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Epson Perfection V700 photo scanner review: Epson Perfection V700 photo scanner

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"I'm sitting on 1,000 slides. What's the best way to get them into the computer?" is a frequently asked question I get from both friends and readers. Of course, the easiest solution is to send them off to someone else. But that can get expensive, and many people don't want to subject their prized photos to the disinterested hands of a technician. That leaves you with a scanner as your only option. For speedy, unattended scanning, a dedicated slide scanner with an automatic feeder, such as the Nikon Coolscan V, is a good bet. After you're done with the slides, though, it becomes an expensive paperweight. So after the costs and benefits play out, your best overall choice turns out to be a really good flatbed scanner--like the Epson Perfection V700.

Epson includes a variety of carriers in the box: one holds 12 slides, another four six-frame film strips, one for two 4x5 transparencies, and one for eight medium-format frames. They're all well designed and easy to load, and they each snap into a notch to lock in place on the scanbed. My biggest problem with the myriad mounts is finding places to put them. A version of the V700, the V750-M Pro, also offers a liquid mount, as used by drum scanners. This allows the film to press directly against the glass, which maximizes sharpness and minimizes artifacts. Though the V700 doesn't supply this, it does use separate lenses for reflective (hard-copy) and transmissive (slides and negatives) originals; since the latter generally need to be optically enlarged far more than the former, the lenses need to be optimized differently. One lens is designed for optimum resolving at a horizontal resolution of 4,800dpi, the other, 6,400dpi. Of course, the scanner can interpolate way beyond that, and for small originals, you generally find yourself in interpolation territory.

Click here for more on the V700's feature set and scan quality.
I had no problem surrendering precious desk space to the V700 and tend to use it for everyday jobs as well as digitizing the family slides. I most often use its scan-to-PDF function, which always operates seamlessly. You can use the button on the front of the scanner to launch the operation. My one big gripe here is the lack of an automatic document feeder (ADF) option, as if the thought of common office tasks were beneath the notice of such a high-class product.

Scanning can be as slow or fast as you make it. Two slides, using autoexposure and unsharp masking on medium, scanned at 48-bit color and 9,600dpi--a pretty typical job--takes only about 44 seconds. There's some overhead, however: it takes about 44 seconds for the scanner to warm up, and oddly, it pauses to warm up in the middle of scans--or at least it claims to be doing so. If you load on the works, such as turning on Digital ICE postprocessing at its highest quality, a single slide can take as long as nearly 11 minutes. Keep in mind that these are on my oh-so-real-world work system, a 2.4GHz P4 with 1.25GB RAM, via the FireWire connection. Your mileage may vary.

Overall, the scan quality was excellent across a variety of reflective and positive originals. (Test negatives were unavailable at the time this review was written. When our film scanning tests are completed, that information will be added to this review.) It produces scans with a broad dynamic range, decent color accuracy, relatively neutral grays, and sharp line art. It even managed to produce printable photos from some 50-odd-year-old Minox slides, tiny 8mm-by-11mm originals. The color restoration isn't terribly accurate, but the scans are pleasing, and if you have only light damage to your photos, the automatic tools should suffice.

The $549 price tag may seem a bit steep to a market used to sub-$100 models and everything-to-everyone multifunctions, but a good slide scan still requires an excellent optical system and a low-noise sensor. Furthermore, the Epson Perfection V700 Photo is completely sealed for a dust-free inside. Serious pros with thousands of slides may still be better served by a dedicated slide scanner with a batch feeder, but most of us can probably be happy with this multipurpose maven.


The best photo scanners

Taking a physical photo and turning into a digital images requires a special touch. To do it well, you’ll need a quality photo scanner that can match your desired outcome. When considering speed and quality, the best photo scanner on the market is the Epson FastFoto FF-680W. Compared to a standard document scanner, it offers more resolution, and the color reproduction is vastly superior. It even allows you to perform some photo editing tasks, adding a small cherry to an already impressive cake. 

As with choosing a camera, prioritizing features simplifies the process of selecting the best photo scanner. Scanners with auto-feed are better for digitizing large stashes of photos, while high-end flatbed scanners offer the most quality for serious photographers who want to scan both prints and film. From budget options to professional models, here are the best photo scanners you can buy.

