Prior to rushing to the shop to buy an automatic photo scanner, you need to take into consideration which features you want and which ones are not really necessary. A scanner of high quality with more features obviously costs more. But you can save money if you know your requirements exactly. This also will be largely the best experience for you with the scanner in future. When you think of buying the scanner, if you know what to look for, you can make better decision.
Type of Feeder
Firstly, you must know that there are mainly two types of scanners, viz. flatbed and sheetfed. Out of these flatbed scanner is the best for photo scanning. It has a flat surface on which you have to keep the image for scanning, shut the lid and hit scan button. Sheetfed scanner is usually used to scan documents. Flatbed scanners have better resolution and so it is apt for photo scanning.
Resolution and Film Scanning
The best photo scanner is the one which has high resolution output. Optical resolution means the quality of image the scanner is able to produce. The DPI, i.e. dots per inch determines the resolution. Higher the DPI better will be your image. However just for scanning photos you don’t need very high resolution. Very high resolution is needed only for film scanning. Also if you want to scan only photos, you need to have an exact idea of what you are going to do with your scanned photos prior to deciding on the quality of optical resolution you wish to have. If you are thinking of printing out the images on photo paper, you will need high quality of optical resolution, whereas if you want to just display them on your computer screen or send them to friends, a scanner with markedly lower optical resolution will be good for you.
And if you want to scan films too, some scanners in the market come with adapters for film scanning and such a scanner makes a grand slide scanner. They offer you scanning of 35mm films and slides at a very high resolution. These adapters also facilitate scanning of multiple slides or film strips at a time. If you are on budget there are lower end slide scanners too which are faster and cheaper to some extent; but you will have to accept the lower quality of the scanned images they produce.
You can also look for the software that you require to run the scanner and that should work with your computer. Check the drivers that the device requires to work specifically. They generally come with the scanner; however you may have to update them repeatedly to make them to work. Most importantly you should ensure that the scanner you choose works with the operating system you have, for example a PC or a Mac.
Size of Scanning Bed
Many flatbed scanners can accommodate anything of size of legal paper or smaller than that (8.5” x 14”). If you want to scan bigger images, you have to choose a bigger flatbed scanner. Alternatively you can use a software stitching program for combining many small scans together to form a larger item. In fact there are big format scanners that can scan up to 11” x 17” size.
Make sure which type of connection your computer has before going for the scanner. If you buy an automatic photo scanner which cannot be plugged in, it will be sheer waste of time. There are types like FireWire connections which are very fast, however most of the computers do not possess FireWire inputs. In this case, scanners with USB 2.0 inputs will be probably useful for you, because most computers are able to use it.
Automatic feeder is another very useful feature. It is especially useful if you want many photos at a time. Automatic photo feeder eliminates the need of manual insertion of photos and thus saves your time remarkably when you want to scan a big pile of photos.
Sensors should also be thought of. Majority of scanners have two basic types of sensors, viz. a charge-coupled device or CCD and contact image sensor or CIS. CCD is actually an outdated type and is found often in cheaper scanners. However, it is interesting that CIS sensors produce a bit of lower quality of photos than those produced by CCD sensors. But their scoring feature is they use much less energy and are lighter in weight than CCD sensors.
When the quality of the resulting image is concerned, color depth also can be an important matter to look into. Color depth means the amount of color data, the scanner is able to extract from the photos. It is the quantity of color every pixel can receive. This means that the greater the color depth of the scanner, the higher is the quality of photos it will produce.
When you consider all these features before shopping for the photo scanner, you will be much clear and focused about what you want and then you can make better decision and get the scanner just of your choice.