The best film scanners in 2024: give your cherished negatives and slides new life

The best film scanners can take your film into the digital realm. Whether you've got an attic full of old negatives, or you're taking new photos with one of the best film cameras, a film scanner will fast become the easiest way for sharing your shots online. 

In this guide, we look at a few main types of scanners: dedicated film scanners, specialist flatbed scanners, and tools for scanning film with your digital camera. Film scanners are designed specifically for handling negatives. Cheaper scanners get through rolls of negatives very quickly, while more expensive ones usually take longer but reward you with a high-quality image.

So what is the best scanner right now? We think it's the OpticFilm 8100 SE from film scanning expert Plustek: it extracts phenomenal levels of detail from your film, is backed up by excellent included scanning software, and is sensibly priced. We love it. 

If you're after something that'll scan multiple film frames automatically, though, and has the versatility to scan photo prints and documents, Epson's Perfection V600 Photo flatbed scanner is a great choice.

If you want something affordable and have a digital camera already, then check out the Pixl-latr. Available at a fraction of the cost of the other scanners, it provides a secure means of illuminating and holding your film so that you can scan it with a DSLR or mirrorless camera (and ideally a macro lens).

Gareth Bevan headshot
Gareth Bevan

Gareth is the Reviews Editor at Digital Camera World, and the person in charge of approving all the latest camera-related tech. With several years of experience as a photographer and videographer, shooting for some household names, he has learned a thing or two about cameras and the photography industry. Outside of photography, expect to find him cycling around London, or deep in a Netflix binge.

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The best film scanners in 2024

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Best 35mm film scanner

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Future)
The best 35mm film scanner

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 7200 dpi
Requires computer: Yes
Supported film types/sizes: 35mm color and mono negatives; 35mm slide positives
Dimensions: 120 x 272 x 119mm

Reasons to buy

+
Class-leading scanning quality
+
Easy to use
+
Automatically removes dust & scratches

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier than OpticFilm 8100
-
Slow at max scanning res

We picked the OpticFilm 8200i SE as our top choice as it strikes the perfect balance between image quality, ease of use, and price.

Apart from its black rather than blue finish, the OpticFilm 8200i SE could be mistaken for its baby 8100 sibling. It's almost identical on this inside too, but that's no bad thing, as that means you're assured top-notch scanning quality, providing you're prepared to wait a while when using max 7200dpi scanning resolution.

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.

The downside? In some places, the 8200i SE can cost quite a bit more than the 8100, making it rather less of a bargain. But if you regularly scan multiple negs that are likely to need dust and scratch removal, then the 8200i SE could be a real time-saver and worth the premium. The price difference between the two scanners is smaller in the US, making the extra convenience of the 8200i SE very tempting.

There is also a Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai available (see below), a flagship model that adds color calibration software into the package - useful for color transparency scanning, albeit at a higher cost.

Read more: Plustek Opticfilm 8200i SE review

Best film scanner on a budget

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2. Plustek OpticFilm 8100

The best 35mm scanner on a budget

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 7200 dpi
Requires computer: Yes
Supported film types/sizes: 35mm color and mono negatives; 35mm slide positives
Dimensions: 120 x 272 x 119mm

Reasons to buy

+
Unrivalled scanning quality
+
Superb software
+
Reasonably priced

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow at max resolution
-
Not the best at shadow detail
-
No auto dust/scratch removal

This is the baby of the OpticFilm range, yet it still boasts a respectable 7,200dpi maximum scanning resolution. It sits below the OpticFilm 8200i SE (above) in price but misses out on the infrared scanner of its big brother.

The OpticFilm 8100 also has a real optical film scanner and not just a digital camera sensor in a scanner body. This does however mean the 8100 is no speed demon. Each 35mm film frame takes nearly 4 minutes to scan at max res, but 3,600 dpi is more than adequate for most film stocks and you’ll have a scanned frame in 1 minute 20 seconds. 

Though the front panel has a QuickScan button that automatically scans and saves a frame to your computer desktop, it’s best to load up the bundled SilverFast software that provides comprehensive scanning options and pre-scan image enhancement. 

Even without messing with the settings, and scanning at 3,600 dpi, 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. The 8100 can struggle to reveal every detail in the shadow areas of high-contrast 35mm slide positives, but this is our only nitpick.