At a glance:

Best photo scanner: Epson FastFoto FF-680W

Why you should buy this: Fast scans with auto-backups to the cloud

Who’s it for: Anyone with a box of old photos to digitize

Why we picked the Epson FastFoto FF-680W:

Few tasks are more boring than scanning boxes of old photos, one image at a time. The Epson FastFoto FF-680W is one of the fastest personal photo scanners on the market, not just because of the quick one-second scans but because of features like an auto feeder and auto cloud backups that automates much of the process.

Capable of scanning stacks of 36 images up to 8.5 inches wide and 36 inches long, the scanner will jet through those photos at a rate of about one photo a second. Despite the speed, the scans maintain a 300 dpi resolution, respectable considering the speed and the personal — not professional — photo scanner category. An auto-upload option can save those images to a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive, while the images can also be saved to USB.

Double-sided scans are an option, helpful for images with notes on the back as well as pulling double duty to scan receipts and documents. The speed and convenient tools got us excited about the original FastFoto FF-640, while the latest generation integrates several updates based on previous users.

The quality of the scan isn’t the highest on the list, but the FastFoto FF-680W still gets pretty great results without leaving you hunched over a flatbed for hours at a time — and for that, it’s the photo scanner that will work best for many users.

Best photo scanner for pro film photographers: Epson Perfection V850 Pro

Why you should buy this: Excellent resolution and color depth for high-end scans

Who’s itfor: Professionals and other detail-oriented film photographers

Why we picked the Epson Perfection V850 Pro:

The Epson Perfection V850 Pro is to lesser scanners what a DSLR is to a camera phone. With resolution up to 6,400 x 9,600, there’s plenty of detail for the most demanding photographers. That resolution is mixed with a 48-bit color depth and a 4.0 Dmax dynamic rangeto keep the colors and detail consistent from the print to the digital file.

The scan surface is an 8.5 by 11.7 inch for tackling prints as large as 8 x 10 inches. But the scanner can handle more than prints. Multiple film holders allows for scanning 35mm negatives and positives, including mounted slides, as well as medium format and 4×5 film. Several frames of film can be scanned at once to speed up the process, and the software will automatically detect and separate the individual frames.

For the most discerning photographers, the V850 offers a wet-mount scanning solution that holds film perfectly flat, sandwiched between two glass plates. This ensures the focus remains tack sharp across the entire piece of film, which otherwise can vary slightly from the center to the edge as the film naturally bends.

Color print scans can be finished in around 12 seconds, while a 35mm negative scans in just under a minute. The included software boosts efficiency even further, using Digital ICE technology to automatically remove dust, scratches, hair and fingerprints. The downside? The high resolution and advanced features make it the Epson Perfection V850 Pro pricey option, but if you shoot a lot of film, it won’t take long for the scanner to pay for itself compared to having your photos scanned by a lab.

Best photo scanner for film enthusiasts: Epson Perfection V600

Why you should buy this: High-resolution print and film scans — without breaking the bank

Who’s it for: Photographers and casual users with both prints and film to scan

Why we picked the Epson Perfection V600:

Still suffering from sticker shock over the V850? The Epson Perfection V600 wraps up some of the best features from the high-end model at a quarter of the price. Boasting the same 6,400 x 9,600 maximum resolution and 48-bit color depth as the V850, the V600 offers high-quality scans without the steep pro-level price point.

The V600 tackles both photos and film, accommodating 35mm as well as some medium format sizes. The transparency unit is built-in for easily accommodating the film. Digital ICE software, which removes imperfections such as dust and scratches automatically, is also included. However, the V600 is not compatible with the wet-mount plate of the V850.

The Epson Perfection V600 also doesn’t include advanced features like duplex scanning or an auto-feed, so the scanner may be a bit tedious for working with large volumes of images. Its film holders also hold fewer frames than those of the V850. For the price, though, it’s hard to beat the resolution and dual-purpose film and photo scanning.

Best cheap photo scanner: Canon CanoScan Lide 400 Slim

Why you should buy this: Quick, simple and affordable photo scanning

Who’s it for: Budget-minded consumers

Why we picked the Canon CanoScan LiDE 400:

Digitizing photos doesn’t always mean investing hundreds of dollars. The Canon CanoScan LiDE 400 sits at under the three-figure price point while still offering the must-have features and a few extras. With an optical resolution of 4,800 dpi, scans from the cheap photo scanner are still good quality. Scans are fairly quick, as well, with a 300 dpi scan taking just eight seconds.

The scanner accommodates photos and documents up to 8.5 by 11.7 inches, but uses a slim, lightweight design. An included stand can keep the scanner upright to take up less real estate on your desk. The control scheme is equally simple, and this scanner is very easy to use. Using just a single USB cable for both power and data, it also helps maintain an organized desk.

