best negative scanner

Best Negative Scanner For Negative Film And Slides

by Jane Melcher
Updated on

Digital photography has come a long way from the era of film photography. However, film photography has a texture that digital camera photography could not capture naturally. Anyway, you might have old film negatives stored somewhere. You can still develop them into digital pictures using modern film scanners. A photo negative scanner will preserve both the look and texture of the original negatives. Additionally, with the best negative scanner, either as a professional or a newbie, you will still develop beautiful photographs.

What Is A Negative Scanner?

A negative scanner, also called a film scanner, is a bridge between film photography and digital photography. Generally, what a negative scanner does is scan film negatives and convert them to digital images while conserving the image quality. Film camera photography is still popular nowadays. However, not everyone has a dark room to develop negatives. This is where film scanners come in handy. Additionally, there are multiple types of scanners.

On the one hand, there are very affordable negatives film scanner that can process many rolls of negatives very quickly. And on the other hand, expensive film scanners take longer, but the scan quality is better and covers every pixel and resolves every point of grain. Additionally, negative scanners and especially the best negative scanner will preserve the image quality of your negatives. Furthermore, dedicated film scanners deliver high-quality scans as well.

Of course, there are advantages to digital photography; however, film photographers still prefer the negative films. The texture and detail in a negative film is unparalleled. However, the best scanners will give you higher resolution, higher Dmax, greater sharpness, longer dynamic range, and more accurate color balance. Digital photos developed from a negative film scanner can also give the best image quality.

Below we discuss the top 10 film scanners in the market, their features, what makes them special, and why you should give them a look. Lets dive in.

Which is the best negative scanner?

Best Negative Scanner

1) Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner

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Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner
361 Reviews
Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner
  • Pro quality color & detail - get unparalleled...
  • Remarkable tonal range - 4.0 Dmax for smooth...
  • Exclusive dual lens system - selects from 2...
  • Operating systems: Windows 8.1, Windows 8,...

Equipped with pro-quality color and detail, the Epson perfection v850 pro is one of the best film scanners on the market. Additionally, this film scanner is equipped with tonal range and shadow detail 4.0 Dmax for very smooth gradations and super fine shadow detail. Furthermore, the Epson perfection v850 pro also comes with two sets of 35mm film holders and medium format strips that feature height-adjustable levels. Finally, the digital ice technology ensures the Epson perfection v850 pro scanner removes any surface defects on film.

Optional wet mounting is also an option for this film scanner. You can also scan multiple negatives at once, and this optimizes your productivity. The scanning software is SilverFast software. The dual lens system also optimizes your work and selects the lens best suited for your negatives when you scan film. Additionally, the scanning process is very simple, and the scanning resolution varies between two lenses. They are the high-resolution lens (4800 x 9600 dpi) and the super-resolution lens (6400 X 9600 dpi).

Here are some of the advantages of this film scanner.

Pros

  • High-quality scan
  • Versatile
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to install
  • Reliable hardware
  • Durable

Cons

  • Problematic scanning software

2) KODAK Slide N SCAN Film and Slide Scanner

KODAK Slide N SCAN Film and Slide Scanner with Large 5” LCD Screen, Convert Color & B&W Negatives...
4,267 Reviews
KODAK Slide N SCAN Film and Slide Scanner with Large 5” LCD Screen, Convert Color & B&W Negatives...
  • SAVE OLD PHOTO MEMORIES: 14/22MP Digital Film...
  • 5” LCD DISPLAY WITH GALLERY MODE: Features...
  • CONVENIENT EASY-LOAD FILM INSERTS:...
  • EDITING WITH A SINGLE TOUCH: Advanced Capture...
  • SUPER CHIC. UBER COMPATIBLE: Device Handles...

This KODAK film scanner is equipped with quick-feeding tray technology. This technology allows for continuous loading action, making scanning fast and very simple. The SLIDE N SCAN is capable of handling all of your old slides and negatives. Furthermore, it also supports old, color, and black and white negatives. Additionally, this negative film scanner can support 50mm, 135mm, 110mm, 126mm slides and easily convert them to digital files. You can then save the images directly to an SD card.

