not support Digital ICE technology that removes minor scratches from the images automatically
- You cannot scan negatives out of the box using this scanner
The aspect that separates this scanner from the rest of the scanners in the budget is the ease of use and the Epson scanner software. You can check the step by step scanning process here,
Epson Perfection V600
This is a beast, in terms of speed. The speed at which this scanner scans is incredible. Apart from that, there is a facility to scan negatives, though not too many. If you have some photos missing, of which you have negatives, then this is the scanner that you should go ahead and purchase.
As opposed to Epson Perfection V39, this scanner needs an external power supply, but don’t worry, it handles this power efficiently. This can scan up to 6400 x 9600 dpi with enlargements ranging from 17″ x 22″.
Here are some additional features that are not available in Epson Perfection V39:
- Digital ICE technology that can remove the appearance of dust and scratches from films and tears and crease from photos
- Energy-efficient Ready Scans that are scanned using an LED light source, without warm-up time
- The above point results in faster scans and lower power consumption
- Built-in software like ABBYY Finereader Sprint Plus OCR to convert images to text and ArcSoft Photo Studio to help edit and enhance digital images
- Quick buttons on the scanner help complete tasks like instant scan, copy, scan to email and create PDFs with four customizable buttons
- Scan about one negative strip or about 5 slides at a time
Epson Perfection V800 or V850 Pro Scanner
You might have noticed that we have mentioned two models here. If you check them on Amazon, they both look the same, but for some subtle features that might not be useful for everyone. In fact, we at ScanJunction use V800 and are extremely happy about it.
Let us explore what is Epson perfection V800 scanner first, and later about the advanced version V850. You can read more about how to scan negatives using V800 and V600 here.
This scanner is the best scanner available out there in the market that can scan both photos and transparencies.
It is a pretty big scanner when compared to the other two, that also comes with the following features.
- Scan at 6400 dpi optical resolution
- A tonal range of 4.0 Dmax for smooth gradations and fine shadow detail
- Exclusive dual lens system selects from 2 lenses for optimum results
- Comes with four film holders that can hold 35 mm film strips, 35 mm mounted slides, Medium-format Strip, and a 4-inch x 5-inch frame
So, what are the differences between V800 and V850 then?
Epson Perfection V800 vs V850 Pro Scanner
|No Antireflective and high reflection coatings on the optics and mirrors||Antireflective and high reflection coatings on the optics and mirrors|
|33% slower than V850||33% faster than V800|
|A single set of 4 film holders||Two sets of 4 film holders|
|SilverFast SE Software||SilverFast SE Plus Software|
Here, what we have to watch out for, is the last two points.
Why do we need two sets of film holders?
As you might be knowing, the film holders are a part of the accessories that come with the scanners. These help us straighten the transparencies and further helps in scanning only that part of the slides or negatives almost seamlessly.
While doing the scans, using these accessories, it takes a decent amount of time to place the transparencies on them.
Consider you take around 3 mins. to place all the negatives inside this accessory. After this, the negatives are scanned. They take about 30 mins to scan using the Digital ICE technology.
Instead, if we had a second set of that same accessory, we could in this time, insert the next set of negatives and keep it ready to place them on the scanner for the next processing, saving at least three mins of time. This saves a pretty reasonable amount of time when we have a huge no. of negatives.
What is SilverFast Software?
Exclusive software to scan professionally with speed. They have a basic version that ships with V800 and an advanced version that ships with V850. The advanced version has the following extra features.
- Kodachrome Features
- Auto Frame Alignment
- Printer Calibration
You can read more about this software for their own website, here.
These are the flatbed photo scanners that we have used. Let us now move to ADF photo scanners. I know, we have been discarding this type of scanner right from the beginning of the article. The one thing that is suggesting to me to recommend the ADF scanners is the speed.
Yes, the speed of flatbed scanner is relatively slower than the ADFs and the fact that there is less manual intervention while scanning using an ADF has made us consider this type of scanner.
There could be people who have so many photos and not enough time, who will certainly don’t mind using these ADF scanners. If you consider a person having around 10000 photos and does not mind if he loses a few tens in the lot. In such cases, ADF scanners are extremely helpful.
As we have already mentioned how this functions in one of the previous sections, let us move ahead and see the scanners that we have used in this type of scanners.
You can check out this article if you want to know how to use them.
Plustek Photo Scanner – ephoto Z300
Like how we have a budget scanner in flatbed type, this scanner comes with a low price tag and surprisingly, is an ADF scanner. This is pretty easy to use and comes with the following features out of the box.
- Takes in any size, the outcome is always neatly cropped and most of the time ready to be delivered
- Scans till A4 size which includes legal as the width is the same in both the cases
- To enhance the images press the image enhancement button and the scanner quickly enhances and restores the faded images
Limitations of Plustek Photo Scanner – ephoto Z300
- Can scan only till 600 dpi. This is a big limitation when someone is wanting to scan at 1200 dpi
- Cannot scan size bigger than A4
- No option to scan negatives
To overcome some of these limitations, let us go ahead and check about the next scanner
FastFoto FF-680W Wireless High-speed Photo Scanner
This is the world’s fastest photo scanner again from the same brand, Epson. The speed depends on the resolution we will pick.
The features that this scanner comes with is as follows:
- Scans as fast as 1 sec per photo at 300 dpi resolution
- Offers built-in file organization tools that allow you to Scan, Restore, Organize and Share
- Offers different modes for easy sharing, archiving, and enlarging by handling multiple sizes in a single batch
- Comes with both USB and wireless connectivity for flexible scanning
- Enhances the scanned photos automatically by Auto Enhancement, Color Restoration, Red-eye reduction, deskew, crop, and rotate
- You can automatically upload and backup directly to Dropbox or Google Drive
Conclusion: The order of the scanners is followed based on our experience. The choice is of course yours based on your requirement. If you have 1000s of photos and don’t have patience, you can get a budget ADF. Otherwise, for all practical purposes, go with the flatbed scanner.