When you think about your favorite, most meaningful photo, chances are that it was taken many years ago, before there was a computer in almost every house and a smartphone in every pocket.
With the world moving increasingly faster toward a digital future, many people all over the world are digitizing their favorite photos so that they can be saved to their electronic devices and reproduced at will. Thankfully, there are a great number of excellent photo scanners on the market that make this task as quick and simple as can be. However, given the importance of your old photos (and the memories they represent), it is vital to make an educated decision when shopping for a photo scanner.
We made this guide to showcase the best photo scanners out there and to let you know what makes them so special. We’ll also clue you in on a few key things to think about before you shop so that you will end up with the perfect photo scanner for all of your precious photos.
What to Scan for When Shopping for a Photo Scanner
- Scan Quality: When looking for a photo scanner, the quality of the digital images it produces should be one of your top considerations. Seek out a photo scanner that allows for adjustable quality and an easy way to set the DPI (dots per inch) of a scanned image. This will make it easier to optimize your scanned images before relying on image editing software.
- Ease of Use: Some photo scanners are easier to use than others. Models that can connect to your PC and scan photos in large batches are ideal for those with many photos to scan. Many photo scanners can even automatically detect photo orientation, paper size, and white space to limit the amount of work on your end after a photo is scanned.
- Compatibility: Another key thing to consider is the compatibility of the devices you will use with your photo scanner. While most photo scanners are widely compatible with Apple computers and PCs, be sure to check the specs to ensure your computer, memory card, and USB cables will work flawlessly.
Top Pick: Plustek Photo Scanner
The Plustek Photo Scanner sports all the features and functionality to meet the needs of most and at a reasonable price, making it an easy choice for our top pick award. This photo scanner supports 3×5, 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10-inch photos, as well as letter and A4 documents, making it one of the more versatile models out there. It also scans very quickly while providing above-average scan quality and is incredibly gentle on your photos while scanning. This photo scanner also stands out for its ease of use (it rotates, crops, and detects paper size automatically) and comes equipped with a nifty image enhancement program that makes editing your photos a breeze.
Plustek Photo Scanner
This photo scanner features high-quality scans as well as some nifty features that pre-optimize your photos without any need for user input.
Best Portable: Magic Wand Portable Handheld Scanner
If you’re wanting something portable and budget-friendly, look no further than the Magic Wand Portable Handheld Scanner. This photo scanner features three DPI settings to ensure the quality of your scanned photos is exactly as you like it and its 8.27-inch scanning width makes it compatible with a wide range of photo sizes. This device is also very simple to hook up to your computer via USB cable to transfer photos, although it comes with a 16-GB SD card for saving your scanned photos using the scanner itself. Although this handheld scanner is slightly more difficult to calibrate than other scanner options, its price and amazing quality make it an unbeatable value at its price point.
Magic Wand Portable Handheld Scanner
This budget-friendly and ultra-portable handheld photo scanner runs on AA batteries and comes with an SD card so that you can scan and save photos anywhere.
Fastest Photo Scanner: Epson FastFoto Wireless High-Speed Photo Scanner
For those with huge stacks of old photos to scan, the Epson FastFoto Wireless High-Speed Photo Scanner will make the process as quick and effortless as it can be. This device scans incredibly fast and can batch-scan up to 35 photos at a time, making it a dream come true for those undertaking an exhaustive scanning job. It also captures handwritten notes on the back of an image in a single scan and sports intuitive image editing software so that you can fix any imperfections in order to restore the original quality of your photos. Although this product is pricier than most, it’s an absolute must for those who value speed and quality.
Epson FastFoto Wireless High-Speed Photo Scanner
Featuring high-speed scanning and bulk-scanning of up to 35 photos at a time, this photo scanner takes a lot of the work out of bulk scanning jobs.
Best Film Scanner: Kodak Scanza Digital Film & Slide Scanner
If you still possess film from long-lost photos you wish you would have held on to, the Kodak Scanza Digital Film & Slide Scanner is the best tool for reproducing your cherished memories. This film scanner is compatible with 35mm, 126, 110, and Super 8 film, as well as 8mm negatives and slides, making it an incredibly useful tool for a number of common film types. It also comes with an HD color display for viewing your photos, as well as a built-in 14MP camera for “scanning.” While this technology is not ideal for high-quality photos, it is definitely able to faithfully reproduce old photos so that you can cherish them once again. At this product’s price point, you can’t ask for much more than that.
Kodak Scanza Digital Film & Slide Scanner
This film and slide scanner is compatible with a variety of film and slide types and features a built-in 14MP camera to faithfully reproduce the image on film.
Also Consider: HP Envy Photo 7155 All-in-One Photo Printer
Rounding out our guide is a fantastic all-in-one photo printer from HP that is a great option for those who don’t see the need for a dedicated photo scanner. This printer features a high-quality flatbed scanner that is capable of reproducing your photos with stunning quality. It sports some handy features, such as mobile printing and smartphone compatibility. This all-in-one printer also scores major points for being much easier to set up and use than your average printer and gives you an inexpensive means to reprint your scanned photographs with excellent quality.
HP Envy Photo 7155 All-in-One Photo Printer
This all-in-one photo printer produces excellent quality scans that rivals or surpasses most photo scanners. It also features excellent color and print quality.