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.


-----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