Best flatbed film scanner

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
The best flatbed film scanner

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 12800 dpi
Requires computer: Yes
Supported film types/sizes: 35mm color and mono negatives; 35mm slide positives; 120/220 medium format
Dimensions: 280‎ x 485 x 118mm

Reasons to buy

+
Good film scan quality
+
Automatic multi-frame scanning
+
Support for medium format film

Reasons to avoid

-
Plustek 8100 resolves more detail

Flatbed scanners are traditionally thought of as a more versatile but less finessed alternative to a dedicated film scanner. However, the V600 is impressively designed to cater to film photographers. Naturally, it can scan photos and documents, but it includes holders for 35mm film, 35mm slides, and 120/220 medium format film. 

Scanning resolution can go as high as a whopping 12,800 dpi, but we found a 3,200 dpi is more than enough for our film stocks, producing a digitized image equivalent to around 12.2MP. 

You might imagine that laying out up to a dozen 35mm film frames over the flatbed would result in fast scanning, but the V600 Photo still scans each frame individually – albeit automatically – and takes around one minute per frame at 3,200 dpi. Saving you manual work, but unfortunately not time! Scanning with Digital ICE automatic dust and scratch removal enabled only adds around 20 seconds per frame.

Compared to the other scanners on this, the V600 can’t match the top-ranking Opticfilm 8100’s ability to extract every speck of detail.

Read more: Epson Perfection V600 Photo review

Best film scanner for features

(Image credit: Plustek)

4. Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai

The best film scanner for advanced features

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 7200 dpi
Requires computer: Yes
Supported film types/sizes: 35mm color and mono negatives; 35mm slide positives
Dimensions: 120 x 272 x 119mm

Reasons to buy

+
Automatically removes dust & scratches
+
Great scanning quality
+
Packed with custom scanning options

Reasons to avoid

-
Extra features = hefty price premium

We couldn't have a list of the best film scanners without including Plustek's flagship 8-series model, the 8200i Ai. It looks identical to the cheaper 8200i SE, and for the most part, it is indeed the same scanner, which means you get the same clever infra-red dust detection and removal tech, as well as top-notch scanning quality.

The 8200i AI differentiates itself primarily by including more advanced SilverFast Ai Studio software. This packs pro-grade scanning customization features like a 16-bit histogram for a clearer, more true-to-life preview of scan quality. 

We love the Expert Mode, it's perfect for when you want to spend a little extra time fine-tuning scan quality settings or applying protecting layers. The Ai Studio software even includes an IT8 color calibration target to ensure colors in the digital scan preview, the scan itself, and a print of that scan all match each other

Naturally, these extra features command a significant price premium over the 8200i SE, so if you don't intend to delve into advanced scanning settings each time you want to digitize some negs or slides, the extra outlay is tough to justify. 

However, if you really want to ensure those cherished memories are scanned as perfectly as possible, and you've got the time to do the necessary fine-tuning, the OpticFilm 8200i AI could be for you.

Best film scanner for professionals

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
The best film scanner for professionals

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 12800 dpi
Requires computer: Yes
Supported film types/sizes: 35mm colour and mono negatives; 35mm slide positives; 120/220 medium format; 5 x 4 inch; up to 8 x 10 inch
Dimensions: 308‎ x 503 x 152 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Detailed film scans
+
Packed with features
+
Two sets of quality film holders

Reasons to avoid

-
Eye-watering price tag

Positioned at the pinnacle of Epson’s scanner range, the V850 Pro is aimed squarely at film fanatics in need of the best possible conversion to digital images. Even though we were impressed by this scanners dedicated scanning lens for film and max resolution of 12,800 dpi it's rare you'll need that much resolving power so we think the V600 is better value. 

It does come with two sets of film holders - a 35mm film strip and a 35mm slide holder, both of which feel better quality than those included with the V600 Photo. That being said, very little separates the V850 and the V600, both deliver excellent results we found almost indistinguishable so unless you need it's extra high-res scanning speed and have more cash to splash, the V600 will do just fine. 

Read more: Epson Perfection V850 Pro review

Best for automated 35mm scanning

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
Best for automated 35mm scanning

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 7200 dpi
Requires computer: Yes
Supported film types/sizes: 35mm color and mono negatives; 35mm slide positives
Dimensions: 175 mm x 259.2 mm x 104.3 mm (6.9" x 10.2" x 4.1")

Reasons to buy

+
High-quality 7200dpi scans
+
Infrared dust and scratch removal
+
Automated scanning
+
Excellent film holders

Reasons to avoid

-
Lousy software
-
USB-A connection
-
Sound can get irritating

The OpticFilm 135i from Plustek is a hard one to recommend wholeheartedly. The scanner packs amazing hardware, with high-resolution 7200 dpi quality, an infrared channel for identifying and automatically removing dust and scratches, as well as a fully automated film holder that can scan up to six 35mm frames or six mounted slides at the touch of a button.

