Last updated on February 15th, 2020 at 06:51 pm
If you were born before the age of digital photography, then you have been able to live through the period when photos were taken with a film camera. While this was great and fun, the world has now evolved, and film camera makes you miss out on conveniences such as having the ability to share the images online.
But now, thanks to film scanners, you are able to digitize your old film. This comes in the form of single film photos (or slides or single), as well as film movie/reel scanners (less common, but still in use, and very handy if you have old reels of family movies).
We will cover both options for you. If you’d like to jump ahead to film/movie scanners, click this link. But first, we will cover the more common, the film photo scanners:
- 1. Epson Perfection V600
- 2. Kodak Digital Film Scanner
- 3. Plustek OpticFilm 135 Scanner
- 4. Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII Scanner
- 5. Wolverine Reels2Digital (8mm and Super 8)
- 6. Digital MovieMaker Film Scanner (8mm and Super 8)
- What Specs Should You Be Looking For In Film Scanners?
- What Else To Look For In Film Scanners:
1. Epson Perfection V600
This Epson printer is a direct competitor of the CanoScan 9000F MKII as they are pretty much similar in terms of price and quality of prints. The Epson Perfection is loved by most photographers due to its versatility and flexibility.
The Epson V600 produces quality images and comes with Epson’s Digital ICE dust and scratch removal technology that is used on both print and film scans to remove any appearances of creases or tears from the damaged film. The printer’s holders also offer multiple formats thanks to the improved compatibility.
The printer also allows you to create remarkable enlargements from your film – 6400 by 9600 dpi with enlargements of up to 17 by 22 inches. It also has a Transparency Unit that lets you easily scan negatives, slides and medium-format panoramic film.
It is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS operating systems.
A bit slow when scanning depending on the settings selected.
2. Kodak Digital Film Scanner
For easy digitization of old 35mm, 110, 126 and 8mm/Super 8 films, the Kodak Digital Film Scanner is an excellent option. Extremely compact and moderately priced, its a great option to fit at a home office, without cluttering too much desk space. With nearly 500 customer reviews on Amazon, and averaging 4 stars, it’s also been through a rigorous test by the public and come out very favorably.
- Compact (only about 5in x 5in).
- Priced competitively (usually around $200)
- Covers 33m, 8m, 126, 110 and Super 8 films
- Instantly conversion to JPEG format
- 14 Mega Pixel Sensor (HD Clarity)
- Only for pictures, NOT for video/movies.
- Will only scan negatives, NOT un-developed, raw film.
3. Plustek OpticFilm 135 Scanner
While this scanner from Plustek is more expensive than any other scanner in our review, it is worth it and is best suited for professional photographers. Well, not to say anyone can’t buy it.
This scanner allows you to digitize your 35mm negatives and slides at a resolution of 7200 dpi resulting in high-quality scans. The scanner is able to reproduce professional prints of up to 24 by 20 inches or larger.
For its price, the scanner has a powerful range shadow and light that makes it easy for you to capture extreme shadows as well as high light details. The scanner has the SilverFast Ai Studio 8 scanner software which makes it stand out as it aids in the optimization of image quality while improving your workflow.
With it, you are able to preview all your scans without necessarily having to use any other application to open it, boost the images with different image tools as well as provide easy and convenient options for sharing and organizing all your files. The scanner is compatible with both Mac and PCs.
More expensive than most mid-range film scanners and is limited to scans of up to 35mm.
4. Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII Scanner
The CanoScan 9000F MKII scanner is one of the most famous film scanners you can find in the market. While it is quite affordable, the scanner delivers excellent results.
As a flatbed scanner, it connects to a computer to function as well as capture images of the films that have been placed under its lid on top of the device. It works just the same way any traditional scanner would work.
The scanner produces great scans that are of high quality and that have a resolution of up to 9600 dpi and a color depth of 48-bit. In addition to your film scans, you can also use it for slides, photos, and documents.
The scanner includes a dedicated software that aids in all your image scanning, organization and correction needs and helps to restore the image color as well as remove the scratches and dust.
The scanner takes a few minutes to scan.
5. Wolverine Reels2Digital (8mm and Super 8)
For those needing to take old family movies in 8mm or Super 8 and convert them into digital forms, this is probably your best option. The Wolverine brand film reel coverters set the standard for their class, as there are not too many affordable options for film-to-digital movie scanning/converting, and Wolverine is the most popular in the industry.
PRO TIP: If need larger reels (up to 9”), go for the upgraded model, the MM100PRO. It’s more expensive, but gets the job done. The model listed here only supports 3″ or 5″ reels.
- Instantly convert to MP4.
- Watch playback on built-in LCD viewer.
- Video-out to TV or Laptop.
- Save to SD Card (not included)
- Like others, it does not transfer sound.
- SD Card is not included.
6. Digital MovieMaker Film Scanner (8mm and Super 8)
For those that have old film reels from family movies somewhere stacked in the attic or basement, this machine is for you. Get those old fire hazards out of the closet and get them into digital format. This MovieMaker film scanner looks just like an old tape reel recorder or projector, and is able to make MP4 videos out of 8mm or Super 8 movie reels. Super cool!
