If you are reading this you are probably thinking of digitizing microfilm.
And this does not mean only microfilm rolls. Some may want to digitize microfiche, others microfilm jackets, or some just want to digitize aperture cards. Reading analog microfilm can be difficult without proper equipment.
That is why this guide provides all the information required for proper microfilm digitization.
Why you should digitize microfilm
As you probably know, in the past, preservation microfilming was used to store archive documents. Federal agencies or government agencies are the main users of this kind of media storage. From land documents, medical documents, to historic newspapers or other archive papers, all have been stored on microfilm or microfiche for long term preservation.
Microfilm requires special microfilm readers to be viewed. You can use an analog microfilm reader or a scanner. Either way you will have to use specialized equipment.
Microfilm digitization is the process in which the film, either on a sheet or on rolls, is transferred into digital images. Therefore, you won’t require microfilm hardware anymore to read your rolls.
Roll film digitization allows you to convert over a million images in a month, which let’s you save time and work at a higher pace.
The process of Digitizing Microfilm
Digitizing microfilm is not difficult, but it’s not easy. For the microfilm conversion, you will need the following items:
- The microfilm roll, microfiche, aperture cards etc you want to digitize
- A digital reader or microfilm scanning equipment
- Microfilm scanning software for image enhancement
- OCR software for the images ( Optional )
- Storage hardware ( or cloud account )
What microfilm can be digitized
There are forms of microfilm available. In fact, you can check our article on types of microfilm. You will learn more about the different kinds of microform currently available on the market.
- 16mm microfilm – The 16mm microfilm is a microform media that is 16mm in height, and has various lengths. It is spooled on a reel.
- 35mm microfilm – This type of microform comes in the same type of form and shape like the 16mm microfilm, except that it has a height of 35mm.
- Microfiche – The material is identical to 16mm or 35mm microfilm except that the image frames are on a sheet, rather than spooled on a reel. Usually, it has a size of 105mm by 148mm.
Technical specifications of our digitising microfilm service
Our microfilm digitising company uses the following standards for the digitization process:
- Scanning Resolution: usually 400dpi, but can also go up to 600dpi on demand
- Color Tones: Bitonal and Grayscale scanning ( there aren’t many color microfilms around )
- File Formats: PDF, TIFF, JPEG,
- Special file formats: PDF/A with OCR, MS Word, XML and CSV
- Image processing: Cropping, Deskew, Contrast and Brightness adaption, Polarity Inversion
Digitizing microfilm cost
Our microfilm digitization price are based on your needs.
The standard price for 16mm microfilm is 0.02 £ per image frame. Usually, a 16mm microfilm roll of 30.5m contains a total of 2000 image frames. So for 1 roll, you should expect to pay around 40£. The price decreases significantly when you have a larger quantity of microfilm rolls.
For 35mm microfilm, the price is around 0.08£ per image. Considering that a standard 35mm microfilm roll contains in average 500 image frames, you can expect a price of 40£ for the digitization. This price is also subject to significant discounts if your volume of rolls is higher.
Microfilm Digitization added value services
We can also offer services after we digitize microfilm. These services enhance the quality of digitized microfilms and deliver a high-quality digital image.
- Image Post Processing – Our Digitising microfilm service is taking frames from microfilms and delivering them in digital format. Sometimes it is important to take each image and correct it. Improve the contrast, adapt the brightness and correct the deskew. It is very important to have a powerful post-processing software, as not all microfilmed images are clear and crisp. This service is great especially for historical documents, which have degraded with time.
- OCR from Microfilm Rolls – Usually, documents on microfilms contain text and numbers. We can digitize the image frames and create readable text from each frame. In this process, we create digital images and send them to our OCR software for conversion. This software recognizes the characters in every image to create a text file.
- Data extraction from microfilm – A microfilm roll contains about 2500 images. Making sense of these images can be difficult. Using special data extraction, we retrieve data from your microfilm rolls and automatically create indexes from your information.
Frequently asked questions about microfilm digitization
- What kind of microfilm can you digitize? Are there limitations to the length of the microfilm roll, tonal values etc.
- Currently, we can digitize microfilm for 16mm rolls and 35mm rolls. We can process roll film with lenghts up to 70m. It does not matter if grayscale or bitonal. Both microfilm and microfiche conversion is possible with our service.
- Can you digitize microfiche ?
- Microfiche scanning and digitization is now possible. Please enquire and we will propose a solution for the microfiche conversion project you have.
- Do I need a special microfilm digitization equipment for 16mm microfilm and one for 35mm microfilm?
- Generally, most models of microfilm digitization equipment will handle both 16mm microfilm and 35mm microfilm. As far as we know, Kodak was the only manufacturer to build a microfilm scanner specifically suited for only one size of microfilm.
- How effective is to outsource the microfilm digitization? How is the digitizing microfilm cost compared to digitizing microfilm at home?
- Well, I guess it all depends on how much you can invest. You are definitely capable to digitize microfilm yourself. But you will need to invest in equipment, software, and also human resources. Go to our post on microfilm digitization services and check if you should outsource or do it yourself.
Head to our video regarding microfilm scanning services and see how we digitize microfilm.