|Scanners have come down tremendously in price in
recent years placing them in the price range of just about everyone.
There are several different kinds of scanners, page scanners, flatbed scanners, hand-held scanners, and special purpose scanners.
For converting photos to needlework, the better choice is a flatbed scanner, with the possible addition of a specialized photo scanner. Flatbed scanners work much like a copy machine where the photo is placed on the glass and the reader passes underneath the glass to scan the picture. Photo scanners are specialized scanners where the picture itself is rolled through the scanner to make the scan.
Scanners where the picture itself moves through some kind of mechanism can sometimes distort the image slightly because of the uneven speed with which the photo is fed through. For needlework purposes this may not make much of a difference, but generally flatbed scanners do a better overall job of scanning.
Converting pictures to cross stitch is a relatively unusual use of a scanner and needs different abilities than most people want. For best results, a scanner should be able to:
It is less important that a scanner be able to scan with 24-, 30-, or 36-bit color. These scanning levels are overkill for converting pictures to graphs. High-end scanners do generally have an advantage, though, in the overall quality of a scan (because they often use a better, different technology to do a scan) and in the durability and reliability of the scanner hardware.
What has become more important as of late, as the quality of even low-end scanners gets better and better, is the software that comes bundled with the scanner. Image editing software that lets you control a picture's contrast, number of colors, and number of bits per pixel helps greatly in preparing an image for the best conversion to a graph.
ZDNet has more information on scanners, including tips on scanning, explanation of scanning basics, and shopping recommendations. There is no telling how long these links will exist, but click here, here, here, here, here or here. (These will open a new browser window.)