5 Best Scanners For Historical Documents: Reviewed & Compared

If you have historical documents that you need to scan then it’s a good idea to find the best scanner for historical documents.

One of the main reasons why it is advisable to scan historical documents is the fact that they are priceless and irreplaceable.

Scanning a historical document will create a digital impression which may last long after the original document is lost.

Furthermore, scanning a digital document will make it easier to share. The best scanners for historical documents selected here should interest both the professional as well as amateur users.

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Why Flatbeds are Better for Historical Documents

When it comes to handling historical documents, a lot of care needs to be taken. Some of the documents are very delicate and even the slightest mishandling can cause irreversible damage.

For this reason, a good scanner that won’t move the document around too much is needed.

With a flatbed Scanner, the document is usually placed on the scanner bed and scanned. The device doesn’t move the document automatically and the chances of damage are reduced. An ADF can cause damage to the paper by moving it around in the scanner.

Also, historical documents come in varying shapes, sized and media. For this reason, an ADF scanner may be unable to handle certain documents that exceed the recommended thickness or dimensions that the device can handle.

flatbed scanner can easily scan a wider range of document types. Using a good flatbed scanner with an ADF for materials like canvass may be inadvisable due to its girth.

On a flatbed scanner, it will be easier as all you’ll need to do is place the canvass on the scanner bed. Additionally, flatbed scanners have higher dpi meaning that they can scan historical documents at higher resolutions.

Related: Flatbed Vs Slide Scanners: Full Breakdown

List of The Best Scanners for Historical Documents

  1. 1
    Canon CanoScan LiDE 400 – A Budget Flatbed Scanner with a Decent 4800 DPI Resolution
  2. 2
    Plustek 1180 – Wide Format Scanner for A3 Size Historical Documents, Blueprints, and Large Designs
  3. 3
    Epson Perfection V600 – A Midrange Flatbed Scanner with Excellent Photo/Document Quality
  4. 4
    CZUR ET16 Plus – An Overhead Scanner with Support for A3 Sized Documents
  5. 5
    Epson Perfection V850 Pro – A Professional Photo Scanner with Dual Lens System

5 Best Scanners For Historical Documents Reviewed

1. Canon CanoScan LiDE 400 – A Budget Flatbed Scanner with a Decent 4800 DPI Resolution

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  • Paper size: 8.27 x 11.69, 8.50 x 11.69

If you are short on budget or if you want a scanner for personal use, then this budget flatbed scanner should come to mind.

Its 4800-dpi scanner resolution lets you scan documents and get very detailed output and the USB Type C connection allows you to use newer devices with the scanner.

As mentioned, the device has a USB Type C connection. This is the single main connection to the scanner and through it, the device is powered and can also transmit the scanned images to other devices.

The 4800-dpi resolution for this scanner gives it an advantage as it allows high-resolution images to be acquired. Basically, with a higher DPI, you can enlarge the image to a higher degree.

On top of that, a higher DPI can give editors more pixels to work. As such, they can edit the most minute of details on scans.

The speed of the device is decent. It takes 8 seconds to scan a letter-sized document while snapshots take as little as 4 seconds. The LiDE 300 is much slower as it can do a letter-sized document in 10 seconds.

Being a flatbed scanner makes this device very convenient for scanning historical documents. Furthermore, its 4800-dpi resolution is appealing.

All in all, if you want to the antique documents for personal use, then as far as budget options go, this is among the best scanners for historical documents.

Dimensions and Weight
  • 7 x 14.5 x 9.9 Inches (HxWxD)
  • 6 Pounds

  • 2. Plustek 1180 – Wide Format Scanner for A3 Size Historical Documents, Blueprints, and Large Designs

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    If you need to find the best scanner for historical documents, especially those that measure up to A3 size, then this device can be a good place to start.

    It is a wide format scanner that can easily handle large documents and blueprints. It is also ideal for historical documents as it is a flatbed scanner and as shown, using a flatbed scanner is a lot less risky than using an ADF scanner.

    The Plustek 1180 has a decent optical resolution which stands at 1200 dpi. This is actually considered low for a flatbed scanner.

    Nevertheless, the 1200 dpi will ensure that the scanned images of the historical documents come out as clear as possible. Plus 1200 DPI for scanning an A3 document which is already enlarged is actually quite suicient.

    The Plustek 1180 is not a very speedy device. It can scan an A3 document at 300 dpi in about 9 seconds when the scan is gray-scale and for colored scans, it takes about 15 seconds. However, the device may perform a lot better with smaller documents.

    The device has limited connectivity options. It has a USB 2.0 port that can be used to connect PCs and transfer documents. There is no inbuilt networking support.

    Dimensions and Weight
  • 2 x 16 x 2.7 Inches
  • 52 Pounds

  • 3. Epson Perfection V600 – A Mid-Range Flatbed Scanner with Excellent Photo/Document Quality

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    Mid-range scanners are great because they offer a much-needed balance between price and performance. So, you get decent performance but you don’t have to break the bank in the process. The Epson Perfection V600 is one such scanner that performs quite well for its price.