While a budget model, the CanoScan LiDE 400 also includes the option to send scans to cloud storage, though unlike Wi-Fi-enabled scanners, it must be connected to a computer to do so.

Best cheap 35mm film scanner: Kodak Mobile Film Scanner

Why you should buy this: Film scans that come incredibly cheap

Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a film scan that’s good enough to share on social media

Why we picked the Kodak Mobile Film Scanner:

The Google Cardboard of film scanners, the Kodak Mobile Film Scanner turns the camera in your phone into a “scanner,” while providing the backlight, stand, and film holder to complete the setup. The scanner is little more than a cardboard platform with a light underneath the film holder, so the image quality depends mostly on your phone’s camera. In our hands-on testing, we found it didn’t perform perfectly with a single-lens phone due to the wide-angle nature of the lens, but phones with a second, telephoto lens may offer better results with less cropping required after the fact.

Because this is just a snapshot of a piece of film, the quality isn’t ideal for much beyond sharing to social media. The design also means that scans are just one exposure at a time, not an entire strip at a time. While not ideal for serious photographers looking for high-quality scans or quickly working through large quantities, the price is hard to beat. For users that just want to scan a bit of old film and then probably won’t look at the scanner again, the inexpensive price point makes the Kodak Mobile Film Scanner worth a look.

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There's no correct answer to the question of how to spend your time sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Absolutely, you can choose to be productive by baking (that's why every grocery store is out of flour), staring a new workout routine or tackling long-neglected projects around the house. Or, if you prefer, it's completely fine to do nothing at all. I fall mostly in the former camp, and if you're like me, may I be so bold as to recommend a worthy task? 

Two years ago, I finally scanned the hundreds of photos I'd shot in the decades before I bought a digital camera. Roughly 20 years of my life were crammed into three shoe boxes that had been in my parents' garage or stashed under my bed. Inside were many versions of my younger self: looking grossly unhappy on the first day of kindergarten, skippering a Jungle Cruise boat at Disneyland, and sitting on the steps of my first "adult" apartment in a pair of painfully '90s pleated pants.

Rather than marooning the photos again to another closet when we moved into a new house, I figured it was finally time to do something with them. It was partly an exercise in purging, but it was also a way to safeguard memories should disaster hit. I live in earthquake and fire-prone California, and storing old photos seemed as important as making a disaster kit.

It was a satisfying box to check off on the to-do list, and a task that took little energy to complete -- you can flip through photos while you're quarantine-binging TV. A word of warning, though: Trips down memory lane are usually emotional, filled with equal parts joy, sorrow and "Why did I ever wear that?" 

When in doubt, outsource

Though I have a scanner, it works far too slowly (and I'm too lazy) to process more than a thousand photos (my husband contributed his own stash). So, I followed Sharon Profis' advice and carefully packed a box with prints and sent it to instead. Just choose the scanning and delivery package you want, pack a box and send it to the company's office in Irvine, California. When your scans are done, the box comes back to you, along with electronic copies of your scans and a book listing your shots. The company is continuing to operate during the pandemic.

My experience was great and it only took a week to get my photos back. If you have a box of pictures sitting around, it's an easy way to secure them. If you're pushing the 2,000-photo mark, go for the $145-prepaid box, which the company says will fit about 1,800 prints. If you don't have that many, scans start at 8 cents each.

Your life in a box

First, though, I had to go through my snaps one-by-one and decide which ones to scan. You may prefer to throw everything in a box and scan them all, but I was more discerning. I didn't need scans of the dozen photos I took of Mount Rushmore when I was 11. No, I wanted to save the snaps that really mattered.

My exploration started with the first photo I ever took -- my mom standing in our Southern California backyard in 1981. I was 7 years old and wanted to take her photo as a "thank you" for buying me my first roll of film. She's smiling under a bright July sun, next to my blurry finger covering part of the lens. I texted it to her, and she replied with a heart emoji and "Ahhh… you were just a little boy."

Sorting through the next 20 years. I saw Christmas mornings and birthdays, graduations, my sweet English Springer Whitney, a visit to the top of the World Trade Center with my late grandparents, and camping trips with my dad. I even saw my 12-year old self standing near the London building where I would live 30 years later. 

Later came college keg parties with red plastic cups and the first few years of living on my own, when my energy for rambunctious nights out with friends (some of whom have left us) was far more robust than it is now. It was wonderful, awkward and painful to relive those memories all at once.

