I have a bunch of films I want to scan from, back in the day, holiday photography (i.e., nothing prize winning)

I have also recently taken up black and white film photograph for fun.

So I have been looking at film scanners. There appears to be few no-name 14/22MP scanners on the market.

They appear to be something like a 14MP camera in a housing with a film holder. Sure they are not going to be as good as a proper (say Plustek or Nikon) film scanner.

But I guess what I want to know:

Are they terrible or passably good?

Yes I know that is a bit or an arbitrary grading scale. Ideally I would like to compare the line pair resolving power with that of a pro scanner. However that is a bit of a high ask.

So I am wondering what peoples general experience has been with them, and any wild cards (e.g., good scans but very fiddly to get the film in right or vice versa)


no-name 14/22MP scanner

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Terrible for some people is passably good for others. If you're into Lomography, cheap scanners just add to the fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Oct 25, 2019 at 10:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not good enough if your intent is to scan, then toss the negatives and slides. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25, 2019 at 10:43

3 Answers 3


The major quality-determining components of film scanners are similar to those of camera systems – lenses and sensors. Better components are more expensive. Keep in mind that the "scanners" you're considering are the low-end point-and-shoots of the film scanning world. If that is all you need and expect, you may find them to be more than "passably good".

The problem is most likely to be poor-quality glass. Just as with cameras, high-resolution sensors are more common than high-quality glass. Many "real" film scanners have lenses that are unable to resolve half of what the sensor is capable of recording. It's likely worse with cheap scanners of the type you are considering. So with a 24mp scanner, expect images to have no more than about 6mp of "real" data.


You will be much happier if scanning slides with it than if scanning color negatives.

This inexpensive type will have a tiny compact-camera style sensor and an inexpensive lens (whereas a DSLR camera will have a much larger sensor and maybe a $600 macro lens, which will of course be better).

Hopefully the lens is adequate, but even this inexpensive camera sensor can typically be "good enough" for casual slide copies (and a DSLR sensor and macro lens can be fantastic for slides, with very high resolution), but a real film scanner will be better than either for color negatives.

Scanners have an even much larger sensor, which is a line scanner type of chip, which allows for varying the time exposure of the red, green, blue channel pixels. In that way, this scan exposure (for color negatives), is maybe 3.5x longer for the blue channel and 2.5x for the green channel, both longer than 1x for red. This allows the color correction to remove the negative orange mask, simulating filtering the light with an optical analog filter, which is done with the optical filters for film in professional photo printing labs. This avoids the risk of digital clipping, which can distort color. Just correcting white balance in slides is usually a much easier job than processing the extreme orange mask in negatives. It inverts to deep blue.

There will of course be disagreements about this, because processing the orange mask in color negatives might seem to some to be "good enough" done in software, but then seeing a real film scanner work can easily change your mind. Even a flatbed scanner that scans negative film can do that too.


The results you will get are simply very bad.

Pro-am scanners don’t go below $900 and lately you will have to shell another $200 to get the license that allows the full functionality of the software.

The cheapest used pro scanners, if you find them because they are not manufactured anymore, will set you back a minimum of $5000 and another $1000 for one license of its custom software.

For 100€ you will get what you have paid for... simply do a ratio and realize by yourself what you would get in return for your money.


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