There has been a recent resurgence in popularity for film photography, but not everyone has space for a darkroom. Thankfully, modern technology has a solution: film slide scanners.
Slide scanners are your best option for digitizing originals. However, there are so many different kinds of slide scanners available on the market that it can be challenging to shop for the right one.
If you are a film photographer looking for the best way to upload your slides digitally, this guide is for you. You’ll learn about the best slide scanners in 2021 and what features you need to consider.
The Best Slide Scanners On The Market Right Now
To help you pick a scanner that suits your budget and specific needs, here’s a list of the top slide scanners in 2021:
- Best Overall Scanner: Epson Perfection V850
- Easiest To Use: KODAK Scanza
- Best With ICC Profile: Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai
- Best Multi-Language Scanner: Pyle PSCNPHO32
- Best Portable Scanner: KODAK Mini
- Most Affordable Scanner: DIGITNOW
- Fastest Scanner: Magnasonic
- Best Dynamic Range: Plustek OpticFilm 8100
- Best For Scanning Batches: Pacific Image PowerFilm Scanner
- Best With Viewing Screen: Ivation IVAFS80
- Best With Enhancement Capabilities: QPIX DIGITAL
- Most Versatile Scanner: Canon CanoScan 9000FMKII
- Best Flatbed Scanner: Epson Perfection V600
- Best Vertical Scanner: Hasselblad Flextight X5
- Best Stand-Alone Scanner: Veho VFS-008 Smartfix Scan
- Best For Online Uploads: Wolverine Titan
|Scanner||Resolution||Scan formats||Scan speed||Compatibility|
|Epson Perfection V850||6,400 dpi||35 mm film SlidesMedium format film||21 msec/line||WindowsMac|
|KODAK Scanza||14MP/22MP||35 mm color film Monochrome negatives||N/A||WindowsMac|
|Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai||7,200 dpi||35 mm film Mounted slides||36 sec (3,600 dpi)113 sec (7,200 dpi)||WindowsMac|
|Pyle PSNPHO32||14MP/22MP||35 mm slides NegativesSuper-8 film stills||N/A||WindowsMac|
|KODAK Mini||14MP/22MP||35 mm slides |
|DIGITNOW||14MP/22MP||35 mm slides NegativesSuper-8 film stills||2 seconds/slide||WindowsMac|
|Magnasonic||14MP/22MP||35 mm slides Negatives Super-8 film stills||3-5 seconds/slide||WindowsMac|
|Plustek OpticFilm 8100||7,200 dpi||35 mm film Mounted slides||36 sec (3,600 dpi)113 sec (7,200 dpi)||WindowsMac|
|Pacific Image PowerFilm Scanner||14-23MP||35 mm color slides Black and white negatives Other color film negatives||N/A||WindowsMac|
|Ivation IVAFS80||14MP/22MP||35 mm slides |
Multiple film types
|QPIX DIGITAL||14MP/22MP||35 mm slides |
Multiple film types
|Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII||10,000 dpi||35 mm slides Multiple film types||7 seconds/page||WindowsMac|
|Epson Perfection V600||9,600 dpi||35 mm slides35 mm negatives Medium-format panoramic film||21 msec/line||WindowsMac|
|Hasselblad Flextight X5||8,000 dpi||35 mm prints4”x5” film prints||300MB/minute||WindowsMac|
|Veho VFS-008 Smartfix Scan||14MP||35 mm film and slides||0.5 seconds preview speed||WindowsMac|
|Wolverine Titan||20 MP||35mm filmAdvantex APX slides||3 seconds/slide||WindowsMac|
Best Overall Scanner – Epson Perfection V850
- Scans up to 6,400 dpi
- Processes up to 12 slides at once
- Compatible with multiple operating systems
The Epson Perfection V850 is best for professional film photographers who want to produce detailed scans with an unparalleled tonal range. It can handle 35mm film up to 8”x10” slides and also scan contact prints and sheets.
Images on the Epson Perfection V850 have a color depth of 48 bit, while the scanner itself has a maximum Dmax rating of 4.0.
Are you noticing scratches and imperfections on your images? Not a problem – the V850 comes with Digital ICE software, which uses a high-reflection mirror and anti-reflective optical coatings to eliminate any flaws.
