Photography / Buying Guide

Film Scanners: A Buying Guide

It's been a while since darkrooms have played an integral part in the art and craft of taking pictures, professional or otherwise. Enlargers, sinks, chemicals, safelights, print tongs, and makeshift doo-dads for burning and dodging have long been replaced by app-enhanced smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi enabled you-name-its, and desktop printers... wireless, of course.

While all this technology is marvelous and, more often than not, fun to use, it also means an untold number of slides and negatives taken by the previous generation or two may never see the light of day, let alone an enlarger bulb or slide-projector lamp. And considering how culturally ingrained image sharing has become over recent years, it's ironic that many of these pictures may never be shared.

"...the end results are greatly determined by the level of sophistication of the scanner's optical system and, equally important—the sophistication of the scanning software."

The best tools for converting slides and film negatives into digital image files that can be edited, enhanced, and easily shared with others are dedicated film scanners. Unlike chemical darkrooms, film scanners can be used in bright sunlight and don't turn your fingertips yellow.

The lowest-cost dedicated film scanner can be had for less than $50, which for some hobbyists with modest needs, might be sufficient. From there they inch up in staggered levels of quality and advanced features until you come to the state-of-the-art, multi-format standard bearers that will set you back upward of five figures.

It's important to note that there's a big difference in image quality, i.e. sharpness, contrast, and D-Max (the maximum absolute density of a piece of film) you get using the slide and negative copying features found on many consumer flatbed scanners and the level of image quality you get from a dedicated film scanner. Flatbed scanners work in a pinch for non-critical needs, but unless you are using one of the pricier, more sophisticated flatbed scanners, most pale beside the image quality you can get from even a modestly priced dedicated film scanner.

Most film scanners, regardless of cost, work on the same principle. A slide or negative, illuminated by a calibrated light source (usually an array of LEDs or a cold cathode lamp), is held flat in a frame, and is recorded as an electronic file after passing through, by, or around an optical system and a scanning sensor. The specifics vary by brand and model and the end results are greatly determined by the level of sophistication of the scanner's optical system and, equally important—the sophistication of the scanning software.

Some of the key attributes that determine the imaging abilities (and cost factor) of film scanners include bit-depth: 8-bit (256 colors per channel), 12-bit (4,096 colors per channel), or 16-bit (65,536 colors per channel); Dmax, or the amount of shadow detail the scanner can record; and the number of file format choices—JPEG (it's OK), TIFF (better) or RAW (best).

Most bundled scanning software should prove adequate once you figure out its unique peculiarities (which they all have), and if the software that comes with your scanner fails to meet your expectations or needs, there is plenty of reasonably priced, third-party scanning software available online.

"The ability to produce digital conversions from film-based originals that are faithful to the color and tonality of the original slide..."

The ability to produce digital conversions from film-based originals that are faithful to the color and tonality of the original slide or negative rests largely on the number of film-type profiles in the software database. In the simpler range your choice might be restricted to bare-bones generics as simple as “Slide” and “Negative,” which invariably require a bit of tweaking in Photoshop or other photo-editing software before they’re suitable for posting or printing.

The more sophisticated scanner software applications contain profiles specific to the looks of many popular film types, which offer more accurate color rendition and invariably cut down on post-production tinkering.

Many film scanners—even some of the least expensive models—feature dust reduction, which as anyone who has printed from slides or negatives can tell you, can be a major chore to achieve manually with a brush, electronic or otherwise.

Even if your scanner has a dust-reduction system in place, cleaning your slides and negatives should be standard protocol. Most dust particles can be removed easily using a camel-hair brush or a baster-style air blaster. More stubborn particles and smudges can be removed using film cleaner (or denatured alcohol) and a cotton swab (cotton only... avoid look-alike synthetic swabs).

Canned air can also be used for removing dust from the surface of your negatives and slides, but from a distance of at least one foot from the image surface, in order to avoid denting it. When using canned air, it's also a good idea to shoot one or two pre-bursts of air off to the side in order to clear the valve of the oily bits of residue that occasionally sputter from the spray nozzle.

As with most things in life, the higher your expectations, the higher the price, and scanners are no exception. But if all you need is a scanner that will enable you to share images of the good old days with others online and the occasional small framed print for the living-room mantle, there are a number of reasonably priced options.

Do keep in mind the scanners listed below are only a sampling of the number of dedicated film scanners that are available at B&H, and we recommend you review all of your options when shopping for a film scanner that best fills your particular needs. 

Entry-Level Film Scanners (less than $100)

For basic analog-to-digital conversions, there are a number of small desktop film scanners capable of turning slides and negatives into JPEG or TIFF files suitable for online sharing and/or photo-quality prints up to 8 x 10", depending on the resolving power of the scanner and the resolution of the original slide or negative. In addition to film scanning, several of these under-a-hundred dollar models can also digitize prints up to 4 x 6", which can be a godsend if the negative has long gone AWOL, or you never had one to begin with.

