Best Film Scanner

Top 7 Best Film Scanner: What Products to Shop & How to Buy

If you’re looking for the best film scanner when every camera there is is digital, you’re not the only one. Much of the demand stems from the satisfaction and nostalgia of viewing old negatives still stored in the attic. But also from a growing number of photographers and enthusiasts who still maintain that film photography still reigns superior over its digital counterpart. Have your say, but from the increasing demand for this product, we’d say film is here to stay.

Top Pick

KODAK Slide N Scan

  • HDMI connectivity
  • View, edit, and convert to digital capability
  • 5-inch LCD
  • 4 adapters to accommodate negatives

Best Film Scanner for 2021 Review: Key Features, Pros, and Cons

Have an amazingly good time and a good laugh scanning old photos. Better yet, call in company and reminisce about the olden days together.

The best part is that the film scanners you’ll find in the market are vast and varied. Some allow you to more than just view negatives of family photos, they also let you save and convert the photos so you can manipulate image adjustments if you’d like to.

IMAGENAME & DetailsDETAILS
KODAK Slide N Scan Negative Film Scanner
  • Product Dimensions: 5.27 x 5.35 x 3.74 inches
  • Product Weight: 1.17 lbs.
  • Compatibility: Still negatives only
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Wolverine Negative Scanner & Digital Movie Converter
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 3 x 7 inches
  • Product Weight: 3 lbs.
  • Compatibility: Video reels only
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Minolta Negative Film & Slide Scanner with Digital Converter
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 4 inches
  • Product Weight: 1.23 lbs.
  • Compatibility: Still negatives and slides
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Plustek OpticFilm135i Batch Scanner & Converter
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 10.3 x 7.5 inches
  • Product Weight: 6.19 lbs.
  • Compatibility: still negatives and slides
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Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE Plus 8
  • Product Dimensions: 4.72 x 10.71 x 4.69 inches
  • Product Weight: 3.53 lbs.
  • Compatibility: still negatives and slides
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Rybozen Film & Slide Scanner for Mobile Play
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 5 x 0.95 inches
  • Product Weight: 4.9 oz.
  • Compatibility: still negatives and slides
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Magnasonic HDMI Film Scanner
  • Product Dimensions: 5.43 x 4.44 x 4.91 inches
  • Product Weight: 13.4 oz.
  • Compatibility: Still negatives and slides; Reel negatives
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1. KODAK Slide N Scan Negative Film Scanner

Highlighted features

  • HDMI connectivity
  • View, edit, and convert to digital capability
  • 5-inch LCD
  • 4 adapters to accommodate negatives

We’ve seen several products before writing this review and this one was a real runaway. We thought instantly that the features available in this product is the kind of functionality most people looking to view and digitize their collection would need.

Of course, we still highly recommend that you closely examine the product’s features to make sure that it matches your needs completely.

Pros

  • Gallery display mode makes it easy to navigate and view photos across slides.
  • Each unit comes with 4 slide and film adapters so negatives and slides can be fed and browsed with ease.
  • Clear, 5-inch LCD screen makes viewing pleasant.
  • Built-in function for easy RGB level and brightness adjustments.
  • Single touch button to scan and edit means you don’t need any special skill to use it.

Cons

  • This product is not capable of reading old video reels.
  • Product supports memory cards but these have to be bought separately.

2. Wolverine Negative Scanner & Digital Movie Converter

Highlighted features

  • Accommodates 8mm and Super 8 reels
  • Scans and digitizes frame-by-frame
  • Fully-automated process
  • Comes with TV cable

This film scanner and digitizer is capable of the one thing the KODAK Slide N Scan Negative Film Scanner cannot do, that is, to scan and convert 33 and Super 8 reels to digital. If you have old movie reels of major life occasions or, if you’re a big reel collector, this one is definitely a must-buy.

How it looks may seem intimidating at first but, none of us have had any experience with an 8mm before and we found it was a no-brainer to operate. So, when it comes to skills, there’s absolutely no special skill or talent necessary to operate this thing.

Pros

  • Frame-by-frame digitization guarantees every frame is preserved in the converted file.
  • The unit is capable of converting straight to mp4 video file.
  • Final file is ready for viewing on most desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.
  • Instant playback ready and comes with a TV cable.
  • Compatible with multiple OS, including Mac and Linux.

