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Advanced Photo System (APS) Cameras

APS is a new film technology. The traditional film is of width 35mm. APS cameras use a different kind of film. The film contains not only pictures, but much more information, such as the date and time when the photo was shot, and the 'format' of the picture.

A Panoramic View of the French Parliament - Paris

Using an APS camera, the photographer can decide in which format the picture should be captured. Three formats are available.

1. Compact - Generally produces prints of 5" X 4" in size

2. HDTV (High Definition TV) - Produces prints in the same aspect ratio as HDTV (7" X 4")

3. Panoramic - Produces prints in size of 10" X 4"

The photographer can decide for each picture what the format of the picture should be, and set it accordingly. He/she can see the preview of the picture through the camera, as it will appear in print. The format information is recorded on the film, along with the picture. A processing lab, with the equipment capable of reading this information, can decode it, and print pictures accordingly.

In fact, all pictures taken by APS camera are captured in HDTV format only, but this additional information is used to print the pictures in different sizes. The following illustration will make this point clear.

This is how the picture is recorded on the negative. The lines dividing the pictures are symbolic only, and that information is separately recorded elsewhere.
Compact HDTV Panoramic

This is how the picture looks to the photographer's eye, while shooting
Compact HDTV Panoramic

Information is recorded on the film as shown above. As you can see, the whole film is used for each picture, but depending on the format selected, a subset of the picture will be printed. Only in case of HDTV picture, the full frame is printed. However, if needed, a picture in any format can be printed in HDTV format.

The size of the APS film is only 56% of a normal 35mm film. This enables the manufacturers to produce much compact cameras. But to maintain the same quality of pictures, the film manufacturers also had to push their technology harder. Thus, the advent of APS technology has resulted in better quality films.

Unlike a 35 mm film, APS film remains inside the cartige, even after it's developed. This helps in keeping the film safe and easily maintainable condition for years. To enable the user re-printing, an index print is always provided with a developed APS film.

Snow at Jungfraujoch Glacier in Switzerland

The following table lists some important differences between a normal 35 mm film and APS film

35 mm Film APS Film
35 mm in size 56 % of the size of 35 mm film
Film has to be drawn out of cartrige to be processed Film remains inside the cartrige even after processing
No choice of formats is available A choice of formats such as compact, HDTV and panoramic is available
No additional information is stored on the film, other than pictures

A lot of other information, such as date/time & picture format is stored on the film, along with picture

Films are available in 24 and 36 picture negatives

Films are available in 25 and 40 picture negatives

Picture quality is better if enlarged

Picture deteriorates after enlargement, because the negative size is small

Due to the loading procedure, there's a danger of film loading improperly, effectively ruining pictures

The cartrige loading system is 'drop in', making it virtually impossible to go wrong while loading the film








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