Occasionally, shots were blurry or cropped horribly, or my stray finger was back in the way, but that's the thing about film cameras: You don't know how your shots will look until they're developed. Digital cameras may have given us instant gratification and editing. But they've also taken away that marvelous suspense of waiting for your photos to come back from the store so you could tear open the pouch and relive that amazing holiday long after you returned home.

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Free your photos

Sorting through prints also reminded me how the switch to digital cameras fundamentally changed what many of us do with our photos. As film photographers can attest, film means you have to be more discerning with each shot and that "did I get it right?" anticipation is part of the creative process. Sure, most of my prints may have ended up in those shoeboxes that I hardly opened, but I kept others front-and-center by pressing them into albums or putting them in frames.

Since I bought my first digital camera in 2002, though, far fewer of my photos make it off a memory card, even though there are countless easy ways to export them. There's just less incentive since I already know how they came out. Perhaps it's better that way -- printing only the best shots is far less wasteful -- but just like when you write for print rather than online, it's far more satisfying to hold your completed work in your hands than it is to see it flash by on a monitor. (Photos books are another great option to give your digital picture life.)

But by sorting and scanning old prints, I have the best of both the print and digital worlds. I still can leaf through my old photos when I'm feeling nostalgic, reminisce with my parents and embarrass longtime friends at milestone birthdays. Now these mementos also live in the digital realm, and if disaster does strike, I know they won't be lost forever.

Those pleated pants, though? Well... they go back in the shoe box.


The 9 Best Document and Photo Scanners of 2021

Final Verdict

After our in-depth review of nine different document and photo scanners, our analysis determined the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1600 is the best overall option. Without exaggerating, the iX1600 has everything a person wants and needs in a scanner. It's easy to use, speedy, and accurate in addition to being accompanied by great software.

If you don’t need the bells and whistles that are included with the iX1600, the Epson Perfection V39 may be up your alley. If you’re looking for a scanner specifically for photos, the reasonably-priced V39 also offers clear and accurate scanning. Not to mention the scanner’s removable lid works wonders for scanning oversized documents.

About Our Trusted Experts

Nicky LaMarco has been writing and editing for more than 15 years for consumer, trade, and technology publications about many topics including: antivirus, web hosting, backup software, and other technologies. 

Alan Bradley is Tech Editor at Lifewire. He has over a decade of experience in the industry and has previously been published on Rolling Stone, The Escapist, PC Gamer, GamesRadar+, and other publications. He's familiar with computer hardware, including document scanners and he liked the Fujitsu for its useful sorting software.

Ajay Kumar is Tech Editor at Lifewire. He has over seven years of experience in the industry and has previously been published on PCMag and Newsweek. He's reviewed thousands of products, including but not limited to phones, laptops, printers, scanners, and other hardware. He liked the Ambir Card Scanner for cutting down on the clutter at trade shows.

Katie Dundas is a freelance journalist and tech writer, with over two years of experience in tech writing. As a photographer, she’s very familiar with scanners and likes the Epson Perfection V550 for its ability to restore old photos.

Gannon Burgett has been writing for Lifewire since 2018 covering a variety of consumer electronics ranging from printers and scanners to cameras and projectors. He's also been published in Gizmodo, Digital Trends, yahoo News, PetaPixel, DPReview, Imaging Resource, and more.

What to Look for When Buying Photo and Document Scanners

Media type - Ask yourself what you plan on scanning. Knowing whether you’re going to scan documents, photos, or both is necessary prior to making a decision. Some scanners are better for scanning photos than documents. Others are better at creating pristine copies of letters and other documents instead of photos. Depending on your budget, higher-end units are great at scanning both photos and documents and also include features such as adjustable sliders or even separate bays to handle more difficult documents including laminated identification cards.

Scan speed - If you’re often short on time or you have a large number of items to scan, you want to ensure your scanner can quickly handle your scanning needs. Examine how many pages a scanner can handle per minute. Be sure to also look at scanners with automatic document feeders. Automatic document feeders are sure to help speed up the scanning process and eliminate the time you would spend manually placing each item in the scanner.

Cloud support - Do you want to access your scanned documents from anywhere? If so, figure out which scanners include cloud support. Today, many document and photo scanners are capable of scanning and uploading files directly to the cloud. In looking for a cloud-friendly scanner, find one that supports Google Drive, Dropbox, or your preferred cloud service.


Cnet reviews photo scanner

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TOP 5: Best Document and Photo Scanners

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