A slide scanner isn’t going to be a necessity, or even of value, to the average consumer, but for people who regularly find themselves dealing with traditional film, finding the best slide scanners can have a major impact on their lives. Even if this is your first time learning about these products, a thorough reading of this guide can help you shop like a pro.
We’ve identified 10 of the best slide scanners that are available to consumers in 2020. We’ll also evaluate the most important standardized specs that are going to be valuable for any slide scanner, and we’ve put together a thorough analysis of the shopping process and answers to some commonly asked questions we hear from customers shopping for a film scanner.
- 10 Best Slide Scanners
- 1. KODAK SCANZA Digital Film & Slide Scanner
- 2. Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner
- 3. Wolverine F2D Saturn Digital Film & Slide Scanner
- 4. Epson Perfection V600
- 5. Pyle Film Scanner and Slide Digitizer
- 6. Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII Scanner
- 7. Plustek OpticFilm 8200l Slides Scanner
- 8. zonoz FS-ONE 22MP Slide Converter Scanner
- 9. Ivation High Res 23MP Film Scanner
- 10. Veho Smartfix Portable Film Scanner
- Slide Scanners Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Slide Scanners
1. KODAK SCANZA Digital Film & Slide Scanner
If you're buying your first scanner, the Kodak Scanza offers a solution that's both cost effective and incredibly easy to use. It's a great way to learn the ins and outs and fulfill most of your needs until you're ready to look for something more professional. HDMI and USB ports are packed in, so you can easily connect most modern devices, though the compatible film formats are a little limited, so you should check to make sure it's going to be accommodating to your needs.
You can get this scanner up and running in just a matter of minutes, and scanning a negative or slide only takes a few seconds, so if you're looking to preserve old family photos, you won't have to spend half a lifetime doing so. And in addition to looking at your slides on an external display, this scanner comes with a 3.5 inch LCD.
2. Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner
Need a scanner that's a bit more serious? The Epson Perfection V850 Pro is going to be one of your best choices. The flatbed design lets you pack in multiple different photos at the same time, and there's a lot of flexibility for larger size film formats. And since this scanner uses an LED light source, there's essentially no warm up time to get it up and running.
And while this isn't a scanner that's as easy to use as the Kodak Scanza, it comes with a whole range of video tutorials, and you'll have a lot of flexibility to get the results you want as soon as you learn the ins and outs. And while you'll end up spending over a thousand dollars for this scanner, that combination of utility and very high resolution is going to be well worth your time if you have professional ambitions.
3. Wolverine F2D Saturn Digital Film & Slide Scanner
The Wolverine F2D is another stand alone device that doesn't require a connection to a computer, but unlike many such models, it focuses its attention on supporting a broad selection of different film formats. Whether you have 35mm slides, 127 120 medium format, negatives, or slides, you can count on the Wolverine to convert them into a high resolution JPEG format. It also comes with a cleaning felt brush and all the cables you could need.
The screen on this scanner is one of the largest and brightest you'll find in a stand alone device. The 4.3 inch LCD lets you adjust the brightness so you have an accurate understanding of what the final product will look like, and there's an HDMI output if you want to scrutinize your film on a larger screen and at a higher resolution than the built in screen can provide.
4. Epson Perfection V600
If the Epson Perfection V850 is a little outside your price range, you can get another version of the Perfection for about a fifth of the price. Just like the V850, this is a flatbed scanner with a significantly larger form factor but the capabilities to support a range of different film formats. Slide transparencies, 35mm film, and medium format film are supported, and the USB 2.0 connector even comes with a lock for keeping everything tight and secure.
The scanning software here is straight and to the point, and you can transform a photo into a JPEG in well under a minute. There are even color correction options so you can complete some basic editing without having to pop into Photoshop. Four different modes allow you to pick from a range of control options scaled to the needs of everything from personal to professional needs.
5. Pyle Film Scanner and Slide Digitizer
There are few devices that do an easier job of making the process easy for beginners than this model from Pyle. Its small frame means that it can sit easily on your desk without taking up too much real estate, and it offers smooth compatibility with all the most common film formats as well as the Windows and Mac operating systems. And the inclusion of both a TV output and a 2.3 inch screen means that you can properly preview your images before sending them to scan.
But the best feature here may be the price. This model comes with a price tag of less than a hundred dollars, and a slot for SD cards even provides you with an affordable and convenient method for storing all of your favorite photos in a digital format. And for new users, the automatic exposure and color balance can still provide crisp results.
6. Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII Scanner
While the Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark IV isn't in production anymore, it's worth tracking down. It bears a price tag that's about double the price of entry level models, but it does a great job of bridging the gap between consumer and professional level scanner models. It also does about the best job around of marrying utility, speed, and reproduction even if it isn't the best in any one category.
