Best Photo Scanner: Reviews of Our Favorites for 2020
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Table of Contents
- Best Photo Scanner Reviews
- Overall Best: Epson FastFoto FF-680W
- Best Value-for-Money: Epson Perfection V39
- Best Photo Printer Scanner: Canon Pixma G7020
- Best Portable Photo Scanner: Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner
- Bonus – Best for Professionals: Epson Expression 12000XL-PH
- How To Choose The Right Photo Scanner
- A Few Words Before You Go…
There’s no better way to digitize your precious photos than by using a photo scanner. In today’s day and age, a secure way to ensure that old photo albums, slides, and film negatives stay in our lives, and within arm’s reach, is using a great photo scanner to bring these photos to our smart devices and storage clouds. Additionally, scanners can be used to digitize original documents, so we always have a backup copy handy.
However, with so many options on the market, it’s difficult to figure out which photo scanners are indeed the best. And even once you’ve found the best options, the next challenge is finding the right choice for your needs and preferences. That’s no wonder, though, since every photo scanner comes with its unique host of features and fortes which make it ideal for a particular purpose and a specific user.
Luckily, we’re here to help you on both fronts: finding the best photo scanner and, just as importantly, choosing the right photo scanner for your needs. Our top picks offer high-quality scans, gentle handling of originals, and reliable performance, with features that will allow you to restore and retouch old photos.
But where our top picks divulge is in their specific features. Do you need the best photo scanner for old albums, or need something to digitize original documents? Are you looking for a sheet-feeder for bulk photo scans, or prefer a flatbed scanner? Do you need a professional scanner that can handle negatives and transparency strips, or simply a handheld, portable scanner to lug around with you to museums and libraries? Whatever the answer is, we have it right here.
Our top options include flatbed, sheet-feed, portable, and printer-scanner options, so that you can find the best choice for your needs. Whether you’re a professional digital artist, or simply need a way to digitize your memories, you’re sure to find what you need in our definitive list of the best photo scanners of 2020.
Best Photo Scanner Reviews
Don’t have time? Here’s a quick review of the main features of our favorite photo scanners:
Overall Best: Epson FastFoto FF-680W
Features: Sheet-feed that handles originals gently, fastest option, double-sided scan, intelligent OCR, three image quality options (300 dpi, 600 dpi, 1,200 dpi), image restoration software.
Best Value-for-Money: Epson Perfection V39
Features: Flatbed, OCR, 4,800 dpi image resolution, removable lid ideal for scanning books, cloud-sharing software, image restoration.
Best Photo Printer Scanner: Canon Pixma G7020
Features: Multi-function printer with print, copy, scan, and fax options, cost-efficient refillable ink tank, high-quality prints.
Best Portable Photo Scanner Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner
Features: Patented flip-and-scan technology for fragile originals, lightweight, battery-powered, story-making software, 300 and 600 dpi image resolution options.
Bonus: Best for Professionals Epson Expression 12000XL-PH
Features: High-resolution images (2400 x 4800 dpi), great for large originals, negatives, transparency strips, comes with image-restoration software.
And now, let’s get into the detailed reviews of the best photo scanners available on the market!
Overall Best: Epson FastFoto FF-680W
Although we generally recommend flatbed scanners, our overall best pick is a sheet-feed scanner, the Epson FastFoto FF680W is our top pick.
The FastFoto is our favorite scanner because it will keep your precious originals unscathed, while allowing you to scan as many of them as you wish at top speed and with excellent quality. For its quality and efficiency, the FastFoto is well worth the price. We especially recommend this for professionals or if you do a lot of scanning – because the FastFoto will make your job a breeze.
The Epson FastFoto FF-680W is one of the most efficient all-in-one scanning systems. To begin with, it can be connected through USB or via wireless network, so you can immediately get your scanned files on your PC.
The FastFoto is also one of the fastest scanners out there – and much faster than flatbed scanners, as it is a sheet-feed scanner. It can scan photos as fast as one second per photo in the lowest quality option (300dpi). You can also feed it multiple pictures and documents at once, so you’ll have thousands of scans readily available within weeks! Plus, the FastFoto has a two-sided scan feature – so you can get a postcard’s front and back in a single go.
