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Best photo scanner 2023: Time to digitise all those old negatives

Keep your memories backed up with our pick of the best photo scanners

Investing in one of the best photo scanners is a sensible idea if you’ve got a big collection of negatives and printed photos dating back to the days of film. While both negatives and prints tend to have a long shelf life if they’re of a newer vintage, older collections will only become more fragile with time. Digitising your photos keeps them safe for the future and safe from ageing.

Scanning your prints and negatives means that you can save them onto your computer or an external hard drive, as well as making it easy to share images via email or social media. It also gives you the chance to make adjustments in editing programmes and remove any damage from age. You’ve then got the chance to make various sizes of new prints, as well as maybe choosing to print onto different surfaces,such as canvas or aluminium, or put together a photo book.

Photo scanners are specifically designed for use with prints and negatives, meaning they offer high resolutions and the ability to capture fine detail. As with many things, there are a vast number of options to choose from. We’ve put together a buying guide to answer your questions below or you can skip straight down to see our recommendations.

Best photo scanners: At a glance

How to choose the best photo scanner for you

Unless you’re immersed in the world of photography professionally, a lot of the terms used with scanners can be confusing. Let’s break them down here and explain more about what to look for in a scanner.

What do you want to scan?

If you’re only going to scan prints into the computer, a normal scanner will do the job reasonably well. A dedicated photo flatbed scanner will, of course, give you far higher quality. Negatives and slides require a different approach. High-end photo flatbed scanners come with adapters to allow you to scan negatives of different sizes (for example 35mm, medium format or 5x4in film). These allow you to scan at high quality but will obviously take time. If you have multiple negatives to scan, you might want to consider a scanner that allows you to batch scan.


You’ll probably see information about resolution when you look at photo scanners. Resolution is simply how much detail is extracted from an image. A digital image is made up of tiny dots called pixels and the more pixels you have, the more detail you’ll get – though this is simplifying things somewhat.

Most scanners will have the capability to scan at far higher resolutions than you’ll actually need. But you do need to make sure the scanner you’re using has enough resolution to enlarge things if you want to scan film. For example, a 35mm negative needs to be scanned at 2400dpi (dots per inch) to get a tack sharp 8x10in print.

Digital ICE

If you’re scanning at high resolutions for printing, this is a feature worth looking for. The system automatically removes dirt, scratches and dust – making post production clean up much faster. It does take longer to scan with ICE turned on, but it saves a lot of time afterwards.

Scan times

Most scanners will take several minutes to scan anything and you should expect it to take ten minutes or more to scan if you’re using high resolutions or ICE features. Manufacturers generally put scan times for smaller images in their literature, so don’t be surprised if things take longer than expected.

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The best photo scanners to buy in 2023

1. Epson Perfection V850 Pro Photo Scanner: Best for professional photographers

Price when reviewed: £839 | Check price at Amazon

If you’re a professional photographer, or had one in the family whose negative collection you’ve inherited, this is the scanner for you. The Epson V850 comes with a variety of film holders that allow users to scan 35mm negatives, unmounted slide transparencies, mounted slides, medium format film and even 5×4 and 10×8 film.

The scanner has dual-lens technology, meaning it will automatically select the optimal lens, and scans at up to 4800dpi for reflective photo scanning (prints). This can be upped to 6400dpi when you’re using the film holders. As you’d probably expect, the V850 comes with Digital ICE to automatically remove dust and scratches but there’s also a high dynamic range. This means that you’ll get enhanced tonal reproduction and scans that match the exact colour of the original.

Downsides? It’s a big machine and an expensive investment. The colour calibration is also a little tricky to set up. But the quality of scans is astonishingly good and you’ll be able to produce high quality prints with ease.

Key specs – Size (cm): 50.3 x 30.8 x 15.2cm; Interface: USB; Scan Resolution: 4800 or 6400dpi; Weight: 6.6kg

2. Epson Perfection V600 Home Photo Scanner: Best all-rounder

Price when reviewed: £289 | Check price at Amazon

The Epson Perfection V600 really is a great all-rounder. You can scan both negatives and printed photographs, the scanner is reasonably priced and Epson has a well-deserved reputation for producing quality products.

The V600 comes with two film holders, which can be adapted for 35mm negatives and unmounted slide transparencies, mounted 35mm slide transparencies and medium format film. You can scan with a resolution of up to 6400dpi, although it’s unlikely you’ll need to use such high resolutions (as mentioned in our buying guide).

We loved the built-in Digital ICE feature, which automatically removes dust and scratches – a real blessing if you’re batch scanning lots of negatives or prints. This isn’t a scanner for those in a rush and it’s also a fairly big and bulky machine – you won’t be able to hide it away in a corner. But for home scanning and the ability to scan both prints and negatives, it’s hard to beat.

