Best Film Scanner 2020 – Buyer’s Guide
Film photography has always been popular and is still being used to this day. However, it’s becoming increasingly harder to find a dark room in which to scan physical film originals.
This little problem necessitates looking for a reliable 35mm film scanner with which you can bring your images to life.
If you're having a hard time deciding which film scanner to buy, you'll find a choice on this list. I've gathered the best film scanners and made the comparison for you.
Epson Perfection V850
Epson Perfection V600
Plustek OpticFilm 8100
Plustek OpticFilm 8200i
The 6 Best Film Scanners 2020
1. Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE
With the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE, you can digitize, edit, and any 35mm negative or mounted slide on your computer.
The 7200 DPI high-resolution sensor and 48-bit color depth give you a highly-detailed output.
Moreover, the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE has a built-in infrared channel that removes and dust and scratches on the original image to enhance the quality of the scanned one.
The best part is that you wouldn’t have to scan more than once –as is the case with a lot of the budget-friendly scanners- as the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE comes with IT 8 calibration that produces accurate colors from the first attempt.
It also beats the 8100 model because it gives you an advanced preview option to check your images and adjust them before scanning.
- Fantastic bang for your buck
- Dust and scratch-removal technology
- High-quality scans
- Great resolution
- Can only scan one slide at a time
- Hardly any software automation
The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE strikes the ideal combination between affordability and smoothness of performance.
2. Epson Perfection V850
Epson Perfection V850 can produce amazing 6400 x 9600 DPI scans.
You can use it to convert slides, film, prints, medium format strips, and other documents into high-resolution digital files.
The images also have a 48-bit color depth that brings out the finest details in them.
Moreover, if you want to capture a wide dynamic range, this scanner has a 4.0 Dmax rating.
I liked that I didn’t have to wait long before scanning as the ReadyScan LED light source warms up and is ready to use in under a second.
The transparency unit measures 8 x 10 inches, although the reflective scan area is 8.5 x 11.7 inches. I thought that was a little disappointing for a transparency scanner of that price.
Dust, hair, scratches, or fingerprints were no problem as the Digital ICE technologies removed them automatically.
Finally, the two sets of four film holders enable you to work with 35mm slides, 35mm film, 35mm mounted slides and 4 x 5-inch film.
- High-quality scans
- Detailed film scans
- Two sets of firm film holders
- USB 2.0 Connectivity
- Comes with color calibration target and software
- Very high price
- Set up is a little confusing
- Color calibration software is tough to figure out
What the Epson Perfection V850 lacks in size or affordability, it compensates for with great scanning abilities.
3. Kodak SCANZA
The Kodak SCANZA's broad compatibility is sadly one-sided.
In terms of input, it has three inserts and three adapter trays that allow you to work with 35mm, 126, 110, Super 8, and 8mm negatives and slides.
In terms of output, however, it can only save in JPEG format.
Although the CMOS sensor offers a 14 MP optical resolution, you can get a resolution of up to 22 MP with the built-in software interpolation.
There's a horizontal slot for loading, and the 3.5-inch LCD color screen allows you to adjust the brightness and color during the scanning process.
You can control it with three soft keys as well as tilt it up for a clearer view.
If you want to set up a slideshow, the Kodak SCANZA allows you to do that directly from the device and onto a TV through the HDMI and video out cables.
- Simple design
- Easy to use
- Fast scanning
- Can operate without a computer
- Great connectivity
- Resolution isn’t the best
- Can only produce JPEG output
The Kodak SCANZA RODF35 is an excellent film negative scanner if you want all your production in JPEG format.
4. Epson Perfection V600
The Epson Perfection V600 is the best medium format film scanner as it can enlarge up to 17 x 22 inches with a resolution of 6400 x 9600 DPI.
The built-in transparency unit allows you to scan four 35mm mounted slides or 12 negatives at the same time.
It’s also pretty energy-efficient and fast as the ReadyScan LED technology enables it to work without prior warming up.
What’s really impressive about the Epson Perfection V600 is the comprehensive software package included. For dust and scratch removal, you get Digital ICE technology. Moreover, there’s ArcSoft PhotoStudio for image enhancement and Easy Photo Fix to restore faded images.
- Digital ICE dust removal
- Perfect OCR results
- Great range of transparency holders
- Reasonable price
- Takes up a lot of space
- Produces a lot of noise during operation
With the Epson Perfection V600’s, you can easily convert your 35mm film and medium format film into high-quality digital images at an affordable price.
