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Best photo scanners 2021: top picks for backing up your photographs

Welcome to our pick of the best photo scanners money can buy in 2021. While most people have digital cameras (or rely on their smartphones ...

Welcome to our pick of the best photo scanners money can buy in 2021. While most people have digital cameras (or rely on their smartphones to take photos), many of us still have irreplaceable physical photographs that need backing up.

This is where photo scanners come in. They let you digitise your precious photo collection, and allow you to save them on a hard drive - either one installed in your PC or laptop, or ideally on an external hard drive or NAS device. This means if the original photos are lost or damaged, you still have a digital copy.

You can then print out more copies - either using one of the best photo printers yourself, or by using a service, and even get them printed on canvas, reproduced in photo books and more.

Unlike normal scanners, the best photo scanners are designed specifically for use with photographs, which means they offer extremely high resolutions and capture every detail, and will offer a simple and straightforward way of turning your traditional photos into digital ones, without over-complicating things.

If you are using one of our picks of the best photo scanners to back up your photo collection, then we recommend you visit our best external hard drive, best NAS device and best cloud storage guides, as it's always wise to keep your photo backups somewhere safe and secure – and not just on the hard drive of your laptop or computer.

The best photo scanners

Epson FastFoto FF-680W

(Image credit: Epson)

1. Epson FastFoto FF-680W

The best photo scanner over all

Optical scan resolution: 600dpi | Interface: USB and Wi-Fi | Feeder capacity: 36 photos, 100 sheets of paper

Built for photo scanning
Large tray for batch scanning
Expensive
Not a huge amount of features

In our view the Epson FastFoto FF-680W is currently the best photo scanner you can buy. This is because it's built from the ground-up to scan photos, which makes the process fast an convenient. Its tray holds 36 standard photographs, which means you can load it up and leave it to scan in batches – which is a massive time saver. It can also automatically upload your scans to Dropbox or Google Drive, or save them on USB. Scan quality is very good, and it's speedy as well. However, it is very expensive, and its focus on photos means it's not great at other tasks.

Canon Canoscan 9000F Mark II

2. Canon Canoscan 9000F Mark II flatbed scanner

Huge resolutions make this the best premium photo scanner

Optical scan resolution: Up to 9600 x 9600dpi | Scanning speed: Up to 8ppm | Interface: USB | Feeder capacity: N/A

Can scan a wide range of media
Super high resolution
Relatively big
Bundled software could be better

While the Epson FastFoto FF-680W above is the best all-round photo scanner, if you have the budget and want the very best results, then the Canoscan 9000F Mark II ticks all the right boxes.  This is because the 9000F offers a scanning resolution of up to 9600x9600 dpi for film/slides and a quarter of that for photo and documents, all at 48-bit. It can handle negatives and filmstrips thanks to a built-in adaptor. It doesn't require warm-up time and can also scan straight to a number of cloud-based services. That huge dpi in particular means you're scanning photos with hardly any loss to detail – though be prepare for very large file sizes at that kind of resolution.

Epson Perfection V600

(Image credit: Epson)

3. Epson Perfection V600

The best mid-range photo scanner

Optical scan resolution: 6400dpi | Interface: USB | Feeder capacity: N/A

High resolution
Restores damaged photos
Large
Bundled software isn't the best

The Epson Perfection V600 is another flatbed scanner that specialised in scanning photos, and with a high 6400dpi, you can scan your photos in the knowledge that you're getting excellent digital representations of your original photographs. It comes with holders that allow you to easily scan in negatives and slides as well, and the Digital ICE technology, automatically removes dust and scratches from older photos, which is a fantastic feature that ensures your photo collection looks better than ever.

HP Officejet 7612

4. HP Officejet 7612 A3 printer scanner

A great affordable choice

Optical scan resolution: Up to 1200 x 1200dpi | Scanning speed: Up to 10ppm | Interface: USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi | Feeder capacity: 35

Cheap A3 scanner
Bundled printing and fax
No card reader
Heavy and takes up a lot of space

Unlike the other scanners on this list, the HP Officejet 7612 isn't a dedicated photo scanner, and while that means it lacks some of the photo-centric features of other photo scanners on this list, it also means it's more flexible as well, and it's not only a great scanner for documents as well as photos, but it can double as a printer, photocopier and fax machine as well. This means you can easily create physical copies of your photos, or you can use the Wi-Fi connection to send photos you scan to people around the world via email. Plus, the high 1200dpi means scan quality is excellent, and it's very reasonably priced as well.

Epson Perfection V850 Pro

(Image credit: Epson)

5. Epson Perfection V850 Pro

The best photo scanner for professionals

Optical scan resolution: 6400dpi | Interface: USB | Feeder capacity: N/A

High resolution
Restores damaged photos
Bulky
Very expensive

The Epson Perfection V850 Pro is the best photo scanner for professional photographers, or enthusiasts. Not only does it boast very high resolutions, it can handle pretty much any photo, film or negative, and its dual lens system automatically selects the optimal lens, with up to 4800 DPI optical resolution for reflective photo scanning and 6400 DPI when scanning using film holders. It features the Digital ICE technology found in the cheaper Epson Perfection V600, which automatically repairs old photos, and it has a high dynamic range for enhanced tone reproduction – so scanned photographs match the exact color, detail and dynamic range of the original, for impeccable accuracy. It's expensive, but for professionals this is by far the best photo scanner money can buy right now.

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