Key specs – Size (cm): 48.5 x 28 x 11.8cm; Interface: USB; Scan Resolution: 6400dpi; Weight: 4kg

3. Canon P-208II Portable Scanner: Best portable scanner

Price when reviewed: £113 | Check price at Amazon Although the Canon P-208II is primarily marketed as a scanner for use by business travellers who need to scan expenses and receipts while on the move, it also does a pretty decent job of scanning printed photos. With a scan resolution of 600dpi, you’ll be able to scan in printed photos to a decent quality.

Obviously, this scanner isn’t going to produce the high-quality images that you’ll get from a dedicated photo scanner but if you just want to make digital copies of your images, or small prints, this is a great cheap option. Digitising your images will keep them from deteriorating and also allow you to make adjustments in post production.

The Canon is also a great choice if you’re short on space. It’s small enough to fit in a corner or pop in a bag to take away on a trip. Do note though, the scanner’s interface is USB – if you want to use Wi-Fi, you’ll need to buy the optional unit to allow for wireless scanning.

Key specs – Size (cm): 31.2 x 8.9 x 4cm; Interface: USB; Scan Resolution: 600dpi; Weight: 590g

4. Epson FastFoto FF-680W: Best for speed

Price when reviewed: £515 | Check price at Amazon

If you’ve got a ton of prints to get scanned, then a speedy scanner is going to be a top priority. The Epson FastFoto FF-680W has been designed entirely with batch scanning in mind, with a tray that holds 36 photos at a time. Load up the tray and leave it to scan through the lot at extremely quick speeds – it will scan a photo a second at 300dpi.

Although you can up the resolution to 600dpi and lose a little of the speed, the resolution will, like the Canon above, be too low for some requirements. Nonetheless, the Epson makes it easy to share images online, allowing you to scan images directly to Google Drive or Dropbox, as well as saving them on USB. Scan quality is good and the scanner automatically enhances the images for better visibility. There’s also Optical Character Recognition (OCR) that allows you to use the scanner for scanning documents as well.

Key specs – Size (cm): 17 x 30 x 17.5cm; Interface: USB, Wi-Fi; Scan Resolution: 300 or 600dpi; Weight: 3.7kg

5. Plustek OpticFilm 135i Scanner: Best for negative batch scanning

Price when reviewed: £339 | Check price at Amazon If you’ve got boxes and boxes of 35mm negatives and slides sitting around, the Plustek OpticFilm 135i is an ideal choice for your scanning requirements. The scanner can batch scan four slides and a film strip of six images all at the same time, making fast work of scanning multiple photos.

A maximum resolution of 7200dpi is more than most people will ever need for scanning, but it shows that the capabilities of this machine are high. There’s also a built-in infrared channel that detects dust and scratches. The best thing about the 135i scanner, though, is the motorised tray – you can load up your images, press the button and then just leave them to scan. We don’t feel that the infrared channel does a great job with removing dust etc. and the bundled software with the scanner is a little twitchy. But at this price and with a motorised tray, the scanner is hard to beat for batch scanning.

Key specs – Size (cm): 34.5 x 24.5 x 19cm; Interface: USB; Scan Resolution: 7200dpi; Weight: 1.56kg

6. Kodak Slide N Scan: Best for quick digitisation of your film

Price when reviewed: £170 | Check price at AmazonKodak’s Slide N Scan is an incredibly easy to use machine that allows you to quickly scan in negatives and 50mm slides in 35, 110, 126mm formats onto an SD card. It comes with a huge 5in LCD display, so you can make sure your image is correctly lined up and has a variety of film inserts. There’s also a cleaning brush, USB-C cable and a HDMI cable, if you want to hook the scanner up to a TV. The Slide N Scan is a great choice for those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy. You simply pop in your chosen film insert and you can then slide your strip of negatives through the machine, pressing one button to scan. It takes a matter of seconds to scan each image.

Resolution isn’t the highest – the maximum is 14MP, although there is a high-resolution mode that will interpolate this up to 22MP. It’s worth noting that this resolution also drops when you scan the smaller 126 and 110mm films. The Slide N Scan produces JPEG files and you can adjust brightness and RGB levels manually for each shot if required. There is a little bit of play in the film adapters, so you’ll need to be careful to ensure there’s no warping in your scans. However, if you want to digitise your old film incredibly quickly, this is the scanner to choose.

Key details – Size (cm): 9.5 x 13.6 x 13.4; Interface: SD card; Scan resolution: 14MP / 22MP interpolated; Weight: 380g

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