Choosing a Photo Scanner
Learn How to Choose the Right Photo Scanner
A photo scanner is a great way to take old photos, film and negatives and convert them into digital images. Digital images can then be shared online, via e-mail, manipulated to improve them, printed, or stored for safe keeping. What a great device!
This page will offer you some basic information on how to choose the right photo scanner based upon the type of work you want to do.
What Do You Want to Scan?
The type of scanner you buy will be based on the type of work you want to do with it.The most popular photo scanners are flatbed scanners. These scanners allow users to work with prints, paper documents, and even three dimensional objects. There are some that even have a transparency hood or adapter to scan slides and negatives. If most of the work will involve scanning transparencies, film, and negatives a dedicated film scanner is the better option. The resolution on these scanners is more appropriate for film and negatives. If the majority of scanning done will be from books then flatbed scanners with a sheet feed would be a poor choice. Sheet feed type scanners are good for large volume scanning of single documents and images but are more likely to jam.Another popular option is a multi-function scanner which can scan, print, and copy.
Is It the Right Size?
Flatbed scanners are the most common type of photo scanner. If a flatbed scanner is chosen, then the bed size has to accomodate the items to be scanned. If the user will scan 12"x 17" documents, then the bedsize should be at least this large. Some scanners will produce enlargements of your photos. The bedsize on the scanner may be smaller than the enlargements you produce as the bedsize only needs to accommodate the size of your originals. It must however, be able to accomodate the paper size needed for the enlargment.
The quality of the images a photo scanner can produce is determined primarily by color depth/bit depth and resolution. In general, 36 to 48 bit depth is more than enough for most purposes.
A minimum resolution of 300dpi or 300spi is sufficient for text documents but 1200 dpi/spi is needed for photo reproduction. Film/negatives require at minmum of at least 2400dpi.
Looking for a "dynamic range" of at least 3.2 is also advised for the best quality.
If you have only an occasional need to scan and scan in small volumes, speed isn't so critical with the photo scanner you choose. However, if you have much to do speed becomes quite important.
A good generally rule is that a photo scanner with an average speed of 10-20 seconds to scan an 8 x10" image is sufficient for most uses.
Photo scanners like other home electronics are cabable of multi-tasking.
Can the scanner scan to print, scan to file, fax, or e-mail? Does it come with software to allow it to scan, edit and even take text to a word processing file or convert to a PDF file. Some scanners come with software that allows quite a lot of restoration and editing. Some also allow you to enlarge images and others have built in restoration features.
Flatbed scanners are also available that can scan film or slides if shoppers check for such features.
Obviously any photo scanner should have compatible connections to existing devices; particularly your computer and be compatible with the OS as well. USB 2.0 or Firewire connectivity are recommended for faster transfer.
Canon CanoScan 9000F
More Helpful Information About Photo Scanners
- Care for a Photo Scanner
Useful information about caring for a photo scanner and how to avoid damage.
- Choosing the Right Resolution
Find out more about choosing the right resolution when scanning images.
- How Stuff Works
Learn more about how a photo scanner works.
- Pop Photo
The latest product reviews and tests.