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Deciding What Scanner Features You Need

Some scanner features are more useful than others for the digital photography inclined. When deciding on a photo-friendly scanner, keep these features (and whether those features can help your photo scanning needs) in mind:

  • Scan quality: Many factors affect scan quality, including resolution, the number of colors (dynamic range), the quality of the optics, and the electronics used to translate the scanned image for your computer.

  • Scanner speed: Some scanners operate much faster than others do.

    If you’re making 100 scans a day, speed matters.

  • Scanning size: Flatbed scanners have a fixed-size scanning bed, usually 8.5 x 11.7 to 8.5 x 14. Even though you might rarely scan a 14-inch-long original, the larger size is handy to have.

  • Film scanning: If you have many color slides or negatives you want to scan and don’t want a dedicated slide scanner, a flatbed that can accommodate these originals is a plus, like the one in this figure.

    A flatbed scanner with a light source in its lid can scan film.
    A flatbed scanner with a light source in its lid can scan film.
  • Physical size and configuration: If your desktop space is limited, you might want a tiny scanner. Also, a few scanners can be set up vertically so they occupy a minimum amount of space, as shown in this figure.

    A vertical scanner can help you make the most of limited space.
    A vertical scanner can help you make the most of limited space.
  • Bundled software: Some scanners come with advanced scanning programs.

  • Type of sensor: CCD sensors make for bigger and more expensive scanners, but they provide a higher-quality image than smaller, cheaper CIS sensors.

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