Lastly, this KODAK negative film scanner has a 14MP digital camera sensor that allows you to enhance the resolution on specific films from 14 to 22. Additionally, the scanning process is very easy, and it delivers beautiful crisp and clear photographs. The image quality is made better with this well-designed digital film scanner. The optical resolution is roughly within 3048 dpi and 4041 dpi. You can now easily convert film images to digital photos.

Pros

  • Well-built
  • Durable
  • Fast
  • Easy to use
  • Convenient
  • Space-saving

Cons

  • SD card not included

3) Plustek OpticFilm 8100 Negative Film Slide Scanner

Plustek OpticFilm 8100-35mm Negative Film/Slide Scanner with 7200 DPI and 48-bit Output. Bundle...
156 Reviews
Plustek OpticFilm 8100-35mm Negative Film/Slide Scanner with 7200 DPI and 48-bit Output. Bundle...
  • HIGH RESOLUTION DETAIL - Digitizes 35mm...
  • DYNAMIC RANGE SHADOW AND LIGHT - Captures...
  • PROFESSIONAL SOFTWARE BUNDLE - Bundles with...
  • FREE CARRY BAG - Light Weight for Storage and...
  • Support Windows 7/ 8/ 10/ 11 and Mac OS...

Film scanning has never been easier with the Plustek opticfilm 8100. The scanning resolution is 600 dpi to 7200 dpi and takes 35mm film. Additionally, the scan resolution enables you to view images in HD display presentation. SRDX technology for dust and scratch removal ensures your scan quality is superb, and when you scan negatives, the picture is as clear as possible. This is especially good for Kodachrome and silver-based black and white films. We also love the Nega-fix true color negative to positive conversion feature.

For a higher resolution in your images, this Plustek opticfilm 8100 digital converter features 7200 dpi optical resolution that ensures sharp, clear, and vivid images. Additionally, with the Plustek opticfilm 8100, you get a high-sensitive color CCD sensor to ensure the image quality is always excellent. The output at any given time is 68 megapixels. This means that the photograph quality is always similar to a digital SLR camera.

Pros

  • High quality images
  • Fast
  • Easy to use
  • Value for money
  • Professional software bundle
  • Supports windows

Cons

  • Not useful for batch scanning

4) KODAK SCANZA Digital Film And Slide Scanner

Kodak SCANZA Digital Film & Slide Scanner - Converts 35mm, 126, 110, Super 8 & 8mm Film Negatives &...
9,187 Reviews
Kodak SCANZA Digital Film & Slide Scanner - Converts 35mm, 126, 110, Super 8 & 8mm Film Negatives &...
  • FILM TO JPEG IN SECONDS – Powerful 14/22MP...
  • LARGE, BRIGHT 3.5” TFT LCD – High...
  • AN ADAPTER FOR EVERYTHING – Unit Arrives...
  • INTUITIVE USER INTERFACE – Includes Helpful...
  • CABLES & EXTRAS INCLUDED – Mac & PC...

The Scanza by Kodak is a beautiful way and experience to share and save photographs. It converts 35mm film photos to a scanned image you can share. Additionally, this negative film scanner unit comes with multiple film inserts and adapters for a fast and super flexible operation. It is the best film scanner on the market, especially if you want an intuitive user interface. You can easily edit images on the user interface, and it supplies a helpful user directory in case you have trouble using it.

The scan quality is superb, with the scanned images having either a 14MP or 22MP resolution. Additionally, it also has built-in color display features that increase the optical density when you are scanning film. This digital converter also has speed load adapters to boost the scanning speed for a super fast film scanner. The insert tray also holds multiple negatives at once. If you are unsure of a negative film scanner, then you can first try this budget film scanner.

