We now live in a world where you can capture a photo right through your phone wherever you happen to be and it can live perpetually in the digital cloud, but that’s not much use in capturing your older family photos. That’s where a good photo scanner can come in. If you’re looking to archive your past memories and make them easier to share, a photo scanner is the best tool available on the market today.
But what separates the best photo scanner from a merely average model? That’s what we’re here to find out. Below, we review 10 of the best photo scanners we’ve found in 2020. Then we help you understand the key specs and answer some frequently asked questions we’ve received from our users.
- 10 Best Photo Scanners
- 1. Epson FastFoto FF-680W Wireless High-Speed Photo Scanner
- 2. Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner
- 3. Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner
- 4. Fujitsu PA03656-B005 Image Scanner ScanSnap iX500
- 5. Plustek ephoto Z300 Photo Scanner
- 6. Doxie Go SE Portable Photo Scanner
- 7. Brother DS-620 Mobile Color Photo Scanner
- 8. KODAK Mini Digital Film & Slide Scanner
- 9. Flip-Pal mobile scanner
- 10. Avision Is15+ Portable Scanner
- Photo Scanner Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Photo Scanners
1. Epson FastFoto FF-680W Wireless High-Speed Photo Scanner
Epson scanners are regarded as some of the best in the business, but the Epson FastFoto FF-680W is impressive even by their well respected standards. Small enough to fit in your home but powerful enough for a small business, the Epson FastFoto FF-680W offers some of the fastest photo scanning in the consumer space as well as some of the best image quality. It can also scan both the front and back of a photo in a single pass, but the real standout feature here is the solid Wi-Fi connectivity that makes it easy to upload your photos to a variety of different cloud services.
2. Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner
The second Epson scanner on our list is significantly more powerful but also significantly more expensive. The Perfection may not actually be "perfection", but it's easily a contender for one of the best photo scanners on the market. Its sleek chrome design well suits its high-quality printing with its exceedingly expansive tonal range and its advanced optics that reduce both glare and reflection. This is a photo scanner for professional photographers with batch printing that will suit even the busiest workloads. And the dual lens system on this photo scanner is one of the best options for tailoring your scanning results to your source quality.
3. Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner
A much cheaper flatbed scanner is available in the form of the CanoScan Lide 300 from Canon. Available for $50, this is a great, compact choice for your home, and its flatbed design makes it appropriate not just for photos but for document scanning as well. If you want a crossover photo scanner and can't afford to drop hundreds of bucks, this is one of the best scanners around. Four EZ buttons allow you to email your friends, perform quick scans, and automatically convert documents into searchable PDFs, the automatic detection system means that it's one of the easiest and hassle free scanners to use.
4. Fujitsu PA03656-B005 Image Scanner ScanSnap iX500
If you're simply looking for a photo scanner, the price to feature ratio for the ScanSnap iX500 might not be terribly appealing, but its wealth of document scanning features makes it a model well worth checking out if you want a model that can do double duty. This photo scanner supports both Wi-Fi and USB connectivity, and the single button interface makes this one of the best models in terms of ease of use. And if you're looking for more advanced features, the built in menu will let you scan your materials using a number of different built in templates.
5. Plustek ephoto Z300 Photo Scanner
The Plustek ephoto Z300 is one of the most streamlined scanners around. While it resembles a flatbed scanner on the surface, all you have to do is run your photos over the surface to get them digitized. At your best, you can easily scan 1000 photos in a day. The Plustek is a best choice for families due to the decent pricing, simple to use design, and tiny profile, but it offers surprisingly high-resolution results as well. But the best feature may be the automated photo restoration options that can revitalize your old and faded photos with the single press of your mouse.
6. Doxie Go SE Portable Photo Scanner
There's no other photo scanner on the market quite like the Doxie Go. This photo scanner is fully portable due to its small size and the inclusion of a rechargeable battery that allows you to take it with you wherever you go. And if you want more versatility, you can upgrade to the Wi-Fi model so you won't even need to connect it to your device. Software comes included, and easy compatibility with the cloud allow you to safely store your scanned photos for the best access. The built in memory can store up to 4,000 photos, but the memory is also expandable.
7. Brother DS-620 Mobile Color Photo Scanner
Brother is one of the best names in printers, but they also produce some stellar photo scanners. The DS-620 is similar to the Doxie Go in that it's a highly portable model, but it sacrifices the Wi-Fi compatibility for a significantly lower purchase price. A carrier sheet is included for scanning in smaller cards and awkwardly sized photos, and you can easily scan a photo locally or to a shared destination. Most of the functions on this photo scanner can be handled using some of the best in class software available, and this model is capable of producing a searchable PDF.
