Microfilm Must Die!

By Dan Elam posted 01-09-2012 12:02



My good friend Bob Zagami (former AIIM Chairman) took me to task here on the AIIM website for not talking about film when I gave the Industry Predictions for 2012. (http://www.aiim.org/community/blogs/expert/Industry-Predictions-for-2012) It was a criticism repeated in other forums by some of my longtime (by which, I mean “old”) industry friends who also wanted to support microfilm, especially as a preservation strategy.   These antiquarians may be brilliant and have greatly contributed to the success of the entire industry, but they are dead wrong when it comes to microfilm being useful in today’s digital world.

Microfilm Must Die.

The costs are just too great to continue to use microfilm.  Let’s ignore the costs of taking a picture of a piece of paper or taking a digital image and printing to film (an absurd concept in these modern times).

A 16mm roll film costs about $45 including the film and developing.  Each roll can hold about 10,000 images at 40x reduction.  Most film is probably produced at 32x reduction and a little is produced at 42x reduction, especially when the digital images are the source.  That means one million images takes 100 rolls of film, for a cost of about $450.  Each dollar buys 2222 images.

Compare that to digital.  A 2TB external drive costs just $150 at most retail places.  A single GB holds a typical 20,480 images.  So the external 2TB drive holds a little more than 49.4 million images.   Each dollar buys 279,620 images.  For those of you who actually care, that means that microfilm costs a whopping 126 times more than digital storage.

“But Dan, microfilm is the better media for preservation because it can be ready in analog form.”  Oh please.  How much of your life is digital now?  You bank accounts are all digital and it isn’t remotely practical to make an analog backup.  And even if it were, it could take years to rebuild the data.  Analog is dead.  Dead I tell you!  All you are going to do is take the analog images and scan them back to digital.  (At a cost of about $1500 when the cost for digital are zero.)

“Microfilm is safer for long term storage.”  Wait?  Have you ever smelled microfilm that is breaking down the acetone and destroying itself?  Microfilm has to be stored under some pretty exacting conditions for heat and humidity.  Digital storage has its own requirements, but it isn’t as exacting as film.  Digital images need to be backed up from time to time, but the cost differences are so huge that you could make a new digital backup every year and still be orders of magnitude cheaper in the long run.

There is no viable economic reason to produce another roll of microfilm.  This isn’t the first time I have said this and it has ruffled more than a few feathers within the AIIM community, especially for long time members of the association.  While my affection for the “film people” remains undiminished, my support for producing new film is gone.  So if you have a business case for new film, be sure to add your $0.02 below!


Also, don’t forget to join Nick Inglis, AIIM SharePoint Program Manager, and myself on January 26th as we discuss “What Every Records Manager Needs to Know About SharePoint But Was Afraid to Ask!”  Register at:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/221098088


#ROI #microfilm #Records-Management #ScanningandCapture #ElectronicRecordsManagement
1 comment


09-05-2012 05:01

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