While some sheet-feed scanners end up damaging the originals, the Epson FastFoto will keep your originals safe and intact. The FastFoto is designed specifically to treat the originals gently, allowing you to scan shoebox after shoebox of old childhood photos.
The FastFoto is quite versatile. You can use it to scan anything from Polaroid photos, panoramas, and postcards to documents. It offers three modes, based on image quality: 300 dpi for easy sharing, 600 dpi TIFF format for archiving, and 1,200 dpi for enlarging. The feeder can handle sizes up to 8.5 inches wide, although it also allows you to stick varying sizes in a single batch.
For documents, the Epson ScanSmart software features OCR (optical character recognition), which will allow you to save documents as PDFs. If you’re an accountant, this can save you time by scanning receipts, tax records, and so on. Overall, it’s a great scanner for handling documentation.
The FastFoto software also offers versatile tools for adjusting the image quality, restoring old photos, organizing your folders and sharing the scanned images. In terms of photo restoration, the software has red-eye reduction and allows you to enhance, crop, rotate, and restore the color of the photos. You can also connect the FastFoto to your Dropbox or Google Drive for auto upload and backup.
One possible drawback of the Epson FastFoto is that it may accidentally misalign your images every now and then. In other words, you may find a picture flipped 90 degrees the wrong way on occasion.
Best Value-for-Money: Epson Perfection V39
The Epson Perfection V39 is our favorite value-for-money flatbed scanner, as it offers excellent quality for an affordable price. It has one of the highest image quality options on the market, offering incredible clarity and detail in the scans. It’s also quite straightforward and easy to use. The compact size and light weight make this scanner easy to place and stow away. We especially recommend the Epson Perfection V39 for homes and offices that scan photos or books.
The Epson Perfection V39 offers one of the highest image scanning resolutions, with a 4,800 dpi optical resolution. The scanner also allows you to restore color to old, faded photos. That’s why the Perfection V39 is a great choice for restoring and archiving old family photos.
The Perfection V39 is quite easy to use. Setup is simple, and scanning is quite user-friendly. It features easy-to-use buttons which will allow you to make quick scans with several clicks. You can also scan directly to Google Drive or other cloud services, as sharing, backup, and adjustment software is included with the product. Plus, thanks to the added ArcSoft Scan n Stitch Deluxe 2 software, you can scan oversized prints.
This flatbed scanner is a great space-efficient choice. It’s light and compact, so you can easily stow it away between uses. Plus it features a built-in kickstand for vertical placement on your desk.
We especially recommend the Perfection V39 for the scanning of books. The lid is light, high-rise, and removable, so you can adjust it based on the size of the book. Plus, it also has OCR, so you can convert books and documents into editable text files.
As the lid is quite light, it doesn’t press the photos and documents very well. This may result in some curled corners showing in your scanned files.
Keep in mind that while the V39 offers excellent quality, it may not be up to the task for professionals like graphic artists.
Best Photo Printer Scanner: Canon Pixma G7020
The Canon Pixma G7020 is our favorite printer-scanner combo. The PIXMA is an excellent MFP (multi-function printer) option that’s designed for high-efficiency, high-volume printing. It’s a great cost-efficient MFP, as it can print tons of documents and images using very little ink, thanks to the model’s hybrid ink system. It’s a great choice for homes and small offices that are looking for a budget-friendly solution to printing.
We’re here for the photo scanners, so let’s talk about the scanner first. The Canon PIXMA G7020 comes with a flatbed scanner, which is conveniently placed on the top of the printer. It has flatbed measurements, so you can always scan multiple photos at once.
The PIXMA G7020 is one of the most versatile options on the market. You can use its functions to print, copy, scan, and fax. Thanks to its ADF (automatic document feeder) feature, you can scan multiple pages quickly and easily. The printer can fit up to 350 blanks sheets at once, making it a great choice for smaller offices.