There's no warm up time, so you can just hit the power button and expect this device to work the way you intended, and it can work capably with documents as well as a number of different photos and slides. And the My Image Garden Software is a great option for organizing your files. If this is your first scanner, there's even an Auto Scan mode that will alter the settings according to the format of whatever you're scanning.
7. Plustek OpticFilm 8200l Slides Scanner
Professional level scanners may provide the most highest resolution digital copies around, but they also tend to be incredibly expensive and take up a lot of space. The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai offers an impressively detailed and compact scanner at about half the price of most professional models, and it offers a pretty impressive software platform for adjusting the quality and color reproduction of your photos.
But despite the relatively low cost of $500, some of the best features are at work here. Automatic color calibration allows you to get vibrant results even if you're not a pro at editing photos. Then there's the dust and scratch removal services that are built right into the hardware. There are a lot of impressive editing features at work here, but until you learn the ins and outs, the WorkFlow Pilot features provides mostly automated results.
8. zonoz FS-ONE 22MP Slide Converter Scanner
The zonoz FS-ONE is one of the best priced slide scanners available today, and it can work even without the need for a computer or software. Combine that with the highly compact design of this scanner, and you're left with a model you can take with you on the go. Just keep in mind that it's only compatible with 35mm film, so it may be less of a practical choice for users with a wide variety of different photos or slides to digitize.
What's surprising - given the $60 asking price - is how many accessories come packed in with this scanner. A TV out jack allows you to view your photos in high definition on a larger screen. There's even a cleaning brush for removing dust and smudges from the surface of your photos along with some basic but functional editing software.
9. Ivation High Res 23MP Film Scanner
Like the Wolverine F2D, this scanner from Ivation is focused on offering a scanner at a reasonable price point that can convert just about any film formats to JPEG without having to worry about external software or connection to a computer. All you have to do is plug it into a wall via the power cord or USB port, and you can digitize all of your B&W, 135, 110, 126, slides, and negatives in the same format you'd get from a digital camera.
The screen here is large, and while the navigation system isn't overly complicated, it's incredibly intuitive. Photo editing is very easily accessible, and you can assign them to directories for better organization without any difficulty. All of the cables come included along with a cleaning brush, so you don't have to worry about investing in any extra accessories for this scanner.
10. Veho Smartfix Portable Film Scanner
The Veho Smartfix is one of the best looking standalone scanners that we've seen on the market. The 2.4 inch screen may be relatively small, but it's well positioned for easy analysis of the digital photo quality. And if you do want to make use of an external device, these scanners work with both Mac and Windows. And they also include a port for an SD card if you want physical storage or need to scan on the go.
And this model sits comfortable among the scanners that are built for casual use. Color balance, auto correction, and a variety of other image enhancements are built right in and automated, so you can get clear and crisp looking digital photos without having to learn the ins and outs of complicated external software. All you have to do is click the one touch scanning button and let the Smartfix do the work.
Slide Scanners Buyer’s Guide
So what exactly is a slide scanner and why do you need one? A scanner can scan in photos, slides, or documents and transform them into a digital format. If you have a lot of old family photos laying around, a scanner is a great way to archive them. But slide scanners can also be useful for photographers looking to format their photos for larger style prints without needing a darkroom and professionals who need to create searchable documents. Below, we’ll discuss the features and specs you should pay attention to with this type of product so you can find the right scanner for you.
The best film scanner won’t do you a whole lot of good if it’s not designed to support the type of film that you need to make into digital files. And unfortunately, there are a lot of film formats that have been introduced over the year. A 35mm film is the most common type of film that consumers will use, and most scanners are going to offer 35mm slide support for that reason. We’ll cover some of the most common formats on the market so you can understand the distinctions between them.
- 35mm film is the most common format, and it’s available with most film holders, but there are three main versions of 35mm film. 126 film was first introduced by Kodak in the 1960s to make loading cameras easier, while 135 film dates back to the 19th century and is one of the most common 35mm film formats. 828 film was introduced between the two, and it allowed smaller and more compact camera designs.
- Film holders large enough for 60mm film are the second most common option, and they include 120, 220, and 620 format film. All three formats are similar, and they’re one of the most common formats for cameras that were designed for use by beginners. The 620 is unique as the 60mm format for negatives.
- 127 format film is a big more esoteric. Also known as vest format film, this uses a size of 40mm. If you’re looking for a product that offer 40mm film holders, you may have to get more specialized in your search.
- If you’re dealing in negatives, chances are that you’ll run across 116 With a size of 70mm, it’s the largest film stock available, but it can be used in relatively small cameras. You may need to find specialized slides for this type of film.
- APS film was very popular in the 80s and 90s but was discontinued in 2011. But if you have family photos laying around that you need to convert to a digital camera format, you may want to make slide scanners that support 24mm film a priority
- 110 film is highly common, but it can be tricky to produce high quality images out of it due to the tiny size of the negatives it produces. If you’re using 110 film and want good results, you may have to turn your attention to higher resolution scanners.