Without exception, all of the following entry-level film scanners are about the size of the proverbial breadbox and take up little real estate on your desk or workstation.

Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner

One thing inexpensive scanners need not be is boring, and the Lomography Smartphone Film scanner is proof enough. Simply download the free Lomoscanner app (iOS and Android) to your smartphone and you’re good to go. The scanner portion of the device is a AA battery-powered backlight that illuminates 35mm film negatives or slides, held firmly flat and in place using the supplied film holders.

Negatives are automatically reversed, panorama images can be stitched together, and 35mm movie frames can be animated using the Lomoscanner app. The Lomoscanner is compatible with most smartphones measuring 1.85"(47mm) across or longer. If the phone has a centrally located lens, it should be no wider than 3.7" (94mm). If the lens is in the corner, it should be no wider than 2.44" (62mm). Additionally, the camera’s shutter-release button should be accessible via the touchscreen as opposed to side-mounted buttons.

veho 3.0MP Slide & Negative Scanner

The least expensive dedicated film scanner we sell at B&H is the veho 3.0MP Slide & Negative Scanner. You get a USB-powered scanner than can digitize 35mm and 110-format film originals. Using a host computer, image files can be edited from the host computer using the included MediaImpressions software.

ImageLab FS9T 9MP Slide & Negative Scanner

For a few dollars more you can get the ImageLab FS9T 9MP Slide & Negative Scanner, which as the name implies, delivers 9MP image files from 35mm slides or negatives. Featuring a 2.4" LCD for previewing and viewing the image, the ImageLab FS9T 9MP Slide & Negative Scanner can be used as a stand-alone unit or connected to a Mac or PC via USB 1.1 cable (included).

Also included is a pair of negative holders and a pair of slide holders. No additional hardware or software is required and final image files are stored on an SD card (up to 32GB). The ImageLab FS9T 9MP Slide & Negative Scanner can be powered by AC or batteries.

veho Smartfix Slide & Negative to SD Card Scanner

For digitizing 110 Instamatic and 35mm slides and negatives, veho offers the Smartfix Slide & Negative to SD Card Scanner. Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or through the USB cable, the veho Smartfix Slide & Negative to SD Card Scanner features one-touch operation in one to two seconds per scan. The scanner, which can operate in stand-alone fashion or be connected to a PC or Mac, records image files to an SD or SDHC memory card (up to 8GB). A 2GB card is included.

For previewing final images, the veho Smartfix Slide & Negative to SD Card Scanner features a 2.4" LCD. Exposure and color balance are controlled automatically and there are manual controls for mirroring, flipping, and rotating the images. Included is Media Impressions capture and editing software.

Pacific Image Memor-Ease ST Film & Slide Scanner

One of the least expensive options for digitizing medium-format (120) slides and negatives is the Pacific Image Memor-Ease ST Film & Slide Scanner, which can convert both 35mm and 120-format slides and negatives into digital image files. The Pacific Image Memor-Ease ST Film & Slide Scanner uses a 9MP CMOS sensor to capture 2200 dpi-equivalent JPEGs. Final images are saved to SD cards (up to 32GB) individually and/or as a slide show.

Pacific Image ImageBox Plus CMOS Scan

Despite its just-under-a-hundred dollar price tag, the "3-in-1" Pacific Image ImageBox Plus CMOS Scan, can digitize 4 x 6" prints at up to 400 dpi and 35mm negatives and slides at up to 1800 dpi. Mac and PC compatible, the ImageBox Plus CMOS Scan has a Magic Touch Dust & Scratch Removal feature that automatically removes scratches and residual dust marks from the original image. There's also a full-color image preview screen for pre-scan viewing of color negatives. The Pacific Image ImageBox Plus CMOS Scan is powered by a host computer via USB, which can be utilized for retouching, resizing, cropping, and other image editing tools.

Wolverine Super F2D 4-in1 Film to Digital Converter

Question: What's bright yellow and can convert color or black-and-white negatives, slides, and movie film into digital image files?

Answer: The Wolverine Super F2D 4-in-1 Film to Digital Converter. Boasting 20MP output files from 35mm, 126, 110, and Super 8 movie film, the Wolverine Super F2D 4-in-1 Film to Digital Converter can be operated as a stand-alone device or linked to a Mac or PC via USB 2.0 connection.

Included with each scanner are film/negative holders, and there's a 2.4" color LCD for previewing images. The Wolverine Super F2D 4-in-1 Film to Digital Converter can store up to 40 images in its internal memory, and has an SD/SDHC card slot for transferring images to memory cards along with a TV-Out jack for playing the scans back on your TV.