The PIXMA G7020 is one of the most cost-efficient printers on the market. Instead of cartridges, it uses refillable ink tanks, which will save you a fortune! Plus, the purchase includes a full set of color ink as well as three black bottles. The PIXMA features a large tank that will allow you to print up to 6,000 black or 7,700 color pages in high quality with a single fill. You can also set the printer to the economy setting, and you are barely be able to tell the difference in quality from the standard print mode.
Not only is the PIXMA an economical choice for printing – but it will also provide you with great-looking prints. Thanks to the hybrid ink system which combines pigment-based black and dye-based color inks, you’ll be able to print both work documents with sharp black text as well as images with vibrant colors.
The PIXMA is easy to set up and use – so long as you use the Canon app on your phone. As this MFP has a wireless connection, you can use the AirPrint software to print directly from your phone, tablet, or PC. The featured non-lit B&W LCD screen is straightforward and easy to use for simple tasks.
While setup is easy using the Canon app, it’s a hassle if you try to do it from the LCD display. One owner has endearingly called setup through the display “unnecessary self-inflicted punishment.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that the PIXMA has some limited options when it comes to scanning.
Best Portable Photo Scanner: Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner
The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is compact, efficient, and adorable all at once. It’s quick and simple to operate, produces accurate results, and keeps your originals safe. It’s very lightweight, so it’s the ideal portable choice. We especially recommend the Flip-Pal for scanning photo albums or scanning valuable originals on-the-go from libraries and museums.
The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is the best portable choice, as it’s battery-powered and lightweight. You can use the scanner for some quality-time spent scanning old albums full of photos with your family, or have it handy when you need to scan some original documents. The scanner also features StoryScans software, which allows you to turn your scanning endeavors into a story. The software will record your voice and store it in a single file with the scans.
This portable photo scanner is also great on-the-go since it’s easy and quick to use. To use the scanner, you simply remove the lid, flip the scanner over, frame the original through the window, and press the green scan button. It takes 7 seconds to scan a 4 x 6-inch photo at 300 dpi. The scans go directly to the 4GB SD card (where the software is stored as well). It also has a USB adapter, for more storage space.
The Flip-Pal is a great choice for fragile originals thanks to the patented flip-and-scan technology. Rather than using a sheet-feeder like most other portable options, the Flip-Pal is simply placed above the documents, scanning them without damaging them.
While the Flip-Pal is best for smaller-sized photos and documents, you can also use it to scan larger originals. The EasyStitch software featured on this scanner automatically assembles the multiple scans of the larger originals and puts them together. Smaller objects, like stamps and coins, are reproduced in higher detail.
Overall, the photo quality is satisfactory for most old photos, with 600 and 300 dpi options.
The Flip-Pal has only two options for scanning resolution, as you can only choose from 300 and 600 dpi. This may not be ideal for graphic designers who need more finesse when it comes to image resolution. Additionally, some may find battery use a bit outdated.
Bonus – Best for Professionals: Epson Expression 12000XL-PH
The Epson Expression 12000XL-PH is the best photo scanner for professionals, thanks to the exceptionally high quality of the scans and its capacity for large prints, negatives, slides, and transparency strips. The Epson Expression is equipped with numerous image restoration features that make it the ideal choice for professional graphic artists and designers. However, it’s also quite pricey, so it’s not a good budget-friendly choice.
The Epson Expression 12000XL-PH offers incredible image quality, with a 2400 x 4800 dpi resolution and a 3.8 Dmax which ensures extraordinary clarity of detail in the scans. Its imaging system provides enhanced color by combining superior image processing, a fast warm-up LED lamp, and the Epson MatrixCCD technology to create scans with vibrant color.
The Epson is an ideal choice for professionals because it can deal with the largest and smallest of image materials. For large-format scanning, it can accommodate images up to 12. 2″ X 17. 2″, but you can also do multiple scans and reassemble them for larger projects. As we mentioned, it can also scan slides, negatives, and transparency strips with great accuracy and detail. You can scan up to 48 frames of 35 mm negatives, 30 slides, 9 frames of 4” x 5” images, and transparency strips up to 18 cm in length. A transparency unit is included with the purchase.
