Is there still a need for the best photo scanners? For many of us, they might seem something of an anachronism since we tend to take photos either on our phones or with digital cameras. However if you still prefer to shoot on film, or if you have a large collection of old prints that you want to preserve, a photo scanner is a crucial piece of kit.
The best photo scanners are flatbed models with a high dpi – 600dpi is the minimum you should consider if you want good, clear scans of your photos, but you should go higher than that if you can to get the best reproduction. You're likely to want something that can cope with film and slides too, with holders to keep them in place.
There are plenty of options that will also serve you well for general scanning purposes for other types of documents, and these are most likely to be the best choice unless you're a dedicated film photographer. Below, you'll find our selection of the best photo scanners available now. If you'll also want to print hard copies of your scans, you'll also want to see our guide to the best home printers. Meanwhile, if you're scanning documents to sign, see our guide to the best e-signature software.
The best photo scanners
To hit the sweet spot in terms of both price and versatility, the Epson Perfection V600 is one of the best photo scanners you can buy. It's a flatbed scanner that'll do a great job scanning photos, but where it really outshines other similarly-priced scanners is in its ability to scan film as well as prints.
It comes with a pair of film holders that can deal with pretty much every size and format including 35mm and mounted slides, and with a maximum 6400dpi, it'll retain all the detail you need. It also features digital image correction and enhancement (ICE) tech, which can automatically remove dust and scratches from your images.
The Plustek ePhoto Z300 is one of the best photo scanners if you're looking to save money without getting poor quality in return. Its design certainly stands out, and it's geared towards scanning printed photos rather than documents, with a 600dpi resolution that should be more than enough for your snapshots. It's a little basic – photos need to be fed through one at a time, but it's easy to use and offers some useful image enhancement tools to help you get the best out of old and faded snaps.
If you have a huge backlog of photos that you want to scan, then speed is probably of the essence. In that case, you don't want to be standing around loading prints onto a flatbed scanner and then waiting while it scans. The Epson FastFoto FF-680W can be loaded with up to 36 prints at a time, so you can let it get on with scanning, which it does at an impressive pace.
At 300dpi, it'll power through a photo a second. That's fine for snapshots, but for quality results, you'll probably want to dial the resolution up to 600dpi and arm yourself with a little more patience. The scanner's designed to treat your photos gently so it's good for precious old images, and it's good for scanning general documents, too.
If you're going to need to scan photos or other documents in different locations, perhaps while travelling for business or visiting a client, Canon's P-20811 is one of the best photo scanners for portability. It's aimed at business travellers who need to scan documents, receipts and business cards while they're on the move, but it's suitable for photos too.
It's small enough to fit in most bags and it's surprisingly capable, with a 10-sheet capacity and duplex scanning. It connects via USB, but if you want to scan to your phone or tablet, there's an optional Wi-Fi unit available that will allow you to do that wirelessly.
For professional photographers and serious enthusiasts with deep pockets, the Epson Perfection V850 Pro should be at the top of your list of the best photo scanners to consider. We only place it lower down because of the price – and the size. This scanner is big, heavy and expensive, but it delivers fantastic results with a dual-lens system that automatically selects the best lens for each job, up to 4800dpi for photo scanning and 6400dpi for scanning film and slides.
Like the cheaper Epson Perfection V600, it features Digital ICE tech for removing dust and scratches from old photos, and it boasts a high dynamic range so that it'll perfectly match the tone and colour of every print you feed to it.
If you're a Windows user and you need to scan more than photos alone, the Canon DR-F120 is a great solution. It has a document feeder on the top with a 50-sheet capacity, making it ideal for office work. Underneath that, there's a flatbed scanner that's perfect for photos.
Its 600dpi resolution means it's not really suitable for high-quality professional photography scans, but if you need is a solid all-rounder that'll do a creditable job at a decent speed (up to 20 pages per minute) this is a sound option.
Running out of desk space? The Canon DR-C225W II slimline document scanner might be just what you need. As a sheet-fed scanner that's designed to work with A4 documents you might not want to trust it with particularly precious prints, but as a compact desktop scanner it's hard to beat.
It can hold up to 30 sheets in the feeder, and it'll scan in colour at up to 25 pages per minute (of course it'll take longer than that at higher resolutions). Its Wi-Fi connection means that you don't have to worry about messy cables cluttering up your desk either. Like the DR-F120 above, this is another Windows-only scanner.
So what about Mac users? Well if you're disappointed that the two last options are Windows-only, don't despair because the Xerox XD-COMBO is a fine combination scanner. It also has a sheet feeder on top and a flatbed underneath, making it suitable for most scanning jobs.
Like the Canon DR-F120, it scans at up to 600dpi with the added bonus of Visioneer Acuity technology to boost the visual clarity of scanned photos. It's a solid choice for Mac users (or indeed Windows users) who want a general-purpose scanner that's also good for photos.