Slide and Negative scanners are a great way to preserve old memories and digitize all those images were stored all those years in boxes or slides. To be honest it’s not necessary to buy the most expensive scanner out there as due to the advanced technology those devices share, you will most like get excellent digital images of your films and negatives with any of the scanners in our list. So let’s have a look at the best film scanner you can buy today without breaking the bank:
Last update on 2020-08-12 at 19:08 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What’s a good way to digitize a large number of old family photos?
It’s quite common to find old photographs and negatives within your home, especially when you have to clean and organize your storage space, attic or huge pile of boxes. The prominent question is if you can scan those slides, negatives, or photographs in order to preserve them and the answer is that you can, and in fact, it can be quite inexpensive!
To be honest, if you need to have only a few scanned It might be better to opt for a scanning service, where you can ship the negatives and have a professional clean them and digitize them for you.
On the other hand, if you want to scan a large number of negatives, or want to have full control the procedure, it is wise to invest into a scanner, in which case you should continue to read as we’ll guide you towards the best alternative for you.
Well, in case you haven’t heard of scanners before, you would be wondering what is a film scanner used for? Well as the name suggests, it’s a device that can help you “scan” you film negatives and make digital files of your precious photos.
Converting your photos in JPEG format files will help you archive old family photos on your computer, even with a limited budget, and if fact using one standalone scanner can be the best method to safely scan, make copies and convert large stacks of 35mm negatives and slides into digital photos.
And if you are looking to bulk scan family photos instead of only a few, this is also the most cost-effective way to digitize precious photographs for archival purposes.
What factors should I consider when looking for the best slide/film/negative scanner?
There are a lot of photo scanners that have the ability to also scan slides and film with the use of additional attachments but there are also dedicated devices in the market for those you want to digitize slides easier and faster. Such devices are commonly referred to as converters and offer the convenience of just putting your slide in, in order to get a quality digital image for archiving but to be honest you should expect a photo scanner to provide images of greater resolution.
On the other hand, their speed and ease of use have made them a lot popular compared to traditional scanners as each scan takes only a few seconds to complete. They are designed as a push-button solution without the need for a computer to output the files and due to their small size, they are an attractive alternative compared to a traditional flatbed scanner. If you plan to digitize a lot of negatives or slides such a solution is a great investment. Just take the time to clean dust of your negatives and slide and you are good to go.
The quality of your scanning process is highly related to the image resolution that the scanner can provide. Well, to put it simply, the more megapixel the better the resolution you can except for a scanner. To simplify things, you can assume that today’s technology has given us access to a quite powerful scanner, so you won’t have a problem with most scanners nowadays, still you need to look out for the most megapixels you can afford, after all we want to preserve the photos the best way we can.
So, is lower or higher dpi better? If you are actually wondering which is the best resolution to choose when scanning slides, or whether to choose 300 or 600 or 4000 dpi? The answer is that the more the dpi, the more you can enlarge your photo, for example, the 600dpi scan could allow double the enlargement of the 300dpi scan. As we said before, the more the better.
These devices offer different resolutions for your digital images so as a quick tip you should go for the max resolution you can afford and preferably aim for a model that is dedicated to film resolutions instead of a regular scanner. Colour depth also is vital in order to recreate the photo so have a look at the specifications that manufacturers provide for each device before purchasing.
It is advisable to take your time and scan each photo individually as you’ll have the chance to preview the screen and make the appropriate adjustments you won’t be able to do if you scan in bulk. When archiving your files try to save them as TIFF or PNG instead of JPG as these formats can preserve better the scanned image.
Each scanner, depending on the resolution you’ll choose will vary in speed. Moreover, when you think of the speed of scanning, you need to take into account the time that you need to name the files and change to the next batch. Some models can be quite fast when scanning the photographs, but take you more time to change negatives due to their design, or their interface makes you spend more time naming the outcome.
Obviously, you should look for a model that provides easy access to negatives for faster switches between batches, and if you can I would be nice to access the interface of various models so as to make sure that you pick one that feels fluent for you.