We also have to credit the V850’s unexpectedly fast speeds. For photographers who require faster scanning, the Epson Perfection V850 comes with two film holders, allowing users to load the second batch of film while it processes the first. For a machine that produces so much detail, it only takes roughly 2 minutes and 30 seconds to scan a 35mm slide with a resolution of 6,400dpi.
Besides speed, the Epson Perfection V850 boasts unbeatable color accuracy thanks to top-of-the-line scanning software. With X-Rite i1, users can calibrate every aspect of the scanner to suit their preferences.
Easiest To Use – KODAK Scanza
- Scans film in multiple sizes
- Supports SD cards and USB readers
- Highly intuitive UI
For film photographers who are new to digital scanning, the KODAK Scanza is as user-friendly as any machine can be. This plug-and-play device allows users to select a film type, load the holder, and scan slides in just a few minutes. Plus, you won’t need a laptop or television to preview your scans – the KODAK Scanza has a built-in 3.5-inch tilting monitor.
Keep in mind that the KODAK Scanza has only one frame cutout, so you may need to use dust and scratch removal software after scanning.
If you are scanning a 35mm slide, note that the KODAK Scanza tends to crop files, leaving black and white spaces between photos. You can fix this problem by feeding your film manually through its film holder.
Best With ICC Profile – Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai
- Comes with automatic dust and scratch removal capabilities
- Supports both Windows and Mac operating systems
- Captures raw data flawlessly
If your 35mm slides are in poor condition, you can rely on the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai to remove dust and dirt as thoroughly as possible. This scanner’s state-of-the-art integrated infrared channel delivers precise details and colors while eliminating flaws.
The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai SilverFast software has an impressively comprehensive film database, covering all scan types – so if you have obscure ones, rest assured that you can scan them. In addition, its multi-exposure capabilities can boost detail while reducing noise and improving dynamic range.
Speed-wise, the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai takes about 36 seconds per scan, though it can take as long as 2 minutes to scan at maximum resolution.
Overall, the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai is best for converting colored film negatives and slides or handling larger format photographs. It balances affordability and high performance, delivering sharp scans with an excellent color payoff.
Best Multi-Language Scanner – Pyle PSCNPHO32
- Compatible with film, negatives, and slides
- Built-in image interpolation can improve image quality up to 22 megapixels
- Digital LCD provides previews before final scan
If you want a scanner with multiple language capabilities, the Pyle PSCNPHO32 is for you. This model supports English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, French, and more. For traveling or international photographers, this feature is a lifesaver.
Not to mention, the scanner’s overall digital conversion quality is top-of-the-line. It can convert your 35mm slides and negatives, 126, 110, and 135 KPK films, and Super-8 stills into high-definition digital copies saved right onto a built-in SD card.
The scanner automatically adjusts color balance and exposure. Besides its 2.4” LCD digital display, you can also preview photos through a Windows, Mac, or television connection.
Best Portable Scanner – KODAK Mini
- Scans and converts a wide range of film types
- One-touch navigation is extremely user-friendly
- Multiple adapters for fast loading capabilities
For photographers who like to upload and share their slides on the go, the KODAK Mini is the best portable film scanner. With it, you can scan, convert, and save slide and film negatives in 135, 126, 110, Super-8, and monochrome formats. It also comes with a 3-in-1 international adapter compatible with US, UK, and EU plugs.
You don’t need additional software, either – simply review and edit your photo prints on the dedicated 2.4” LCD screen. With this film scanner, you can easily alter the orientation, RGB values, and optical resolution without a laptop.
Because this film scanner is smaller than most, it will require frequent cleaning. However, you can easily wipe the scanner down with a felt brush.
Most Affordable Scanner – DIGITNOW
- Doesn’t require a PC or laptop connection
- View and edit scans directly on the 2.4” LCD screen
- Can convert multiple format sheet film negatives
Because of its easy and straightforward controls, the DIGITNOW is the best slide scanner for photographers always on the go. Plus, you won’t pay more than a hundred dollars for this powerful mini machine.
