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Top 17 Best Scanners To Turn Negatives Into Digital Features, Reviews, and FAQs

Brandon Forder
  Feb 1, 2023 3:03 PM

Film still holds a certain mystique for certain photographers. Film photography and video capture a look and feel that is lost in digital formats. The convenience of digital photography in terms of editing and sharing is undeniable. The film scanner, which performs this transformation, is now available. Photographers aren't the only ones who can benefit from using a film scanner. Film scanners are also available, and they can digitize Super 8 and 8mm film into MP4s that can be edited and shared with ease. In addition to making it simpler to edit, share, and copy your work, the greatest film scanners also maintain the film's unique look and feel.


There is a wide variety of film scanners available, each optimized for scanning a specific film type. And still some scan paper documents and photographs in addition to working with various film kinds. Therefore, your chosen film scanner will need to be compatible with the film type you use and provide adequate quality for your needs. Film scanners with more manual controls and flexibility are necessary for professionals, but amateur photographers can get by with a cheaper model. Find out which models made the cut and why in this article, along with some helpful hints for selecting a scanner to digitize your negatives.

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Last update on 2023-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

Buying Guide

Type of scanner

Among film scanners, flatbed scanners are the most widely available and reasonably priced option. They can be slower than conventional scanners and generate lesser resolutions when scanning.

When scanning film, you need a computer to do the job. It's more expensive, but the improved scan quality is well worth it.

In terms of cost, all-in-one film scanners are in between flatbed scanners and specialized film scanners. Furthermore, these film scanners have subpar scan quality.


To get a clear scan from your film, you'll need a scanner with a resolution of at least 3,000 dots per inch (DPI). The resolution is pixel-based, and it yields high-quality images.

The resolution of a scanner is typically the most expensive component. Even if the prices of two scanners are comparable, the one with the higher resolution is likely to be the superior purchase.

Dynamic range

The dynamic range of a film scanner is defined by its capacity to vary its optical density. The optimal dynamic range is 4, with values between 0 and 4 being possible.

The optimal dynamic range for a film scanner is between three and four. A greater dynamic range will result in a more colorful image.


Slide scanner speeds are expressed in terms of the number of pages per minute that the device can scan (ppm). Manual scanner outputs vary in speed depending on how rapidly you load your slides, while high-end machines may scan images at up to 7200 dpi in a matter of seconds. In the same way, variables like as print size and image resolution can affect the ppm.

File Format

Unfortunately, not all scanners will be able to read every file type. Some scanners may not be able to open TIFF files, therefore you may need to convert them to a more universal format like JPEG or PNG.

Device Compatibility

As with file types, a scanner may only work with a certain OS. The best slide scanners should work with several operating systems, but at a minimum, they should be compatible with Windows and Mac.

Color Depth

The bit depth of your scans determines how true to color they will be. Choose a scanner with a higher bit depth if you need a faithful copy of your photographs. Most individuals can get do with 24 bits, but pros should use 30. Scanners with 12 bits of color depth are enough for black and white or grayscale negatives.


If you require a flexible device that can link to HDMI cables, SD cards, and other systems, then connectivity is a major selling factor. However, if all you need is a simple slide scanner, many models now include USB connectivity.


The storage capacity of a slide scanner is an essential consideration when making a purchase. Scanners can vary greatly in terms of memory capacity; some have extensive on-board memory, while others offer the option of using an external storage device such an SD card.


Getting a film scanner at a discount might seem like a good idea, but you might be sacrificing performance, accuracy, and quality in the process. Reasons for the high cost of film scanners include their ability to scan multiple frames at once and their ability to handle fragile 35mm film negatives. Therefore, you should always invest in a scanner that guarantees the results you need without going into debt.


Is it worth buying a film scanner?

It can cost a lot of money to have your film scanned or converted by a professional provider. A film scanner can help you save a lot of money if you have drawers full of film or reels taking over your home office. You will need to invest some time in scanning the document, but doing so yourself can save you money in the long run.

Can you scan film on any scanner

You can't scan film with just any scanner. The most adaptable scanners are flatbed models, although not all of them are made for film because they lack an internal light. Prior to purchasing a scanner, double-check that film support is offered as an option.

What is the best way to scan old negatives?

An image capture device that can scan film, slides, and photographic prints is called a film and slide scanner. These scanners are available in a wide variety of forms, some tailored to home use and others to business needs.

It's crucial to understand both the scanner and the negatives you're scanning before beginning.


The best film scanner can take what’s old and make it new. They may also make it possible to quickly and simply modify and distribute the finished product of your existing filmmaking endeavors. The quality of the scan and your budget should be determined in accordance with your needs. The type of film you use and your intended usage of the digital files will determine whether you need a flatbed or slide scanner. The correct film scanner, however, may replace multiple pieces of expensive photography gear while allowing you to save money and easily share your work online.

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