Digitizing Your Microfilm, Microfiche, and Aperture Cards

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Microfilm, microfiche, COM fiche, and aperture cards are distinctly different ways to store media, but they do have one thing in common: they’re not easy to use when you want to find information quickly. But information can be easier to access when you digitize your microfilm and microfiche.

Let’s cover the different forms of media storage, collectively known as microform, and how they are converted to digital.

microfilm scanner


Microfilm consists of a series of small images (generally newspapers, books, records, or pictures) that are stored on a film reel. These images can only be seen and read with a microfilm reader, making it difficult to access for research. It comes in different sizes, including 16mm and 35 mm film.

Microfilm, especially older microfilm, is delicate and can be ruined if it is handled too roughly, so it is vital that it is scanned by an expert.

Aperture Cards

Aperture cards are really an extension of microfilm. One aperture card holds a 35 mm. Microfilm chip that is embedded in the card itself. The card is punched and coded with indexing information for the image. Also the image’s metadata may have been placed along the top of the card. Aperture cards are largely used for engineering drawings.

Aperture card conversion requires highly specialized microfilm scanners, especially since there are 16mm and 35 mm images as well as the Hollerith metadata from the punches.


Microfiche is similar to microfilm in its purpose, except that the images are stored on a sheet rather than a reel. Microfiche sheets are typically 4×5 inches and are used to store images.

When microfiche is scanned, it is vital to capture each image on the sheet as every sheet is different and there are so many kinds of microfiche. Some of the different forms are jacketed fiche, computer output microfiche (more on that later), 105mm fiche, step and repeat microfiche, and ultrafiche (oversized).

COM (Computer Output Microfilm) Fiche

COM fiche is microfilm that is generated from a mainframe data stream or print file. Typically, COM fiche is a series of images produced at a 24x or a 48x reduction ratio.

If you have a lot of microform, you are probably well aware that it takes a lot of time to access the information stored within. But if you convert it to digital, you’ll realize a ton of benefits, like easy access and searchability.

Handling and digitizing microform is a delicate process that takes true expertise and experience to carry out well. Datamation has the experience and the technology to take your delicate microfilm and microfiche and make it searchable and easily accessible. All too often, historical records and images stored on microfilm are damaged, which means that valuable information is lost forever.

Contact Datamation to transform your microfiche and microfilm into functional, searchable information today.


This post is part of the Datamation Guide to Digitizing Your Microfilm.