Sounds amazing no? Well, the trouble is that the included software – Plustek QuickScan Plus is just a bit lousy. This is one of the only Plustek film scanners you can buy (and the only one on this list) that doesn't come with a copy of the superior SilverFast SE Plus in the box. QuickScan Plus' processing of images leaves a lot to be desired in terms of peak quality, with a lot more digital noise and inaccurate colors than is ideal.

Why is it on this list? Well, if speed over ultimate quality is your main concern then, the 135i with QuickScan will suffice. And if you already own a copy of SilverFast (or similar software – VueScan) or are willing to buy a license, then this is hands down one of the best hardware scanners you can buy for 35mm film.

Read more: Plustek OpticFilm 135i review

Best scanner not sold in the US

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
The best film scanner not sold in the United States

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 7200 dpi
Requires computer: Yes
Supported film types/sizes: 35mm color and mono negatives; 35mm slide positives
Dimensions: 120 x 272 x 119mm

Reasons to buy

+
High-quality 35mm scans
+
Easy to use
+
Comes with scanning software included

Reasons to avoid

-
Still slow for high-res scans
-
Silverfast software is not for everyone
-
Lots of manual work

For some inexplicable reason, the Plustek OpticFilm 8300i SE, the sequel to the excellent Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE model, is not sold in the United States (at the time of writing). Hopefully, that changes soon, as this model brings some very welcome boosts to scanning speeds!

For everyone else who can buy this scanner, the  8300i SE offers one of the highest possible quality for your film negatives, and the Plustek OpticFilm 8300i SE should be a very compelling choice for your next purchase. 

This dedicated film scanner outshines flatbed scanning in terms of quality and easily surpasses the cumbersome process of scanning with a camera. However, despite the updated numerical designation in its name, the Plustek OpticFilm 8300i SE increase in scanning speed is not the huge benefit that it is headlined to be.

Instead, the previous Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE model remains top of this list as it offers the exact same, albeit at a slightly slower pace, but can be found at a cheaper price. 

If you are in the US, you can buy the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i AI but at a price premium that in my opinion is not really worth it.

Read more: Plustek OpticFilm 8300i SE review

Best film scanner for Super 8 film

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)
The best film scanner for Super 8 film

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 3.53 megapixels (1080p video)
Requires computer: No
Supported film types/sizes: Super 8 & Normal 8 cine film
Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.3 x 23.2 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Exposure and framing control

Reasons to avoid

-
SD card not supplied
-
Not 4K
-
Doesn't record sound

Digitizing old reels of cine film used to be much more complicated, as you needed to find a working projector, as well as a video camera and a screen. But this ingenious device does it all in one – allowing you to convert your Super 8 and normal 8mm cine films into MP4 digital files. 

Sold under the Kodak brand name, it converts film on 7in, 5in or 3in reels – and saves the output onto SD memory cards. There is a small 2.3in LCD so you can see the film before and during recording. 

Scanning is done at two frames per second – so a 3-inch 50-foot reel will take about half an hour to digitize. Once recorded, the unit can playback the footage to your TV so everyone can see it on the big screen. Unfortunately, there is no support for audio, so if the film has a soundtrack this is not recorded.

Read more: Kodak Reels review

Best budget film scanner for multiple formats

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)
The best film scanner for Super 8 film

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 14MP CMOS
Requires computer: No
Supported film types/sizes: 135, 126, 110, 8mm, Super 8
Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 127 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Simple but effective
+
No need for a computer
+
Various film sizes supported

Reasons to avoid

-
Mediocre image quality
-
Tricky film handling
-
Quirky interface

If you're part of the shoebox generation, chances are you've got a treasure trove of memories stored in the form of exposed negative film and transparencies, stashed away somewhere in the nooks of your home. These physical relics hold within them the essence of bygone days, capturing moments frozen in time, waiting to be revisited and shared.

Enter the compact and efficient film scanner, a modern-day bridge that effortlessly connects your nostalgic past to the digital present. This innovative device offers a convenient solution to breathe new life into those cherished memories, allowing you to easily convert them into digital formats. With minimal hassle and effort, it opens a portal for your old photos to seamlessly transition into the digital era, ready to be preserved and shared with a mere click.