5. Plustek OpticFilm 8100 -
The Plustek OpticFilm 8100 is a dedicated film scanner that can convert images with a 7200 DPI optical resolution.
Using its SilverFast Multi-Exposure technology, the Plustek OpticFilm 8100 increases the image’s dynamic range, reduces noise, and adds shadow details to bring out the contrast in the images.
It comes with more than 120 profiles that work on producing the optimal results when converting from negatives into positives.
The Plustek OpticFilm 8100 combines being power-efficient and producing images with accurate colors thanks to its energy-conscious light source.
You can control the unit using two one-touch buttons, but there’s no screen to preview your scans.
Moreover, the Plustek OpticFilm 8100 is compact and portable, so moving it from one place to another would not be a hassle.
It also comes with a carrying bag that you can use to protect the scanner from dust when you're not using it.
- Has a 7200 pixels per inch optical resolution
- Equipped with sophisticated scan utilities
- Can only scan one slide door frame at a time
- Almost no software automation
- Doesn't come with dust removal technology
This 35-mm film scanner converts images in very high quality. However, it doesn't have any dust removal software, which means that the photos you scan have to be in excellent form. Otherwise, it will scan the image with its defects.
6. ZONOZ FS-3
At 22 MP, the resolution of the ZONOZ FS-3 is quite satisfactory. But let's not kid ourselves, it's nothing near-professional quality.
To get a good scan, it may take more than one attempt.
The ZONOZ FS-3 is a compact unit that measures only 3.25 x 3.25 x 4 inches. It also has a standalone design, so it’s the most space-efficient choice.
You can use it to scan 35mm, 110, 126 film slides and negatives as well as Super 8 film. The latter only in single frames, however, not an entire movie.
For such a low price point and despite the slow speed, I think it performs amazingly.
- Standalone design
- Compatible with various inputs
- Highly affordable
- Slow operation
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly scanner, you won’t find any better value for your price than the ZONOZ FS-3.
When you’re shopping specifically for a film scanner, there are six main things to look for:
Look for Pixels
Although a high DPI may be tempting, it’s not always the best. Focus more on the pixels. Unless you’re digitizing slow film speeds, 3200 DPI would be good enough.
Flatbed vs. Film
If you’re doing professional work, I’d recommend a dedicated film scanner for their superior image quality.
Otherwise, you can go for a decent flatbed scanner as it would be more versatile and convenient.
Reliable scanning software is a must-have for the best results. This way, you can fine-tune and control all the elements during the scanning process.
Make sure your film holder is robust and sturdy as tacky ones can compromise the quality of your scanner's output.
Your scanner will use either a CCD (Charged Coupled Device) or a CIS (Contact Image Sensor) image sensor.
If you want a more cost-effective consumer scanner that you can start with, go for a CIS sensor. These are also smaller and consume less power.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for professional, premium-quality images, go for a CCD-based one.
The ways through which you can connect to your scanner plays a massive role in terms of convenience. Most options will have a USB connection.
Standalone film scanners can save directly to a memory card, and this makes them very convenient. However, their image quality is not as high.
What is a Film Scanner?
A film scanner is a device that enables you to scan the photographic film directly into a computer without the need to use intermediate printmaking.
Types of Film Scanners
Simple CMOS ScannersCMOS scanners are essentially boxes with cameras inside that can scan your slides, negatives, and paper photos. They shoot originals instead of sampling them line by line like conventional scanners.
Flatbed Scanners with Transparency UnitsWhat sets these apart from the regular flatbed scanners is the transparency unit. Some scanners come with optional transparency units. The size of the scanning area of these printers is directly proportional to their price.
Film ScannersYou can have these in a desktop area or a photo laboratory area. These are more specific to their jobs. Although they’re not limited to transmissive originals, they’re not very flexible when it comes to film formats.
Choosing the best film scanner isn’t an easy task, but it can be made easier if you decide what image quality you want and how much or how little you want to spend on post-processing.
If you want a taste of everything, go for the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i as it's affordable, produces excellent scans, and requires little to no post-processing.
If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly choice, then opt for the ZONOZ FS-3. It’s also very compact and fits easily on any work table.
For the least post-processing and the best software capabilities, go for the Epson Perfection V600.