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Microfilm Scanning

"Obtaining good, consistent quality from a microfilm scanner is difficult because they can be operationally complex, film quality and condition may vary, and because they offered minimal enhancement capability. Only a few companies make microfilm scanners, and the lack of competition contributes to the high cost of these devices"

This is now an old misconception.

Today scanning microfilm is as simple as scanning paper or as easy as using a digital camera. If you have a background in digital imaging or photography as well as micrographics the film scanning conversion process will not look at all difficult to implement. True, the average businessperson does not always have this background or feels their knowledge is very limited but do they really need it? What they do need is the information that is stored and preserved on the various microforms that were used, are being used and will continue to be used. There are many film scanning manufacturers today, the costs continue to drop, quality and retrieval speed is increasing, and software developers have realized the market potential.

Image conversion is a basic for information retrieval professionals. Below is a diagram of conversion from and to different medias:

The technology to complete these conversions has been available for over 20 years. Here we will only discuss the one conversion process of scanning microfilm in its various formats and provide a list of current microfilm scanner manufacturers. The equipment to scan images from film and to print images to film allows microfilm to be easily integrated into a Document Life Cycle. IT now has the ability to permanently store vital long-term records. For more information see: Film-Based Imaging in the Document Life Cycle: FAQ's for Best Practices, by William Saffady available from AIIM's bookstore; (www.aiim.org).

Today much more information resides on digital media than on microfilm but the need for long-term preservation creates the need for a simple preservation tool such as microfilm. Microfilm comes in different formats (microforms) and there are machines to capture the images that reside on all these different formats. Digitizing images on roll film, microfiche, aperture cards all have hardware and software solutions. True, difficulty does comes from such film problems such as: Variations in density throughout the microform. Spots on the film caused by dirt, fingerprints, redox and other misuse or improper storage. Skewed images and improper image separation. Varying reductions within the microform. Multiple images within a frame.

But, today each of these examples of film image problems and many others not listed has solutions. Be aware each might add to the expense of the process and yet now the images can be accessed.

If you collection of microforms has many problems and your retrieval requirements are not frequent and ongoing consider farming out the work to an experienced microfilm scanning service bureau. Applications that require infrequent look-ups and little back-file conversion can use 'scan on-demand' hardware and software solutions.

Comparing a microfilm scanner to a digital camera makes sense because both come in 'user friendly' relatively inexpensive models to the very professional 'production' equipment. Manufacturers of microfilm scanners, that we are aware of and have web page specifications, are listed below with their web site after a small photo of their product(s):

Agfa - roll film and fiche.


Canon - roll film and fiche.


EyeCom - roll film and fiche.


Image Processing Technology - fiche.


e-image Data - roll, fiche and aperture cards.


KIP America - aperture cards.


Kodak - roll film, fiche and aperture cards.


Minolta - roll film and fiche.


Mekel - roll film and fiche.

www.mekel.com & www.crowleymicrographics.com



NextScan - roll film and fiche.


OcÚ - aperture card.


ScreenScan - fits to most microfilm readers and reader printers.
"Attach ScreenScan to your microfilm reader (or reader printer) and transform microfilm screen images to superb quality prints in seconds."
www.screenscan.com & www.indususa.com

S-T Imaging - roll, fiche including opaque cards.


Sunrise - roll film, fiche and aperture cards.


Wicks & Wilson - roll, fiche and aperture card.



We do not recommend one scanner over another but do want to assure you today's scanners are easier to operate, are able to produce more enhanced images and have become competitively priced.

John Glover,   john@fyiglover.com  - 707-773-1257.