The Epson Expression comes with useful image restoration software. You can use the easy photo fix technology to restore the color of faded photographs and negatives. It also features an automatic dust removal function and grain reduction for the scanning of films.
One possible drawback of the Epson Expression is that it’s a bit tricky to set up. Plus, as it comes with lots of features, it may take some time to get accustomed to using them.
And, as we already mentioned, this scanner is quite expensive.
Our overall favorite scanner is the Epson FastFoto FF-680W Scanning System, as it provides excellent quality scans and speed at the same time. Although it’s a sheet-feed, it handles all originals quite gently. Plus, it’s much quicker at bulk scanning than flatbed scanners and it offers a double-sided scan feature. This makes it ideal for people who scan large amounts of documents and photos frequently. The three image quality options (300 dpi, 600 dpi, 1,200 dpi) and image restoration software will give you versatility in fine-tuning the settings. The intelligent OCR makes it a great choice for turning old texts into PDF and Word documents.
The best value-for-money photo scanner is the Epson Perfection V39. The Epson is a flatbed model that combines the most affordable price on our list with excellent image quality, offering a 4800 dpi image resolution. It’s very lightweight and compact, and it comes with a vertical mount design. This makes it ideal for cramped workstations. The light, removable lid on the Perfection V39 makes it a great choice for scanning books. Plus, the included OCR software will allow you to turn them into PDF or Word documents. It also comes with cloud-sharing software which makes saving images, backing up, and sharing images through devices or clouds (like Google Drive) very easy and convenient.
The Canon PIXMA G7020 is the best scanner-printer model on the market. It produces great scans with a featured flatbed scanner on top of the printer – which isn’t surprising, as Canon is originally a camera manufacturer. The print quality of both black prints and color images is exceptional, as the hybrid ink used in the tank creates clear outlines and vibrant colors. The PIXMA G7020 is a great MFP option – you can use it to scan, print, and fax documents. These functions paired with the cost-efficient refillable ink system, make it an ideal choice for smaller offices and busy homes.
Our favorite portable photo scanner is the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. This scanner is battery-powered, compact, and lightweight, so you can always keep it handy on trips to the library or museum. The flip-and-scan technology will allow you to scan fragile originals by barely touching them, and without damaging them. It offers scans in 300 and 600 dpi, which is great for most album and document scans. While the screen of the Flip-Pal is limited, it features the necessary software to take multiple scans of larger originals and reassemble them in a single image. We especially recommend the Flip-Pal for those of you looking to digitize their precious memories, as it’s ideal for scanning old photo albums, one photograph at a time.
Last and certainly not least, our bonus pick is the best photo scanner for professionals is the Epson Expression 12000XL-PH. This is the third Epson entry on our list – which should tell you something about their competence and quality in the photo scanner game. The Expression 12000XL-PH provides exceptional high-resolution images of up to 2400 x 4800 dpi, the highest quality on our list. This scanner is ideal for large originals and tiny negatives and transparency strips alike, giving you scans with great detail and a revived, vibrant color. It comes with image restoration, dust removal, and grain reduction features, which make it an ideal choice for professionals, such as graphic artists and graphic designers.
How To Choose The Right Photo Scanner
Ok, so now you’re familiar with the best photo scanners, but which one is the right photo scanner for your unique needs? To help you choose the best-suited option for you, we’ve prepared a guide for the main factors you should consider when choosing.
Flatbeds Are the Way to Go
Flatbed scanners are straightforward and easy to use – lift the lid, place the photo or document on the glass, close the lid, hit scan. Most photo scanners feature a flatbed design for a good reason – it ensures that the originals remain intact in the process of scanning.
Sheet-fed document scanners can harm delicate photos and document originals. That’s why we also avoided recommending portable sheet-feed models – you can never be sure that the originals won’t be damaged.
Of course, a tried-and-true exception here is our top pick, the Epson FastFoto FF-680W. The FastFoto is designed to handle originals gently, from old documents to shoeboxes full of polaroid photos.