One more thing to consider if you pick a scanner is their compatibility, in case you need to work on a computer. If you have an older computer at home, you might experience problems with drivers on your new scanner, essential the old hardware of your computer might not “know” how to communicate with the newer scanner. If you have a modern computer in most cases you won’t face such a problem as drivers would probably be working as it should.
On the other hand, if you are a Mac user or Linux user, you need to make sure the model you pick is working as intended on your computer, which in some cases might reduce the available options on the market. Last but not least, the recent years there are many stand-alone scanners introduced in the market, which means you can easily scan and store negatives and slides into memory cards, without the need of a computer.
To be honest, this might be your best bet especially if you are not a photographer yourself. Well, obviously a professional photographer would make more use of a professional photo scanner but otherwise, those standalone options are quite worth their price tag.
Tip: A frequently asked questions is whether you can scan film with a regular scanner… If you, for any reason, have a scanner already in hand, you may want to try and find negative/slide attachments for your model. For example, I used to have an Epson scanner you scanning documents while in college, that in fact had an attachment for scanning negatives, that I’ve never heard of! So without spending a dime I already had a negative scanner without knowing. It worths checking out for those of you who have document scanners left somewhere in the attic.
Other options you might want to investigate:
If you are not quite sure if you want a scanner yet, but have a camera with you, you can try taking photos of your negatives with your camera. A macro lens would come quite handy in this case. Making copies with a lens attachment is not easy, and in most cases, it is not worth it compared to using a scanner, but at least you can give it a try before you decide if it is worth the investment for you or not.
Also, another alternative incases you don’t have a camera, is using your Android or iPhone with their built-in camera to take photos of your negatives. There are quite a few applications that can help you in this procedure, so in case you haven’t made up your mind on a scanner, this method might worth a try.
Are you still worried about what is the best way to scan your photos? Well, the answer depends on your needs and budget obviously, if I were you I would go for a scanner, or even better a standalone scanner, but what if I had no budget? Then obviously I would use my camera or my home to digitize them, until one day I could afford to buy a scanner. The best way is actually the one that you can afford.
But is it better to scan or photograph your old photos? Well, it is more convenient to scan them instead of photographing, as far as I’m concerned but you might find otherwise. As long as you choose a scanner with a higher resolution than the camera, you can expect a better resolution in a more straight forward process.
A common question is whether the photographs are damaged when scanning or not? The photographs are harmed when they are exposed to light and it has a cumulative effect. When you scan photographs for one time, the light is not going to harm them. On the other hand, photocopying or scanning, or using flash to photograph the same hundreds of time, eventually will result in a faded photograph.
So, long story short, every light is harmful to photographs but it won’t harm them that much if you need to scan them in order to preserve them. And to be honest, the only way to preserve your valuable photographs is to scan them.
Our recommended scanners:
KODAK Mini Digital Film & Slide Scanner
The Kodak Mini is one of the most versatile scanners you can find in the market. Despite its small size, the device is able to scan and save 135mm 35, 126, 110 and Super 8 negatives and slides, turning your old photos into JPEG files. It can store 22mp files and, built-in 2.4 LCD is useful for quickly navigating through menus and the dedicated scan/save buttons make the scanning of photographs an easy one-button process.
Overall an easy to use scanner compatible with all the film/negatives sizes of your collection, that can be found at a very attractive price for its features. Comes with all the essential adapters and accessories, so you only need to add an SD card (up to 32GB) to start saving your precious photos digitally. I would consider this the best film scanner at this price range.
Kodak Digital Film Scanner
The Kodak Digital is the larger model from Kodak that features a large 3.5″ LCD for easier operation and image viewing. It can digitize your 35mm, 126, 110, super 8 and 8mm negatives and slides into JPEG images in seconds. It’s one-step scan&save process make storing your photos a breeze and comes with all the necessary accessories to get you started. It supports SD cards up too 128GB for storing your photographs, and this is the only extra purchase you have to make before you start scanning your old photos. Thanks to its attractive price, this is one of the most popular scanners in the market and definitely worths a closer look.
