Scanner Buying Guide

Scanner Buying Guide


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Most artists, graphic designers, photo editors, art appraisers, archivists and those who want to digitize precious hard copy photos use scanners. Scanners come in different shapes and sizes with a host of features that help in converting any data into soft copy. They can easily capture a photographic image, printed artwork, or text document to convert into a digital format. This digital rendering can be seen on a monitor and can be copied and stored.

Purpose of the Guide

This guide will walk you through the types of scanners and familiarize you with the scanner features you need to consider when buying a scanner to ensure you choose one to suit your needs.

What is a Scanner?

Digital scanners are considered the perfect tool for digitizing documents, slides, photos and other materials. Scanners are available in different models depending upon the purpose they are going to be used for. This usually depends on whether the user wants it for business or home applications. There are several types of scanners that work in different ways, some of them are listed below.

Flatbed Scanners

These versatile scanners work like copy machines. They can scan material from thick or thin objects like single sheets of paper, thick books, magazines, flowers as well as jewelry.

Photo Scanners

Photo scanners have high resolution image processors that are capable of scanning photo negatives and producing high quality photo enlargements. There are many types of photo scanners available in the market. Some of them include Canon CanoScan, HP Scanjet and Epson Perfection.

Sheetfed Scanners

A sheetfed scanner is in many ways similar to a fax machine. This scanner is ideal for those users who want to scan many documents at the same time. There are various types of sheetfed scanners available that vary depending upon their speed, quality and performance.

Handheld Scanners

Handheld scanners can be easily held in place on a portable stand. They are mostly used as barcode readers.

Portable Scanners

Portable scanners are bigger than handheld scanners but smaller than the traditional flatbed scanners. They are perfect for those who need to scan documents while traveling on business.

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Features of Scanner

When planning to buy a photo scanner, it is necessary to ensure that the device has the features they require. Let’s check out some of the features that are offered by a photo scanner.

Scanner Sensors

Scanner image sensors determine the quality of scans. They convert the light reflected from the object being scanned into a clear digital image. There are three basic types of image sensor: charged-coupled device, contact image sensor, and photomultiplier tubes.

Scanner Bit Depth

Scanners gather a certain number of bits from every pixel of an image. This is called ‘bit depth’ and determines the image quality provided by the scanner.

Scanner Resolution

Scanner resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). The resolution of the scanner determines the image quality shown on the resultant copy.

Duplex Scanning

This feature is mostly seen on document scanners that scan both the sides of the page at the same time. This scanner is often very costly so users can instead opt for a scanner with automatic document feeder and duplexing capabilities.

Higher Connectivity Speeds

Nowadays, most scanners come with USB 2.0 or higher. This feature allows users to scan documents faster with speedy connection to the PC. There are also some scanners that offer USB 3.0 interface for quicker speeds to scan documents.

Image File Formats

Most scanners are capable of storing scanned images in multiple digital image file formats. These include JPG, PNG, TIFF and BMP files. Some also provide the capability to read and convert files into TXT, PDF or RTF formats.

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Utilities of Scanners

The immense growth in technology has resulted in manufacturers creating high-end scanners. These scanners provide a wide range of utilities that include storing documents in electronic form.

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Top 5 Manufacturers

It's important to buy a scanner from a reputable company to ensure your scans will have the quality you expect. Let’s check out some of the leading manufacturers that are well-known for producing high-end scanners.


Epson is a world-famous brand that provides cutting-edge imaging solutions. It is a global technology company that offers products like all-in-one printers, professional imaging, projectors, scanners and much more.


Canon is a leading provider of consumer, B2B and industrial digital imaging solutions. It offers various products including cameras, EF lenses, camcorders, printers, scanners, binoculars, projectors and much more.

Pacific Image

Pacific Image Electronics is well-known for its expertise in the design and development of optical scanners, modems and printers. It offers a wide range of imaging products such as film scanner and life science products.


Hewlett-Packard (HP) is a leader in technology and corporate culture that is inspiring innovators from across the globe. It is famous for its high-end products like laptops, desktops, tablets, all-in-one PCs, printers, ink, toner and paper as well as monitors.


Fujitsu is the world’s fourth largest IT services provider that offers a full range of technology products, solutions and services. It offers a great variety of products such as tablet PCs, desktops, scanners, printers, servers, storage devices and many other peripheral devices.

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When buying a photo scanner, it is necessary to be aware of the technical terms that are related to it. Let’s check out some of the important terms that are used in scanners.

Scanner Sensors:
Picks up the reflected light from the original image and converts it into digital information.
Scanner Bit Depth:
Defines the number of bits from each pixel of an image. The bit depth determines the quality of the image.
Scanner Resolution:
Optical resolution is measured by dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). Scanners with higher resolution give better image quality with impressive image detail.
Duplex Scanning:
Allows users to scan both the sides of the page at the same time.
Image File Formats:
Capable of storing several file formats. The most common file formats are JPG, TIFF, PNG and BMP files.

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Still have questions or need more information on scanners? Contact us so we can help!