Flatbed Scanner vs. Slide Scanner – What’s the Difference?

You have probably come across different scanner brands and types over the past few years. However, these scanners have different functions and capabilities, making it difficult for the average user to track. In this guide, we look at the flatbed scanner vs. slide scanner guide. Both scanners have their unique benefits and drawbacks.

Ready to get into it, let’s get started:

What Is A Flatbed Scanner?

It refers to an optical-based scanner, which features a flat surface one can use to scan documents. The scanner works by capturing all detail on the document, and the user doesn’t have to adjust its positions. The high level of detail these scanners can produce makes them ideal for papers, photographs, and other document types.

Unlike traditional scanners, the flatbed type is simple to use. The user only has to place the document on the glass and secure the lid. All flatbed scanner brands also have customized lids, which users can adjust to suit varying document density levels.

The flatbed scanner can also scan print resources such as glass negatives and film. Most brands today also include different features on their printers to suit changing consumer demands. They can have features such as automatic document feeders and wireless functions.

Flatbed printing is also environmentaly friendly and economical than other printing measures of the past. A good example would be solvent based printing, which was synomous with pollution and ink wastage.

A flatbed scanner can scan documents that average at 12 by 18 inches. Users have to place the document on the scanner’s glass platforms. However, expect scanners to print large-sized images to be costlier than traditional and smaller alternatives.

The typical applications of flatbed printers can include the following categories:

  • Retail signage which businesses can use to produce high-quality prints.
  • Event signage can involve creating resources such as flags.
  • On apparel such as shirts for company branding purposes.
  • Printing on ceramic tiles for applications such as interior design.

PRO TIP – Flatbed printers are dynamic and can print on different types of material. The only limit would your unique preferences.


  • Flatbed scanners are famous for providing high-quality images. The scanners can also scan think objects, making them versatile than other alternatives like sheet-fed scanners.
  • There is no risk of document damage during the scanning process because there is no adjustment required.
  • Flatbed scanners can scan different types of document density levels. These can include books, magazines, and various other thick documents.


  • Flatbed scanners are large, which makes them difficult to carry around or fit into modern spaces.

Slide Scanner

A slide scanner is a tool that can scan specialized slides and film negatives. The user has to insert the single slot into the scanner by using a tray. Plus, most high-end slide scanners today can scan slides.

The user can scan photographic film without having to use intermediate printmaking. Using a slide scanner has many benefits over a flatbed scanner. For instance, a slide scanner can scan documents of large sizes. The photographer also has improved control over image aspects such as aspect ratio and cropping functions.

Slide scanners also come alongside specialized software that one can use to improve the quality of images. The software can remove unwanted details such as scratches, colors, and film grain issues.

The average size of the film the scan can accommodate include between 35mm to 120mm slides. The types that can accommodate the 35mm types are low-end scanners, while the high-quality types feature customizable film loaders.

Its function gives users the dynamism to use a platform that can accommodate varying film sizes and packaging. The software that people use to customize pictures is notable for its color correction benefits.

Consider the following functions when buying a film scanner:

  • The average scanning resolution should include the optical and hardware resolution metrics.
  • Dust reduction technologies will reduce the time required to clean and adjust photos after the scanning process.
  • The Dmax is a metric that refers to the optical density and the light amount the scanner can capture in the less dense sections of a film.
  • The color depth refers to the metrics to include when using the image correcting the software.

Image Correction Functions

Dust and scratches are common issues that people face during the scanning process. Due to the small size, scanners can produce better resolutions than those that a flatbed alternative can make. Being able to scan in such high resolutions means that dust and scratching issues can adversely affect image quality.

Even a tiny grain of salt invisible to the naked eye can easily compromise the resolution quality scanners can produce. Therefore, most slide scanners have functions that help correct these issues automatically.

Infrared Cleaning

Infrared cleaning is also another way scanners can correct the quality of images. It occurs through a light source that directs infrared waves to any dust or scratch marks on the image. The scanner features specialized sensors that work alongside the CCD sensor. However, the major limitation of this process is that it only works well with dye images.


  • Slide scanners are available with customized software that can produce high-quality images. The software works to remove scratch or dust marks that exist on these images.
  • Slide scanners are also relatively small in size, which makes them perfect for portability purposes. The average slide scanner can weigh 6.0 LBs or 2.9kg.
  • These scanner types are also relatively maintenance-free, which makes them ideal for longevity and convenience.


  • You need technical experience to use the image correction software correctly.
  • Slide scanners are notorious for scanning high-resolution images and scratch marks.

As you have seen in this flatbed scanner vs. slide scanner guide, both products have different details you have to consider. The flatbed scanner offers ease of use and high-quality images. However, the slide scanner offers excellent image correction benefits and is compact.