Magnasonic All-in-One High Resolution 22MP Film Scanner
The Magnasonic All in 1 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a scanner at a budget-friendly price. It can convert 126KPK, 135, 110, super 8 and Negatives into 22mp digital JPEG files. The 2.4″ builtin screen will allow you to view your scanned photos and its video out cable will also let you connect your TV for even a larger viewing screening. It features 128MB built-in memory that can store up to 100 photos, yet you store even more by adding an SD card to its slot. The one-touch scanning software is quite handy and will let you digitize your old photos easily in seconds. Overall a great choice for anyone on a budget without making compromises.
Jumbl 22MP All-in-1
Jumblr is also a budget-friendly option that worths a closer look if you want a film scanner without having to break the bank. It can scan all the popular film sizes like 35mm, 110, 126, super 8 negatives and the built-in software will let you create 22mp copies of your photographs. It features a built-in screen for viewing your scanned photos, along with a TV out in case you want to project them on your TV. Overall a great and affordable stand-alone scanner for anyone that wants to scan their old photographs without having to use a computer.
DIGITNOW! Film Negative Scanner
This model from Digitnow is one of the most affordable you can find in our list. It is able to capture up to 10mp JPEG files of your photographs and features adapters for 35 and 135mm films. It has a built-in 2.4″ LCD for making adjustments and easy navigation and has an SD card slot that can take cards up to 32GB to store your photos. An affordable scanner, almost half the price of its competitors yet the 10mp and the limited supported films might be a drawback for some.
Wolverine Titan 8-in-1
The Wolverine Titan is one of the most popular models in the market. It features a large 4.3″ screen, probably the largest you’ll find on a scanner, and very fast scanning times which might be very handy if you have to scan a lot of photographs. It supports 35mm, 127, 126KPK, 100, APS slides and negatives and its price is easily justified if you consider its features. If you are after a fast scanner with a large screen this is your best bet in the market at the moment.
Kodak Scanza Film Scanner & Dock Printer Bundle
I had to include this bundle in this list as it features not only the Kodak Film scanner which is very popular but also a printer at a very attractive price. The Kodak scanner features a 3.5″ screen and comes with a 16GB card to get you started scanning your old photographs in seconds. The printer included in the bundle lets you print photographs directly from the Scanza (but also your iOS or Android smartphone) so you can also get great physical copies of your scanned images. You can find the bundle online at a very attractive discounted price, so if you were looking to purchase a Kodak scanner this bundle worths a closer look too.
ClearClick Film To USB Converter
I decided to include this scanner in the list for anyone looking for one of the cheapest scanner in the market for their 35mm, slides, and negatives. It can scan your old photographs into 10mp JPEG which might not be the best option out there, yet its price is almost half of its competitors. A decent scanner with an SD card slot so you can expand its memory and save directly to the card your precious memories. If you are willing to make some sacrifices in order to keep your budget low so you give it a chance, even though it can’t compete the pricier models.
This is by far the cheapest scanner you can find out there. If are just starting out and need a cheap way to scan 35mm and 135mm slides to digital then this device can help you makes 2mp copies of your photographs. It is very straight forward to use with one dedicated button, ideal for those on a very limited budget. I would advise you to invest a little more in a scanner in order to make better backups of your photos, but if you absolutely must get a scanner for the minimum price then here is a model just for you.
KODAK Mobile Film Scanner
This is a brand new model from Kodak that is designed as a mobile film scanner that uses your smartphone cameras to make copies of your precious photographs. It is made for 35mm film negatives and slides and with its free app it can easily scan and store your photographs to the memory of your smartphone. It is battery operated which make it even more portable if you need to scan photos while on the move. If you where considered taking photos of your negatives in order to digitize them, this model will make the whole process easier and more straight forward, so this might be a great buy for you.