8. KODAK Mini Digital Film & Slide Scanner
This photo scanner from Kodak sports what's easily the most unique design on our review list, but it's the best choice for users who are sitting on a stack of outdated film stock. It offers support for a greater variety of different photo formats than most of the other scanners on our review list and only requires an SD card to save your photos so they can be uploaded to social media. The simple interface makes use of a few basic buttons for all the core functions, and a built in LCD screen lets you preview each photo before it scans.
9. Flip-Pal mobile scanner
Flatbed scanners don't have a reputation for being portable, but the Flip-Pal bucks that trend by creating a flatbed model you can take with you. This battery powered scanner makes use of an SD card so users don't even need a computer on hand to use it, and it can work with photos of any size imaginable. Operation of the Flip-Scan is incredibly simple too. Just lay your photo flat and hit the green button, and it automatically scans the photo directly to the SD card. And StoryScans software allows you to attach voice narration to any photo you scan.
10. Avision Is15+ Portable Scanner
The Avision Is15+ is a by the books portable scanner, but it's also one of the most affordable around. $100 gets you quality scanning wherever you are. All you have to do is plug it directly into the USB drive of your computer. It also supports SD cards up to 4GB in size and includes auto crop functions to ensure your photos look like they should without the need for post-editing. It also automatically converts all of your photos into JPEGs when it scans for the highest quality results possible.
Photo Scanner Buyer’s Guide
Our review list fills you in on the best scanners available right now, but users looking to shop smart should go beyond the review and keep reading. You can check out our guide below to better understand the key features and specs to look for when shopping.
There are three main options to look for when looking for a photo scanner.
- Flatbeds allow you to place your photo on a flat surface and cover it to scan. They offer some of the best optical resolution but require each photo to be put in place manually for scans, so they tend to be slow. They’re also one of the less portable options
- Automatic feeders sport a similar design to a printer. The ability to load multiple photos in the tray means that they’re highly productive choices.
- Hand feeders require you to manually feed each photo into the scanner. They’re often portable and more efficient than flatbeds. They also tend to be some of the cheapest scanners around.
Each review comes with a resolution rated in dots per inch. This tells you how detailed a reproduction your model scans. 600 dots per inch is fine enough for most standard photos a conventional consumer may be using, but smart photographers may want something significantly higher if they’re trying to digitize high-quality photos. 2400 dpi scans will really only be necessary if you’re looking to reproduce images at much larger sizes than the original.
The metrics used to rate speed for each scanner can vary significantly, so if speed is important to you, scrutinize them closely for a better understanding of what you need. Many speed ratings are rated for a dpi below the max, so you may want to look closely if you’re in need of especially high resolution images. Many of the crossover scanners here list dpi settings more appropriate for documents than photos, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
If you’re looking at placing your scanner in your home or office, dimensions probably won’t be a big deal, but if you want a portable model you can bring with you anywhere, these dimensions are going to be very important. Flatbed scanners will usually take up the most space on your desk.
Most scanners can connect directly to your computer using a USB and don’t require their own power source, but some also come with SD cards for local storage, Wi-Fi for automatically uploading your images, or rechargeable batteries for better portability. If you’re looking to share your photos on social media, you may want to look for a scanner that comes with its own proprietary app for easier navigation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Scanner for Scanning Old Photos?
We love the Plustek ePhoto Z300 for scanning older photos. That’s because it comes with automated photo restoration, making it the best option for people who aren’t photographers but still want your photos to look as clear as they did on the day they shot them. There are also more advanced photo editing features available.
Can You Scan Photos at Walgreens?
Walgreens does offer photo scanning services at their stores, but they charge for the photo, so it can quickly become expensive. If you only have a few photos to scan, it can be a smart choice, but for users with a lot of photos, we recommend investing in an actual scanner for their photo scanning needs.
How do Photo Scanners Work?
Through the use of filters, lenses, and mirrors, the scanner captures the photos of users and scans it into a digital format. It’s functionally similar to how a camera’s sensor uses a lens to imprint an image. The components and technology in a scanner can vary, but all of them use some form of light to illuminate the photo and create scans that are authentic to the source.
Users looking for the best photo scanners on the market will find them here. Whether you’re looking to share your photos on social media or simply archive them for your family, we represent the best of the best on our review list. Happy shopping, and if you want more general purpose models, we recommend checking out our guide to the best all around scanners of 2020.