Thursday, April 26, 2012

There is No Perfect Scanner

the portable Canon LiDE 210
the portable Canon LiDE 210
Yesterday I had a bit of a discussion about scanners on my Facebook wall. I had used a new scanner and I was very pleased with it. Based on the comments I was left with the impression that people are hungry to find just the right scanner.

It make sense. Most people can only buy one scanner and they want to make sure that the one they pick is the best one. Most people only need one scanner. The only time I can think that you might need more than one scanner is if you scan things of varying size and type regularly for your work or if you are embarking on a long term project where a specialized type of scanner would be a help.

There is no perfect scanner and honestly there shouldn't be. Products that try to be everything to everyone usually end up failing. The best thing to do is to determine what you need to scan the majority of the time. You will have to accept some inconvenience but as long as you can accomplish your scanning task then that is the most important part.

So if you can only buy one scanner how do you choose?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What do I want to scan? (photos, slides, negatives, documents, photo albums, etc)

How do I want to use the scans? (printed photos, online for web and blogs, reviewing documents for research, incorporating documents or images into reports, sharing with family or clients, etc.)

Where do I need to scan? (at home, at someone else's home, in my office, in a repository or court house, in my car, at an exhibition hall of a conference, etc.)

What size object will I be scanning? (4x6 photos, letter-size documents, legal or 14x17 size documents, various size objects, big courthouse books, etc)

How often will I realistically scan? (every day, once a week, once a month, occasionally)

What is the ONE most important criteria I need from a scanner? (convenience of scanning location, light-weight, high quality, versatility, etc)

How much can I afford?

Over the coming week I plan to tackle all these issues and all the individual scanners (at least the ones I am familiar with).

Let me know some of your needs and concerns and I'll try to address them in my posts.


  1. This past winter, I purchased an HP Envy 110 all in one scanner. It's a scanner, printer, copier, and fax machine. It's extremely portable, and it's now become one of the more useful devices I own. It can scan individual photos (into JPEGs), as well as multi-page documents as PDFs. It's not perfect (nothing is), but I really like it and it addresses my needs. I pass this on for what it's worth.

  2. Marion...I recently bought an hp wireless all-in-one Photosmart 7510. It has awesome can email to it, eFax, scan to jpeg, scan pages to pdf, and the scanner will allow you to kick the dpi all the way up to 2400!! Wonderful. NOW...I'd love to find an affordable "large format" scanner for large artwork. If you run across one...let me know.

  3. Barbara Lass GremplerApril 26, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    For my own scanning needs, I use the CanoScan LiDE 600F and a FlipPal. They both fit in my rolling "portable office" that may also include a Canon iP90 (very portable) inkjet printer. I have been taking the scanners to family reunions for several years now and all the cousins, knowing that I'll have the scanners, bring some wonderful family pictures to share.

  4. I would add one thing to the list of questions to ask:
    What options does the scanner driver allow? This is the software that comes with the scanner that you use to change the settings. Some are quite basic, others let you change scanning resolution light characteristics etc.

  5. hi Marian, I wanted to find a scanner which did negatives and slides. I wrote about what I ended up with here
    I've just scanned another 750 slides in the past week and remain happy with the products.