Its user-friendly interface is a welcome feature, simplifying the otherwise daunting task of digitizing film. Yet, there's a delicate art to handling film that this scanner requires, making the process a bit tricky for some. And while it does a commendable job at transforming analog into digital, there's still room for enhancement in the realm of image quality. 

Read more: Kodak Scanza Digital Film Scanner review

Best simple to use film scanner

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)
The best film scanner for Super 8 film

Specifications

Maximum scanning resolution: 14MP CMOS
Requires computer: No
Supported film types/sizes: 135, 126, 110, 50mm slides
Dimensions: 112 x 175 x 113mm

Reasons to buy

+
Self-contained operation
+
Quick and easy to use
+
Choice of screen sizes

Reasons to avoid

-
LCD isn’t a touchscreen
-
Image quality can be lackluster
-
Limited supplied accessories

When compared to the Kodak Scanza Film Scanner, which sits at a slightly lower price point, this alternative option presents a few enhancements. One noticeable improvement is its generously sized screen, allowing for better previewing of scans and offering a more engaging experience when viewing images in Gallery mode or slideshows after the scanning process.

One striking divergence lies in the control panel. Here, it opts for a different layout, relying solely on pushbuttons, despite the larger LCD not supporting touch functionality. However, despite this limitation, operating this scanner remains straightforward and efficient.

In terms of performance, scanning with this device is notably swift. It efficiently processes scans, delivering results promptly. However, it's essential to note that while the speed impresses, the resulting image quality might not reach the heights of exceptional clarity or detail that some users may expect.

Read more: Kodak Slide N Scan Digital Film Scanner review

How to choose the best film scanner

So how do you choose the best film scanner? It depends on both how many negatives you have, and what format they are in.

The most common film format is 35mm, this is the standard roll of 24 or 36 exposures that you usually find in drug stores or preloaded in disposable cameras. Other common types of film are mounted slides, which are negatives mounted within a white cardboard border, and medium format or 120 film, which is several times larger per frame than 35mm.

Flatbed scanners are the most useful for scanning multiple varieties of film types, as they have a large scanning surface, although because of that fact, are very large devices. If you only need to scan 35mm film, a dedicated scanner might be a much smaller and more convenient option, and typically offer higher resolutions and image quality from their more controlled and dedicated sensors.

If you are looking to scan large quantities of film then a flatbed scanner might be the choice for you, as they are capable of scanning multiple film frames automatically with minimal user input. Dedicated film scanners typically require a bit more manual interaction to move films through the scanning process and only scan one frame at a time.

Finally, where you will use the film determines what maximum scanning resolution you will need. Don’t be swayed by sky-high scanning resolutions. Unless you’re digitizing extremely slow film speed, 3,200 dpi will be more than enough for most applications. Film does not have the same resolving power as today's digital sensors, especially smaller formats.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

What is the best software to scan film?

A lot of film scanners will come with some scanning software included, this might be first-party scanning software from the company that makes the scanner, or they might lean on third-party software which has the benefit of working on any supported scanner from multiple brands. 

Scanner software can range in quality and functionality, with third-party software typically offering more control over your scans, but sometimes this choice can be overwhelming. First-party software is usually simpler to use and less daunting with options.

Two of the best choices for third-party scanning software are SilverFast by LaserSoft Imaging or VueScan from Hamrick. Silverfast is often bundled with more advanced scanners, it is very powerful although its dated interface isn't for everyone. Vuescan offers a cleaner interface and similar advanced features but must be bought as a separate purchase from the scanner.

What is camera scanning?

If you already have a mirrorless or DSLR digital camera and a high-quality 1:1 macro lens, then you can also "scan" your film using your camera, this is useful as you can scan any film format, and also very quickly. 

However, this method takes a fair amount of careful setup, calibration, and technique, so is not for everyone, but with the right film scanning tools to flatten your film and a high CRI (color rendering index) backlight, you can get film "scans" that are indistinguishable to any of the best dedicated film scanning machines.

We have included some of the best camera scanning tools on this list like the Pixl-latr for those interested in trying out this low-cost technique.

How we test film scanners

We test film scanners by scanning rolls of film that we have shot through each scanner, we test each scanner at a variety of resolutions and settings and compare the results.

In the resulting scans, we look for a variety of factors including image quality, focus accuracy, sharpness, color accuracy, and color vibrance/saturation to how we would expect each film to look based on our sample of professional lab scanned images and our prior extensive experience of working with film. 

We also assess the build quality and ease of use of every scanner, as well as any software provided with the scanner for functionality and usability. 

Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.

With contributions from