Midrange Film Scanners ($100 to $999)

When you get into the category of midrange scanners, the resolving power starts to exceed the Web-optimized status of the simpler entry-level film scanners. In addition to one-touch auto control, several of these film scanners also allow you to control exposure, white balance settings, and other advanced exposure features manually. The optical and operating systems of these midrange scanners are also more advanced than the entry-level models, and several of these scanners can be used as a component of your computer system or as computer and software free stand-alone devices.

Depending on the make and model, almost all of the following midrange film scanners produce digital image files containing enough resolving power to produce large-format, i.e., 20 x 24" and beyond, photo-quality prints. All of them pack more resolution than you’ll ever need for Internet applications.

ION Audio PICs 2 SD Image Converter

For digitizing 35mm slides and negatives and prints up to 5 x 7", we recommend the ION Audio PICs 2 SD Image Converter. Using a 5.1MP imaging sensor, the ION Audio PICs 2 SD Image Converter is strictly stand-alone—no computer is required. Scanned image files are automatically transferred to an SD or SDHC memory card (not included) from the unit’s built-in memory card slot.

The ION Audio PICs 2 SD Image Converter works with iPad and iPad 2 via Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (not included).

Pacific Image ImageBox MF 4-in-1 Slide, Film, and Photo Converter

If you like the features found on the Pacific Image ImageBox 9MP Stand-alone Scanner but need a scanner that can also handle medium-format (120) film, check out the Pacific Image ImageBox MF 4-in-1 Slide, Film & Photo Converter, which can digitize 35mm & 120 slides and negatives, as well as prints up to 4 x 6". Like it's 35mm-only sibling, the Pacific Image ImageBox MF 4-in-1 Slide, Film, & Photo Converter is totally stand-alone, features one-touch dust removal, a 2.7" LCD color preview screen, USB 2.0 connectivity (cable included), the option of playing digitized images back on your TV, and can save final images to SD/SDHC memory cards.

Wolverine SNAP 14MP Digital Image Converter

Looking all pretty in red is the Wolverine SNAP 14MP Digital Image Converter. Featuring a 14MP CMOS sensor for outputting image files fine enough for sharp 5 x 7" prints (approximately 4600 x 3100 px), the Wolverine SNAP 14MP Digital Image Converter is totally stand-alone and also does its job without the need for software or a computer.

The Wolverine SNAP 14MP Digital Image Converter can be powered via USB cable, a 5.0 V adapter, or dual-voltage 110-240 VAC power. For previewing images, the scanner features a 2.4" color LCD, and there’s an SD/SDHC memory card reader for transferring image files. Files can also be transferred to a Mac or PC via USB cable for further editing and sharing. You can also view your newly digitized images on your TV using the TV-Out jack.

Pacific Image ImageBox 9MP Stand-Alone Scanner

Pacific Image’s ImageBox 9MP Stand-Alone Scanner features 9-megapixel resolution for a maximum of 2400 dpi when scanning 35mm slides and negatives, and 560 dpi when converting 4 x 6" prints into digital image files. As its name implies, the Pacific Image ImageBox 9MP Stand-aloneScanner is a stand-alone device and does not require a PC. Images can be previewed and cropped using the scanner’s 2.7" color TFT LCD. Once scanned, image files can be saved on SD/SDHC memory cards (up to 32GB).

Other features found on the Pacific Image ImageBox 9MP Stand-Alone Scanner include a flip-top lid for easy placement of scan-ready prints and Magic Touch dust and scratch removal technology for clean image files.

Included with each Pacific Image ImageBox 9MP Stand-Alone Scanner are negative and slide holders, a USB cable, a 5V, 1A DC adapter, and a user manual.

Plustek OpticFilm 8100 Film Scanner

With 48-bit input, 7200 dpi optical resolution, a choice of scanning modes, and Silverfast SE Plus 8 software on its "Includes" list, the Plustek OpticFilm 8100 Film Scanner is a lot of scanner for the money. An LED light source guarantees evenly lit exposures with a reliable white-balance control. For advanced editing of scanned images, Silverfast is the choice of software among those who scan images as part of their job. For quicker and easier scanning, the Plustek OpticFilm 8100 Film Scanner also includes Plustek QuickScan software, which enables quality one-touch scanning of slides and negatives.

Also included is a copy of NewSoft Presto PageManager 7.23, a document management software for OCR, PDF creation, format conversions to Microsoft Word or Excel, and file sharing, by converting files to portable file formats such as PDF (Portable Document Format), and Presto! Wrapper.

The Plustek OpticFilm 8100 Film Scanner comes with a padded carrying bag for the scanner, two film holders, power adapter, and USB cable.

Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai Film Scanner

A notch up from Plustek’s OpticFilm 8100 is the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai Film Scanner, which in addition to all of the features found in the OpticFilm 8100, features an IT 8 calibration slide to better ensure accurate color results and reduce the need for repeated scans or extensive post-processing color correction.

Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 Film Scanner

Another notable midrange film scanner is the Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 Film Scanner, which like the above-mentioned Plustek scanners, can output scans at 7200 dpi resolution at 16-bits per channel (total output 48-bits) with a dynamic range of up to 3.6.

In addition to scanning individually-mounted slides and negative strips, the Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 can also batch-scan roll films and filmstrips, which can greatly reduce the amount of time you have to babysit the scanner when converting large numbers of originals into digital files.

Pacific Image’s PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 is bundled with CyberView X scanning software, which enables you to custom-adjust the color, contrast, white balance, curves, levels, and other tonal parameters of your slides and negatives for optimized image files.

For managing dust and scratch-related issues, the PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 is bundled with a copy of KADC’s Digital ICE, a well-known dust and scratch-removal application that neutralizes blemishes while maintaining the overall sharpness levels of the film original. Other image-enhancing software applications included with the Pacific Image PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 are Digital ROC, for restoring color to faded prints, Digital GEM, for managing grain and reducing noise levels, and a copy of Photoshop Elements.

Professional Film Scanners ($1,000 to $24,995)

The following film scanners represent the best film-scanning devices available today, and as such, the key guiding factors in determining which scanner is best for your needs should include the number of film formats you plan on scanning (35mm, medium format, 4 x 5", etc.), the degree of control you wish to have when tweaking the details of your scanning efforts, and of course, your budget.

Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 CCD Slides Scanner

The Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 CCD Slides Scanner makes easy work of scanning 35mm slides and negatives individually or batch-scanned in groups of up to 50 mounted slides. With a top optical resolution of up to 5000 dpi, 48-bit data conversion, and a Dmax rating of up to 3.8, the Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 is well worth considering for producing high-fidelity scans on a moderate budget.

The Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 contains a 2MB buffer and utilizes a combination white and infrared LED array for backlighting your film. The images are recorded by a linear-array CCD. Connectivity is via USB 2.0 cable to your computer. Though the Pacific Image PowerSlide 5000 lacks a built-in LCD for viewing your scans, it does feature a convenient Quick Slide Viewer that enables you to inspect your film original before scanning it. The PowerSlide 5000 also comes with Magic Touch dust- and scratch-removal software, cleaning your film during the scanning process.

Pacific Image PF120 Pro Multi-Format Film Scanner

Pacific Image’s big gun is the Pacific Image PF120 Pro Multi-Format Film Scanner, which features optical resolution of up to 3200 dpi, 48-bit color, a 3-line CCD sensor, up to 3.6 D-max for recording the finer details in the shadows and highlights, digital noise reduction, and automatic dust and scratch removal.

As for versatility, in addition to 35mm slides and negatives, the Pacific Image PF120 Pro Multi-Format Film Scanner can also handle medium-format negatives and slides in formats up to 6 x 13.2 cm (2.36 x 5.2")

Braun MULTIMAG SlideScan 6000

If the thought of being able to stack up to 50 slides together and hit the scan button so you can spend your precious time doing other things appeals to you, check out the Braun MULTIMAG SlideScan 6000.

In addition to up to 5000 dpi resolution and 48-bit color, the the Braun MULTIMAG SlideSCan 6000 features Magic Touch dust- and scratch-removal software, Scansoftware Cyberview X 5.0 for post-scan image enhancements, and a backlit preview window for pre-scan image editing.

The the Braun MULTIMAG SlideSCan 6000 also includes a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0.

Hasselblad Flextight X1

It’s not an exaggeration to say Hasselblad’s Flextight film scanners are the "Hasselblads of film scanners"… because they are. Hasselblad Flextight scanners are as good as it gets. Period. Hasselblad’s Flextight X1 is designed to convert 35mm, medium format, and 4 x 5" negatives and transparencies into the highest-definition digital image files you’re ever likely to see. In terms of resolving power, the Flextight X1 can scan 35mm film as high as 6300 dpi, medium-format film up to 3200 dpi, and 4 x 5" film at 2040 dpi, and all three formats with a Dmax rating of up to a truly impressive 4.6. In addition to single scans, the Flextight X1can also be programmed to batch scan up to 6 frames automatically, leaving you time to address more pressing issues.

For maximum bang for your buck, films can be scanned and saved in Hasselblad’s unique 3F file format, which automatically scans the image at a predetermined resolution at 16-bits per channel while embedding all exposure and scan settings within the file’s metadata for easily repeatable output results.