    The device has a scanner resolution of 6400 dpi. This lets you take very detailed scans and this is vital to bet the best scanner for historical documents. In comparison, the Epson Perfection V300 has a resolution of 4800 PPI. This puts the V600 at an advantage in terms of output quality.

    The device has a Dmax rating of 3.4. This is a measure of the total amount of detail that a scanner can capture in a film.

    Besides that, a Dmax of 3.4 is considered excellent for capturing the color details of the scans. As such, you can certainly expect very clear and highly detailed output from a rather affordable scanner.

    Being a flatbed scanner, you will find that the device is a lot slower to use when scanning multiple documents. However, if you want detailed and high quality scans of your antique documents, it is a sacrifice your should be willing to make.

    It has scanning speeds that lie within the spectrum for most flatbed scanners. A manual scan of a single slide at 2400 PPI would take between 35 and 36 seconds for a normal scan without any image enhancements.

    Besides that, you should note that this scanner can scan 35mm negative films as well. Therefore, if you have historical photos in negatives, then you can digitize them as well.

    With a USB interface, you can connect the device to a PC and use it to get the scans. A downside of this device is that it is not suitable for large offices that have high volume of scanning.

    However, for specialized task of capturing high details of antique sheets and photos, this is certainly a well priced and one of the best scanners for historical documents.

    Dimensions and Weight
  • 19 x 11 x 4.6 Inches
  • 9 Pounds

  • 4. CZUR ET16 Plus – An Overhead Scanner with Support for A3 Sized Documents

    While taking good quality scans with a high level of detail is a must, the best scanner for historical documents needs to also have the capability to handle large format documents.

    Unlike conventional flatbed scanners, an overhead scanner like the CZUR ET16 uses a camera that lets it scan books and large drawings.

    The device has a 16MP camera sensor and a scan area that measures 11.5 x 16.5 Inches. Furthermore, the camera can produce scans with a resolution of 250 dpi.

    The ET16 Plus comes with extra features like side lighting for scans, a feature that was absent in the previous model, the CZUR ET16. This lets the ET16 plus light up the subject even more for better quality scans.

    The operation of this device needs to be manual as it doesn’t have an ADF. Therefore, a user needs to manually turn the pages or switch the documents if that is the case. No auto-duplexing either.

    Fortunately though, you can operate this scanner using multiple methods. You can press the scan button on the device, use the software, or press the foot pedal.

    The device is capable of scanning multiple pages at once as long as they are on the scan area and it takes about 1.5 seconds to scan an object. Taking this number into consideration, the device can scan at 40 ppm, making it a speedy device.

    This is one of the best overhead scanners for scanning historical documents like books as it uses patented technology to remove the curves on the pages. This can make the scanned pages appear more natural.

    Compared to flatbed scanners, we believe that this is a much easier to use. However, since it is expensive, it may not be cut out for all.

    Dimensions and Weight
  • 4 x 8.7 x 14.8 Inches (HxWxD)
  • 3 Pounds

  • 5. Epson Perfection V850 Pro – A Professional Photo Scanner with Dual Lens System

    Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner
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    Compared with other devices on this list, the Epson Perfection V850 Pro is the best scanner for historical documents when it comes to quality.

    It is a device that is made for professionals or very serious enthusiasts and this can be attributed to the fact that it uses high-end optics technology to produce only the most vivid scans.

    You must note that this is also the most expensive scanner in this list.

    The scanner comes with a dual-lens system whereby one lens has a resolution of 6400 dpi and the other has 4800-dpi resolution. The scanner itself selects the lens to use based on the quality of output needed by the user.

    The crown jewel feature here is that the device has a Dmax rating of 4.0. This is about the highest that the flatbed scanners can go.

    A high Dmax combined with top of the line optic technology makes it certain that you extract details that even your eyes did not perceive originally.

    Also, this is much higher than that of the Epson Perfection V600 which only sports a rating of 3.4. This shows that the V850 Pro can capture a lot more detail.

    Sadly, the device lacks support for wireless connections like WIFI and Bluetooth. However, it does come with USB support which can be used to transfer the scans to your PC.

    For this device, scanning takes about 38 seconds when the slide is scanned at 2400 PPI. A major problem with the device is its color calibration software which is sometimes hard to use.

    Another important feature here is that you can scan all sorts of negative films from 35mm to 120 Medium format and even larger frames.

    Therefore, if you have old photo or film negatives lying around, you can digitize those as well.

    Dimensions and Weight
  • 6 x 12.1 x 19.8 Inches (HxWxD)
  • 14 Pounds 10 Ounces

  • Conclusion

    Here we looked at some of the best scanners for historical documents. You will notice that most of the scanners highlighted here are flatbed scanners and none of them have an ADF.

    This is because for precious historical documents we do not recommend using an ADF that can sometimes get jammed. Besides that, an ADF does not have the DPI nor the dynamic range to do justice to the age old sheets.

    We believe that the overhead scanners can certainly interest you as well. They are easy to use, they are faster, and they can scan a whole array of objects and sheets.