Fstoppers Reviews the Kodak Scanza Digital Film Scanner

Fstoppers Reviews the Kodak Scanza Digital Film Scanner

Shooting film is wonderful. Shooting film can be immeasurably rewarding. However, no matter how fun film is to shoot, there are some tradeoffs in the convenience department. We have to acknowledge that we live in a digital world. Most people need a way to get their analog images into a digital format. 

This usually means either scanning the film with a flatbed scanner or having a lab take care of scanning when they develop the film. For the casual user, scanning at home just isn't efficient. With the Scanza, Kodak may just have the answer. Read on!

What Is It?

The Kodak Scanza is a mini, self-contained film scanner that can be used to scan several small formats of film. It's capable of handling 35mm, 126, 110, Super 8, and 8mm film sizes. Sounds great, but what separates this little guy from its flatbed cousins? Speed and convenience. Previewing and recording of the scan is almost instant! Want to take a quick look at a negative? Just put a strip of film in the carrier (with or without an adapter, depending on the film size), and the preview pops up. From here, you can easily do basic adjustments to the image including color correction and brightness. When you're ready, hit the capture button and you can save the image to an SD card or directly to a computer via USB. That's right, you don't even need a computer!

The negative carriers and adapters are sturdy, but a bit hard to manipulate with gloved fingers.

The Process

Here's the lowdown on the workflow. For my review, I used 35mm film, as I don't shoot the other formats. However, the process would be much the same except for the use of different adapters or carrier.

  1. Select a strip of film. 
  2. Blow off the dust from the film using a rocket blower or similar device. When scanning film by any means, dust is the enemy. Wear gloves so you won't have to worry about fingerprints from your grubby, pizza-stained hands.
  3. Open the carrier and feed the strip of film through the slot at the end, shiny side up. Close the carrier.
  4. Press the power button on the Scanza.
  5. Select your film type and save. You can do this before or after the film is inserted.
  6. Insert film.
  7. Gaze at the glory of your wonderful image on the 3.5" LCD Screen or output to your TV.
  8. Feed the film back and forth to select various images.
  9. Make adjustments.
  10. Scan to SD or Computer.
  11. Go finish pizza.

Now, when you break it down into steps like this, it seems like a lot, but the process is incredibly fast. I could have a piece of film scanned with the Scanza before my preview was done rendering on my Epson V700! I can't overstate how easy it is to use this thing.

Decisions, decisions...

Output options! USB, SD, HDMI...oh my!

Who's It For?

Here's the really important bit: This tool is not for the power user. This cannot compete with professional scanners. Not even close. Ignore the stated scan resolution of 14 or 22 Megapixels. It ain't happening. This will not be a replacement for a professional scanning workflow. You're not going to be banging out high-quality large prints from this scanner. Wait, wait! Come back! Stop running! 

Although this isn't a professional tool, we need to look through the lens of the casual film shooter to find the niche for this product. 

The Scanza is a fun, simple tool that can easily deliver scans fit for 4x6 prints. Period. Don't look for more than that because you'll just be disappointed. When I was testing this scanner, I gravitated not towards my photo shoots, but towards 35mm pictures of my family. It's for getting scans and small prints for sharing. And in this task, the Scanza shines! I've made 4x6 prints on my home printer that are clear, crisp, and took barely any time at all. And that's the key here. It was easy and fast. This scanner takes away the most daunting part of shooting small format film.

Inserting the film is easy-peasy. Use gloves and a rocket blower. Do as I say, not as I do!

Okay, Sounds Good! What's Wrong With It?

Of course, it isn't all puppies and roses. My first complaint would be the price. Although marketed to the casual crowd, at $169.99 the Scanza pushes the limit of what a hobbyist might pay for a tool that only delivers small prints at high quality. At $99, these would fly off the shelf, but of course, there needs to be some profit. Maybe prices will come down. 

The LCD is of a fairly low quality. It does the job for proofing, but the viewing angle is narrow, the colors are a touch off, and the resolution is low. It's usable but doesn't give the best representation of the image you're going to get. 

