Best 35mm Film Scanners

The 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) camera was once the product of choice for both amateur and professional photographers. Since the turn of this century, advancements in digital imaging technology have rapidly increased and a high percentage of the world’s population now own a digital camera. The gadget of choice in the 21st century is the smart phone – a compact device capable of performing a multitude of tasks, including picture taking. Inevitably, this has contributed to the decline in manufacture of 35mm film stock and analogue cameras. 

In recent years however, there has been a resurgence in 35mm film photography. A younger generation are discovering vintage SLR cameras for the first time, some middle-aged people are re-discovering the nostalgia that comes with analogue photography and a small percentage of photo-enthusiasts never bought into the digital revolution. 

35mm stuff.jpg

Whether a hobbyist or professional photographer, the chances are, you will want to digitise your 35mm film, once it has been processed.

Reasons to digitise 35mm film

  • Inclusion and exposure on social media platforms
  • Showcase an online portfolio
  • Archive your photography collection
  • Share valuable memories with friends & family.

The Plustek OpticPro 8200i SE 35mm film scanner and the Epson Perfection V850 Pro A4 flatbed scanner are two of the best 35mm film scanners available. The Scanner Shop recently tested both of these 35mm film scanners to evaluate their capabilities. 8200i_03.jpg
The Plustek OpticPro 8200i SE is a dedicated 35mm film scanner capable of scanning 35mm negatives and 35mm slides (transparencies). The 8200i SE targets 35mm film users from all professions - amateur photographers, professional photographers - anyone who demands excellent image quality. The main scanning unit is compact and can be easily transported using the included carry case. Initial set-up is straightforward - drivers and software can be downloaded from the Plustek website if your PC does not have a CD drive.

The Plustek comes with two 35mm film holders - one for film strips (up to six exposures) and another for mounted 35mm slides/transparencies (up to four exposures). Once loaded, the film holder can be inserted into the main unit ready for scanning. Although there is a Quick Scan button on the front of the OpticPro 8200i, we would recommend using the SilverFast software, via your PC – this allows for greater control and a more accurate scan. The Plustek OpticPro 8200i SE is arguably the best 35mm scanner currently on the market.

Key Features

  • 35mm film scanner
  • 7200 dpi resolution
  • 48-bit colour depth 
  • Hardware and Software solution for dust and scratch removal 
  • Advanced SilverFast SE Plus 8 software
  • Bundled carry case.

The Epson Perfection V850 Pro is a versatile A4 flatbed scanner that can digitise various film formats and 2D artwork. The V850 Pro flatbed scanner is bundled with numerous adapters allowing 35mm, 120mm, 5 x 4” and 10 x 8” film scans. You can scan up to twelve 35 mm slides using the slide holder (see diagram below) and up to eighteen frames using the using the 35 mm film strip holder. 

V850Pro 35mm transparency.jpg
The transparency unit window is beneath the document mat, inside the scanner cover (see diagram above). This must be removed before scanning film. Once removed and driver/software installation is complete, scanning can begin. In addition to SilverFast scanning software the V850 Pro also incorporates Epson Scan 2 software – with an intuitive user interface and many custom scan functions.

Key Features

  • 6400dpi for slides and film and 4800dpi for photos
  • 48-bit colour depth 
  • Digital ICE Technologies cleans-up old film and photos
  • Slide scanner
  • Film negative scanner
  • Multiple formats - 35mm, 120mm, 5x4", 10x8" 
  • Choice of software – Epson Scan 2 and/or SilverFast.

Comparison Software.jpg
We chose to test the Epson using the Epson Scan 2 software and the Plustek using SilverFast. Scan settings were Full auto mode at 300dpi and the output file in TIFF format. The Epson V850 Pro, batch scanned twelve 35mm colour transparencies in just over eleven minutes*, with the Plustek achieving the same results in 10 minutes*. It is worth noting that with the Epson, you can get on with other tasks whilst batch scanning takes place. With the Plustek, each 35mm film frame needs to be manually moved through the scanner.

Comparison Scans 100.jpg

With auto settings selected, the Epson and Plustek 35mm film scanners both produce sharp, accurate digital scans. The scans from the Plustek 8200i have more contrast and colder hues (green/blue), whereas the Epson V850 Pro produces a softer scan with warm hues (red/magenta) and slightly more detail in the highlighted areas. It is worth noting that SilverFast and EpsonScan2 software settings can be tweaked, prior to scanning. As an example, you could tailor the contrast levels and colour hues in both SilverFast and Epson Scan 2, for bespoke results, depending on your individual preference. With regards to scan quality, we couldn’t separate the two scanners – both produced sharp scans with excellent dynamic range.

Comparison Scans 400.jpg
The Plustek OpticPro 8200i SE is a dedicated scanner that will only scan 35mm film. The Epson Perfection V850 Pro is a flatbed scanner capable of scanning a wide range of media, including A4 artwork. This versatility does make the Epson more expensive but for many the extra cost will be worth it – a busy design studio will need to scan more than just 35mm film.
For the professional or hobbyist photographer specialising in 35mm film, the Plustek OpticPro 8200i SE is the best 35mm film scanner.

For more information about the Plustek OpticPro 8200i SE and the Epson Perfection V850 Pro please view the individual product listing pages or contact us to discuss in more detail.

The Epson Expression 13000XL Pro A3 flatbed scanner also has the ability to scan 35mm film.

Click HERE to compare the attributes of all three 35mm film scanners.

*Timings do not include loading the 35mm mounted transparencies into the film holders.

Published 08/03/2023