Three Keys for Successful In-House Microfilm Conversion

Published in the Summer 2018 edition of the NIRMA newsletter.

In the last NIRMA newsletter issue, we discussed how you can convert your microfilm collection in-house and the benefits to performing that archiving in your own facility. Today we will show you the three vitally important aspects of in-house conversion — speed, accuracy and image quality. When all three aspects are successful, you have a true digital copy of your essential microfilm archives.

High-Speed Scanning

There are many microfilm scanners on the market that claim to be high-speed, but how is that defined? For some, 100 pages per minute seems fast, but to others, that is merely scratching the surface of the speed that is achievable. True high-speed microfilm conversion scanners are capable of scanning rolls of microfilm anywhere from 150ppm to 2,300ppm. The Eclipse from nextScan has been verified to scan 2,300ppm, the fastest scanner available on the market. That is over 20 times faster than some so-called high-speed scanners. Thought of in another way, you could scan 20 rolls of microfilm for everyone 1 roll on another scanner.

What value is speed without accurate, high-quality scans? Not only is speed critical to a successful conversion program; the ability to ensure that all images were captured and to create impeccable digital scans is essential.

Accuracy and Quality Control

Looking at the empty spool on the scanner, you can see that the roll of film has completed the scanning process. You have successfully converted the entire roll of microfilm to digital, or have you? Without a way to verify that all images were positively identified, the digital copy of your roll of microfilm will be compromised.  Computers are fast but not always perfect. There are a variety of reasons why images can be missed in the scanning process. With nextScan’s NextStar software, a user employs Ribbon Scanning to create a digital copy of the entire roll of microfilm. Utilizing a line scan sensor, nextScan scanners capture every single pixel, scanning the surface of the microfilm from top to bottom and end-to-end. If the software detects any problems with the image or density of the scans, it will notify the operator who can then correct those problems without having to perform a time consuming rescan. The next critical step is to perform a quality control function to ensure all the images on the film have been identified and are ready for export into your new digital archive. NextStar makes this step easy by presenting a simple grid of all the identified images on the roll. Any break in the grid pattern is easy to spot and inspect. If needed, the operator can quickly select the missing image so it is ready for output.

Be aware, there are many microfilm scanners that claim to convert rolls of microfilm at a high speed but do not supply any quality control processes. Without such technology, you cannot be confident that you will have created a complete digital copy. One missing image is simply not worth the risk.

Image Quality

Perhaps the most important part of any microfilm conversion project is to create clear and readable, high-quality images. If the digital copy of the roll of microfilm does not contain all the information in a clear format, the file will be useless. How do you go about creating an identical digital copy of your microfilm archives?

nextScan set out to create the best scanner for microfilm using a line scan camera. To increase the image quality, they developed a unique LED-based light they called Lumitec. LED’s have the unique ability to be turned on and off extremely fast in sub-microsecond intervals, which are indistinguishable to the human eye. With each strobe, the light “freezes” one line of data, which is electronically captured by a line scan camera. High-powered processors take that data and stitch the lines back together digitally, creating a matching “digital ribbon” of microfilm. The combination of the strobing LED illumination and line scan camera guarantees that each pixel/line on the roll of microfilm is sharp and ultimately easy to read.

Before starting your next microfilm conversion project, consider the advanced technology that is available to you from nextScan. Make sure the three important factors — speed, accuracy and image quality — are present in your scanning solution.

nextScan manufactures a wide range of scanners designed for the high-speed conversion of both microfilm, microfiche and aperture cards. For more information on our microfilm conversion scanners, call us at 208-514-4000, email us at and make sure to visit booth #205 at this summer’s Annual Conference!


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