Types of Scanners

Your Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Scanners

It was very difficult to have a digital version of hard copy documents before scanners were invented. Therefore, it easily made its way into the market after it was introduced.

Scanners are very useful for all businesses since they can make numerous copies of important documents easily. Continue reading to know more about different types of scanners.

Photo Scanners

Flatbed or photo scanners are standard scanners that have been around since scanners were introduced. A picture or any sheet is placed on a glass surface so that it can be scanned.

The parts of the photo that come in contact with optical light are captured in every pixel. The captured pixels are converted and stored as a digital copy.

Photo scanners can be used in anything flat such as documents, photos, and thin books.

Overhead Scanners

Overhead scanners are designed for materials that need to be scanned but are not flat. These have 1 or 2 digital cameras. The materials to be scanned can be about 10 to 12 inches below the cameras.

These overhead digital cameras scan these materials. When something triggers them, the material underneath is scanned and converted into a digital copy in a computer’s hard drive.

Since the materials that need to be scanned are not restricted to flat ones, you can use them for various shapes. This makes it more convenient to scan documents, books, stone carvings, and manuscripts.


ADF or automated document feeders are recommended if a business has volumes of photos or documents to be scanned.

Using photo scanners for this task is exhausting since each photo or sheet has to be placed on the surface, and the lid has to be shut before it can start scanning.

ADFs are designed to make this easier. Instead of laying the document flat, you insert the materials to be copied in the feeder. The scanner extracts these, and the same scanning concept as photo scanners takes place.

One of the main benefits of ADFs is speed. It can be used the same way as photo scanners. However, the size of the document can go over A4 size, unlike photo scanners that are limited to this size.

An ADF has a speed of up to 100 PPM or pages per minute. Photo scanners, on the other hand, have a maximum PPM of 5.

Handheld Scanners

Being portable is what makes handheld scanners stand out from the mentioned scanners. There are businesses that are compact but can do the function of photo scanners for a small number of documents.

Although the process of scanning is the same as other types of scanners, the structure of handheld scanners is different. These can be held easily because they are small rod scanners.

To use these scanners, you just need to suspend them on the material you need to scan. With the button pressed, the document is captured and saved in a dedicated memory card. After scanning, the soft copy in the memory card needs to be copied to finish scanning it.

Similar to photo scanners, handheld scanners can only be used on a flat surface. It is ideal to use to scan several documents that have piled up.

Slides Scanners

The different types of scanners that have been mentioned cannot scan slides or negatives. Even though these are flat, these are transparencies from analog camera reels. Therefore, a different setup is needed for these to be converted to digital copies.

Negatives or slides scanners have compartments where you can insert negatives of various sizes. There are different accessories or compartments depending on the size of the negatives. For slides, they have different compartments where they fit.

After you insert the slides or negatives, both sides of the scanner should emit light for them to be scanned. On one side, there is a bar that emits lights to scan. The opposite side has a light that makes the transparent film bright, which makes the bar scan.

While the negatives are being scanned, the scanner inverts them to make them digitized and ready for printing.

Book Scanners

Though book scanners are overhead scanners, the former is worth noting because of the different ways they operate. That is because it is specially made for books.

There is a V-cradle where the books are placed without the need to split the spine open. The 2 overhead cameras capture every side of the page. Every page is saved depending on the page number of the book.

Utilizing bulk cleaning tools, the saved page images are processed after. Then, a PDF file is created. This is a great way to scan books since there is no need to open the book’s spine. This is the reason why it is called a non-damaging scanner.

Barcode Scanners

QR or barcode scanners have the ability to decipher embedded codes by using the same cameras used from typical scanners. It works in the process called digital image processing. Digital image processing uses digital computers to create images through an algorithm,

Big Format Scanners

If you need to scan large sheets, this is the scanner for you. Architects, civil contractors, map listers, and building constructors are professionals who use big format scanners.

They work with large designs or maps known as blueprints. The sizes of these are more than A4. These large sheets are equally scanned on the scanner.

The scanning process is similar to ADFs. The sheets will be inserted into the feeder of these scanners. Then, the sheets will be sucked in and scanned using the chosen resolution.

The introduction of big format scanners has paved the way for the digitization of blueprints that many constructors and builders use.


Finally, you know more about the different types of scanners available in the market. It can be overwhelming to choose the right scanner.

Nevertheless, after reading this guide, you understand that it all boils down to your scanning needs. Before making a decision, it is best to determine your needs and do your research.

Leave a comment