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Advantages of Negative Scanning

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Having your negatives, slide or photos digitised can bring a range of advantages with it. 

Negative, slide and photo scanning is one of the bespoke services we offer here at Pearl Scan. In this post, we'll take a look at how you can benefit from scanning your old negatives before it's too late.

Protecting Your Slides, Negatives and Photographs

Like anything stored in hard copy form, it is easy for them to get damaged, lost or stolen. Even the most protected box or filing cabinet can be susceptible to water damage or loss of quality. Over time, photographs can fade too just like our memories of the events they contain. Fortunately, photo scanning is a service available to tackle this very problem. Digital copies cannot be damaged in the way that hard copies can and files can be code encrypted and password protected to avoid theft.

Saving Memories

Photographs hold the memories of our and many other's pasts. Whether they remind us of those we've lost or reconnect us with old friends, they are important so we must find a way to future proof them for future viewing. Photo scanning does just that. By digitising the slides, negatives and photos you can also create slideshows or just store them safely on a hard drive.

Restoring History

Before the days of digital cameras, photos of historical events were taken on cameras where the negatives were then developed and the photos stored. Negative scanning provides the opportunity to recover photos which may have been previously lost. An example of the restoration of historical photographs can be found in one of our previous articles, when Ryder Cup photos from years ago were digitised and made available online for anyone in the world to view. Which brings me onto my next point.

Easier to Share

In hard copy, it is difficult to share photos with the people you want to. You will usually have to be with those people for them to view them. With negative, slides and photo scanning, you will receive a digital copy of your photos in your preferred format. You can then share them with other people via email, social media or on a company website. This also means that people can view them anywhere in the world, at any time.

Easier to Find

When you get digitised versions of your photos through negative, slide and photo scanning, they can be kept in one file and indexed correctly so that all you have to do is a quick search, by date or title, to find the photo you need. So no more searching through piles of albums or boxes to find that one picture to show your relatives.

Improving Your Images

Once you have fully digitised copies of your photos, they can be edited and the quality can be improved to give you better copies. This advantage is particularly useful if the photo wasn't exactly how you wanted it in its hard copy form. On old cameras, there was never the option to delete a photo and take it again. As a result, we often find ourselves with slightly blurry pictures, things blocking the view or darker photos than you intended. The editing of digitised photos enables you to get the photos to the quality you want them.

As you can see, scanning negatives, scanning photos or scanning slides brings many disadvantages and much more besides the ones listed. While a flatbed desktop scanner may be sufficient for small quantities of photos to be scanned, for larger quantities or for negative and slide scanning, it is more cost and time efficient to outsource to scanning services.

Here at Pearl Scan, we offer a bespoke photo, negative and slide scanning service. If you would like to learn more about how our negative scanning service (which involves the scanning of slides or photos too) can help you or your company, get in touch today. For a free, no obligation quote for your scanning project fill out our online form by following the relevant links below.

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Document Scanning by Pearl Scan

The Scan-do Peopletm

For more information feel free to give us a call: 
Nationwide: 0845 22 55 923         London: 0207 183 1885
Manchester: 0161 832 7991         Birmingham: 0121 285 1900

All You Need To Know About Microfiche/Film Scanning

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Over the past decade or so, the world's focus has been on making everything smaller, more compact and easier to store, from phones and tablets to TVs and music players. A lot of these items also do multiple jobs and the same goes for document storage.

These days when we store documents we typically do this digitally and store them either on our computer hard drive or on an external device which offers more room. These devices are usually only the size of your hand. Long before this however, documents were being stored on microfiche / microfilm which were also about the size of your hand. They were ahead of their time in some senses.

A brief history of microfiche / microfilm

Microfiche and microfilm were even more ahead of their time than most people realise, especially document storage on microfiche has been around since the mid-19th century and the birth of photography itself. However, it came to more prominence in the 1920s and 1930s when the Library of Congress micro-graphed around 3 million pages from books in the British Library. Though microfiche and microfilm are still used spuriously, they are now all but obsolete due to digital conversion and a lack of support for the machines that view them.

Differences between microfiche and microfilm

Both microfiche and microfilm contain negative films but microfiche contain them in a sleeve of either 16mm, 35mm or a combination of both. Microfilm are contained in a film reel which can store considerably more images.

Choosing the right type of Microfiche / Microfilm

The above examples are fairly typical of the different varieties of microfiche and microfilm that are out there but, if you're interested in having them digitised, it's important to know which type you have. Converting a COM fiche can cost significantly different compared to converting a 16mm microfilm or an aperture card.