If you do a lot of scanning, then speed is probably an important factor for you. In terms of speed, the best option is the Epson FastFoto, as it’s a sheet-fed model, has a two-sided scan feature, and can work with bulk documents. You’ll be able to scan thousands of images in a matter of months.
Avoid other sheet-feed scanners, however, for reasons mentioned above.
Looking for the Right Features
The “right features” are a subjective category, as they’ll depend on what you’ll use the scanner for.
Image Resolution and Image Software
If you need a basic scanner for the occasional scanning of photos and documents, any affordable model will do – like the Epson Perfection V39, which is both budget-friendly and offers decent performance.
However, if image resolution is an important factor, you should look at the different dpi capabilities offered by the various scanners. Professionals may need high-resolution options like the Epson Expression, which can also deal with negatives and transparency strips, reproducing them in high detail.
Additionally, if you’d like to restore and retouch old photos, look for an option that offers the necessary software. If you do professional work with prints you’ll also want a model that has wireless and cloud-sharing capabilities, so you’ll immediately receive the scans on your smart devices.
Scanning Original Text Documents
On the other hand, if you’re looking to scan old text documents, you may prefer to go for a scanner that has OCR. This is really helpful for occupations ranging from historians to accountants. Having an original digitally available in a PDF or DOC format that is fully searchable can save you time and trouble.
Portability and Compactness
If you need a portable scanner for photo albums or easy access to valuable originals, a handheld photo scanner like the Flip-Pal is a great choice – as it’s battery-powered, lightweight, and compact.
Alternatively, you may be looking for a regular flatbed scanner that’s compact and easy to stow away. The Epson V39 is again a good choice here, thanks to its lightweight design and vertical mounting option.
Lastly, if you need the scanner for an office, a printer-scanner option may be ideal for you. The Canon PIXMA is a great cost-effective MFP that can copy, print, fax, and scan. Keep in mind, however, that most MFPs are better at printing than they are at scanning. If you need professional scans, you’ll need a professional, specialized photo scanner.
What’s Your Budget?
In the end, budget will naturally play a role in choosing a photo scanner. How much money are you able or willing to spend on a new scanner? Let’s look at our top picks in ascending order based on price.
Our top value-for-money choice, the Epson Perfection V39 is also the most budget-friendly option. It costs $104.99.
The next scanner by price is the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, costing $319.99.
The MFP Canon PIXMA G7020 costs $306.51 on Amazon. This option will also help you save on printing thanks to the economical refillable hybrid ink system.
Our favorite choice, the Epson FastFoto FF-680W costs $499.99. Considering the quality of the scans, delicate handling of originals, and speed that this scanner works with, it’s well worth the money for professional work that requires bulk scanning.
The priciest option is the one specifically intended for professionals, the Epson Expression 12000XL-PH. This photo scanner costs $4,499.99, but provides the best quality scans and can support the broadest variety of original sizes and types.
Q: What is the best high-speed photo scanner?
A: The best high-speed photo scanner is the Epson FastFoto FF-680W. The sheet-feed design can handle multiple scans at once without damaging the originals.
Q: How do I bulk scan photos?
A: To bulk scan photos using a flatbed rather than a sheet-fed model, simply put multiple photos at once on the scanner’s glass. Average-sized scanner beds can accommodate about four 4×6-inch photos at once. You can go back and crop the photos into separate images later.
Q: What dpi should I use to scan photos?
A: What dpi you should use to scan photos depends on why you’re scanning, what you’re scanning, and the image quality you need. In general, 300 dpi can be sufficient for most photo prints, but 600 dpi offers the best combination of clarity, detail, and file size. For most amateur scanning, saving your photos with higher dpi will only cause the files to weigh and take longer to scan more without significantly added detail. However, in the case of professional scanning, where every pixel matters, or if you need to zoom in on the details of the photo, scanning in higher dpi makes sense.
A Few Words Before You Go…
Hopefully, our reviews and buying guide were useful in your search. Now, you know which photo scanners are the best on the market, and which features to look out when choosing the right scanner for your needs.
In case you need it, here’s a reminder of our top picks:
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Last updated on November 30, 2023. Pricing Information and Product Images obtained from Amazon Product Advertising API.
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