Aperture card scanners that are available today fall into one of three categories based on their technical design characteristics.

These categories are commonly referred to as:

  1. Multi-Function Library Scanner – “Camera on a Stick”,
  2. Viewer Scanner – “Screen Scrapers”
  3. Single Purpose Scanner “Factor or Line Scanners”

To achieve the best quality results in microfilm scanning, you will want to consider Factor or Line scanners. When scanning aperture cards which typically contain images of drawings, it is very important to assure usable, readable information. Line scanners are available in configurations for convenience scanning and high production scanning.

Multi-Function Library Scanner or “Camera on a Stick”

Not recommended for large size documents such as drawings! 

mekel-m200-viewscanThe “Camera on a Stick” is a multi-function scanner that can be configured to scan aperture cards, microfiche or roll microfilm. It consists of a light table, film transport, lens system and digital camera. In order to accomplish a scan with this type of device, the appropriate lens is set into its holder and the piece of film, or card, is placed in the film transport and manually positioned under the lens. The image on the film is projected to the camera and a digital image is shot or created. The image is then displayed on a monitor and some minor image quality adjustments can be made using the accompanying software or Photoshop®. The resolution is usually referenced at the film plane or in megapixels of the camera and is acceptable for film of A-size documents, but will fall off quickly in the larger size documents. These scanners are typically used for casual reference viewing in libraries. Results are similar to shooting a picture on a low resolution digital camera and then trying to make large enlargements. The price range for this type of scanner is $6,000 to $11,000. 

Multi-Function Microform Reader/Scanner or “Screen Scraper”

Analog or optical view followed by digital scan

microfilm reader-scannerThe “Screen Scraper” is also a multi-function scanner. Typically its design is based on a microfilm viewer. “Screen Scrapers” come in several different viewing screen sizes with the larger ones appropriate for viewing engineering drawing images on aperture cards. Scanning is carried out by first selecting the appropriate lens, placing film in the film carrier, then positioning the film so that the image is properly positioned under the lens. It may be necessary to refocus the lens at that time for a clearer image. A light is shown through the film and the image is projected through the lens, bounced across several mirrors and then finally projected onto the viewing screen. Some adjustments may be necessary to the film or the viewing optics to get proper presentation of the image on film. When the user is satisfied, they usually press a “Scan” button and a scan bar moves down the screen and captures the projected image. It is then shown on the monitor. If corrections or adjustments to the final image are necessary, they are made and the process is repeated. These scanners are also typically used for casual reference viewing in libraries. The images that are captured should never be enlarged or printed to any larger than a B-size document due to degradation of image quality. This variety of scanner ranges in price from $9,000-$17,000.

Single Purpose Scanner or “Factor or Line Scanner”

Create high quality images of large documents such as engineering drawings

Factor or Line scanners are generally single-purpose scanners that only scan one type of microfilm such as roll film, microfiche or aperture cards. All have similar imaging technology that use a light source, lens, CCD array, and film transport mechanism to move film through the optics. Line scanners also incorporate software algorithms designed around the size of the original documents and use reduction factors to make the microfilm for capturing raw image data. The scanning resolutions referenced are of the original document size and result in highly accurate representations of the original document. Typically, Factor or Line scanners have auto-card feed mechanisms, Hollerith punch interpreters, and software tools for maximizing the image quality. Features that vary include speed, ease of use and selection of tools. Prices range from $8,000 to $40,000 for this category of scanner.

Discuss your requirements and the proper process for archiving your microfilm with one of Tameran’s digital archive and scanning experts today!


An Essential Guide to Choosing the Best Aperture Card Scanner- Use our guide to learn which features are most important to consider before beginning your conversion project.

Tameran offers several models of aperture card scanners. Each offers increasing levels of automation and the highest quality image production. The QuickScan ACS scans one card at a time, is very simple to operate, compact and convenient, yet delivers high quality results. The C-400 makes quick work of scanning a set of aperture cards. The CS750 Scanstation, the ultimate in high production aperture card scanning, makes projects for converting files of aperture cards to digital images fast and easy.  Tameran also offers  aperture card scanning.