What makes this film scanner really stand out is its hyper-fast loading tray. You can even scan dozens of 35mm negatives in just a few minutes.
Fastest Scanner – Magnasonic
- Extremely fast scanning speed and multiple loading trays
- Has 128MB of integrated memory for direct saving
- Comes with pre-installed film profiles
The Magnasonic has an impressive scan speed of 3 to 5 seconds per slide if you need seamless and quick photo scanning capabilities. Plus, there’s no need to pre-cut and meticulously align your negatives – the Magnasonic does it for you.
For a relatively low price tag, this film scanner also has 128MB of integrated memory, allowing you to save roughly 100 photo scans without an SD card. You can also use its Video Out TV cable to showcase your scans while uploading them.
The Magnasonic also permits users to accomplish more precise color reproduction through its pre-installed film profiles – no other software is required.
Best Dynamic Range – Plustek OpticFilm 8100
- Dynamic range of up to 3.6D
- Optical resolution of up to 7,200 dpi
- Integrated color management capabilities
The Plustek OpticFilm 8100 is an optical film scanner that offers precise quality and stunning color. Compared to other flatbed scanners, this one has superior shadow and highlight output.
This scanner comes with the SilverFast SE Plus 8 software, allowing users to calibrate scan settings down to every detail. With this must-have photo scanner software, you can set scan resolutions, specify film types, set scan areas, and choose output types. The software also comes with NegaFix, which optimizes scan outputs for film negatives. It can correct orange mask problems and other common issues.
However, this quality and control come at the expense of scanning speed. It’ll take almost 4 minutes to upload a single 35mm film negative to achieve high-quality scans. Still, if you value extreme detail, the wait is worth it.
Best For Scanning Batches – Pacific Image PowerFilm Scanner
Optical resolution: 24MP
Scan formats: 35mm color and monochrome negatives
Scan speed: N/A
Compatibility: Windows and Mac OS
- Automatic batch filmstrip scanning capabilities
- 24MP image quality output
- Removes dust and scratches from slides
If you need to scan thousands of slides and negatives, the Pacific Image PowerFilm Scanner can get the job done seamlessly. At its best, this film scanner can handle up to 10 strips or 60 frames in one go. If you’re not chasing top-quality scans, you can upload a bundle of film frames in as quickly as 24 seconds.
What makes this film scanner even more impressive is its high-resolution 24MP scan output, which is equivalent to the quality you’d achieve with a standard DSLR camera. Unlike scanning photo prints, which offer about only 260 dpi, the Pacific Image PowerFilm Scanner can capture almost 4,000 dpi.
Its MagicTouch software allows for dust and scratch removal through infrared cleaning technology. Sure, the machine is costlier than most, but it will produce top-notch copies of your 35mm mono and color negatives.
Best With Viewing Screen – Ivation IVAFS80
- Extra-large 3.5” TFT LCD screen
- Intuitive UI for easy and quick scanning
- Integrated photo editing software
If you like to edit your photographs directly from the scanner, the Ivation IVAFS80 is perfect for you. It is equipped with an extra-large 3.5” TFT LCD screen that you can use to adjust colors, contrast, and orientation – no PC or laptop required.
Regarding compatibility, the Ivation IVAFS80 can scan in multiple formats, including 35mm film and three movie codecs. Moreover, thanks to its state-of-the-art interpolation software, it can transform any type of scan into high-quality JPEGs.
It also comes with converter cables to use with Windows and Mac operating systems. Multiple adapters make for fast and flexible operation.
Best With Enhancement Capabilities – QPIX DIGITAL
- Stand-alone features don’t require a PC
- Lightweight and very portable
- Superior photo enhancement capabilities
If you accidentally load your film strips upside down or in reverse, the QPIX DIGITAL scanner can easily undo any mistakes. It even comes with picture enhancement capabilities such as RGB adjustments.
On top of its converter body, this film scanner also features interchangeable adapters to process multiple film types. With the QPIX DIGITAL, you can scan 35mm, 135, 126, 110 KPK, and Super-8 negatives into sharp images. If you want to store more scans in the QPIX DIGITAL, you can load SD cards of up to 32MB.
