How to Choose the Best Large Format Scanner

A scanner provides you with a way of copying physical images and documents before converting them into digital media. You are not limited to scanning simple text documents, if you choose the best type of scanner, you can also scan photographs, slides and negatives or objects such as fabrics and pressed flowers.

Buying a new scanner is a big investment, so it is important that you take the time to look at several products before making a final decision about which one to buy. When purchasing a scanner, you should consider the type of images or documents you need to scan.

If you are planning to scan artwork, photographs or graphics, it is important that you choose a scanner which has a high dpi resolution in the range of 2400 dpi plus. If you will only be scanning paperwork, the resolution is not so important so you can opt for a lower range of around 600 dpi.

You should also consider the volume of material you need to scan. If you need to scan a large amount number of documents and images on a regular basis, you should look for a scanner which has a duplexing feature. Duplexing allows you to scan both sides of a document or image simultaneously. This function can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to clear your scan pile.

You should also check the connectivity of the scanner. The last thing you want is to discover that you cannot connect the scanner to your laptop or PC without first patching it using various cables and adaptors.

Bit depth is a measure of how much information about color can be stored in a digital image. In the same way, higher dpi creates a better final result; higher bit depth also increases the quality of your scanned images. If you are scanning basic documents, a bit depth of between 24 and 36 is suitable. If you plan to scan artwork or graphics which contain a lot of color, you should look for a scanner with a bit depth of 42 and upwards.

Finally, you should consider the size of the scanner. If you need to transport the scanner from one location to another on a frequent basis, you should choose smaller, lightweight machine. Below is a review of 3 popular flatbed scanners.

Epson WorkForce DS-50000 Flatbed Scanner


  • 600 x 600 dpi
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows XP/2000/Vista operating systems
  • Ultrasonic paper jam detection
  • 16 Bit color depth
  • EPSON Scan and ABBYY FineReader Sprint OCR software
  • 7-inch x 17-inch max scan area
  • Scan to searchable PDF files
  • Scan to cloud
  • 4 line color CCD image sensors
  • USB 2.0 Ports


  • Can scan up to A3 size
  • Supports ISIS, WIA AND TWAIN
  • ReadyScan technology reduces power use and eliminates warm-up time
  • Scan to email and scan to cloud technology
  • High-speed scanning


  • Large Size
  • 15kg weight
  • High Cost
  • Low Resolution

Plustek Optipro A320 Flatbed Scanner


  • 1600 x 1600 dpi
  • TWAIN interface
  • NewSoft Presto and ImageFolio software
  • 48 Bit color depth
  • CCD Image Sensors
  • USB 2.0 ports


  • Easily customized controls
  • 12 by 17-inch scan area
  • Fast scan speeds
  • Low Cost


  • Only compatible with Windows 2000, Vista and XP
  • No automatic document feeder
  • Cannot batch scan
  • Not suitable for scanning photographs

Mustek A3 1200S Desktop Flatbed Scanner


  • 2400 x 2400 dpi
  • OCR and ABBYY FineReader imaging software
  • USB 2.0 connector
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows operating systems
  • Contact Image Sensor
  • Expandable lid
  • 48 Bit Color Depth
  • Auto document feeder


  • High resolution
  • Low weight of 4.3 Kg
  • Can produce A3 sized scans
  • Low Cost
  • Scans documents sized C6 to A3
  • Batch Scan Option


  • The software supplied is limited
  • Confusing DPI controls
  • Lack of ongoing product support


While the Epson WorkForce DS-50000 flatbed scanner offers a range of cool functions such as being able to scan directly to the cloud, it comes with a hefty price tag. This scanner is somewhat limited in the quality of image it can produce due to the relatively low dpi and bit depth, so it isn’t ideal for scanning anything but the most basic documents.

However, this scanner has exceptional speed and is able to scan a color page in just 4 seconds. It’s substantial size, and weight also makes it impractical if you need to relocate it within your work environment.

However, the scanner is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems. It also features an Ultrasonic paper jam detection system, which reduces the chance of paper jams causing issues as you scan.

The Plustek Optipro A320 flatbed scanner offers mid-range dpi and fast scan speeds of 8 seconds per A3 page and the touch buttons on the control panel can be easily customized. However, the major drawback of this machine is that it is only compatible with the Windows operating system, and it is not suited to scanning photographs.

The lack of an auto document feeder also means that you must manually place each document you wish to scan onto the glass. This could quickly become tedious if you need to scan a large number of items at once.

The Mustek A3 1200S Desktop Flatbed Scanner is a very affordable option. It offers an extremely high resolution of 2400 dpi, which means it can handle anything document or image you wish to scan. This scanner is suitable for use with both Windows and Mac operating systems.

The expandable lid allows you to scan large hardback books and other oversized items easily and the batch scan option lets you easily multi-scan various regions of a document. The major drawback with this scanner is the lack of ongoing support from the manufacturer and the image editing software provided with the product is quite limited.

The Mustek’s extremely low weight mean you can easily transport and relocate this scanner around a workplace, making it the best choice of these three options.

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