Compatible with PC and Mac, the Hasselblad Flextight X1 contains three CCD optical sensors (3 x 8000) that squeeze 16-bits worth of data from your film originals, which is transferred to your computer via FireWire connectivity at speeds up to 60MB per minute. Although the Flextight X1 allows for advanced control of all scanning functions, you also have the option of going the 3F Auto-Scan route, which enables scanning your film originals with one-touch simplicity.

Hasselblad Flextight X5

The Hasselblad Flextight X5 contains all of the pro-quality features found on the Flextight X1, but with the added advantages of quicker data-transfer speeds (up to 300MB per minute), a Peltier cooling device to divert excess heat levels that can affect image quality if left unchecked, and a light condenser that works in concert with the scanner’s software-based, dust-removal technologies to better ensure blemish-free image files. The Flextight X5 also offers dual batch-scanning options, compared to the single option offered on the Flextight X1. Additionally, in a bid to keep dust marks from mucking up your workflow, the X5 utilizes the efforts of the scanner’s Flextouch dust-removal technologies.

When it comes to dedicated film scanners, there’s no shortage of options, regardless of your budget, technical needs, or both. Budgetary issues aside, you should first determine your ultimate goal. If it’s simply a matter of creating digital picture files of negatives, slides, and possibly prints solely for viewing and sharing online, there are a number of options available in the two- to three-hundred dollar range, including a few for less than one hundred.

But if your goal is to create digital image files capable of producing sharp, high-definition prints with rich detail in the shadows, highlights, and all of the subtle tonal gradations between, you should strongly consider the best scanner your particular needs—and then some, even if it means saving up for a bit longer. The payoff will be the satisfaction you get from witnessing old media take on new life.

Discussion 93

Add new comment

Add comment Cancel

Are sample files available to see the capabilities of these magic boxes?

There are none which we  have to offer you to or link you to.  You may wish to contact the manufacturers and see if they have test sample files they could provide you with.

Contact manufacter. LOL. Useless

Well aren't you a lovely, objectionable person :) :) :)

     Veja esta reportagem sobre scanner, parece interessante. Quem sabe com ela escolhemos um?


I am the unfortunate owner of a Pacific Images PF120 Pro. B&H sells many fine scanners. Don't buy this overpriced piece of junk. If you really want one, email me. You can have it repaired AGAIN and then be angry when it breaks down next time. You won't scan many negatives before that happens because besides being an unreliable pile of junk, it is incredibly, painfully, ridiculously slow scanner.


Thanks for validating my research into Pacific Images products.  The reviews were split, almost 50-50; love it or hate, nothing in between.

From what I could tell by the "love it" crowd, they scanned a few photos and retired the scanner to a closet.  The "hate it" crowd pointed out the unreliablity of the scanner, poor workmanship and lousy customer service.

I'm leaning towards the Wolverine SNAP14.  I have 3 large boxes of photos from my pre-digital days and have already factored in going through 2 scanners.

I want to buy one  , can you please suggest which one. This is for my provate use.

Please help:

I have several thousand B&W 35mm negatives, and I would love to scan every single frame and be able to have a library of these shots. 

My question is this: I am interested in a scanner in the $1,000 range, likely a Plustek, but I want to make sure it will scan multiple frames at one time. What I mean is this: My negatives are five frames per negative. If I hit scan, will it scan all five frames, or only one at a time. 

I do not know if this question makes sense, but it would be great if it would auto-feed the strip through and scan each of the five frames.

Thank you in advance,

Dan Of Troy

I believe most under the $1000 range are fully manual which is what has stopped me from diving in to scan my thousands of negatives.  The  PrimeFilm 7250Pro3 might be an exception that I am going to look into.  There are a lot of bad reviews about PrimeFilm scanners breaking down though.  Plustek makes an auto feed version of their 8000 series in the 9000 series but the cost is well above $1000 I believe.

If you have a large inventory of 35mm negatives and slides you may want to consider the Epson flatbed scanner family.  I have used one of the older ones (the Epson Perfection 4180 Photo) for a number of years now and it does an incredible job.  It supports 35mm (slides, negatives, both color and b/w) and medium format (slides, negatives, both color and b/w).  You can scan up to 12 35mm frames in one pass, 4 mounted slides in a single pass, or 2 medium format frames in one pass.  Your output can be JPG, TIFF or BMP.  Mine is several years old, so I can only imagine the improvements they've made since.

You might checkout the Epson Perfection V750-M Pro Scanner.  It’s an excellent scanner, and has batch scanning capability: it can scan up to 24 frames of 35mm film strips at a time.

Bought the yellow Wolverine, sort of on a a lark to enable tinkering with some old 35mm negs. Having never used another film scanner, I have no idea how this one compares, but the specs are very good and it seems to me that the bang-for-the-buck is terrific.  Produces large files to run through your editing software of choice. Very pleased user here. (And a fan of the color, too. Different.) 

