Photo Scanners With Feeders: What to Know Before You Buy

Scan speeds, features, and image quality determines the caliber of your scanning experience.

Memory Lane is a sweet place to visit, but one-by-one scanning to preserve images is a painfully slow process. The pictures you’re scanning may be worth 1,000 words, but “exhausted” is the only one you’ll need by the time you’re done with a big stack of photos. You can solve the problem with a scanner, but what do you look for in today’s sea of options?

If you aren’t sure what you want or need, we’re here to help. The best bet for bulk digitization jobs is a photo scanner with a feeder, but you’ll want to be mindful of quality, scan speed, and a few other factors if you want your scanning to go off without a hitch. Read on for everything else you need to know before you make a scanner-purchasing decision.

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Why choose a photo scanner with a feeder?

A photo scanner with a feeder is suitable for most people because of its speed and (typically) unobtrusive footprint. Scanners come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from mundane boxes to devices that look like desk lamps. They all serve the same purpose — creating a digital image of a physical original — but each form factor is built for a different kind of scanning. A desk lamp design is great for scanning books, but it’s not the best solution for quickly digitizing a stack of Meemaw’s photos from the ‘79 family reunion, for example.

For home use, there are two primary types of scanners to be aware of: flatbed and auto document feeder. While some flatbed scanners will have a feeder, they usually require users to scan documents one at a time via the flatbed. It’s effective, but time-intensive.

Conversely, a photo scanner automatic feeder can digitize batches of documents without much fuss, so you can spend less time hunched over it and more time doing anything else. The reliable ones tend to have exceptionally long lifespans, so you won’t have to worry about it grinding to a halt in the middle of a giant scanning project. They’re also great for processing standard documents, which saves time when tax season rolls around or if you’re making a paperwork-heavy purchase, like a new house.

Did You Know?:The ScanSnap iX1600 features easy one-touch scanning capabilities. Click here to learn more.

Choosing the right photo scanner with a feeder

You’ve decided you want a photo scanner with a feeder, but other considerations should factor into your decision-making. Speed and reliability are obvious perks, so you should go a bit deeper to determine the scanner that will be a good fit. Ask yourself the following questions before shopping:

  • Why do I want a photo scanner?
  • What will I be scanning and how frequently?
  • Where will I store the scanner when it’s not in use?
  • Who will be using the scanner besides me?
  • When will I use it the most throughout the year?

These questions make you think carefully about how you’ll use your scanner. If you run a small business from home, your needs will be radically different from someone who wants to upload an old family photo to Facebook. You’ll likely want a mid-level or high-end scanner to ensure you can scan a large volume of high-quality documents without fear of failed scans.

Did You Know?:PCMagazine described the ScanSnap iX1300 as a “snappy, accurate portable document scanner that's excellent for digitizing documents on the road or wherever space is limited.” Click here to read the full review and learn why it earned an “excellent” 4.0 out of 5 rating.

Additionally, think about the scanner when it’s not in use. If you’re buying a scanner to digitize documents, there’s a good chance that space is already a concern. In that case, you should find something small enough to stow on a shelf, in a closet, or otherwise out of the way.

Further, consider where the photos you scan are going to be stored. You can get high-capacity thumb drives relatively inexpensively these days, but it’s possible to misplace them. You may want to turn to a cloud storage solution, either as a backup or as your primary option, to eliminate the possibility of losing your digitized photos. Some scanners will come with integrated cloud software, which can be a convenient perk for the especially digital-minded.

Finally, consider everyone that will use it. Some people are more tech-savvy than others, so simplicity can go a long way in determining the right solution. Some scanners will require multi-step processes, while others will simply have you load documents into the feeder and tap a button.

What are the ideal specs?

There isn’t necessarily an “ideal” specification for a photo scanner with a feeder tray because everyone uses them differently. As a baseline, a photo scanner with a document feeder can scan around 30-40 pages per minute in black and white. However, there’s a lot of range in that number, and higher-quality scanners can digitize documents faster, even when scanning color.

Larger scanners often have more oomph, and with it can scan and hold more documents. But to reiterate, consider how large of a scanner you can store without it being cumbersome. In many cases, it may be worth sacrificing speed and capacity for a fully portable scanner that slides under a side table or desk.

Last but not least, pay attention to the warranty information and quality of parts. An inexpensive scanner is easy on the wallet, but a better quality scanner will almost always have a longer shelf life and more robust warranty if anything goes wrong.

Our recommendation: ScanSnap scanners

We know you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a photo scanner with a feeder. We pride ourselves on having designed and developed some of the most beloved electronics in the world, including our line of award-winning, easy-to-use, one-touch ScanSnap scanners.

Our ScanSnap line features options for virtually any need, whether you’re digitizing the occasional photo or scanning a month’s worth of client invoices. With easy one-touch scanning and integrated cloud software, the ScanSnap line of scanners has everything you need to declutter your office and save your precious photos.

ScanSnap iX1600 is a versatile, touch-screen scanner built for everyday use. It scans 4"x6" photos in under a second and includes intelligent features such as auto-facial orientation and red-eye reduction. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.