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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.

Comparison Table

Scanner

Scan Resolution

Weight

Epson Perfection V850

6400 DPI

14 pounds

KODAK SCANZA

14 MP

1.01 pounds

Epson Perfection V600

6400 DPI

9 pounds

Plustek OpticFilm 8100

7200 DPI

3.5 pounds

ZONOZ FS-3

20 MP

0.56 pounds

Plustek OpticFilm 8200i

7200 DPI

3.5 pounds

The 6 Best Film Scanners 2020

1. Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE 

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.

Pros:

  • Fantastic bang for your buck
  • Dust and scratch-removal technology
  • High-quality scans
  • Great resolution

Cons:

  • Can only scan one slide at a time
  • Hardly any software automation

Bottom Line:

The Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE strikes the ideal combination between affordability and smoothness of performance.

2. Epson Perfection V850 

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.

Pros:

  • High-quality scans
  • Detailed film scans
  • Two sets of firm film holders
  • USB 2.0 Connectivity
  • Comes with color calibration target and software

Cons:

  • Very high price
  • Set up is a little confusing
  • Color calibration software is tough to figure out

Bottom Line:

What the Epson Perfection V850 lacks in size or affordability, it compensates for with great scanning abilities.

3. Kodak SCANZA

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.

Pros:

  • Simple design
  • Easy to use
  • Fast scanning
  • Can operate without a computer
  • Great connectivity

Cons:

  • Resolution isn’t the best
  • Can only produce JPEG output

Bottom Line:

The Kodak SCANZA RODF35 is an excellent film negative scanner if you want all your production in JPEG format.

4. Epson Perfection V600 

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.

Pros:

  • Digital ICE dust removal
  • Perfect OCR results
  • Great range of transparency holders
  • Reasonable price

Cons:

  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Produces a lot of noise during operation

Bottom Line:

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 -

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.

Pros:

  • Has a 7200 pixels per inch optical resolution
  • Equipped with sophisticated scan utilities

Cons:

  • Can only scan one slide door frame at a time
  • Almost no software automation
  • Doesn't come with dust removal technology 

Bottom Line:

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 

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.

Pros:

  • Standalone design
  • Compatible with various inputs
  • Highly affordable

Cons:

  • Slow operation

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly scanner, you won’t find any better value for your price than the ZONOZ FS-3.

Buyer's Guide

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.

Software

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.

Film Holders

Make sure your film holder is robust and sturdy as tacky ones can compromise the quality of your scanner's output.

Image Sensor

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.

Connectivity Options

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 Scanners

    CMOS 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 Units

    What 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 Scanners

    You 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Adam William
 

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