Gen Z may not realize this, but there was a time before camera phones existed, where photos were taken on actual cameras, with actual film, that needed to be developed and printed. (Ok, boomer!) The problem is that those photos are now in danger of being damaged and potentially lost to father time. That’s where photo scanners come in. These specialized scanners can digitize your old photos, so you can keep those treasured memories around forever. The best photo scanners can even enhance old and damaged photos, making them look as great as the day they were developed. On top of that, some of the products below can even scan film negatives and photo slides, restoring your family’s treasured photo albums for the 21st century (and a totally disinterested Gen Z).
Even though many film purists are mourning the loss of old-school photography, we’re actually living in a golden age for the casual photographer. After you’ve scanned and restored your old family pictures and photo slides, you can print them out with a portable phone photo printer or send them to be framed with an online photo framing service. First, you need to find the right photo scanner for your needs — and that’s definitely something we can help with.
Don’t lose your favorite memories to father time! Digitize those never-forgotten photos with one of our picks for the best photo scanners.
1. Epson Fastfoto FF-680W
Have you been ignoring that big stack of photos you’ve been meaning to digitize because you don’t want to painstakingly scan each photo one-by-one? The Epson Fastfoto FF-680W is your solution. This wireless photo scanner takes large stacks of photos and quickly digitizes them as quick as one print per second at 300dpi and one every three seconds at 600dpi. This small, printer-like scanner also comes with FastFoto, a program to save, edit and enhance your newly digitized photos. In a speed test conducted by PC Mag, the Epson was able to scan, digitize and save a stack of 36 photos in just under two minutes. That’s much faster than any other photo scanner in the group. And it’s not a one-trick pony — it scans documents, too. You can finally digitize that stack of photos you’ve been ignoring without it being an all-day project.
2. Canon CanoScan Lide 400 Slim Scanner
Not only is this a reliable scanner, it also takes up a tiny slice of desktop real estate. The Canon CanoScan Lide 400 Slim Scanner can even get out of the way by folding upright on a convenient kickstand, making it available when you need it and essentially disappearing when you don’t. Beyond a great design, the photo scanner digitizes photos accurately. It can even scan documents and turn them into editable text using the included software. The additional software is a CD-ROM, so have fun trying to locate a disk-drive, especially if you have a newer computer. If you digitize photos on occasion, this is an affordable option with a great design. If you need to get a ton of digitizing done, we recommend our top pick, the Epson Fastfoto FF-680W.
3. Epson Perfection V850 Pro
BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS
Not all scanners are created equally. It’s hard to mistake a Toyota Corolla for a Porsche Boxster (no offense to Corolla owners). The Epson Perfection V850 is for professionals who need ever-so demanding detail from their photo scanners. The 6,400 x 9,600 resolution is seriously impressive, and the photo scanner can automatically repair old and slightly damaged photos. But if you want your digitized photo to be a carbon copy of the original, it specializes in exact reproductions, too. It can scan everything from high-resolution photos to negatives with scary precision. This photo scanner isn’t for the casual user, especially considering the price, but if you need perfect digitized copies of your photos, this is the one you want.
4. Epson Perfection V600
BEST MID-RANGE PHOTO SCANNER
The Epson Perfection V600 photo scanner has a high optical scan resolution of 6400dpi to produce quality digitized representations of your photos. And with Digital ICE technology, it can even clean up older photos by removing dust and scratches. The V600 also has convenient holders to help you scan photo negatives and even old photo slides as well. It doesn’t have any auto feed features like our top overall pick, so scanning a ton of pictures by hand will be a bit more of a task. If you only have a handful of photos that need digitization from time to time, it’s hard to beat this photo scanner, especially at this price point.
5. KODAK Mobile Film Scanner
BEST FILM & SLIDE SCANNER
Though it’s not a traditional photo scanner, this KODAK mobile film scanner is so well designed — and affordable — that we had to include it here. This portable, tabletop scanner makes it incredibly easy to scan film negatives and slides. It’s compatible with 35mm color film, 35 mm black and white film, and 35mm color slides. With the free Android companion app, the scans will instantly get uploaded to your device. At $40, this is an affordable solution for anyone with lots of old photo slides or family films turning into dust. Surprise your grandparents or become the family historian with this nifty gadget.
6. Canon CanoScan Lide 300
The Canon CanoScan Lide 300 is a good entry-level photo scanner that is affordable and similar to the Lide 400, minus the kickstand and half the resolution. If you can find a disk drive, the packaged software is what can really help with the digitization process. It can even scan documents into editable ones. Like its 400 counterpart, it’s a reliable photo scanner that won’t cost you that much money, making it a great choice if you only need to digitize a few things here and there.