What stands out most about the QPIX DIGITAL is its ability to scan 35mm slides in rolls – no need to splice them into 6-piece frames. However, you’ll want to mind that it does tend to crop photos a little too tightly, so adjust accordingly.
Most Versatile Scanner – Canon CanoScan 9000 FMKII
- Comes with built-in retouching technology
- Requires no warm-up time
- Automatic photo-type detection
If you work with multiple film frame types and require a machine with a vast scan area, look no further than the Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII. It works like a traditional scanner with the impressive addition of automatic retouching software Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement (FARE).
FARE allows users to correct images and organize files while abolishing imperfections like dust, fingerprints, and stains. In addition, it can effectively enhance any type of photo that you load into the scanner’s three film holders. Each film holder can handle four side-by-side mounted slides, medium-format film strips, and 35mm film strips up to 6 frames long.
As for quality, this scanner produces a maximum resolution of 9600 x 9600dpi with a color depth of 48-bits.
Best Flatbed Scanner – Epson Perfection V600
- Digital ICE Software removes imperfections from film and prints
- Interface is suitable for beginners
- ReadyScan LED technology is energy-efficient
The Epson Perfection V600 is the all-around best 35mm slide scanner for homes and small businesses. Its ArtSoft Photostudio software gives amateur and professional photographers spectacular control over the scanning process, allowing users to refine scans and edit out flaws.
This slide scanner comes equipped with Digital ICE, eliminating any small particle traces and other defects. If you want to correct a faded 35mm slide, you can use the V600’s Easy Photo Fix program.
In terms of quality, the V600’s output is unbeatable, with an optical resolution of 6,400dpi. In addition, you can scan anything from slides to medium format film in full color or monochrome.
If you value energy efficiency, the V600 also comes equipped with ReadyScan LED technology, so it’s ready to use immediately – no need to wait for it to warm up.
Best Vertical Scanner – Hasselblad Flextight X5
- Vertical optical system with virtual drum
- 3F workflow automatically crops prints
- Maximum resolution is higher than most film scanners
When we talk about advanced scanning technology, we often think of the Hasselblad Flextight X5. This vertical machine utilizes a patented virtual drum, which provides a glass-free optical path that results in higher photo scanning quality.
You can throw anything from 35mm negatives to 4×5-inch prints into the Hasselblad and enjoy a maximum resolution of 8,000dpi. Even if your film frame is covered in dust and scratches, Hasselblad’s FlexTouch software can remove them automatically.
Finally, this high-powered scanner comes with Active Cooling technology, which optimizes heat generation during prolonged use.
Best Stand-Alone Scanner – Veho VFS-008 Smartfix Scan
- Comes with a 2GB SD card
- USB port makes for easy file transfers
- Extremely fast preview and scan speed
If you don’t require extensive project scanning, the Veho VFS-008 Smartfix Scan is an excellent choice. It can support 35mm and 110mm prints with a resolution of up to 3,600dpi.
While Veho’s image sensor is only 5MP, its CMOS lens improves overall scanning quality and accuracy. As for speed, Veho can process each image in just 2 seconds, providing a preview as quickly as 0.5 seconds.
The Veho is easy to travel with, as it comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and cable. The Veho also boasts an auto-exposure and color balance feature, ensuring that each film comes out its best.
However, keep in mind that this slide scanner can only support SD cards up to 8GB and only works with limited print types.
Best For Online Uploads – Wolverine Titan
- HDMI jack allows for monitor viewing in high definition
- Stand-alone functions don’t require a laptop connection
- Vivid 4.3-inch display
The Wolverine Titan is undoubtedly the best slide scanner for beginners or those who love to upload their prints to the web. While its print-worthy scan quality can’t compare to that of the Epson Perfection series or Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE, it produces excellent digital images for social media.
Like all good film scanners, the Wolverine Titan doesn’t require a laptop connection or external software to function. Even better, it can manage a handful of film formats in no time at all, thanks to its fast-loading adapters.
Best Film Scanning Software
To get high-resolution digital copies of your film, you’ll need scanning software just as good as your scanner. High-end devices like the Plustek OpticFilm 8100 or Eptic Perfection series already come with software, but not every film scanner does. So if you’re on the hunt for photo-enhancing software, here are our top picks.
