The best scanner for documents and photos should save you time, energy and, ultimately, money. Whether you're running an office or working from home, you'll need to digitise numerous documents for email and storage, from signed documents and receipts to printed photos and negatives. The best scanners allow you to do so easily, quickly and efficiently.
So how do you choose the best scanner for your needs? First, decide what kind of scanner you need. One type is the traditional flatbed scanner, where you lay down and scan one sheet at a time. Then there are sheet-feed scanners, which let you load up several sheets to scan at once, via an automatic document feeder (ADF). Thirdly, there are hybrid scanners, aka combo scanners, which feature both a flatbed and a sheet-feed scanner.
Another consideration is how portable you need your scanner to be. If you're primarily going to use it in an office or home office, the desktop scanners on our list will be best. However, if you spend a lot of time traveling, then one of the best portable scanners will be more appropriate.
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Here are some other factors to think about too. How do you want a scanner to connect to your computer: via US, Wi-Fi or both? Do you want double-sided scanning (aka duplex)? How fast will you need your scanner to work? What level of resolution you need?
Below, we've listed the very best scanners available today. And we've given you all the facts and figures, so you can find the right one for your specific needs.
Alternatively, if you want a scanner and a printer in one device, then check our guide to best all-in-one printers. Or, if you want a scanner for negatives or slides, see our article on the best film scanners.
Best scanner for documents & photos in 2022
Best desktop scanners
Need to digitize long reports or other big documents? Well, you don’t want to scan them one page at a time. You want an automatic document feeder (ADF), which allows you to add a bunch of pages at once, and leave the scanner to get on with it. And so we'd recommend the Epson WorkForce ES-500.
With a capacity of 50 sheets, it’s going to save you a lot of time, especially as it can scan both side of each page if you wish. It also scans text accurately, and reproduces all kinds of media well, from business cards to photos, thanks to its high resolution of 1200dpi (dots per inch). It works quickly, too, zipping through a steady 35 pages per minute.
Yes, other scanners on the market can beat some or all of these specs. But they tend to be much more expensive, and are overkill for most people. If you don't need the Wi-Fi, meanwhile, you might prefer the otherwise identical (and less expensive) Epson WorkForce ES-400 or the Canon imageFORMULA R40 (see below).
If you don't need a WiFi or Ethernet connection to your printer, and are happy with USB, then the Canon imageFORMULA R40 has a lot to recommend it. Print speeds of 40ppm/80ipm are impressive, and you can stick a whole 60 sheets into the automatic document feeder at one time. You also get single-pass scanning for duplex pages, and multiple output options.
On the downside, the 600dpi resolution isn't the most impressive on this list, and there's no touchscreen. But if you have a lot of documents to scan, and want them done as quickly as possible, this is a great choice. For more details, see our Canon imageFORMULA R40 review.
Need to scan a lot of photos? Then check out the Epson FastFoto FF-680W. With a capacity of 36 photo sheets, it’s great for processing large stacks of old photo prints, and the resulting images are high quality.
How high is up to you: you can choose between modes for easy sharing (300dpi), archiving (600dpi) and enlarging (1200dpi). The lower the dots-per-inch, the faster it scans, with 300dpi images taking just one second; great for getting a family archive into the internet age. The scanner is also cleverly designed to avoid tearing, creasing or otherwise damaging your valued prints in the process.
The Epson FastFoto FF-680W isn't just for photos, though. It also does a good job of scanning all kinds of documents, a you can load up 100 standard sheets into the feeder at once. We also love the plastic guides for various widths of paper, with marks for 4x6in and 5x7in photos.
Need to scan photos but on a tight budget? Then try the Plustek ePhoto Z300. This sheet-fed scanner is geared mainly towards converting printed photos to digital form, and does a very fine job of it.
While the maximum resolution of 600dpi might not be enough for pro photographers, it’s certainly good enough for family snapshots. And the feed mechanism is gentle on your prints, so you won’t need to worry about them being damaged.
Unlike the pricier models on our list, you don’t get double-sided printing, there’s no Wi-Fi, and you have to feed each print in one at a time. But it is easy to use, it’s very affordable, and it comes with some decent image enhancement functions, allowing you to quickly enhance and restore old faded images with a click of your mouse. You can scan documents, too, although its capabilities here are limited, so you wouldn’t want to buy this scanner for that purpose alone.
If you're a professional photographer who needs a serious scanner for their slides, film, and prints, the Epsom V850 Pro is our top pick.
This dual-lens scanner selects the best lens for the job each time, and scans at up to 4800dpi for photo scanning and 6400dpi for scanning film and slides. It requires virtually no warm-up time and comes with two sets of professional-quality film holders to help you scan quicker.
The V850 Pro features a high dynamic range for accurate reproduction of tonal range and gradation. It can remove dust and scratches automatically from photos and film scans. And it includes its own software to help optimise results. It's probably overkill for most, but if you're serious about your photography, you won't find better.
If you need to scan negatives and slides, and you've got a lot of money to spend, check out our roundup of the best film scanners. But if they're too expensive for you, then Epson Perfection V600 is a great value choice.
