A character recognition system has input to an image processor (11) provided by a camera (12). The processor has an input memory (14), a binary converter (17), a binary image memory (18), an object extraction unit (13), a pattern comparator (16), a model data memory (15) and a results memory (15a). The data received is processed by the extraction unit (19) to identify key features given by a histogram module (20) and a marker module (20) that defines the size. The data is compared with the reference data. USE/ADVANTAGE - E.g. for reading vehicle number plates. Provides improved processing and identification speed.