Pros

  • Compact
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Fast scan speeds
  • Great value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Autonomous
  • Durable

Cons

  • The user manual is not helpful

5) Epson Perfection V600 Colour Flatbed Scanner

Epson Perfection V600 Colour Flatbed Scanner
456 Reviews

Flatbed scanners such as the Epson perfection v600 are a fast and sure way to scan documents. Old documents, just like 35mm film, can be salvaged or saved by simple print scans of a flatbed scanner. It comes with film holders for mounted 35mm film slides. Additionally, this flatbed scanner does an amazing job of getting rid of imperfections in the negatives with dust and scratch removal technology. Lastly, this flatbed scanner is excellent at correcting pictures that are in bad shape.

The ICE technology is good at replacing pixels in photographs or even entire missing spots. Additionally, the Epson perfection v600 also has a feature (if you use the software) that lets you place several different photos on the scanner bed. This helps the flatbed scanner to separate them into individual JPEG files during scanning. It is a very useful Epson perfection v600 feature, especially if you have to produce photographs in batches.

Pros

  • Fast
  • Durable
  • Performs well
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • The software is finicky
  • You cannot travel with it

6) Magnasonic High Resolution Film Scanner

Magnasonic All-in-One High Resolution 22MP Film Scanner, Converts 35mm/126KPK/110/Super 8 Films,...
2,983 Reviews
Magnasonic All-in-One High Resolution 22MP Film Scanner, Converts 35mm/126KPK/110/Super 8 Films,...
  • Effortlessly convert your 35mm, 126KPK,110,...
  • View your scanned slides and films with the...
  • Thanks to the generous 128MB of built-in...
  • Quickly and seamlessly scan all your film...
  • Start editing your photos right out of the...

This all-in-one scanner eliminates the need for a computer because it has all the editing features on the scanner body. You can scan slides in the fast loading film holders within seconds. This is the best negative scanner if you have to scan negative films in batches. Photo negative scanners such as this one also do a good job of color rendition. This completely eliminates the need to download expensive photo editing software.

This photo negative scanner produces high scan quality because it has a negative film holder, positive film holder, 110 film holder, 110 slide holder, and a super 8 film holder. All these film holders make it possible for this film scanner to get through a large pile of film fast. Moving on to the scan speeds, you can achieve 5-second scanning as long as you lay the film flat on the scanning bed. Lastly, it has a scanning resolution of 32oo dpi to 4000 dpi.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Good scan quality
  • Easy to use
  • No need for a computer
  • Compact
  • Affordable

Cons

  • The tray only takes one slide at a time.

7) ClearClick Virtuoso (Second Generation) 22MP Film And Slide Scanner

ClearClick Virtuoso 2.0 (Second Generation) 22MP Film & Slide Scanner with Extra Large 5' LCD Screen...
169 Reviews
ClearClick Virtuoso 2.0 (Second Generation) 22MP Film & Slide Scanner with Extra Large 5" LCD Screen...
  • Quickly & Easily Scan Your Old Film, Slides,...
  • Extra Large 5" Preview Screen - See Your...
  • Works with 35mm, 110, & 126 Negatives and...
  • Mini HDMI Output - Output To TV As You Scan...
  • Full 2-Year Warranty From ClearClick...

Like most film scanners, you can now scan your negatives easily and quickly. This film scanner is one of the best film scanners, especially because it has a large 5-inch preview screen. You can see your image and edit it in real time before digitizing it. Additionally, it works with 35mm film, 110 and 126 negatives as well. Other than that, it can also hold 50mm slides. With the easy access buttons on top of the film scanner, you can set the color and brightness you prefer on your photos.

With an HDMI connection, you can also connect the scanner to your television and view them from there, as long as you have scanned some images. Scanning and saving an image will take three seconds. The scanner works with the most common formats of slides, negatives, and film. Both black and white, as well as most color films, which make this device perfect for film photographers, both professional and new to the field. It also has dust and scratch removal technology to ensure your images are flawless.

Pros

  • Good picture quality
  • Easy to use
  • Works great
  • Fast
  • Clear preview screen

Cons

  • Can't deal with too much exposure.