For a quite affordable price, this flatbed scanner allows you to scan a variety of film types. And while you won’t get quite the same quality as the top-range scanners, its maximum resolution of 6400dpi is still pretty impressive.
It handles just about any size and format, including 35mm filmstrips, mounted slides and full panoramic medium-format film, and comes with two film holders to make positioning everything very straightforward. It also boasts digital image correction and enhancement (ICE) tech, enabling you to remove dust and scratches from your scanned images, and a resizable preview window so you can check everything in minute detail.
A sheet-feeder device is great for when you have a stack of papers to scan. But not everything can be scanned in this way. For example, it's no use for scanning the spread-out pages of a magazine page, anything that’s laminated, or any valuable and delicate material you can’t trust to a feeder mechanism.
Thankfully, the Canon DR-F120 offers combines both options in one neat device. That means the document feeder is on hand when you have a stack of pages you want scanned in one go, while the flatbed is there for items that don’t fit through a feeder, or when you simply prefer that way of doing things.
Okay, this isn't the only combination sheet-feeder and flatbed scanner on the market. But with a 50-sheet capacity, 20 pages per minute, 600dpi resolution, and duplex printing, it’s the best in town. You will need a computer running Windows, though, so if you're on a Mac, skip to the next scanner on our list.
If you’re a Mac user looking for a flatbed/sheet-feeder combo scanner, the Canon DR-F120 (above) is no good to you. Instead, we’d recommend the Xerox XD-COMBO, which is compatible with both Mac and Windows.
This reasonably priced device offers a 20-sheet capacity, two-side printing, an impressive scanning speed of 20 page per minute (at 200dpi) and a maximum resolution of 600pi.
The Xerox XD-COMBO uses Visioneer Acuity tech to improve the visual clarity of scanned images. Its easy-to-use control panel also speeds things up, by offering one-touch scanning to any of nine presets. And the bundled software makes it easy to scan and deliver your documents directly to cloud services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.
The problem with powerful scanners is that they tend to take up a lot of space. If that's in short supply, then the Canon DR-C225W II is our recommended buy. Thanks to its slim profile, it can fit even on cramped office desks or customer retail points. With its Wi-Fi connectivity, there’s minimal clutter from wires too. And yet there’s no compromise on features, with a capacity of 30 sheets, scanning speeds of up to 25 pages per minute, and duplex printing all included.
If you're running a busy office or studio, you'll probably need to regularly scan huge numbers of documents, including at large-format sizes. So you'll appreciate this model Epson which is the best scanner for large volumes.
A duplex ADF scanner with tray that holds up to 120 sheets at a time, the DS-30000 Large-Format Document Scanner can capture scans as small as 2 x 2 inches (5.08 x 5.08cm) and as large as 12 x 17 inches (30.48 x 43.18 cm). And that's not all: in long scan mode, it scan documents up to a whopping 12 x 220 inches (30.48 x 558.8 cm).
When it comes to normal letter-sized documents, it scans in both black-and-white and colour at a speedy 70 ppm in simplex mode and 140 ipm. Double-feed detection prevents missing pages from being scanned, and there's a slow mode for delicate sheets too. You can scan folded pages, plastic cards, sealed envelopes, passports, and more, and resolution goes up to 600 dpi.
The 2.7-inch touchscreen provides easy access to scan jobs, settings, and maintenance features, and you can use on-board software to turn scans into searchable PDFs. In short, this is very much the Rolls Royce option of document scanners, with a price to match. So while it would be overkill for a home office, to say the least, it's a great choice for any workplace where a lot of scanning is the norm.
Best portable scanners
Need to scan documents, photos, receits and more while on the go? Then the Canon P-208II is the perfect choice. Only slightly bigger than a ruler, this light device slips easily into any bag, and yet still offers a capacity of 10 sheets and duplex printing. There’s also an optional Wi-Fi unit if you wish to wirelessly scan documents directly to your smartphone, tablet or PC, or share the scanner amongst a group of users.
This scanner is lovely and portable, folding down to a compact carrying size of just 285 x 95 x 40mm and weighing just under a kilo. And yet it can hold up to 20 sheets, which is impressive in a scanner this portable.
It comes with an auto document feeder and single-pass duplex scanning. Page lengths of between 70mm and 356mm are supported. The companion app is brilliantly simple. And there's even a separate motorized slot for business cards. For more details, read our Canon imageFORMULA R10 portable scanner review.
If you need a document scanner that’s super-light, you won’t find anything better than the Epson WorkForce ES-50. Weighing just half a pound, you can take it practically anywhere you want. It’s not suitable for photos, and you can only feed in one sheet at a time. But it is fast and accurate for what it does, and the 600dpi resolution should be more than sufficient for most needs. Note that it’s USB-powered, so no external power supply is needed.
Want a portable document scanner, and don't want to pay much for it? Then you'll be pleased by the price of the Brother DS-640. Admittedly, it's pretty basic, feature wise: it’s not suitable for photos, there’s no Wi-Fi or automatic document feeder, and the maximum resolution is fairly low at 300dpi. But on the positive side, it’s lovely and portable, at less than a foot long and weighing just over a pound. And the app makes it easy to scan directly to PC, network, cloud services and email.
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