A3 Flatbed Scanners (film & artwork) - What You Need to Know


The choice of A3 flatbed scanners is very limited. There are some viable options within the A3 flatbed scanner category, depending on what you need from your flatbed scanner. Hi-end A3 flatbeds are also available to buy from The Scanner Shop, at the best online prices. In this article we will help to address the technology within flatbed scanners and explain why there is such a difference in price.

Scanning Resolution (dpi)

Whilst resolution is a major factor when choosing a flatbed scanner, it should not be the ultimatum. Resolution is measured in dots-per-inch or dpi.

A standard black and white document for business would only need to be scanned at a maximum of 200dpi, for example. This is because a black and white, 200dpi image would take up very little memory on a PC hard drive. Typically, a business will have thousands of documents to scan and therefore the file size can be lower than a full colour photograph or graphic artwork.

Scanning A3 artwork is more critical, as much detail as possible is critical when trying to reproduce digital reproductions of photographs and drawings. Resolution should be set higher when scanning artworks, particularly when processing colour work for print output. Furthermore, when scanning negative film the resolution of a scanner must be equal to at least 4800 dpi. You can read more about scanning photographic film in our post, Best 35mm Film Scanner.

CCD vs CIS Technology in Scanners

When searching for an A3 flatbed scanner, specifically when scanning artwork, the preferred choice is CCD optical technology.

CIS (contact image sensor) scanning allows for more environmentally friendly scanning*. This is due to the lower power consumption and close contact with the document itself. CIS technology is typically found in sheet-fed scanners or less expensive A3 flatbed scanners, such as the Plustek OpticSlim 1180. This A3 Flatbed scanner is a good option for those wanting to make quick scans, where the final output files are for use on the web or screen presentations (powerpoint) when a resolution of 72dpi-96dpi is acceptable. 

CCD stands for "charged coupled device". Put simply, CCD technology allows for improved lighting, which gives a detailed or colour document greater depth of field and sharpness.

CCD technology is a more expensive option due to the advanced sensors and chips included within the A3 flatbed scanners which can drive the price up. This is especially true when scanners become larger, due to the increased size of the glass flatbed surface area.

To find out more about scanner optical technology, consider reading out post, Optical Scanner Technology - CIS and CCD Sensors Explained.

DMax – Negative Film Scanning

Those looking to capture data from roll film, negative and transparency, should consider choosing a scanner with a DMax value. The majority of A3 flatbed scanners don't include this feature, it is usually reserved for bespoke A3 flatbed scanners or dedicated film scanners.

DMax is a measurement of optical density. It allows the scanner to capture detail in the thinner parts of a film reel – shadows in negatives or highlights in positives.

Available A3 Flatbed Scanners

There is a limited choice of A3 flatbed scanners to choose from. Epson are currently the market leaders and have some truly outstanding A3 flatbeds on offer. A great example of a flatbed scanner which offers all of the features listed above is the Epson Expression 13000XL PRO. This is the premium choice for many in the photographic and design industry. If your business has no need for film scanning, you could look towards the standard Epson Expression 13000XL. Should you find the need to scan film at a later date, you can purchase the Transparency Unit accessory which will upgrade your 13000XL to a 13000XL Pro.

These units also proves very popular with professional scanning companies like ourselves, who scan documents and media on behalf of small business without the budget for such a premium unit. 

A4 flatbed scanners, such as the Epson Perfection V850 is an excellent option, capable of scanning photographs, artwork, 35mm film and 120mm roll film. The V850 Pro will scan 35mm, 120mm and sheet film up to 10"x08". There is also an accessory that enables the user to 'wet scan' film, which increases accuracy further. The Epson V850 Pro A4 flatbed scanner is included in Epson's 'Big Cashback' promotion. Claim £150 on the V850 Pro A4 flatbed. The promotion runs from 16th October 2023 until March 31st 2024.

We also supply the Plustek A320E A3 Flatbed Scanner, which features CCD technology and resolution of 800dpi. Whilst we would not recommend this to seasoned professionals, it is a good starting point for those looking to begin their artistic careers or hobbies. This unit is in very high demand and regularly sells out. To pre-order and join our waiting list please Contact Us.

For more news and articles around document scanning and document management, please see our blog pages.

First published on 15/10/2021

* Since publication, A3 and A4 flatbed scanners incorporating CCD optical technology have become much more environmentally friendly. Epson, for instance, have introduced ReadyScan technology into many of their flatbed scanners. ReadyScan utilises an LED light source which rapidly increases scanner start up time and reduces energy consumption. Find out more about the technology in our blog post, Epson LED Flatbed Scanner Technology.