8) Rybozen Ultra-Thin Portable Slide Scanner

Rybozen Ultra-Thin Portable Slide Scanner 5 x 4 Inches LED Light Panel Photo Slides Negatives and...
163 Reviews
Rybozen Ultra-Thin Portable Slide Scanner 5 x 4 Inches LED Light Panel Photo Slides Negatives and...
  • 【Ideal Light Source】Color temperature:...
  • 【Maximized Efficiency 】It can hold about...
  • 【Product Introduction】Viewing area:5 x...
  • 【Power Source】 Use 6 AAA batteries or 5V...
  • 【Box Contents】1 x LED slide viewer light...

With an ultra-thin LED light board that can hold up to 6 pieces of 135 negatives at the same time, this optical resolution scanner is all you need. This is the best film scanner if you want a sleek look and modern feel. If you are scanning film negatives, then you can use the FilmBox application, and if you are scanning photo slides, you can use the SlideScan application. Both applications can be downloaded on your phone, and you can share them almost instantaneously.

When using this portable scanner, you can choose 6 triple-A (AAA) batteries or a 5V 1A power adapter. If the full battery has already been installed, then the battery will automatically and immediately power off when the adapter is connected. This optical resolution scanner is the best film scanner with amazing scanning resolution and a portable construction that is built for travel.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Fast
  • Easy to operate
  • Even light distribution

Cons

  • Light is not dimmable

9) Wolverine Titan High Resolution Film to Digital Converter

Rybozen Ultra-Thin Portable Slide Scanner 5 x 4 Inches LED Light Panel Photo Slides Negatives and...
163 Reviews
Rybozen Ultra-Thin Portable Slide Scanner 5 x 4 Inches LED Light Panel Photo Slides Negatives and...
  • 【Ideal Light Source】Color temperature:...
  • 【Maximized Efficiency 】It can hold about...
  • 【Product Introduction】Viewing area:5 x...
  • 【Power Source】 Use 6 AAA batteries or 5V...
  • 【Box Contents】1 x LED slide viewer light...

Converting your negatives into digital photographs with this real optical film scanner just got easier. Some of the film scanner features we liked include very fast scan speeds. Film scanning on this film scanner lasts only 3-seconds per image. It also has an impressive 32GB memory just for storing your newly digitized photos. It is super handy when you have decade old negatives just waiting, and it makes a great project as well.

Like most film scanners, it holds 35mm film and 127, 126, 110 slides. Just like other scanners we have mentioned above, you can now convert your old negatives into 20MP digital photos in a few seconds. The digital quality in the output will seem like a professional video camera. It also connects to any windows computer or MAC computers if you want to view your images. Your TV could also be connected to the scanner for viewing.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Portable
  • High quality images
  • Fast
  • Versatile
  • Durable

Cons

  • Crops the edges of the images

10) Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE, 35mm Film And Slide Scanner

Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE , 35mm Film & Slide Scanner. 7200 dpi / 48-bit Output. Integrated...
535 Reviews
Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE , 35mm Film & Slide Scanner. 7200 dpi / 48-bit Output. Integrated...
  • Built-in infrared channel can detect dust and...
  • 7200 x 7200 dpi (69 Megapixels) for 35mm...
  • Up to 3.6 Dynamic Range Enhanced...
  • Powerful software include - bundles with...
  • Support Windows 7/ 8/ 10/11 and Mac OS 10.7...

This film scanning digital converter is ideal for digitizing slides, color film and black and white film. Like most film scanners like it, it has a dual lens system that encourages optical density to capture details from the original. It is perfect for 35mm film and slides negatives. It has an optical resolution of 7200 dpi, which is higher than any other scanner. Additionally, it also produces output files with 68MP. This is perfect for creating large prints.

