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SSU ship logo and 'Salem State University' text

Microfilm Reader/Printer Cheat Sheet for Salem State University : Scanning / Copying Using Capture Perfect Software

How to use the microfilm reader/printer.

Preparing to scan your image

Preparing to scan your image:

The microfilm / microfiche lens has a series of dials that are used to fine tune the image before scanning.  Located at the top of the lens housing is a dial that is not attached to the lens.  This dial allows you to switch the  orientation of your image to either portrait or landscape. 

Directly below the fixed orientation dial is blue dial with spokes all around it.  This dial allows you to expand or contract the image on the screen.  If you want a close up of a portion of a page, or want to fit an entire page on one sheet of paper, this is the dial that will give you that control.

The gray dial below the blue dial is for focusing your image.  Make small movements to the left, or to the right until you are satisfied with the clarity and readability of the image. 

Note for ultrafiche: 

If you are scanning ultrafiche, the lens only has the focus dial. 


Images on the screen

When looking at the screen, notice that there are a series of black "brackets" at the top, bottom, and sides of the screen.  These are guides to help you orient your image for the size of paper that you might be printing your scans out on.  Most scanning / printing uses standard 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper sized images.  On the screen the abbreviation LTR is for the 8 1/2 x 11 size, it is short for "letter size".  The LGL abbreviation is for "legal size".  Over time this has become less of an issue, as most likely you will be scanning to save to a flash drive, or saving as a .pdf that can be emailed to yourself, skipping the paper stage entirely.

Any text or image that is on the screen, but outside the brackets, will not be visible in the scan / copy.  It is important to center the information needed within the brackets.  Sometimes (especially in newspapers on microfilm, as most articles are printed in columns) it is impossible to fit the entire image on one page. Find a paragraph indent, or another visible clue at the bottom of first scan, and then make sure that the next scan contains a few lines above that spot.  The idea is not to "cut off" any text between the pages as you continue to scan.

Also note that on this information page from a reel of Life magazine from 1954, some blobs, spots, lines, smudges, etc. This particular roll of microfilm could be over 60 years old itself.  Even if it is a newer reproduction of the original, any flaws that were visible on the original will be visible now.  If a page was ripped and taped back together, that rip and tape will be in your scan.  Also, the film itself can become scratched over time, just from years, or even decades of use. The nature of microform technology is that it is a photograph of the original, just in a more compact storage format. Lightening and darkening images can help to a certain extent.  Aim for readability rather than perfection.

Getting ready to scan

Getting ready to scan:

When you find the item that you want to scan, have the first page ready to go on the microfilm reader screen:  centered within the brackets, and focused. 



Let's look at the settings on the micrfilm / fiche reader. When scanning from microfilm, select  the Microfilm / Ultrafiche light on the left.  The spectrum of darker to lighter shows the selection with a green light. 

Capture Perfect Program

Locate the Capture Perfect icon on the desktop.

File and Scan to Batch

From the File tab, choose Scan to Batch

File Setting / Saving to where?

WE RECOMMEND SAVING YOUR SCANS TO A FLASH DRIVE!  If the computer shuts down and you haven't saved your work to a flash drive, it will NOT be automatically saved on the desktop.  If you must save your scans to the desktop, stop and email them to yourself as an attachment frequently.  Notice below that the image of the cat will be saved to a flash drive, and it is set to be saved as a .pdf. Hit SAVE to move on.

Start Scanning

The screen will now have a Start Scanning box.  Hit the Start Scanning button and your image will scan from the microfilm reader to the desktop. 

Image Scanned

The image of the cat scanned.  For a first scan, this isn't terrible. Don't be alarmed if the first scan is a disaster. 

If you are happy with how your scan looks, go back to the microfilm / fiche reader and advance to the next page that you need, and hit Start Scanning again. Continue until you have scanned everything that you need.

Depending on how your scan looks, now is the time to troubleshoot how to improve it.

Second Scan

Here is a second scan of the same cat with some adjustments: enlarged, a little bit lightened, and better focused. 

Third Scan

Happy with the cat image, now let's get the text more readable.  Using the dials on the lens, changed the orientation, expanded the image to make the text larger and easier to read, and darkened the scan to make the text darker and increase the contrast against the light page.

Stop Scanning

When you are done scanning your information, hit the Stop Scanning button and a white hand will appear to let you know that you have stopped.  Your document is now either saved to your flash drive, or on the desktop. You can now close the Capture Perfect software.

Find your file

Here is the .pdf of the scanning that was just completed. 


Choose the Saving, Printing, Emailing tab above.