Types of Microfiche and Microfilm

Though there are only a few varieties of microfiche and microfilm it can be fairly easy to get them mixed up. Below is a brief explanation of each of the microfiche varieties so you can see which type(s), you have:

16mm-microfiche-300x22516mm Microfiche
One of the more common microfiche is the 16mm microfiche. They can hold over 60 images, all captured on small negative film. Details of what is on the microfiche can be found on its jacket, usually with a reference number.

What is contained on 16mm microfiche? 16mm microfiche can hold general documents between the paper sizes of A5 and A3. These can be financial files, manuals or anything of that paper size.

35mm-microfiche-300x22535mm Microfiche
35mm microfiche has more specific uses than 16mm microfiche. Holding a maximum of 6 images per sleeve, they contain larger format images usually things like architect drawings etc.

What is contained on 35mm microfiche? As mentioned 35mm microfiche is known to primarily hold architects drawings but has also been known to hold broadsheet newspapers and anything above A3 in size.

Combi-Fiche-300x225Combi Microfiche
Combi microfiche are much rarer and hold a mixture (as the 'combi' suggests) of 16mm and 35mm microfiche. They can usually hold three 35mm microfiche and two-three rows of 16mm but are the same size as both microfiche types.

What is contained on combi microfiche? A mixture of both large format things like drawings and plans plus A4 documentation to go with them.

Com-Fiche-300x225COM Microfiche
COM microfiche are even rarer that 16mm, 35mm and combi microfiche. They can hold considerably more images with each sleeve containing around 270 images.

What is contained on COM microfiche? COMs are typically used in a corporate environment to store and archive mainframe or computer generated reports and data.

microfilm-16mm-300x18316mm Microfilm
The most common microfilm to be found is the 16mm microfilm. This format holds more than 2,400 images of around A4 in size and more than 10,000 A5 sized images. This makes them perfect for archiving and storing a considerable amount of paper documents.

What is contained on 16mm microfilm? Typically A4 documents but also smaller documents.

microfilm-35mm-300x18335mm Microfilm
To store and view large amounts of large format images, 35mm microfilm was the preferred form. They can hold more than 600 large format drawings or plans and upwards of 800 broadsheet newspaper pages.

What is contained on 35mm microfilm? Usually large format drawings but anything above A3 in size typically.

aperture-card-175x300Aperture Cards
We're not trying to fool you here, we know aperture cards are not technically part of either the microfiche or microfilm family but they are very similar because they store a large image in a small enclosure. In this case, they contain one large format 35mm image in a card or sometimes plastic enclosure.

What is contained on an aperture card? They are almost exclusively large format drawings and plans.

What to expect from having your fiche / film scanned

Microfiche and microfilm were originally brought about from a need to get an exact copy of the original document which can be viewed at any time and yet stored in a smaller, more compact and convenient fashion. However, their purpose is now redundant due to the introduction of scanning and digitisation.

When the microfiche or microfilm are scanned they will be duplicated digitally before being converted into your chosen format, whether that be PDF, JPEG or TIFF. Before this full conversion takes place there are a number of other options which can be applied to the digital image.


Documents can be indexed by a range of data including reference number and name which can be found on the microfiche sleeve or on the film reel. This makes it quick and easy to search and find the document you need.


OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is the process of making your document fully text-searchable. This is especially useful if you want to search for things within the documents themselves rather than just relying on the indexing. The quality of the OCR will always rely on the quality of the original film.

Download our guideMicrofiche-Microfilm-Scanning

For more information on microfilm and microfiche scanning, we have a downloadable guide for you to read through and share with your colleagues so help you get savvy on scanning films.

Here at Pearl Scan, we offer a fully bespoke microfiche and microfilm scanning service so if you would like some more information on the full range of services we offer, get in touch today.

Request a Quote  |   Contact Us   |    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Document Scanning by Pearl Scan

The Scan-do Peopletm

For more information feel free to give us a call: 
Nationwide: 0845 22 55 923         London: 0207 183 1885
Manchester: 0161 832 7991         Birmingham: 0121 285 1900

Why Should My Microfiche Be Digitised?

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So, you once had documents which had to be stored safely but take up as little room as possible. At the time, the obvious solution was to store them on microfiche and microfilm, right? But times have changed and technology has advanced to the point where microforms like those are almost redundant.

Today we're going to take a look at why scanning your microforms to digital format is now the superior solution for cost effective and space saving benefits.


