What To Know About Getting High-Quality Microfilm Scans

Digital scans are vital to the preservation of historical documents. They offer space-efficient cloud or on-site storage, and they're less susceptible to damage than physical microforms. A digital document library is also easier to search, so users can find the information they need in less time. Fortunately for archivists, scanning technology has evolved — today, it's possible to capture high-quality images with exceptional clarity and richness.

Pixel Count Matters

When you're scanning microfilm, the pixel count — the number of pixels in a digital image — is an important consideration. More pixels create better clarity and finer detail, which leads to higher-quality images. Scans with a lower pixel count tend to be grainy and less defined, reducing the overall quality.

Microfilm scanners equipped with 26-megapixel cameras are the gold standard. Images scanned at this size are typically crisp and well-defined, so you can see every detail of the document. By contrast, a scanner with a lower-megapixel camera will produce lower-quality images.

It's helpful to think of a pixel as a tiny piece of a scan; each one consists of one color. If you divide an image into 100 single-colored parts, it will look blurry and blocky. Divide it into 100,000 parts, and you'll see finer features, sharper lines, and more complex color transitions. Since the images on microfilm are small by nature, a scanner with a high pixel count is critical for clarity.

That's where e-ImageData scanners come in — our 26 MP cameras mean every scan contains 26 million pixels. When you're working with complex archival documents, these large, highly detailed images make it easier to appreciate minuscule features. Even when you increase the size, you'll be able to read small print and see photos clearly.

How Low Magnification Improves Readability and Richness

Magnification, or the way a microfilm scanner enlarges the image, is another factor that affects quality and readability. It's easy to assume higher magnification leads to better images, but the opposite is true. Low-magnification scanners enlarge images without sacrificing resolution (number of pixels per inch), so they remain clear and easy to see.

Magnification is closely connected to the way your scanner zooms. With optical zoom, the camera adjusts the components of the lens to change the focal length and field of view. The pixel count of the final image stays the same, ensuring consistent clarity.

If you're digitizing photos and historical records, this low-magnification process is essential. It ensures that when a user zooms in on newspaper ads or handwritten captions, they can read every letter. High-resolution images preserve finer details such as marginalia, provenance marks, and physical document properties for future study.

Low magnification also enhances the richness of each image. The colors are deeper and more accurate, and the contrast is more defined. Whether you're scanning an image of a painting or a vintage photograph, these elements create a better archival record.

In general, microfilm scanners with wide optical zoom ranges provide better readability and richness. The lens adapts easily to different microforms, capturing high-resolution scans of 16-millimeter roll film, micro-opaques, and everything in between.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you'll find scanners with high magnification and digital zoom. These models effectively crop the image into a smaller piece and enlarge it. Since this magnified piece consists of fewer pixels than the original, it has less detail. As you zoom in further, the image begins to look blurry and hard to read. In most archival settings, a low-magnification model is the preferred option.

How To Pick the Right Scanner

As you're evaluating microfilm scanners, keep an eye out for a few key factors:

  • Media compatibility: Look for scanners that accept a range of media formats. They enable you to digitize a variety of records using a single machine, which increases speed and efficiency.
  • Technical specs: To achieve the best image quality, choose the highest camera resolution and optical zoom range that your budget allows.
  • Media handling and throughput: Examine how the scanner handles different media formats. Is it easy to feed, position, and remove? If you're digitizing a large collection, models with automatic scanning support can increase throughput.
  • Hardware and software integration: Test the user interface to ensure it's intuitive and user-friendly. Ensure the software integrates seamlessly with the hardware to create a smooth, hassle-free experience. Features such as film-selection wizards and image enhancement technology can help you achieve better scans on the first try.
  • Operational requirements: Your scanner should meet the needs of your institution. For a high scan volume, reliability is key. If you're scanning in an office or library reading room, a quiet model can reduce disruption.

The ScanPro microfilm scanner line offers state-of-the-art features for historians, archivists, researchers, and librarians. Each model is engineered for reliability, with smooth ball bearings, heavy-duty steel, and powerful yet quiet motors. Whether you're processing two documents or 200, ScanPro produces consistent quality from the first scan to the last.

ScanPro features include:

  • Large image sensor
  • 26-megapixel camera
  • 5x to 105x optical zoom
  • Precise micro-positioning
  • Continual image focus technology
  • Spot editing and auto adjustments
  • Word search in live scans and PDF conversions
  • Intuitive computer application
  • Built-in help function

By streamlining the scanning process, ScanPro models enable you to create high-quality images quickly and efficiently. The sophisticated processing technology captures a clear image on the first try — no need to fix errors or redo scans. Some models come with automatic scanning functions and multimedia support to save time on high-volume projects. Over the long term, ScanPro's reliability, accuracy, and high throughput reduce costs and maximize value.

Don’t Sacrifice Image Quality

High-quality microfilm scans are critical for digitizing, preserving, and studying a wide range of historical records. The scanner determines clarity and detail — models with high-megapixel cameras, low magnification, and high-tech features capture the best digital images. By investing in a top-notch scanning solution, you can set your institution up for long-term success. Ready to get started? Begin your high-quality scan journey, today.

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