Microfilm vs. Microfiche – Similarities & Differences

Microfilm and microfiche are quite similar. They can be compared to siblings from the same family history and traits but are still unique individuals. At one time, microfilm and microfiche were the best choices for backing up critical data, accessing information, and reducing the need for paper file storage. 

These microformats, however, have proven to be obsolete in the age of ever-advancing digital technology. Converting this legacy data to sortable digital files has numerous advantages and is frequently required for businesses and government agencies looking for the best option for microfiche scanning services and microfilm scanning services.

In brief, we’ll cover the fundamentals of microfilm and microfiche, their similarities and differences, and what they are used for.

What is a Microfilm? 

Microfilm is a record-keeping medium of photographs or images of real hard-copy records in a more compact format. It is a backup copy of the record since it allows you to store much more data in a smaller space. 

What is a Microfiche?

Like microfilm, microfiche has fewer images and is presented on tiny sheets. Microfiche comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Document scanning companies offer services for microfiche scanners that can record images from Jacketed, Step, and Repeat, or COM (Computer Output Microfilm). Microfiche scanning is done on 35mm, 16mm, and 70mm film. However, the most popular jacket fiche can carry up to 60 photos.

Microfilm and microfiche image retrieval takes a long time and requires bulky, outdated readers to see. The movie itself is also susceptible to deterioration and loss. There are several advantages to converting this historical material into searchable digital files. 

Nowadays, companies offering document imaging services can scan more than 1 million images weekly, depending on the microfiche cards’ condition. No matter how many microfiches you have, the trained officials with the company will scan them quickly and at the highest quality. 

What differentiates microfilm from microfiche?

  • Microfilm is stored in a roll/reel arrangement similar to a roll of tape. At the same time, microfiche is in a sheet/card format Similar to an index card.
  • Thousands of photos can be stored on microfilm. On the other hand, in comparison to Microfilm, only 1% of the images can be stored on microfiche. 
  • In terms of image for image, microfilm is less expensive to scan, while microfiche scanning is more expensive.
  • Typically, microfilm rolls hold dozens or even hundreds of distinct records. At the same time, each sheet of microfiche contains one record.
  • A microfiche can hold about 100 sheets of paper, whereas a microfilm roll can hold up to 6000 A4 sheets.
  • Although the machinery used to write microfilm and microfiche are completely different, the exposure to technology for converting both types of files may be identical.

What features do microfilm and microfiche have in common?

  • Both microfilm and microfiche should be stored properly in dry,  and humidity-controlled spaces.
  • If handled and kept properly, microfilm and microfiche can endure up to 500 years.
  • Microfilm readers/printers can be used to read both microfilm and microfiche. Additionally, they are “eye-readable” and may be seen without additional equipment; a loupe or magnifying glass will do.
  • You can scan microfilm and microfiche to make them accessible and readable digitally.
  • They both store documents at varying reductions and are micro-graphic products.
  • For document imaging services, microfilm and microfiche have negligible effects on comparable reduction sizes.
  • You can be exposed to both polarities of a negative and positive image for both types of scanning services.
  • When processing film, the fixer, and developer are both very useful for both outcomes.
  • Microfilm and microfiche scanning services are both used in archiving industry

Conclusion about microfilm vs. microfiche

In terms of scanning documents through microfilm and microfiche, each format has its own credibility and ease of adoption of technology based on requirements.

Lastly, the advantage of getting files converted to digital is that it saves time by shortening the time it takes to locate documents. An indexed and discoverable electronic database provides instant access to microfilm and microfiche data.

Additionally, saves money by reducing the amount of time employees spend searching for, printing, and distributing documents. Back up and safeguard critical data against decay, misfiling, and unforeseen disasters that can disrupt business operations.

Improve customer service by being able to quickly and easily locate and share relevant information.


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