Keeping documents on microfiche and microfilm can incur a range of costs for various reasons.

Colour microfiche

It is extremely expensive to create colour microfiche. Those that decide not to copy colour documents into colour microfiche will have to compromise greatly, especially those that rely on colour pictures etc.


The only way to read what is on a microfiche is through a microfiche reader. Due to the reducing popularity of microfiche, it is getting increasingly difficult to come about microfiche readers, let alone purchase them.


Although microfiche and microfilm take up a great deal less space than their paper copy counterparts, it is still necessary to store them together and safely. With a large amount, the storage costs could build up.

Poor quality photos

As mentioned before, colour microfiche is very expensive. Whether you choose to use colour microfiche or not, the photos printed onto them can often be of very poor quality. If your document relies on its photos, the worst thing you could do is ruin the quality through microfiche.

Lacking in features

Microfiche readers are analogue systems and, as a result, they lack in features such as searching and with each copy, the quality degrades unlike with digital systems. You also cannot edit microfiche.

Easily lost, stolen or misfiled

Regardless of where you keep stored microfiche, there will always be a possibility of loss, theft, damage or misfiling.

Take up space

Not only does storage cost money, there is also the obvious disadvantage of the space it takes up. This space could be better used in more efficient ways.

Microfiche storage did have its advantages in the past but as you can see, they no longer provide the best possible solution in the digital age. So what does?

Microfiche ScanningMicrofiche banner

You can now future proof your microfiche by scanning them to a digital format. Microfiche scanning offers a space saving, cost effective and less time consuming solution. There's even reduced hassle if you outsource your microfiche scanning project to a scanning company such as Pearl Scan, who will take care of the whole process for you. Microfiche scanning offers more advantages too;

- Digitised microfiche only take up digital space, leaving you with more physical office space and no cost for storage.
-Once the microfiche or microfilm have been scanned and fully indexed, they will be easier to find using a simple search of title, date or even content.
- Storing digital documents will be much more secure than hardcopies and files can be encrypted for added security.
- Documents can be accessed from anywhere at any time when the digitised documents are placed into a digital document management system meaning you can work more efficiently with the information on them.

Overall, microfiche scanning is the way forward for any individual or business wanting to reap the extensive benefits. Pearl Scan offer a bespoke microfiche or microfilm scanning service which you can tailor to suit your needs. If you are interested in finding out more information about Microfiche Scanning and the services we offer here at Pearl Scan, get in touch today for a free, no obligation quote for your microfiche scanning project.

Request a Quote  |   Contact Us   |    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Document Scanning by Pearl Scan

The Scan-do Peopletm

For more information feel free to give us a call: 
Nationwide: 0845 22 55 923         London: 0207 183 1885
Manchester: 0161 832 7991         Birmingham: 0121 285 1900

Accreditations and Certifications

Accreditations and certifications

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Why choose us

  • Experience >

    We have over a decade of experience providing scanning services for some of the most reputable companies in the UK including blue chip companies and organisations as well as small businesses and private individuals. Some of our past clients have included NHS, local government, Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Manchester, Aviva, BBC, Sky, Metropolitan Police, Environment Agency and many more.
  • Scalability >

    We have the infrastructure to support small-to-large, quick-to-long term scanning projects and with a capacity to scan 10 million images per month. This scalability provides a great deal of flexibility with the services we offer meaning we can tailor all of our services to suit the needs of each client and we will always try our best to accommodate any request.
  • Audited >

    We are backed up by external quality and security audits. Our operations have been audited and approved by many NHS, Local Authorities, Private blue chip companies and we pride ourselves on the high levels of quality and security we provide to each and every one of our clients.
  • Accreditations >

    We hold a number of ISO accreditations including ISO 9001 (Quality Management System), ISO 27001 (Information Management System) and EMS 14001 (Environment Management System) and Data Protection 1998. We are also a member of the Information and Records Management Society as well as being supporters of Investors in People and a member of The Skills Pledge.
  • Innovation >

    Our scanning bureau is fully equipped with state-of-the-art dedicated scanning hardware catering for a wide range of document types and sizes making us a one-stop service for your scanning and digital conversion cycle. We upgrade our scanners to keep in line with the latest scanning technology and ensure we are providing the best possible scanning service at all times.
  • Security >

    We operate from a custom built scanning bureau focussed on security, safety, confidentiality and scalability. The main building is monitored by Red Care security systems and has 24 hours internal and external CCTV. We are more than happy for you to come and visit our premises so we can show you how safe your documents are with us.
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