What Kind of Microfilm do I Have?

We get a lot of questions from folks who have documents on microform but are not sure exactly what they have. Hopefully this post will clarify things a bit.

Creekside Digital can scan all of the following major types of microform:

  • 16 MM Film

    Rollfilm. As its name implies, rollfilm is a roll or spool of film containing a sequential series of frames. It comes it two widths: 16mm and 35mm. Typically, one finds rollfilm in lengths of 100′ or less.16mm rollfilm is the “typical” film width used for office-sized 8-1/2″ x 11″ / A4 documents. At 24x reduction ratio, it’s possible to fit about 2,500 documents on a 100′ roll of microfilm. One often finds check stubs, time cards, bills and invoices, and similar documents on this type of rollfilm. The frames can be quite small, especially with duplex microfilm (which captures both sides of each original document), so care and quality equipment are required to get sharp images which are true to the original. Sometimes spools of 16mm rollfilm will be enclosed in a square, open plastic frame to allow them to work with a specific microfilm reader / printer — but they will still have the same type of plastic spool and hub shown here.

    35mm Roll Film

    35mm rollfilm is used where larger frames are required due to bigger source documents. It is very popular for newspapers, architectural drawings, and engineering diagrams. Even lighting and quality optics with a wide depth-of-field are required to ensure there is no darkening or bluriness around the edges of the frames. 35mm rollfilm is also the film of choice for archiving older historic documents at a lower reduction ratio so the larger frames can be used to capture the original document at a much higher resolution.

    3M Cartridge

    3M cartridges are essentially 16mm rollfilm in a square, hard plastic case or “cartridge.” Rather than a single square hole in the middle of a plastic spool, 3M cartridges have a metal hub with four smaller, round holes. They often require a special adapter to allow them to be loaded onto a scanner, which not all vendors have (yes — Creekside Digital can work with 3M cartridges). Other than their cartridge format, 3M cartridges are identical to normal 16mm film in terms of what types of documents they’re typically used to store.

    Jacket Microfiche

  • Microfiche. Microfiche comes in several different types:
    Jacket microfiche are strips of 16mm or 35mm film stored in a clear Mylar jacket or envelope. Jackets are typically 4″ x 6″ and can hold up to six strips of film, such that a matrix of images is created. A header strip across the top of the envelope will usually have the fiche’s title and indicate its contents.

    COM Fiche

    COM microfiche is typically used for technical manuals, parts lists, operation handbooks, etc. These are 4″ x 6″ sheets which have small individual frames arranged into a permanent grid pattern. Each sheet will have a header which has a title and describes its contents. COM fiche usually uses a higher reduction ratio (up to 50x or more) and a single sheet can hold up to 300 frames.

    Aperture Card

  • Aperture Cards are punch cards (Hollerith cards) which have a single 35mm microfilm frame mounted in them. Aperture cards are typically used in engineering applications. The actual punch card portion of an aperture card may also contain index information about its image.

The bottom line: Creekside Digital can convert all of the above types of microform into digital images that you can view, email, and print from any PC. Still have questions about what type of film you have? Contact us!

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2 days ago

Creekside Digital

2 million objects digitized! That's pretty cool.TWO MILLIONTH OBJECT DIGITIZED!!!

In June 2016 we let you know our office hit 1 million objects digitized. It took us a little over 3 years to hit that mark. Now, less than 2 years later, we’ve piled on another million and have just hit our TWO MILLIONTH object digitized! We're making progress but we’re still just getting started!

And what object had the honor of being our two-millionth? This beautiful orchid from our ongoing project to digitize Smithsonian Gardens living orchids collection.

This plant, the two-edged Laelia (Laelia anceps) from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras belongs to an unusually hardy family. Species have adapted to compete in crowded landscapes and can withstand harsh environments where few other plants can survive.

In early November, Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead to honor their dead relatives. Grave-sites are elaborately decorated with brightly colored and highly fragrant Laelia anceps orchids ranging in color from pale lavender to white.

In addition to objects digitized at Smithsonian Gardens, the road to this milestone has also included team members and objects from these museums:

- Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History
- Cooper Hewitt
- Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries
- Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
- National Museum of American History
- National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

... with many more to come! Thank you to all museums, object handlers and business partners that made this possible!
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2 million objects digitized!  Thats pretty cool.

2 weeks ago

Creekside Digital

Filming Friday at Smithsonian Gardens with Smithsonian Enterprises. Stay tuned for a new video showing our digitization process of this special living orchid collection! ... See MoreSee Less

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