Hi Matt,

I ended up going the DIY route when I couldn't find a rental option that wasn't prohibitive, but for scanning offsite, I have used Microfacs (out of Minneapolis - and the Internet Archive ( - not sure if this is the most recent link). Microfacs was really cheap at the time but it's been several years. The Internet Archive provides more value-added services and the results were stellar. I'd almost rather deal with the noise of the camera than to deal with shipping microfilm anymore but if it's a one-time thing, then sending the material out is probably the most painless route. That's one of the very few advantages of microfiche over microfilm, it's much easier to put through the mail system, though macro photography seems to produce far better results with it than regular scanning. Microfilm reels are highly variable as well, some services charge more if the results mean more work for them, though I think both Microfacs and the Internet Archive honor an upfront rate.


-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Matt Sherman
Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2017 11:42 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Good Tools for Microfilm Scanning

Thanks for the info John, Jim, and Art.

As a follow up to the list, does anyone know of any scanner rental services?  Or a decent service to do the digitization work for a reasonable price?  I need to provide all the options to my boss and sadly this information is a real pain to sort through via web searches.

On Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 12:06 PM, Art Rhyno. <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hi Matt,
> If you are pressed for funds, you can do a lot with a standard camera, 
> a light table, and a macro lens. We have a set of about 15 reels of 
> 19th century local newspapers where the microfilm was produced in the 
> 1950s and they were sent back by a commercial scanner as being 
> "unworkable". There's a sample here [1] of what we can get from the 
> camera, and a video of the process [2]. These papers are still a 
> challenge but I think the camera itself fares well. I borrowed a $600 
> macro lens from a friend to compare it to the much cheaper Raynox 
> macro lens ($60 or so), and I found that it didn't make any 
> difference. For that matter, a $7 magnifying glass did the same thing but it would drive you crazy trying to keep things in focus.
> I suspect a mirrorless camera would be the way to go for high volumes, 
> many cameras have a "preview" function that has slightly less overhead 
> than a regular camera shot, but the mirrors inside cameras are held by 
> fairly flimsy plastic and are probably a weak point. Where this 
> approach might have the greatest advantage is with microfiche, a 
> format that does not tend to respond well to scanning methods. Ping me 
> if you are interested in this kind of setup, it's definitely not 
> something that could be put out for the public to use without a lot of 
> refinement, but you can probably assemble the pieces for less than $1000, excluding a machine to run the process.
> art
> ---
> 1.
> 2.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of 
> Matt Sherman
> Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2017 9:43 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [CODE4LIB] Good Tools for Microfilm Scanning
> Hi all,
> Does anyone on the list have much experience with microfilm scanning?  
> We have some old student newspapers and dissertations that we want to 
> get into a digital format and while I do have a lot of expreience with 
> photos, text, negatives, and large format media, I have not done 
> microfilm. As such I am wondering if there is a good tool or set of 
> tools to use when scanning microfilm? Either tools to scan with a 
> standard bed-scanner or some kind of microfilm scanner?  Any suggestions would be appreciated.
> Matt Sherman