It can't do medium format! I know, I know, most casual shooters aren't shooting medium format, but if there were a higher end model of this product that handled 120/220 film, I would pick it up in a heartbeat. I'd love to have this level of convenience for shots from my RZ67! 

The carriers and adapters are a bit finicky at times and trying to open them with a gloved hand is a bit burdensome, but nothing that can't be overcome with practice.

Wrapping Up

I wholeheartedly recommend the Scanza for the casual film shooter, or for the pro who wants a quick and easy way to get some scans in for social media or small prints. 

What I Liked

1. Ease of use

2. Speed of use

3. Quality of prints at 4x6

4. You don't need a computer. I can sit in the living room with my family instead of in the office scanning.

5. Fun. I can easily bring over the wife and kids to show them instant previews of the shots without waiting. I can even output to my TV!

What Could Use Work

1. Cumbersome adapters and carriers

2. LCD of lower quality

3. No medium format film supported

4. Resolution is not as great as the box would have you believe. 

5. Price is a bit steep for the scanner's capabilities.

4x6 prints are beautiful. Larger? I wouldn't...

Parting Words

When thinking about purchasing this, I suppose that the biggest compliment that I can give it is that it makes me want to shoot more film. I've never been a fan of 35mm, but now I'm eyeing my camera more and more. For the casual user, there's finally have a fun, easy way to get images digitized that won't make you pull your hair out. That leaves more time to play behind the camera instead of in front of a monitor.

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10 Comments

Hans Rosemond's picture

While the Scanza certainly can produce scans capable of printing larger than 4x6, to a photographer’s eye they would probably be lacking. Small prints are usually meant to be scrutinized up close, and for me prints larger than 4x6 were a bit muddy.

That said, people happily get convenience store prints all the time that I wouldn’t be pleased with. Perhaps for the demographic this is aimed at, a 5x7 or 8x10 would be just fine, quality-wise. Just not for me.

I love the concept of these scanners, I just wish the resolution was a bit better. I don't want to deal with copy stands and light sources. If I could get a nice sensor, and good built in film profiles, I'd gladly pay for one

Hans Rosemond's picture

I agree. I loved the implementation. Now if they just offered a higher end option...

dale clark's picture

Thanks for write up. Good info

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

I think the lack of medium format option is bad also for "casual" shooters if you think about lomography:
- we need to scan medium format film (Diana, Holga, Belair, pinholes and so on)
- we need to scan sprockets! ( https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgmw-NSnL0q )
- we need high Dmax, so we can scan overexposed films (simple cameras don't offer much control in regard of exposure :P)

A review for a scanner with out a sample image of a scan seems strange.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Totally a fair point! I tend to skip pixel peeping when reviewing as it isn’t as important to me as a photographer, especially with film. With this product in particular, for my needs it was more important to discern how the scans translate to prints. I can definitely see that being a sticking point if you’re into that, though. Thanks for the critique!

Tony Tumminello's picture

Do you have a flatbed that's able to scan medium format that you recommend? I'm getting sick of the "camera + macro lens + attempt-to-stitch + attempt-to-color-correct" method that takes forever and with inconsistent results.

I was looking at the Epson v600 recently but reviews show that the software looks like it was released for Windows 95 and that the results aren't as good as the (much pricier) Epson v800. Is there anything in-between those $200 and $700 price points that's worth getting? I feel like I'm missing something really obvious.

Hans Rosemond's picture

I like my V700 a lot. I used to use a v550 and it did the job fine. My only issue with the v550 was that it only had one channel in the holder for 120 film, so you could only do 2 frames of 6x7 at a time. It also can’t do 4x5 if you’re into that. Keep a look out on the Epson website for refurbished v700 and v800s

Tony Tumminello's picture

I had no idea Epson had refurb scanners, I'll have to keep an eye out for them to go into stock! ~$400 for a v700 is a lot more palatable than $700+ for a new v800. Thank you!