If the scanner will output RAW you may get natural colors rather than skewed color.

I bought this also, but must not be using it correctly. I am quite unhappy with my results. Will give it another try based on what you are saying.

Strike the above. Mine is orange. Sorry.


 Do you know if film scanners be rented?


 Ronald Nurse

Unfortunately, B&H does not rent out equipment.  There are quite a few reputable online rental houses.  If you search ‘film scanner rental’, you should be able to come across several companies who rent out scanners.

Not a single scanner that has the carrier for APS negatives.  B&H and other companies pretend that it never existed, and that customers who embraced it don't have piles of APS negatives they need to scan.

IF you can find one, Nikon's Model Super Coolscan 5000 ED dedicated film scanner DID have an APS adapter. I used the scanner to scan all my 35MM slides and negatives, also all my APS's. 

          Good luck, Chas

The Minolta dimage ii had an APS adapter,but adapter was extremely hard to get. The dimage had a SCSI adapter.

I am interested in getting a film/slide scanner above $1,000 and with higher res than 7000dpi

Unfortunately, B&H does not carry a scanner that has true optical resolution that high.  The highest would be the Hasselblad Flextight X1 Scanner at 6300dpi.

The number of scanners which can truly scan resolved detail at, or finer than, those obtained at about 4,000 dpi are between very few and none, and most cannot do better than about 2,400 to 3,000 dpi. Yes, they can scan at nominal dpi's higher than the numbers cited above, but they are only subdividing the available detail into smaller "pixel" sizes, not really showing any finer detail; you can obtain very similar results just by using a very fine scanner whose optics, lighting and CCD or CMOS yield a resolved detail level equal to about a true-rated 2400 dpi, and then upsize the file to your desired final size, whatever that may be. In essence, that is what most of these scanners with so-called "7200 dpi" resolution are doing. Old highest-end Nikon and Minolta film scanners, which you can still find in good shape on the used market, will deliver all you can reasonably expect - the same or even much better results than from curently available equivalent scanners - at reasonable prices. Another good option is, as someone else already pointed out, a current Epson Perfection V750 or 700, which can match or exceed, with film, almost all the scanners listed in the B&H article (except the Hasselblads) in scan quality, plus allow you to scan negs and transparencies up to 8" x10" and prints up to 8.5" x 11" as well. If you want to step up, the Hasselblad scanners will definitley yield a very slightly better image than these used and new models, but at a very, very much higher price. If you want to scan anything at a truly very high resolution, your only real solution is an even older tech PMT drum scanner from whatever makers are still producing these machines, but be prepared to pay about what a modest starter house might cost in the midwest for one of these. The used drum scanners are hard to find in working condition, hard to get repaired if they fail, and the software and computer connection inputs they require are often impossible to use on current hardware and operating systems.

nice information

were can i buy these


You may place your mouse over the image of any of the scanners in this article and click on it.  Doing so will then take you to the product link for that particular scanner on our website where you may find more details on the scanner, the price, and purchase/shipping information.

To all of you who want to scan B/W or slides (negative colour is a bit tricky) of different sizes, use your camera and a light-panel. Most small digital cameras today can go as close as a few centimeters from the motive så even small negatives or slides means no problem and if you have a DSLR you can prefereble use a macrolens, or a closeuplens on you standardlens. I have done this with all my slides and most of my B/W negatives but still in ttrouble when trying to get the right colour from the colour-negative. To photograph APS-negativ colours with this method is not easy becouse of the very thin and curly film when you take it out of the cartridge, and then again of course the problem of getting the right colour on the final picture. There is a tip in one of the older newsletter from "Imaging resourse" on how to get rid of the orange backing that is giving trouble on negative colour, but still; I have not succeeded.

Best wishes from Lasse Jansson in Sweden

How about using the classic SLR slide copiers attached to a DSLR or mirtorless? M43 would require a bellows and additional extension tubes to get full crop. 

I highly advise not using a camera to capture scans of slides/film for several reasons.  The main reason being the is very tedious to set up and capture one image at a time and have the lighting sufficient for the excersise.  Further with various models cropping can be an issue.  Lastly comes down to how scanners capture the image details vs how a camera does.  For the purposes of reporduction, scanners do 3 or more scans per image (quite quickly I might add) which allows it to get the full color gamut as well as greater detail/depth.  When using a camera to copy slides/film, the camera is only taking a single image of the slide and not capturing the full depth  of detail in the image.  Stick with the film scanners for overall better quality reproductions as well as much easier work-flow.

I always wanted the Nikon Super CoolScan 9000 ED. No longer supported by Nikon, though. I guess they're out of the film scanning business?

So far as I know Nikon is out of the scanner busuiness.  I've not heard of them having any plans of models in the future.

