A Guide to the Best Slide Scanners of 2022
In the not-so-distant past, before the advent of digital cameras, a camera would invariably contain a roll of film, which you would have to send to a camera store to get developed. Along with the developed photos, you would receive strips of negatives, which you would have to bring to the camera store if you wanted more copies. You could also create slides or film strips from your pictures. However, all of these media can fade with time, or get damaged. If you want to salvage irreplaceable old photos, negatives, slides, and filmstrips before something happens to them, there are slide scanners that can help you convert all of these media to digital format.
There is a wealth of slide scanners available on the market nowadays. They are designed for scanning and saving large quantities of photos, negatives, and slides. Depending on the desired resolution, you can digitize a thousand photos in a single afternoon! And these slide scanners are also equipped with special software to correct the color and improve the picture quality.
We’ll go through some of the slide scanners in the Best Reviews Guide list. Some are meant specifically for negatives, some are just for slides, and others are a jack-of-all-trades, with special tools to digitize almost any picture, no matter the size!
Types of Slide Scanners
Flatbed scanners: There are scanners that are capable of digitizing a wide range of media, besides slides. An example is the Epson Perfection V850 Pro Scanner. As the name implies, it’s for archival professionals, and the price reflects that as well. You can lay a photograph flat on the platen and scan it. There are special types of adapters to hold negatives, slides, and filmstrips.
Epson Perfection V850 Pro Scanner
A more affordable model of flatbed scanner is the Epson Perfection V600 Photo, which is also capable of scanning photos, negatives, slides, film, and documents. It can also restore color and detail to old photos, as well as remove scratches and dust from pictures.
Epson Perfection V600 Photo
Strip scanners: There are also scanners in which you insert negatives or slides into a film strip holder or slide holder. You then insert the holder into the scanner. The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i series uses such a design.
Plustek OpticFilm Slide Scanner (Model No. 8200i)
There are also strip scanners that have a number of sizes of adapters, for 50 mm x 50 mm slides, or filmstrips of varying widths. An example is the Kodak Slide ‘n Scan Film and Slide Scanner. It can handle color and black & white negatives and slides. You can save the scans on an SD card, or hook it up to a computer and store the scans there.
Kodak Slide ‘n Scan Film and Slide Scanner
Back scanners: There are also back scanners, which allow you to load several strips of negatives at once. You let the machine scan them one by one. An example is the Pacific Image PowerFilm Film Scanner. You can put in 10 strips of negatives at once, and it will scan all 60 images!
Pacific Image PowerFilm Film Scanner
What reviewers say
Large size an advantage: Expert archivists say that a large, heavy scanner is actually an advantage when processing slides and other photos, where the picture quality and resolution are very important. The weight of the scanner will ensure that there will be a minimum of vibration while the device is scanning.
Check if you can mix and match: Some devices are able to scan batches of negatives. But, that can have limitations. For example, the Pacific Image PowerFilm scanner can only scan one type of negative at a time: either black&white or color, but not a mixture of the two.
Get the latest software: Many of these slide scanners come with proprietary software. The software will help you archive your pictures, as well as perform touchups. Just note that high-quality scans will typically take a while, as much as several minutes per scan.
Digital ICE: You’ll see that many slide scanners use a technology called “Digital ICE” (=Digital Image Correction and Enhancement). This uses infrared light to detect dust and scratches on the original. It then corrects the image, ignoring the effect of the dust and imperfections. This can save you money on photo retouching if you have the means to correct the photos yourself!
What media can it convert: If you have a lot of negatives or slides, you can suffice with the specialized devices for scanning only negatives or slides. But you’ll note that you might have negatives in a variety of widths. The Kodak Slide N Scan has adapters for holding 110 mm, 126 mm, and 135 mm filmstrips.
Capable of making enlargements: You’ll notice that an image’s quality in a document will degrade if you try to enlarge it. For this reason, there are slide scanners that have a spectacular resolution, such as the Epson Perfection V600. It can scan with a resolution of 6400 dpi x 9600 dpi. This ensures that even when you blow up the image to as much as 17” x 22”, it will still have the same image quality as the smaller version.
Resolution: The quality of the digital versions of your slides will depend on the dynamic range and resolution of your slide scanner. The dynamic range refers to the extent to which it can capture light and dark areas of a photograph. The resolution is measured in dots per inch (=dpi). While a typical photo print has a resolution of around 260 dpi, you’ll see that many slide scanners have a maximum resolution of 7200 dpi!
We went through some of the features of the best slide scanners, making note of their versatility to handle several types of film media. You’ll get to salvage old photos that otherwise may degrade with time, and you’ll be able to share them in digital format. All in all, a slide scanner is a worthwhile investment, whether you have a photo restoration business or just have large quantities of slides, film strips, or film negatives!