Choosing the Right Scanner for Your Collection of Films and Slides

If you are lucky enough to keep both photo prints and their original film negatives, the better choice to digitize your collection is to scan the films.

Why?

First off, the original film stores more information (image detail) than its photo print. Compare the image on your film and the photo print, and you can find the actual image was cropped out to fit the photo paper when it was originally printed.

Secondly, you’ll get better digital conversion results from scanning films. Think how far the printing quality has improved over the years. Also don’t forget time left marks on the photos too. The colors on photos degrade: some photos fade and a yellow hue emerges; others get a blueish hue. The photos may stick and clump together because of the humidity and temperatures, if they were not stored well.

Wonder which scanner you should choose to turn your film strips into digital files? Ben Andrews, the imaging lab manager at Digital Camera World, has recently written this article “The best film scanners in 2020: give your cherished negatives and slides new life” to share the tips in choosing the film scanner depending on different needs and budgets.

A dedicated film scanner? Or a flatbed scanner with negatives and slides scan option?

Ben recommends to use a dedicated film scanner to get even better results. However, the image quality of different film scanners can vary a lot.

Cheaper film scanners can scan incredibly quickly but at the expense of image quality, while high-end models take their time but reward you with stunning clarity, resolving every single film grain in your original photo.” according to Ben.

The best film scanners in 2020, from Digital Camera World’s lab tests

Digital Camera World has put together a list of film scanners, taking into consideration people’s different needs and budgets.

The No. 1 film scanner–also a winner of Digital Camera World Editor’s Choice Award– is Plustek OpticFilm 8100.

A superb film scanner that delivers stunning results” is how how Digital Camera World describes this OpticFilm 8100.

OpticFilm is bundled with LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast SE Plus 8. Its SRDx can correcting the scratches on the film, and AACO can lightens shadow areas, without changing mid-tones and highlights.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Unrivalled scanning quality
Superb software
Reasonably priced
Even without messing with the settings, and scanning at 3,600dpi, the 8100 is in a league of its own for scan quality, extracting bags of detail from our 35mm negs and transparencies. It also lets you scan the entire film frame with no overzealous cropping.

— Quoted from Digital Camera World review


The 2nd film scanner on the best film scanners 2020 list is Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE.

OpticFilm 8200i SE comes with built-in infrared channel that can detect dust and scratches on the surface of the original negatives and slides, highly useful for defect removal without retouching the images.

Class-leading scanning quality
Easy to use
Automatically removes dust & scratches
There’s really only one key feature that separates the 8200i SE from the 8100, and that’s its dedicated infra red scanning channel. Combined with the iSRD feature in the bundled SilverFast scanning software, any dust and scratches on your negs are automatically detected and then removed from the digital scan – clever stuff.

— Quoted from Digital Camera World review

For more details of the Digital Camera World reviews on OpticFilm 8100, OpticFilm 8200i SE and other film scanners, you may click here to visit Digital Camera World site.

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