Best Overall Scanning Software – VueScan
- Wide range of customization options
- Compatible with Photoshop
VueScan is compatible with over 5,600 slide scanner models from 46 manufacturers and has unbeatable image editing features. Users can scan their slides in various modes such as flatbed, document, or transparency mode.
This software is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS and can export files in TIFF, JPEG, and PDF format.
Best For Color Payoff – SilverFast SE Plus 8
- Generates unique color profiles per slide scanner
- Dust and scratch removal capabilities
- Automatic and manual image manipulation features
For photographers working with RAW files, Kodachrome images, and unique image types, SilverFast SE Plus 8 is a lifesaver. This software brings your image scanning resolution to the next level through Auto IT8 calibration and infrared cleaning capabilities.
It is compatible with Windows and Mac OS and can also be used as a Photoshop plug-in.
Fastest Scanning Software – BlindScanner
- Accessible remotely
- User-friendly interface
- Comes with Wi-Fi support
If you’re looking for highly accessible and speedy scanning software, BlindScanner is for you. Through this software, you can use your slide scanner remotely or even share access with other family members. You can make adjustments to your photos, including setting colors, resolution, and output size, as well as scan batches of images.
While you can connect through any local wireless network, the primary setback of BlindScanner is that it’s only compatible with Windows systems and flatbed TWAIN devices.
Best For Auto-Correction – ScanPapyrus
- Automatic enhancing features
- Batch processing
- Compatible with hundreds of scanners
If you don’t have the time to edit each of your scans manually, ScanPapyrus can do it for you. This scanning software has auto-enhancing features for easy photo editing. Plus, you can even choose the appropriate scan sizes and adjust your DPI.
However, this software isn’t compatible with Mac operating systems and has advanced features that can be challenging to navigate for beginners.
Best Free Scanning Software – ScanSpeeder
- User-friendly interface
- Very efficient with flatbed scanners
- Generous demo version
ScanSpeeder is an impressively streamlined scanning software with multiple features such as batch scanning, image restoration, and categorizing. On ScanSpeeder’s demo version, users can perform up to 10 free scans.
It connects directly to your flatbed scanner and can scan multiple images simultaneously. You can also share your images directly through ScanSpeeder’s online connectivity features if you are an active social media user.
The Best Slide Scanner Buying Guide
Factors To Consider When Buying The Best Slide Scanner
While all film scanners perform the same essential functions, they vary in precision, speed, and quality. Below are some of the factors and device types you’ll want to consider when shopping for the best slide scanner.
Number Of Users
Whether to purchase a personal or office slide scanner depends on how many people plan to use it. A small, portable slide scanner can support up to two users, while flatbed scanners are better for multi-use households or small offices.
Flatbed scanners typically have larger LCD screens or hook up to a monitor, allowing multiple people to view the images simultaneously.
If your scanner has built-in storage, make sure it has enough to accommodate at least a hundred photos. Most slide scanners, like the KODAK Scanza or DIGITNOW, have SD card slots to compensate for lower internal memory. Another potentially important storage feature is the ability to upload your scans directly to your laptop or hard drive.
Most slide scanners measure speed in PPM (pages per minute), although this may vary according to your set scan resolution. Naturally, the higher the resolution, the slower the scan speed. How quickly your device scans will also depend on the settings you use, such as the photo size and type of scan (color, greyscale, or monochrome). If you want to process multiple negatives at once, the best slide scanner for you is one with batch scanning capabilities.
Unfortunately, not every file extension will be compatible with every scanner. For example, some scanners may not be able to process TIFF files, which means you’ll have to convert them to a JPEG or PNG file first.
Much like file formats, some scanners might be compatible with only a specific operating system. In most cases, the best slide scanner should be compatible with both Windows and Mac, at the very least.
It may be tempting to buy a film scanner at a lower price, but you could be giving up speed, precision, and quality. Expensive film scanners are costly for a reason – they are built to handle fragile 35mm film negatives and some even have batch scanning capabilities. So, while you don’t want to break the bank by buying a scanner you can’t afford, you should always invest in one that promises the results you need.
