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  • Paul Good

How to Choose the Best Photo Scanner

So you’re in the market for a new photo scanner! There are myriad options, where in the world should you start? What do you look for in a photo scanner? What might be some good brands? We’ll take you through a few key things you’ll need to consider before buying your new scanner.

Scanner Type

There are two main types of scanners you’ll be deciding between; a flatbed or a film scanner. Flatbed scanners are the most popular (and most common) and are for more general scanning needs. They come in a variety of models depending on specialties and quality and the price varies as well. FIlm scanners on the other hand tend to be more expensive than flatbeds because they scan at higher resolutions. They are more geared toward professional photographers.

Picture Quality (Resolution and Bit Depth Color)

Resolution is essentially the amount of detail in your photo when it’s scanned and is indicated by DPI, or dots per inch. A common, serviceable dpi is 300, and most general-use scanning needs would be covered with between 300-1200 dpi. For emailing or texting photos you’ll want a lower resolution (because the file size will be smaller), and if you’re looking to enlarge photos you’ll want a much higher resolution. When you’re printing physical copies you’ll want a higher resolution to keep the photo from looking pixelated or blurry, but if you’re keeping them for digital storage or posting the photos on a website or social networking app the resolution can be slightly lower.

Bit Depth is basically the color your scanner is able to capture from the photos when it scans them. For regular, color scans you’ll probably start at 24-bit depth and go higher for higher quality scans. For black and white or grayscale images, you’ll want higher bit depth in both color and gray to keep the detail in your photo scans.


Another consideration is the speed at which a scanner scans your photos. If you have a few photos here and there, this may not be a big focus for you, but if you have thousands of photos to digitize you’ll want a much faster machine! You’ll need to check speeds and resolutions, as scanners work faster at lower resolutions.


Obviously your budget will matter when looking at scanners. Options that scan at very high resolutions and scan negatives and have a lot of excellent features will be a much higher cost than an entry-level scanner that works a little slower with a lower end resolution. Finding the right feature for your needs will help balance quality and budget.


If you’re able to, testing a few scanners may help you decide what works best for you but here are some brief examples of scanning options in different price ranges.

USB powered, small/mobile design, 8 pages-per-minute, 1200x1200 dpi, compatible with multiple operating systems.

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Max resolution of 4800x4800 dpi, letter-sized scan in 10 seconds, single-button share feature, automatic correction scanning.

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6400x9600 dpi, transparency unit for scanning slides and negatives, customizable buttons for instant tasks (scan-to-email, for example).

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1200 dpi, wireless, auto-upload and name features, speeds up to 1 photo per second

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Once you have started scanning your photos, let us help you repair any old or damaged photos you digitize!

For professional assistance with any photo restoration, retouching, or recreation, please visit us at

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