I'm in the market for a color flatbed scanner with good scanning quality and a USB 2.0 interface. I don't care how slowly it scans, I won't be doing it for a living. I do care about getting high quality, high resolution images. Bonus points for one that can do film slides or negatives, but it is not a requirement.

Anybody got a scanner they can recommend?

The reviews on Amazon are all over the board, and I've yet to uncover a web site for scanners that's as useful as dpreview.com or photo.net are for digital cameras.

Thanks for any suggestions...

Posted by jzawodn at March 22, 2005 02:48 PM

Reader Comments
# Charles said:

I'm researching the same subject, but my requirements are a little different, I'm looking for a color scanner with an automatic document feeder for use on a Mac, for bulk scanning of piles of documents to PDFs. It would also be nice to have transparency scanning but this isn't crucial. Anyone who can recommend something that would work out, speak up.
But getting to your specific question, what kinds of color images do you want to scan? Scanners with transparency adapters are usually high rez with 48 bit color depth, although there are a lot of cheaper color scanners with less color depth and those scans are harder to color correct. If you're just scanning color documents generally, like office papers, the high color depth isn't so crucial.
Also consider the scanning software. I particularly like the 3rd party software SilverFast, check out a trial version at Lasersoft.com. Their Silverfast-SE cheapo version supports tons of scanners on PCs and Macs, and is about the best software targeted at graphic arts. If you want really accurate color management, they have an expensive version with ICC color profiles available, but it's overkill for most users, unless you're a prepress pro or photographer.
I'm particularly partial to the Epson (Seiko) consumer-grade scanners but let me know a little more about what you're trying to do and I'll see if I've run across anything in my researches that might fit you. I used to operate pro scanners at a graphics bureau so I'm pretty up on the technology generally, I just haven't found what I'm looking for myself, I'll piggyback your question onto my research.

on March 22, 2005 03:11 PM
# Jason said:

I bought an Epson Perfection 3170 Photo Scanner last year and have been happy with it so far. It comes with a removable tray for negatives and slides, which I haven't used yet. I wanted to archive my print photos and chose this model for its high quality scans. It does take up a lot of desk space, though.

on March 22, 2005 03:14 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Mainly I'll be scanning:

- aviation maps (sectional charts)
- a few photos
- random docs now and then to archive

Nothing heavy duty, but I'd like to get good quality scans when I need them.

Thanks for any pointers you can offer...

on March 22, 2005 03:34 PM
# saberworks said:

I spent a couple hundred on a Visioneer scanner a couple of years ago, and after 2 months of being unused, I tried to scan a photo and it came out all yellow. Their tech support site said the bulb had to be replaced -- problem is, the bulb is almost as expensive as a new scanner! I won't buy another one from them.

on March 22, 2005 06:55 PM
# jr said:

Well, I've got a $30 Canon CanoScan I picked up at the back of Frys. It's USB2 and even get's it's power from the USB plug. It does as good a job as any other scanner I've messed around with.

It's pure document, no slide or film slots, but hey, that's why God made digital cameras anyway.

Speaking of which, before I got the scanner, I had used a 3Megapix camera and a tripod to do the "scanning". Don't laugh, it worked well enough to get stuff through OCRs and perfectly fine for doing reproduction work, (although the perspective was a hair skewed due to me not using a plumb.)

on March 22, 2005 07:38 PM
# Michael Moncur said:

Another vote for Canon- I have a CanoScan LiDE 35 and it works quite well. It's very flat (and can be stored sideways with the included stand), scans pretty fast, and the results are great.

It's USB powered. Doesn't do slides or film. Was about $80 at Amazon as I recall.

on March 22, 2005 07:53 PM
# Lana said:

I run a digital imaging lab with some high tech equipment that is far beyond what you are looking for, but if it is any help, I can tell you what i use at home. I use the Epson Perfection 4870 Photo with the Silverfast software and really like the scans. The negative/trasparencie scans aren't as good as what I would get from a dedicated film scanner, so I don't use them but that isn't to say that they aren't good for the average user. They are certainly within the acceptable range. The scanner is fairly large by today's standards, though.

For avaition maps that are larger than the 8.5 X 11" scanning bed, you might want to consider something with a larger scanning surface area. The higher end Epson Professional Photo series would be the place to look. They have some that scan tabloid size documents that are pretty awesome. In either case, it sounds like you know what to look for in a scanner -- for photos a good dynamic range is more important that the interpolated resolution. Just get something that can scan 600 dpi and has a good dynamic range and good scanning software. Like a previous poster said, Lasersoft makes a good product, and you really can't go wrong with Epson.

on March 22, 2005 08:42 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Thanks for the recommendation. I don't think I really need a large format scanner--small sections of a chart at a time are all I'll probably need to scan.

The Epson line looks pretty good based on other reviews I'm seeing.

on March 22, 2005 09:16 PM
# Anjan Bagchee said:

I have the Canon CanoScan LiDE 500F Color Image Scanner. Amazon has it on sale for $122 and you get 4,800 x 2,400 dpi optical resolution, 19,200 dpi interpolated; 48-bit color depth; Double-hinge expansion top for scanning bulky items; Scans negatives and positives with included film adapter; USB interface; PC and Mac compatible.

