Cameras for use in Camera Scanning

Digitizing Your photos - a guide to photo scanning with a digital cameraThis page contains links to recommended cameras for scanning film and prints as shown in the book Digitizing Your Photos. The books describes a method to rapidly scan photographic prints and negatives using a digital camera.

In the book

Throughout the book, I use a Nikon D800 for principal scanning. I also use a D700 for the setup that is dedicated to scanning slide mounts as a “page.” Many other cameras will work, however.

Choosing a Camera

Many people already own a camera suitable for camera scanning. As I write in Digitizing Your Photos you’ll want at least 20 megapixels and you’ll need a good lens for the camera.

In many cases, the choice of a camera will hinge on what you already own. Even if your camera is not optimal for scanning, you’ll probably want to stay in the same system you’re using so  the cameras, lenses and accessories can be used with each other.

Here are the current megapixel counts for major camera brands, along with approximate costs.

The new Nikon D850 is expected to release on September 7th.  B&H posted a review of the camera 8/28/2017.  For scanning, the newly added feature Negative Digitizer Mode enables in-camera conversion from negative to positive! Read my post about the digitizing feature.   Pre-order  @ $3296.

Sony a7r II 42 MP is about $2700



Nikon D810 36 M36 megapixel camera for scanning photosP is about $2800




50 megapixel canon camera for scanning photosCanon 5DSR 50 MP is about $3700




36 megapixel Pentax camera for scanning photosPentax K-1 36MP is about $1900

Macro Lenses

Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED Lens. This is the current version of the venerable Micro-Nikkor lens. It’s very sharp, has full autofocus, goes to 1:1. About $600.



Pentax Macro lens for making scans of photos


Pentax 50mm f2/8 Macro Autofocus. Good user reviews on B&H, About $315.


Canon 50mm Compact Macro lens with Life Size Adapter. This is only available used. It is typically available from KEH, and sometimes B&H. This is a great choice for a Canon full frame camera on a rail system. $200-$400

Used Cameras

There are also plenty of used and/or older generation cameras that would work well. When shopping for used equipment, you’ll want to look for a few things:

  1. Most important – can you test for a week or so and send the camera back if there is a problem.
  2. See if you can find out the number of “shutter actuations” – the number of pictures taken on the camera. Cameras keep a record of these. Shutter mechanisms can fail after too much use. Ideally you are looking for something in the low 10,000’s.
  3. Ask of the sensor has been cleaned recently. Check for dust or other gunk on the sensor using the methods described in Chapter 6. If there is dust you can’t get rid of, you don’t want the camera.

Check out B&H or KEH Camera for a large selection of used gear.

Here are some options for used cameras.36 megapixel Nikon suitable for scanning photos

Nikon D800 and D800E. $1300-$1600 I’m using a D800, but the D800E should provide some additional sharpness.  Neither of these is available new, but they are plentiful on the used market. These should be a good value for camera scanning.

Just so you know:

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