Bit depth refers to the color accuracy of your scans. If you need an accurate reproduction of your images, go for a scanner with a higher bit depth. In most cases, 24 bits suffice for personal preferences, while professionals will be better off with 30 bits. If you’re scanning black-and-white or grayscale negatives, 12 bits of color depth should do.
Most manufacturers measure photo resolution in these two ways:
- Optical resolution: The amount of detail in a raw image before it undergoes any manipulation
- Interpolated resolution: The quality of an image after manipulation
When choosing a scanner, prioritize its optical resolution capabilities – this number gives you a better idea of your scanner’s quality limitations. For instance, 300 dpi will suffice for personal use, while small business owners with heavy-duty demands should look for scanners with a dpi of at least 600. For people who need a print-quality output, consider scanners with a higher dpi of up to 6,400.
Some scanners made for professional photographers will measure quality in megapixels instead of dpi. While both values indicate how clear a photo will be after printing, most photographers prefer megapixels over dpi. This is because cameras also use MP readings.
Size Of Negatives
How large your original prints are will determine how efficient your scanner will be. For example, most A4 film scanners can accommodate 120 and 220 film strips, while their more advanced counterparts can handle 4×5-inch and 8×10-inch negatives. If you need something to accommodate a wide range of sizes, buy a flatbed scanner.
Dust & Scratch Removal
If you’re dealing with older negatives, chances are they have accumulated scratches and tears over the years. To prevent additional editing after scanning, buy a film scanner that can clean up dust and scratches. These models typically utilize infrared cleaning technology that detects imperfections on scans.
Still, try to clean up your images before feeding them into your machine. Use a microfiber cloth or gentle blower to clean your slides and negatives before scanning. Cleaning your flatbed scanner regularly can also improve the quality of its scans.
Some scanners come with an LCD for easy previewing and editing. Viewing screens can help you align and perfect your film before scanning them, although they usually come with a higher price tag.
While scanning software isn’t necessary, it does make an impact on the quality of your scans. For instance, software can help you save time by automatically editing your prints as you scan them. It can also help compress your files if you lack drive space and categorize your prints.
Types Of Slide Scanners
No two film scanners function the same way. Some are capable of batch scanning, while others have smartphone capabilities. If you can’t decide what scanner best suits your preferences, check this breakdown of the three basic types.
Entry-level scanners are affordable, compact, stand-alone, and often plug-and-play devices. They typically don’t have LCD screens and come with a simple scan button. To use an entry-level photo scanner, simply load your film into its film holders and save your scans onto an SD card.
A reliable entry-level scanner should be able to handle different kinds of slides without compromising too much on quality. In most cases, entry-level scanners simplify the scanning process with automated features such as frame recognition, color correction, and exposure.
Do you need a photo scanner that produces accurate and appealing scans? Buy an image-quality scanner. These photo scanning devices typically fall into two categories:
- Flatbed scanners: These traditional scanners boast impressive scan quality and often come with inserts for various slide types. Image-quality scanners like the Epson Perfection V600 even come with slide-editing software that allows users to calibrate settings.
- Film-only scanners: As the name implies, film-only scanners can only scan film. The best film scanners have CCD sensors that can handle up to 48-bit color depth and optical resolutions as high as 10,000dpi. In addition, some models come with software like SilverFast SE Plus or are compatible with other third-party programs.
For amateur photographers or those who prefer a portable photo scanner, there are many smartphone-only machines available online. To use this compact scanner, simply place your film into the dedicated slot, turn on the scanner light, place your phone on the top surface, and snap away.
The most obvious downside of smartphone-only scanners is their low scanning quality and poor color depth. Ultimately, these scanners are only as good as your smartphone is. If you can’t afford something like an Epson V550 flatbed scanner, consider using a smartphone with at least a 14MP camera.
The Bottom Line
If you have old film rolls you want to digitize, the best film scanners will help you upload and convert these decades-old memories into forever keepsakes. However, like any other gadget, picking the best slide scanner involves a lot of research. By looking at slide scanner reviews and carefully considering your choices, you’ll find a device that can bring your old and faded prints back to life.
Whether you are on a budget or have a little bit more to spend, this guide should help you get your hands on the best slide scanners on the market.