- Scans to 1080P and 30FPS
- 32G Memory Card enclosed, so no PC needed to scan
- Built in video viewer (view the movie directly after its scanned.)
- Video-out connect available to TV or Laptop
- Some customers complained that it felt cheaply made.
- Like others, it does not transfer sound.
Choosing a film scanner that gets the job done especially when it comes to scanning your films in order to digitize them and store a copy or share them on social networks can be an arduous task. While reviews on the best film scanners help you decide on some of the best scanners that you can get, it all comes down to your needs.
Your negatives also need to be handled with care as any damage can affect the quality of scan that you will end up with. You can consider buying a scanner that has the dust and scratch feature as it’ll help with such especially if you have old negatives. Film scanners enable you to scan your negative directly without having to wait to print them first. This way, it saves you time.
Remember, there are different scanner models out there, and they are all priced differently. Don’t buy a scanner because someone you know has it. What works for them may not necessarily work for you.
What Specs Should You Be Looking For In Film Scanners?
Film scanners are the best way to convert film originals into digital files. Whether you are looking to convert them for printing, archiving, or sharing, a film scanner is the best option available. It can be one of the best tools you invest in if you buy the right one. That being said, there are plenty of scanners on the market and knowing how to identify the right one is key to getting the most out of your purchase. Below, we will be going over some of the specs that you ought to look for when buying one.
Specs To Look For When Buying One:
One of the main things that you ought to look for when you are trying to identify the right scanner would have to be the resolution it offers. Finding the scanner resolution is key because it will determine the kind of results you are able to get from it. Unfortunately, there is no standard when it comes to scanning resolution. Some manufacturers report it as optical resolution and some use hardware resolution. For those that report optical resolution, you are getting much more of a true and accurate representation of the included sensor’s capabilities. Whereas, if the hardware number is reported, you can bet like TV’s there is some sort of interpolation involved to reach the marketed resolution. You want to look for a scanner that has a high DPI for its optical resolution.
2. Color Depth
When you are comparing the various scanners on the market, you should be looking at the color depth because it will dictate how wide of a gamut of colors it is going to be capable of achieving. Ideally, you want a film scanner that has a high number when it comes to its color depth measurement. After all, the higher the number means that the image is going to be much more accurately displayed with smoother overall image quality. This depth is measured in bits. Therefore, you want to identify a scanner that offers more bits because it will yield better overall quality.
3. Density + Maximum (DMAX)
This is the measurement that is used in order to showcase the optical density of the scanner. Therefore, it can tell you how much detail you can expect to get from each recorded portion of the film. When looking at DMAX, you want to look for a higher number. The greater the number, the better capable the scanner will be in order to effectively reproduce the detail in some of the hardest areas to do so. This includes shadows and highlights.
These are the primary specs that you should be looking at when you are weighing your options. However, there are plenty of other things that you want to look for when you are shopping around.
What Else To Look For In Film Scanners:
This is a big one if you are going to be using the film scanner a lot. You want to look at the software that is used to control the scanner because it will dictate whether or not it is easy to use and it will also dictate the features that you are able to get out of it. You want software that is optimized for the hardware to allow for the most features to be utilized.
When you are shopping around for this type of scanner, you want to consider the format that you are planning on primarily using. If you know the intended format that you are planning on using, you will be able to figure out which scanner to look for based on what kind of film it is capable of accommodating. Not knowing the format which you intend on using is one of the sure ways to end up with the wrong scanner.
3. Dust Reduction
Some film scanners have included hardware-based dust reduction technologies which you can take advantage of in order to save time. Having a film scanner with built-in dust reducing technology will minimize the amount of time you have to spend cleaning your photos after scanning.
Knowing your budget is another major consideration that you want to make. There are so many different kinds of scanners you can find available to choose from at virtually every price point. Therefore, you want to have some idea of how much you intend to pay for the scanner. There are scanners that fit entry-level criteria all the way to the high-end. Knowing what you are planning on using the scanner for can go a long way towards helping you identify which scanner to select at which price point.
You want to factor in whether or not the scanner has a built-in display and how good the display is. Having a built-in display can be a major advantage if you are looking to use the scanner on-the-go and you want an accurate representation of what you are getting.
This might not be important for everyone. However, if you have a lot of films that you are going to feed, you might value having a scanner that is speedy. You should look at the scan speeds noted by the manufacturer to get a good idea of how quickly you will be able to scan your film in both full color and monochrome.
7. Scan Area
As mentioned previously, this is going to determine how you are able to use the scanner and with which film you are able to use it. You want to consider the scan area and the flexibility it offers in the scan area to find the scanner that fits your needs the best.
In the end, there are plenty of specs that you want to look for when you are shopping around for the right film scanner. By following the many tips above, you should be in a good position to identify the right option to purchase. You really want to consider what you will be using it for when you are making your buying decision. After all, some scanners might offer more than enough for your needs and some might not do enough based on the features you intend on using.