- Super 8 film was popular, but it’s pretty unique in that Super 8 film won’t work with a traditional 8mm camera. Still, it was a popular choice in home movies, so Super 8 is a format that a lot of consumers looking to archive black and white or color film might have laying around.
The second most important to factor when considering what sort of scanner you want to use is the image quality, measured in resolution. Unfortunately, things can get a little complicated here, but we’re here to help you understand the distinctions between different resolutions. Different types of scanners will measure the image quality of their digital files in either megapixels or dots per inch.
- Megapixels are the same format used for a digital camera, so if you have experience working with a digital cameras, you should be pretty comfortable working with them. Each megapixel contains a million pixels, and the higher the megapixel count, the sharper the scan quality of the digital files. Lower cost scanners may only offer around 12 megapixels of optical resolution, but high quality ones will promise digital images with a megapixel count in the mid 20s.
- DPI stands for “dots per inch”, and it’s useful when dealing with scanners because it can be used to determine the scan quality for both digital images and documents. A high dots per inch count means a high quality of image resolution, and since it’s measured per inch (whereas megapixels are measured for the whole photo), it can tlel you a lot about the image quality regardless of the size of the format of negatives and slides you’re converting.
Resolution is going to be a big deal whether you’re converting a 35mm slide for archiving or a Super 8, but it’s an especially big deal for photographers. The resolution is going to stay the same no matter what size the photo becomes, so if you want to make larger reproductions of your images, a high resolution is especially important.
The standard resolution for a 35mm slide or another type of format is known as the optical resolution, but many scanners also include a number for the “interpolated resolution”. Interpolated resolution refers to the algorithms used by an advanced film scanner, which lets you achieve a much higher image quality than you’d get with the standard hardware of the film scanner, but it often requires your film scanner to be hooked up to a secondary device or the use of external software.
There are two main types of scanners we’ve focused our attention on for this list: the flatbed scanner and the standalone scanner. This isn’t an instance where one is necessarily better than the other, but the two do serve their own distinct purposes in the market.
Standalone scanners are designed to be used without having to connect to an external device like a Mac or PC. Instead, they make use of a built in screen that allow you to preview the results of your film before you save them. Ease of use is usually a high priority for standalone models, but that means sacrificing some of the more advanced features in favor of usability.
But just because you use a standalone scanner doesn’t mean that you’re stuck using that tiny screen. Many come with the option to connect to a TV using an HDMI or AV input. That allows you to look over the photos in greater detail before scanning them. Others come with a USB connection you can use to connect them to your computer. That makes previewing easier and allows you to save your digital photos to a computer instead of an SD card.
That said, the SD card is the most common format for internal memory with a standalone scanner. That makes sense. These models are designed to be compact and go with you just about anywhere. Some are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. If portability is a big deal for you, you might want to pay special attention to the dimensions we have listed in specs. Often, these models will automatically handle color correction and other more complex editing for you.
Chances are that you’ve seen a flatbed scanner. While they take up a lot more space on your desk (and certainly aren’t designed for travel), the larger size of the scanner bed means that it’s easier to scan in a wider variety of different formats. A 35mm slide is almost always included, but they also tend to offer a whole lot of different slides as well. That said, these models tend to cost a lot more, and they often make use of external software for editing and color correction.
A flatbed scanner will often include its own internal memory, and since it connects to your computer directly, they’re one of the best choices for professionals. There are a few models, like the Plustek OpticFilm that don’t technically use a flatbed format but are still functionally the same in terms of design and practical services.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Scanner for 35mm Slides to Digital?
It’s hard to beat the Plustek OpticFilm. It may look a little unusual if you’re used to traditional glass flatbed models, but it offers very good quality performance without costing you a fortune. It may come with a fairly steep $500 asking price, but it performs well beyond what that price would suggest.
What is the Best Scanner for Negatives and Slides?
We like the Epson Perfection V850. It’s a seriously professional piece of equipment that offers some of the highest resolution and best range of features available. If you really want control over the digitized results from your negatives and slides, you won’t find a better option available. And if price is an option, you can downgrade to the far more affordable Epson Perfection V600.
Can You Scan 35mm Slides on a Regular Scanner?
Not usually. That’s because a 35mm slide or negative needs backlighting to be properly scanned. While there are some workarounds you can use to scan these types of slides in a regular scanner, we generally recommend investing in a model built specifically for film slides.
If you’re looking to convert your slide film or black and white negatives into a digitized format, you need to get yourself a slide scanner. Fortunately, there are options for just about everyone. Whether you need a $1000 pro model or something that costs you less than $100 for casual use, our reviews should be able to provide you with something that will leave you satisfied.