The APS film system
-From a photographer's point of view
What does APS mean and who invented it?
APS is an acronym for Advanced Photo System. It was introduced in February
1996, by Canon, Kodak, Fuji Photo Film, Minolta and Nikon.
As far as I know, it was developed mainly by Kodak, but with backing from the
How did they come up with such a great new idea? A new film format?
Well.. It isn't really such a great idea - depends how you see it. Most advanced
amateurs (or prosumers, if you will) are actually far better off sticking
to the 35mm film format.Besides, the idea isn't exactly so very new:
- In 1963, the 126 (instamatic) film was introduced. This was 35mm film
with a cardboard thingie, designed to easily being dropped into the camera
- In 1972, the 110 film was introduced. This was 16mm film with the same caracteristics
as the 126 film
- In 1982, the disc film was introduced. This was film on a disc which rotated
instead of rolled
- In 1992, APS enters the scene
(from the history of Kodak, see sources)
Is you can see, roughly every decade, Kodak coughs up a new and better film
format, aimed at the consumers. With the new film formats, consumers have
to buy new cameras, and invariably, shell out the usually more expensive developing
fees for the new formats.
My tear of sadness: It's been a decade since the APS was launched.. I am sitting
in my chair writing this, shuddering in fear and disgust, about what they come
up with next.
What are the advantages?
Sure, despite my ramblings toward the opposite, the APS format has advantages:
- Ease of film loading - "foolproof
- Three picture formats - Normal, "widescreen" and Panorama
- As the film canister is smaller, cameras can be smaller (try to fit a 35mm
film in an IXUS, for example :)
.. And the disadvantages?
Photographing area - A 35mm# negative is 36mm * 24mm. This means
it has has 8.64 cm2 of recording material. An APS negative, however,
has 30.2 mm * 16.7 mm = 5.04 cm2 of recording material. The difference
is a whopping 58 %! For regular prints, this obviously means little. But if
you ever want to enlarge your prints, then this might be a problem
The different picture formats. A picture taken in panorama is the exact same
size as any other picture, but when the picture is taken, the camera stores
on the film "Print this as a Panorama picture". This is not necessarily
a bad thing. Except: When the picture is printed, the area of the negative that
is used is only 30.2 mm * 9.5 mm. This is just a third of a 35mm negative!
#) it completely defies logic that a negative measuring
36mm * 24mm is called 35mm film, but that's just the way it is..
How about digital?
Let's have a look at this: It's commonly accepted that the maximum data you
can get out of an ISO 100 negative is about 8 Mpx. This would mean that you
can get about 4 Mpx from an APS negative. Considering that digital cameras at
4 Mpx now are commony available, the target group for APS photo equipment
may be starting to drift off into the digital market instead, despite the price
difference between digital and analog equipment
APS is a great invention if you are an amateur photographer who wants to take
pictures on holiday, and who never ever needs their pictures enlarged.
Oh, and by the way.. Don't even think of getting an APS SLR .. That's the
ultimate waste of money - APS is for compact cameras, 35mm (or bigger) is for
Just as a little addition: APS film comes in c-41 (regular negative film),
e6 (slide film) and, recently, a few black and white films were launched.
Dale Labs, FL
and a bit of my own memory