Cons

  • This equipment is bulkier but remains portable if in case you need to transport it.
  • The product is not designed to scan, view, and digitize negative and slide stills.

3. Minolta Negative Film & Slide Scanner with Digital Converter

Highlighted features

  • Supports multiple negative and slide formats
  • Comes with holders and slide adaptors
  • Auto converts stills to jpeg format

If you need something more compact and require a scanner and digitizer for stills, this product should be able to do the job with much ease.

It is capable of performing all the functionalities of the KODAK Slide N Scan Negative Film Scanner except that it doesn’t have a gallery view. Also, since it costs less, expect to give up some of the satisfaction you’ll get from the screen display.

Pros

  • Overall, this unit is easy to use and the multiple capabilities are so welcome.
  • The final output is a high resolution jpeg image.
  • Each purchase comes with a free SD card for storing your images.
  • TV and USB cables are supplied with the unit.

Cons

  • This product is not capable of scanning films that are 4×6 inches in size.

4. Plustek OpticFilm135i Batch Scanner & Converter

Highlighted features

  • Runs on third-party editing app
  • Up to 69MP conversion for 35mm film
  • Adjustable file extension setting
  • Comes with 2-year limited warranty

Of all the other film scanners we found truly helpful and worth spending your hard-earned money on, this is the only one that is flat and looks like a mini printer. What’s amazing about it is that you can work really fast on it. That means it’s super helpful when you have quite a lot to work on.

Pros

  • It’s infrared capable so it detects imperfections and dust on the film.
  • The resulting images are compatible with Mac and Windows OS.
  • This product works seamlessly with third-party image editing software, including Photoshop.
  • Output of up to 69 megapixels means you’ll get high resolution and detail.

Cons

  • The available slide holders may not be compatible with all slide sizes so make sure to check the details.

5. Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE Plus 8

Highlighted features

  • IR channel detects dust and scratches on film
  • USB connectivity
  • LED lamp
  • 48-bit color output

The more portable version of Plustek OpticFilm135i Batch Scanner & Converter, this one still bears a considerable weight of 3.53 lbs. Just like its larger brother, this product comes with a built-in IR capable of detecting dust and scratches and auto-sampling on these areas. That saves you time from having to retouch manually.

Pros

  • Built-in IR cuts down on time and energy otherwise spent on retouching over dust and scratches.
  • Image manipulation is supported by an app.
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac OS.

Cons

  • It is applicable for 35mm negative film but not others.

6. Rybozen Film & Slide Scanner for Mobile Play

Highlighted features

  • Film and slide scanner
  • Battery operated
  • For viewing on mobile

If you’re a blogger and you have history to share, you’ll definitely have good use for this one. The major reason why we’re adding it as the best film scanner for mobile is that it lets you scan, view on mobile, and instantly share the image on your IG or FB. You might even do some customizations on Canva or turn your slides into a presentation before you post. Cool!

We did feel like it could do better than a pair of batteries. Well, at least you can easily make up for that shortcoming by using rechargeable batteries. It’s better for the environment.

Pros

  • Since it’s handy and operates on batteries, it’s perfect for remote viewing like camping trips.
  • It’s foldable and fits in your pocket.
  • This item is very light and only weighs 140 grams.
  • Since it’s viewable on mobile, you can easily share your old photos on IG, FB, and other social media.

Cons

  • We’re neutral on the batteries but there’s minimal hassle to get yourself rechargeable ones.
  • It’s very portable but, unlike the Rybozen Film & Slide Scanner, this one is bulky.

7. Magnasonic HDMI Film Scanner

Highlighted features

  • HDMI connectivity
  • Light and compact
  • Multiple negative format compatibility

It’s more common for negative scanners to either be suitable for digitizing still negatives and slides only or movie reels only. So imagine how happy we were to find this scanner from Magnavision actually does a mix of both.

However, it still isn’t fully capable of reading and converting all old negative film formats. Again, make sure to check the size of your negatives and slides to make sure this unit is compatible with your needs.

Pros

  • This product is compatible with 35mm, 126mm, and 110 film.
  • It also works well with 135, 126, and 110 slides.
  • Digitized format up to 22 megapixels.
  • Built-in memory is very helpful if like us, you’d rather do away with messy wires.

