Digitizing Your photos - a guide to photo scanning with a digital cameraThis page contains links to recommended cameras and lenses 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 a great camera for scanning film and prints, although the built-in digitizer is not ready yet. Highly recommended if budget allows. Read my post about the digitizing feature.  $3300 at B&H


Sony a7r II 42 MP is about $2000. This is a great camera for the money, although it does not tether directly to Lightroom. (Brian Smith workaround here.)
Sony a7R III 42 MP-  $3200. Probably won’t provide better camera scans than the II,  but if you are also going to shot regular pictures with the camera, might be a better choice if budget allows.

Nikon D810 36 M36 megapixel camera for scanning photosP is about $2800
Or get a refurbished one for $2200 at B&H.

You can also get  refurbished D800 for $1800. Nearly as good as the D810, but it has the anti-aliasing filter which cuts sharpness a small amount.

The Nikon D750 is one of my favorite cameras of all time. Not as many megapixels (24) as the D800/D810, but a great camera if you are also going to use it as a camera. $1500 at B&H.


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 at B&H.

There are lots of used 60mm micro lenses available, and this is a good place to save a few dollars. Check B&H used inventory here.


Nikon 40mm Macro (DX lens) This is the lens that Nikon DX cameras should use for film scanning Currently on special at B&H for $250


I recently tested a couple Sony lenses on the A7rIII.

The Sony 50mm macro is a very sharp lenses, and the one I would purchase for film and print scanning. It has a bit of pincushion distortion, but was easily fixed in Lightroom or the Sony software. $500 at B&H


I also tested the 90mm macro, which is a more modern lens. It has excellent optics, and a 90mm is a better general use macro. But I found both the working distance and the size of the lens less optimal for 35mm film scanning. $1100 at B&H.


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.

Sony A7R II can also easily found as a used camera. It does not save a lot o money over the current new price however due to recent price drops. The Sony A7R at 36 MP is also a very good option, and can be purchased used for less than $1000. Search B&H inventory here.

Just so you know:

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