A scanner takes a picture of a page and then digitizes that image. Film photographers use scanners to rescue old negatives and prints. You can use scanners to gather interesting backgrounds for your image editing projects and even scanning real objects like leaves or flowers.
“All-in-one” inkjet printers include scanners as part of the package. The more-expensive ones allow you to scan in slides and negatives. The all-purpose printers often come bundled with other capabilities as well, such as being able to copy and fax documents. Some include an LCD preview screen, a memory card reader, and the ability to communicate directly with your camera using PictBridge.
A flatbed scanner takes its name from the flat glass platen (or bed) where you place the object to be scanned. It is versatile and can be used to scan flat materials such as photographs and printed pages. Purchase a scanner with an optical scanning resolution of at least 600 dpi so that you can scan detailed images and line art from photographs or other printed originals.
You can have fun scanning three-dimensional objects with your scanner. Because your scanner will place a slight shadow on one side of the object, you'll want to experiment. Scan the object, and if you don't like the effect you've achieved, reposition it on the glass platen and try again.
A transparency or film scanner allows you to scan everything from a 35 mm slide to a 4″ × 5″ transparency. Film scanners generally feature an optical resolution of 1200 dpi or higher. In fact, most affordable transparency scanners scan images at 2700 dpi. That's because the higher resolution is needed to compensate for the small size of the item being scanned.