The high sensitivity sensor and illumination ensure each picture is at its best optical resolution. So this is also the best film scanner if you want sharp and brilliant images. Lastly, one of the film scanner features we also liked was the scratch removal. ISDR technology is good at scratch removal and sky-high scanning resolutions to give you the best quality pictures. The best film scanners try to restore up to 98% of the original, and that's what this scanner does. It is also compatible with Silverfast ai studio software.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Easy to use
  • Good picture quality
  • Works well
  • Fast

Cons

  • Installation is problematic
  • Poor customer service

Best Negative Scanner: Buying Guide

Up to this point, we have already outlined the best film scanners in the market. Given that film scanners are the best way for digitizing your images, you have to know how to select one that suits your needs. If you are a film school professional, then you might need one with specifications and features that an entry-level model does not possess. While not everyone has the space for a darkroom, most people just don't have the time. Either way, here are some of the things to look out for in the best film scanners.

a) Editing Features

It doesn't matter whether you have multiple dedicated film scanners or even a flatbed scanner. What matters is what you want to edit. Of course, editing is a very important feature of photography these days. However, what most people agree on is that you have two options. The first is to select a scanner with multiple editing features such as light and exposure settings. The second is to improve the image quality on your computer.

However, keep in mind that sometimes people just require the bare minimum, especially if they are not professionals. For example, they might just want a digital copy for social media. In such instances, you can go ahead and select a scanner that doesn't require you to do too much photo editing. Additionally, there are scanners with basic editing that might be up to speed with your needs. Things such as optical density and a dual lens system have already been fitted. You only need to gently press the "OK" button.

b) Display Interface

The display LED interface depends on the type of scanner you want. For example, some flatbed scanners have a display interface while others don't. Also, not all flatbed scanners have displays. However, a display has its advantages. For one, a display eliminates the need to hook the scanner up to a computer. Instead, the digitized image is simply saved onto an SD card, and you can later use them. Additionally, a display screen allows you to see the image.

Viewing the image as you are scanning is helpful. Usually, the display interface has a few editing buttons, which can be helpful. Additionally, you need to view the scans as you are scanning to ensure you aren't saving damaged images. In this regard, most people usually hook up their scanners to a computer or television. A scanner that comes fitted with a display eliminates all the fuss allowing you to view the image in real-time as you edit and save it.

c) Wireless Connection

Wires are helpful in some ways and not in others. Bein surrounded by wires, especially if you are a professional photographer, is another hell on its own. Therefore, it might be a good idea to have a scanner that doesn't need any wires for it to work. Tripping over wires is not a good thing as you risk damaging expensive equipment. To eliminate the need for wires, companies have come up with ingenious ways of connection, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

These wireless connection methods make everything faster and more efficient. In fact, there are scanners that are battery operated and don't require to be connected to a power source. Additionally, going wireless is inevitable given how much wires clutter up a space. Aside from that, wireless connectivity is efficient, fast and allows you to multitask.

d) Scanner Type

There are multiple different types of scanners in the market. Firstly, you have to consider what type of film you want to digitize. As we have mentioned in the above sections, they are different film types, such as 35mm or 120 films. Keep in mind that there are scanners that can accommodate all types of film. Therefore, if you have mostly 35mm film, it is important to select a scanner that can process film in batches. On the other hand, if you expect to produce photos you can share on social media, then this is still the scanner for you.

Furthermore, if you want to produce large print and superb professional quality, then a high-end scanner is the right choice. Most film photographers require such scanners. High-end scanners even require expensive softwares such as SilverFast software and other photo editing applications. Converting 120 medium format film still requires a high-end scanner if you are to produce beautiful and sharp photographs.

e) Price

As for the price, that can only be determined by you. If you want pictures for social media or as a family historian, then you can get very affordable and budget-friendly scanners. They still work well and produce excellent quality. Keep in mind that expensive doesn't always mean quality. Analyzing the specifications of a scanner before you select it is very important. If you can live without some of the features, then you should be happy with your purchase.

Not all scanners have the same extra features. However, they all have basic features. Scanning is the one basic feature that all scanners have. As we have mentioned, if you feel like you need all the features in a scanner, then go for the best scanner you can find. On the other hand, if you want a simple scanner that digitizes images you've had for the past decade, then you should purchase one that will suit your needs.