Cons

  • Super8 photo negatives will work well with this product but not videos.
Best Film Scanner

How to Shop for a Film Scanner: Buying Guide

Film scanners are quite a challenge to shop around for. Well, for one, if you’ve never really used negatives, slides, and reels before in your photography, you’re probably not familiar with all the available formats.

But, we can understand how nostalgic and precious old photos and videos can be, and we’re here to help make sure that you’re spending on the right one. Check out the rest of this guide to find out 5 factors to look for when you’re planning to buy a film scanner.

Compatibility with Your Negative

By now, you must have already gained an appreciation of the many different kinds of negative films available. Thus, when you’re thinking of buying a scanner for your negative, don’t nose dive into the vast market just yet.

Go back to your trunk or attic and find out what kind of negative film you’re dealing with. Do you have a 35mm film or a 110 slide? In fact, that should narrow down the choices that are available to you.

Then, go online or in store and ask about the products that can cater to your negative or slide.

Desired Output

The first factor we mentioned above is essentially the “input”. Now, the next consideration you want to make is to think about what output you want to obtain.

If you want an mp4 output for your reel film then, you’ll need the Wolverine Negative Scanner & Digital Movie Converter. If you’re planning to do more work on restoring your photo, you might want to use the Plustek OpticFilm135i Batch Scanner & Converter. It’s compatible with several image manipulation tools, including Photoshop.

You might also just want to scan and post your photos on social media. In this case, a product like the Rybozen Film & Slide Scanner will be more appropriate.

Again, think about what you really need first before you shop around and stick to your goals. It’s easy to overspend on the most updated product features. But the real question is, what function do you want to get out of your scanner?

Connectivity

Most scanners permit users to connect and sync with other devices. They usually come with USB, TV, or HDMI cables. These help you see the images more clearly and select the ones you want to save and preserve.

Think of the equipment you’ll be using to view your slide and negative photos. Will the scanner work on this device?

Output Resolution

If you’re planning to print out the digital version of your negatives or hang them in larger-scale portraits, you should definitely grab a negative scanner that can deliver high-resolution images.

Plustek OpticFilm135i Batch Scanner & Converter is designed to create high resolution images up to 69 megapixels. It’s exactly what you need for large format printing like banners you might want for your grandmother’s 80th surprise birthday party. That will also be useful for print publications or memorabilia for distribution during your high school grand homecoming reunion.

Memory Storage

Some film scanners come with SD card slots while some do not. What really matters is if you need an SD card slot. Most new models of Mac don’t even have built-in slots for SD cards. You’ll need an external adaptor to use your SD card.

If you like to keep things simple, you might just want to use a pretty straightforward device like the KODAK Slide N Scan Negative Film Scanner. If you’re the only one viewing your slides, you can just make do with its 5-inch LCD screen.

Or, if you want to skip all the hassle of having to plug in your device or save directly on your scanner, might as well get one that allows you to save the scanned images directly to your phone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it worth it to buy a negative scanner?

You’re the best person to answer that. Think about how important your negative films and videos, and slides are to you. If the answer is priceless, then owning a negative scanner is absolutely priceless.

However, if you only have one or a few negatives to scan and want to digitize, you probably won’t have much use for one. Find a studio that can scan and digitize your negatives for you instead. That way, you won’t have to spend on a much more expensive scanner.

Q: How can you save your scans?

Different negative scanners have different ways of digitizing photos. Check the product manual or ask the salesman.

Some scanners have SD slots. Some have cables that you can connect to your desktop or laptop. Others that have mobile output can be captured and saved using your mobile device. Take note, however, that the quality of image from such scanners depends on your mobile phone’s image display quality.

Q: Can you still take photos using negative films today?

Yes, some films continue to be in circulation. Some photographers continue to insist that negative films have more depth in them than digital photos. 

If you still have your old camera running on negative, you can still use it and save the negatives or mount them on slides. Some studios still provide these services. Then, you can store and keep watching your photos using your film scanner.

Conclusion

Images can speak millions. They capture a moment in history and the best film scanner suited for your needs is there to help you relive them. Share and retell your stories like only you know for others to retell themselves long after you are gone.

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