Absolutely love the machine. Pretty versatile and image scans of my old pics turn out great.


on March 22, 2005 09:22 PM
# Glen Campbell said:

I've been happy with my Epson Perfection 2450 Photo. It does slides and negatives in addition to regular documents. I'm sure there are newer versions there now.

on March 22, 2005 09:35 PM
# qwerty said:

+1 epson.

on March 22, 2005 10:24 PM
# Charles said:

For oversize documents, I'd actually recommend using your digital camera, if it's sufficiently high rez for your needs. I set up an improvised vertical copystand out of my old 4x5 enlarger, a camera clamp, and a couple of cheap clamp lights from a hardware store. But if you're going to plot directly on the scanned maps, I wouldn't recommend a copystand, because the slightest misalignment of the camera from perpendicular is going to cause "keystone distortion" that will mess up your mapping. So flatbed scanners would really be necessary for an accurate reproduction.
You can scan maps in pieces and join them in an imaging app but I never seem to be able to get the two scans perfectly aligned, one scan is always crooked relative to the other, and no amount of tweaking gets it perfect.
My dream scanner is the Epson Expression 10000XL, it scans photos and transparencies up to 12x17inches, and you can get a document feeder too. But it's about $2700, ouch! Well, I can dream.
A friend of mine bought an Epson 4870 and he really loves it but it only scans pages up to 8.5x11, so if you have legal size documents, that's insufficient. And that's a little small for big maps, especially if you've got to piece together scans.
I'm considering buying an HP Scanjet 8250 for my own tasks, it's the only thing I've found with a document feeder (it even duplexes!) and also does slide scanning, it's 4800dpi which helps with small slides, but it's kind of pricey ($900). Maybe the HP 5590 would be adequate, but it's almost the same unit but only 2400DPI, so it's not so great for small slides and negatives. I can tell HP isn't really focused on graphic arts because they don't list a dMax for their scanners. And I've heard a few gripes about HP's software for the Mac, but then you always hear the gripes and not the happy users.
Oh hell, I just don't know what to buy. The more I research, the harder it is to decide. Well, at least I hope we're both getting a clearer idea of what we need. I wish money was no object and I could just afford a 10000XL.

on March 22, 2005 11:06 PM
# Pedro Custódio said:

I don't know that much about scanners specs to say that one is better than other, but since on of your requirements are probably larger than a traditional size page, i recommend checking the HP Scanjet 4670 See-thru Vertical Scanner (http://www.shopping.hp.com/cgi-bin/hpdirect/shopping/scripts/product_detail/product_detail_view.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@2058795240.1111571991@@@@&BV_EngineID=ccdeaddeeikdjhhcfngcfkmdflldfgf.0&landing=null&category=scanners&subcat1=mid_range&product_code=Q3122A%23A2L&catLevel=3)
Besides taking a lot less space, they allow the scanner to be used as a digital table, allowing you to scanner large documents, as paintings, and maps.
The scanner comes with the software that later joins all the different scanned parts in one image!

Is also has a part that allows to scan film and slides.

on March 23, 2005 02:23 AM
# Tommy Williams said:

Vincent Oliver does a lot of good scanner reviews at http://www.photo-i.co.uk/. He focuses on models that are probably a bit more expensive than what you're describing but he's got plenty of samples and a consistent methodology.

It's not as comprehensive as DPReview but it is a great resource.

on March 23, 2005 11:52 AM
# Lana said:

You're welcome, Jeremy.

I should have added what Charles wrote about going the copy stand route -- he is right. The only thing that I would add is to hang your map on the wall and use a tripod. and light it with some daylight bulbs from 45 degree angles. Your camera will do a better job than a scanner and then stitching the image together if you want something larger. Although, I have had pretty good results scanning large flat art and then stitching it. . . .
The benefit of the Epson 4870 professional version is that it includes the silverfast software and some other stuff and with both versions you have the negative carriers for film up to 4X5. It is a bit pricy compared to a lot of the consumer grade scanners, but it also puts out some really professional level results that I haven't seen from some of the less expensive scanners. Just as with making decisions about digital cameras, it is all about how you intend to use the final image. Larger prints, or web? so much of what is out there is just overkill, imho -- way more than the average user is ever going to need.

btw, I really enjoy reading your blog on a daily basis. good stuff!

on March 23, 2005 01:01 PM
# James Van Lommel said:

One of my favorite site for digital camera (and general photography) reviews and tips is http://kenrockwell.com/tech.htm

He has a series of scanner recommendations on his page at http://kenrockwell.com/tech/scanrex.htm

Although he's focusing primarily scanning photos (and many of the scanners reviewed won't apply to you), he has a candid and honest tone that I appreciate in his reviews.

on March 23, 2005 01:51 PM
# Rick said:

Jeremy -- while this may not be exactly what you want for doing aviation charts, it would work great (imho) for the other stuff and also satisfies what Charles was looking for as it works for Macs & PCs..