Advantages Of Using A Scanner For Your Negatives

Before you purchase a scanner, you might be thinking of having your negatives professionally developed. This is still a good idea. However, a fun idea involves embarking on a trip down memory lane when you develop your own negatives. There are multiple advantages to using a scanner to digitize your pictures. Here are some reasons why:

i) Good Quality

Most scanners are equipped to correct any spots and irregularities in pictures. This improves the picture quality a great deal. At their most basic, scanners work by using a light source and sensors that scan through the transparency of slides or negatives. The light brings a negative into a digital full-color or black and white display. With scanners offering the batch feature, you can digitize many high-quality images.

Aside from that, most scanners have an editing feature that corrects any yellowing in old pictures. Editing corrects everything that was wrong with the original, and the digitized photos are more sharp and clear. Since scanning and photography have come a long way, it might be time to improve on the quality of some of the pictures from decades ago.

ii) Keeping Memories

Whether the bunch of negatives you found in the attic were from a decade or two ago, there have to be good memories there. For some people, the need to recreate these photographs is very urgent. Besides, memories are super important. Be it remembering a loved one over Christmas dinner or sending a funny baby picture, and they are memories that should be kept. With scanners now, you can have as many negatives as you want and still be able to develop them.

Storing pictures in digital format is important because they will always be safe, and so will precious memories. Even if you end up losing the original negatives, you will still have the digitized ones that will last forever. Storing your photos in the right place is also super important. Therefore, an SD card or flash drive should do the trick.

iii) Negatives Are Easy To Work With

Negatives are easier to work with when it comes to detail. Negatives capture more useable detail, which makes them easier to restore and work with. Furthermore, after tweaking them here and there, the results usually have a perfect color balance. Negatives are superior in a digital workflow, primarily because they tend to have a higher dynamic range. 

Negative film has grain; however, this simply means that if the grain is sharp, then it doesn't show very much. Therefore, the grain should not be clumped together. This way, if you use the sharpening feature, it will not do much to improve the quality of the picture if color accuracy is important for you.

iv) It Is Easy To Scan Most Negatives

It is simpler to scan the negatives than it is to scan positives. This is because negatives have technical advantages for scanning (the negative's tonal range is within the reach of most scanners). This makes most of them extremely easy to work with. You just have to ensure that they are laid flat against the scanning bed. Additionally, if you use high-quality negatives shot on a really good camera, then scanning them is a breeze compared to scanning negatives that were badly shot.

However, even if pictures were badly shot on a negative, you can still correct the discrepancies. Either way, even if you have a negative full of grain, you can always correct the pixels. Negatives allow you to color correct and replace the pixels as best you can. That means no missing spots in your digitized photos. However, on the other hand, with positives, it is impossible to correct or add pixels to parts that never had them.

v) Negatives Are Tolerant

What do we mean? This means that negatives have what we call a high-exposure latitude. Essentially, even if you are a newbie into film, your photos will always look good with some minor corrections. They are tolerant to very bright exposure and will still capture more detail. This means it is very easy to ensure that your photos are good even if you didn't get some details right.

On the other hand, negatives often appear when held under light, to have a much lower contrast compared to slide film. However, when you view the negative as a stepping-stone on the path to a point where you have contrast control, this is not as bad as it seems. Even viewing it on a computer or television might give it better clarity. Therefore with negatives, very little detail is lost because you can easily correct any discrepancies during the scanning and printing stages.

The Bottom Line

Selecting the best scanner for yourself has to be a process where you are not pressured. Before purchasing, always look at the customer reviews. And we stress on this. As usual, also keep in mind what you need to use a medium format film or a 35mm for. However, this discussion has also brought out how fun it is to experiment with film. If you have old film rolls that you need to digitize, then looking for the best scanner out there is important. The same applies to if you are a professional with a need for a scanner. 

About the author

Jane Melcher

Jane is a stay-at-home small business mom. She makes more than her husband selling her creations on Etsy.

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