Microfilm vs. Microfiche

Difference Between Microfilm And Microfiche


In microfilm, each page of material is automatically microphotographed in order on a roll of film. To see a page, the film is placed in a special viewer and turned to the desired frame by rotating a reel on which the film is wound. The viewer produces an enlarged image that can be printed out. Microfilming of bank transactions began in the 1920s. After the process had been perfected, many companies also began storing records in this format. Once the records are photographed in the proper order, they can never be misfiled or lost—common problems in the filing of ordinary documents. Libraries have found microfilming particularly useful for duplicating the pages of rare and ancient books and manuscripts, dissertations, and reference materials that are used relatively infrequently. Back copies of newspapers, journals, and so on are often recorded on both microfilm and microfiche.


One drawback of microfilm is that the reel must be gone through frame by frame until the desired item is reached. With microfiche, each microphotograph is taken at an even greater reduction, and the frames are arranged in a rectangular pattern. The photographs can be made frame by frame directly on a film of microfiche by a special camera, or strips of microfilm can be mounted in rows to form microfiche. Standard microfiche format is a 10 × 15-cm (4 × 6-in) card onto which pages are reproduced in a 20 to 1 ratio. Greater reductions in size are also used.


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