Checkout the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX.. It comes bundled with a PC version of Adobe Acrobat Standard edition and does native duplexing in b&w, greyscales or color and spits out PDFs or TIFF depending on the software being used -- it does not however have a TWAIN driver though.. However, it gets rave reviews and is VERY small -- smaller than my toaster! I've used it to archive copies of bank checks, statements, real estate papers, etc.. It costs about $330 on sale... I've only had mine about a month now and love it.. It's fast and does an excellent job. If you're looking for a Mac Driver, I've included a link below on the MacOSXHints forums for info about the Mac driver for it.

Here's the page from the store I bought it from :

Here's the Mac Forum :

on March 23, 2005 02:06 PM
# Dave Smith said:

I have one of the predecessors of the CanoScan LiDE, and am quite happy with it, though it doesn't do formats larger than legal.

on March 23, 2005 05:11 PM
# Charles said:

Argh, I was all ready to buy the HP 8250 when I saw it had a $90 rebate, and I can get it for about $700 after rebate. Then I found out it only scans 35mm film, and I have a ton of old 2 1/4 Hasselblad trans and negatives I wanted to scan. So I guess I can just go for the cheaper $300 HP 5590 with half the rez, and focus on my bulk scanning (no duplexing, darn it), forget the slide scans. Now I haven't blown my whole budget, I was planning on upgrading my copystand camera to a Canon 20D, maybe I'll just buy a slide duplicator attachment for the digital camera.
Leah, you have some experience in this, let me ask you a question. I'm getting tired of my hot floodlights, I was thinking of buying a couple of cheap slave flash units for my copystand, maybe with some diffusers to even out the illumination. Have you seen any rigs that do this successfully, or have any suggestions? I'm willing to sacrifice a bit of quality if I can hold the budget way down.
Oh, and BTW, you can work wonders on a copystand with a bubble level and a plumb line, so it's not too difficult to get good alignment, if you're patient and persistent. Most SLRs have a spot on the back that is parallel to the film plane, so you can rest a bubble level on it and get it parallel to a level surface. I use a Bogen Super Clamp with a single ball head, which is pretty flexible and infinitely adjustable. The Bogen Super Clamp is the best damn piece of photo equipment I ever bought, every photographer should have one, it's a whole system of camera rigging. Check it out:

on March 23, 2005 06:03 PM
# Greg said:

Last summer, we had a photo archiving project that required us to scan about 250 photos from 1903 to present. We used an Epson Perfection 1650 PHOTO and were very happy with it. We even used it to scan negatives and slides.

on March 24, 2005 01:53 AM
# anon said:

I have used the epson perfection 3200. Yeah, I know its not made anymore but you can get good ones from ebay(actually, ebay has only 1 right now). The 3180/3170(or similar) that replaced it does not have the 3200 scanning software or the same scanning scan dpi. You haven't given a budget but the 3200 will cost 500 odd or you might be able to snag one from ebay for 300. Six months back, they were going for 160-190$ there.



on March 24, 2005 11:35 AM
# anon said:


on March 25, 2005 01:01 PM
# Sean O'Rourke said:

Jeremy, I don't have any great recommendations in this area, but I have updated my page on scanner shopping resources for you, if that helps.

on March 26, 2005 07:13 PM
# Ben Poole said:

Just the odd thing? Decent quality but doesn't have to be fast? Cheap?

Epson. Works like a dream, does the job.

on March 27, 2005 10:52 AM
# Roger Eberhart said:

I've always liked the reviews at PC World when looking for hardware. Here's their take on scanners: http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,119276,00.asp

on March 29, 2005 12:56 PM
# Ballenger Motorsports said:

You can always opt for the $12 cheapo unit from compusa. Generally they will scan well and handle negatives well.

on March 31, 2005 07:58 PM
# said:

Got Bear Paw usb scanner suberb with drivers but lost xp driver used scarsely but now have new mustek

on April 16, 2005 04:54 AM
# Nicolas said:

I have an Epson Perfection 2450 scanner.

I love it!

It works great for slides or negatives etc.

I am asking this user group if anyone has the original Epson CD Rom Disc that includes the software for the Smart Panel.

My children scratched my original disc and then my hard drive crashed. I got all of my system restored except for my Epson scanner.

I have been trying to find a software disc but so far no luck.

If anyone can make me a back-up cd rom copy I will glady pay them for their time and shipping via USPS.

Thanks to All!

on December 28, 2005 08:30 AM
# Jo Tyler said:

Hi - I'm looking for a scanner for under $600 that does a good job with depth and clarity on slightly 3-D objects such as a textured paintings and collages, etc. Any advice? Thanks! Jo

on April 26, 2006 02:34 AM
# anne said:

I lost my disk for my epson perfection 3170, I need it to reenstall my scanner. Can anyone help with a suggestion? thank you A distressed scanner

on July 24, 2007 12:19 PM
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