There is an active secondary market for Nikon scanners on eBay.  I bought a 5000ED and have scanned over 2,000 slides with great results; now it's on to my negatives.  I'm also scanning slides for friends and family and wil probably re-sell the scanner once I'm done.  These scanners will run you about $2,300 with the batch slide and film strip feeders (original price probably $5,000-6,000), and the prices seem to be pretty stable, a good indicator of the ongoing demand for these excellent scanners.  I use Vuescan software.  I first tried the Wolverine product, and it's absolutely awful if you have any quality standards.

I read all the reviews and yours seems to be the most proffessional message.

It also disapoints me what you said about taking pictures with SLR which is an obvoius to me now a no no.. You did not mention bracketing the shots( takinga few of each slides and averageing them with what sort of software I dont know?

I thought of testing out my new Samsung S5 that shoots 4 K or psudeo 4k stills it has 16 meg camera It is very  very good for me to play with. Im an old newsreel cameraman.Now I comete with over 3000 million cameramen

Nikon make good products and my 8,000 slides were all taken with a Nikons.

I will look for a used bargain I hope.

I have bought the Canonoscan 9000F.

I cant use it as it takes so long and the results we were not happy with. I dreampt about the Plustec 8000 ia but since reading your article It has squashed this dream.

Im in northern NSW and retal of a Haasblad and and or a Cannon would be prohibiive.

I was hoping there would be new develpoments in scanners like what Black Magic is doing with the BM cintel for USD30k. So still scanners have to drop soon one would expect.If you have any more info I would be glad to listen.

pl see this

I was annoyed that this roundup of film scanners did not provide the current prices of the reviewed cameras at B&H (or at least the B&H prices at the time the article was written). What really shocked me was that the Epson Perfection V600 scanner was not included in the lis of reviewed scanners. That scanner's price at B&H was listed at $192.89 today (June 4, 2014). A B&H salesperson recently told me that it is by far the best affordable scanner for 35mm film images today, including both "classical" 24x36mm images made on full-frame SLRs and images made by the Hasselblad XPan II, which can mix 24x36mm and 24x65mm images on the same roll of 35mm film. The salesperson also told me that the next significant step up in quality would be the $13,000 Hasselblad scanner, which is clearly not affordable to ordinary photographers (I consider myself to be an advanced amateur photographer). My brother-in-law, who has scanned a great deal of 35mm film over the years, agreed completely that the Epson Perfection V600 is the best scanner on the market for scanning images taken on 35mm film.

Thank you for this mention. The V600 is exactly what I'm looking for in output quality and budgeted price of unit. So glad you posted. Looking forward to a major scanning winter project and feel good knowing my scans will be reproduced faithfully.

I'm trying to figure out what scanner I should by, and I've been looking here but I want to make sure they're good choices. What do you think?


We have lots and lots of slides. Maybe 30=50 cases of 600 each. Several generations worth. 

We'd really be interested in having a scanner that works with a stack loader.

Also, which produces high enough resolution so we don't have to do some of them again.  

Any advice?

your comments and review of different equipment is great; I understood your clear explanation and now I think I'm ready to try my first slide and negative scanner

loved your description!

In November 2014 :

Hasselblad X5 > Hasselblad X5 > Nikon Super Coolscan 9000ED > Nikon Super Coolscan 5000ED > Nikon Super Coolscan V.

Nothing else !

EPSON V750 Pro is so far behind the Nikon Coolscans.
Nikon abandonned film scanners because they have choosen digital cameras : they make one of the world greatest digital 24x36 full frame cameras. OK, they could have at least updated NikonScan to be used under Yosemite...
EPSON announced V850 Pro : let's see.

PS : I own a Nikon 9000ED and use it with NikonScan 4.0.3 on a BootCamp partition with Windows 8.1. Perfect, on my Mac Pro mid-2010 3,33GHz.

Nice overview article - but it wasn't clear to me which of these devices was capable of raw format output.  I'm guessing the most expensive, but were any of the others capable of other than jpeg and tiff outputs?  Thanks!

Unfortunately no.  In the current market of scanners, there are not any options wich capture RAW files.  I am sorry about that. 

It's a bit odd that the author chose to say RAW, while probably being aware of the inherent confusion that consumers will have with the Camera RAW format. In fact it refers to 48-bit unadjusted TIFFs, among other possibilities provided by the scanning software (HDR), rather than the hardware.

Some useful resources for other experts who find this article and have to explain to others asking about RAW.

In a previous post Yossi O from B&H said:
"I highly advise not using a camera to capture scans of slides/film for Image detail.  Scanners do 3 or more scans per image which allows it to get the full color gamut as well as greater detail/depth.  Cameras only taking a single image of the slide.  

As a DIYer, I can imagine how to get great, if not better image results from my full frame camera.  I’m using a Nikon D700.
1. The CCD in my Nikon is full frame.  You did not mention the size of the CCD’s or CMOS in the scanners.  This will have great impact on the output.
2. RAW is possible with my camera
3. Exposure bracketing in the camera in conjunction with Bridge & Photoshop’s HDR can get all the depth and color that a scanner can get.  You can see how to do this here:

As a professional, any scan requires photoshopping to get the Image exactly as I want it.

While the set up is manual, one at a time, the shots are instant.

Am I wrong?  Considering all I’ve mentioned is there still something I am missing about what I consider the mid-range ($300 - $1,300) scanners?  Perhaps the software?

I would never argue anyone’s workflow (which is partly what is being addressed here) or work approach if the end result gets them to where they want to be with the image.  For an occasional or small batch of images I appreciate your approach, however for my own purposes and I'm sure that of many of the customers I've dealt with here in the past, scanners are an overall better way to convert your analog images. 

CCD sensors used in higher end scanners capture detail from film and slides better than a CMOS sensor would.  The scanners pass over the slide/neg 3 or more times and are able to capture detail from it at various angles, thus getting a better color depth, wider color gamut, more detailed bitmapping and a greater dynamic range vs taking a straight-on capture done in a DSLR.  If you notice from this article, the lower end snapshot type scanners are all CMOS type sensors.  Once you get into the more quality-oriented models the sensors change to CCD.  Also worth noting:  A digital camera only shoots one color per pixel and guesses the 2 missing colors. In other words, one pixel is shot as red and the camera estimates how much blue and green are in that same pixel. The next pixel is shot as blue and the camera estimates the red and green.  A scanner actually scans the image 3 times with a tri-color filter so it is scanning each pixel as red, green and blue as opposed to guessing the missing colors as a digital camera does.

Below are comments/replies to your numerated points:

1) Scanners such as those that are scanning (as opposed to taking snapshots) take several scanning passes to and fro past each side of the negative, and then processes the information into an image.  This scanning/passing technique allows the scanner to capture detail from all sides of the slide/negative, and results in greater depth, contrast, color accuracy and bitmapping.

2) That’s wonderful, but just adds to workflow from having to then process them and convert them later as needed.  The Jpeg and TIFF files created by Scanners are excellent quality, and the software suites offered with many scanners these days does a great job at things such as dust and scratches as well as upresing when needed.  See my reply in point 3 below regarding TIFF files.

3) I disagree as explained based on how the scanners capture information.  Also In the youtube video you shared, the speaker assembled his multiple images and saved them into a TIFF file before he then imported them into Photoshop for further editing. All he was really doing was conventional HDR image processing.  This is essentially what the scanner does for you when scanning and creating the image.  So instead of taking 3 or 5 or 7 images and combining them, just scan it and work it later in Photoshop or other editing programs. Further the light sources in scanners are calibrated with no color casting or hue and also for exposure, and due to the lack of the Bayer pattern in camera sensors, there is no demosaicing to deal with in post either.

Hello Yossi,
I wonder if you can help. I am a visual artist and have a lot of old negatives of my Dads that I would like to explore for a multi media project. There are a variety of negatives and slides of varying
formats including typical 35 mm
film negatives and slides (b/w and colour), as well as negatives in various sizes such as 7 cm x 5
cm, 6.5 cm x 9.5 cm, 6 cm x 4 or
4.5 cm, 6 cm x 1.5 or 1.6 cm. I
have a macbook pro with OSX
Yosemite 10.10.2 os. I am looking for quality images, some will be printed as 17" x 11" size or larger if the resolution is ok. I am considering the Pacific Image PF120 because of its multi format
capability which is in my price range. Does this make sense? Is it compatible with yosemite? Or is there another option I should
consider? I have Photoshop and Lightroom.Thank you for your help. Kate.

In this price range I really like the Plustek OpticFilm 120 ( It delivers the professional image quality results from 35mm film strips, slides, and 120/220mm film, from 6x4.5cm up to 6x12cm in sizes. The OpticFilm 120 includes patent-pending, adjustable pitch 120 film holders that ensure flat film for in-focus scans. Users do not need to cut 3-frame 6x7 120 film strips. The Opticfilm 120 also uses an automatic motorized film transport system that speeds the scanning workflow. It has a high dynanmic range of up to 4.1 providing accurate color and all highlight and shadow details. And it has a built-in infrared channel for dust and scratch detection.

The OpticFilm 120 is bundled with SilverFast Ai Studio 8, which is a professional film scanning software that optimizes both scan quality and workflow.

And it is the choice for scanning Kodachrome.

Looking to purchase film/slide scanner

Ok, what formats of film are you needing to purchase a scanner for, and also if possible please indicate a general price range that you would like to stay within so we may offer focused recommendations.  Thanks in advance.