About the Advanced Photo System
In late 1991, Canon Inc., Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd., Eastman Kodak
Company, Minolta Co., Ltd., and Nikon Corporation (the "System
Developing Companies") joined in a cooperative research and
development venture to explore the possible technologies for a
new photo system. This venture resulted in the Advanced Photo
System, which was announced to the photofinishing trade at
Photo and Imaging Expo in London, in October 1995, and to the
industry as a whole at the Photo Marketing Association trade show
in Las Vegas in February 1996.
The Advanced Photo System incorporates new technologies that collectively
deliver a photographic system that is robust, user friendly, feature
rich, and delivers pictures of high quality.
Features provided by the Advanced Photo System include:
Film Cartridge Size
15-exposure cartridge: 9.2 g
Advanced Photo System filmstrips are contained entirely within
the film cartridge. A mechanism, inside the all-plastic cartridge,
thrusts the film out from the cartridge and into position within
cameras and other devices that interface with the cartridge. This
feature eliminates the need for the filmstrip leader to extend
from the cartridge as with 35 mm films. The thrust mechanism, in
conjunction with a lighttight door on the cartridge, enables
drop-in loading in apparatus, and permits filmstrips to be removed
from some cameras before being fully exposed and subsequently
reloaded at a later time (mid-roll change). Furthermore, the thrust
mechanism contributes to the Negative Return In Cartridge feature,
which allows the negatives to be returned uncut to the consumer
in the original cartridge.
The Visual Exposure Indicator is a series of four icons located
on one end of the film cartridge which provide the following information
regarding the exposure status of the filmstrip:
The "partially exposed" indicator is useful for consumers
who have cameras designed for mid-roll film changing. Cameras
with this feature provide the flexibility to change film types
and speeds, at any time, at the user's discretion.
The Irreversible Processed Indicator provides a means of automatically
sensing whether or not the filmstrip has previously been processed,
and can be used to prevent accidental re-processing.
In addition to the visual exposure indicator, the cartridge provides
for mechanical and optical detection of previously exposed film
cartridges, thereby preventing double exposure of the film.
Advanced Photo System film is 24 mm wide. The length of the filmstrip
varies, based on the number of exposures, as shown in the table
The Advanced Photo System's image frame size is 16.7 mm x 30.2
mm. This size amply provides acceptable levels of print quality,
while, at the same time, making it possible to design very compact
The above drawing illustrates the image areas of various film
sizes. The scale is approximately two times the actual size and
is used for illustration purposes only. The dimensions are rounded
to the nearest millimeter.
Advanced Photo System film features an environmentally advantaged
polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) base, which is a thinner, stronger
material than bases used with 35 mm films. The film material has
high planar characteristics, which help negatives to lay flat
and resist curling, even after having been wound in tight rolls.
Because of its physical characteristics, the film base is less
likely to be damaged in cameras or photofinishing equipment, thus
improving overall system robustness.
The filmstrip is designed with two perforations per frame. This
enables extremely accurate film metering in cameras and photofinishing
Optical and magnetic encodings on the film give the Advanced Photo
System the ability to capture information starting with the consumer
and carrying through all the elements of the system. This system
feature, called Information Exchange (IX), specifically provides
photofinishers with data that can be used in automatic printing
to improve print quality, identify print formats, and print information
such as date, time, and titles on the back of the photograph.
Like 35 mm film, Advanced Photo System film contains latent image
information recorded during manufacture. This information includes
the film product class number and film specifier, frame number,
filmstrip type, filmstrip ID number, filmstrip length, and information
proprietary to the manufacturer. Additionally, low end cameras
can record latent image information containing the desired print
size (i.e., print aspect ratio) and identify the end on the camera
in which the film cartridge is loaded (i.e., cartridge hand of
A virtually transparent magnetic coating on the film is the central
link in an information chain that connects the consumer, camera,
and photofinisher. Apparatus may use the magnetic coating to record
information, which in turn, can be read and used at a later time.
The recorded data can include photographic exposure information
used to improve the picture quality; date and time, titles, and
personalization data to be printed on the back of photographs;
and order entry data used to specify picture ordering information
such as the number of copies and size of each print.
The magnetic data is recorded on data tracks located along both
edges of the filmstrip as shown in the figure below. Each frame
has two tracks that may be used by the camera, and two that may
be used by photofinishing equipment. Additional storage space
is provided by seven data tracks located on the filmstrip leader.
Generally speaking, the tracks located adjacent to the frames
are used to record information pertaining to that frame, for example,
the date and time the picture is exposed. Information recorded
on the filmstrip leader pertains to all of the exposures. An example
of such information is a filmstrip title that is imprinted on
the back of each picture.
Consumers can determine the proportions of their final prints
on a frame-by-frame basis by selecting one of three different
aspect ratios when taking a picture. Prior to exposing each picture,
the camera can be set to C-type (classic 2:3), H-type (HDTV 9:16),
or P-type (panoramic 1:3) aspect ratios, based on the preferred
The overall image size (30.2 mm x 16.7 mm) on the film remains constant.
(An H-format image is always recorded on the film.) A magnetic
or optical code identifying the desired print aspect ratio is
recorded on the film adjacent to the image. Photographic printers
use these codes to automatically crop and magnify the image to
the desired size.
The three supported print aspect ratios are illustrated in the
The cartridge is designed for drop-in loading. This feature eliminates
film loading and unloading errors by consumers, thereby giving
them the assurance that the film is loaded properly in the camera.
The compact size of the cartridge (smaller than a 35 mm magazine)
and smaller film format, enable manufacturers to design smaller,
more portable cameras, while continuing to offer a full array
of camera features.
An identical machine- and human-readable number is assigned in
the manufacturing process to both the cartridge and filmstrip.
The CID number has nine machine- and six human-readable digits.
The FID has nine machine- and nine human-readable digits.
The CID and FID numbers enable automatic re-matching of the cartridge
and filmstrip in lab operations (see "Negative Return in
Cartridge" below) and also allows consumers to easily retrieve
the correct cartridge when ordering reprints.
The Photofinishing Service Certification Program is intended to
ensure that photofinishers provide the features of the Advanced
Photo System as defined. A consumer recognizable logo assures
consumers that the retailer and/or minilab offers the important
photofinishing services associated with the Advanced Photo System.
The certification requirements pertain to correct print sizes
for the three aspect ratios, enhanced backprinting, print quality
improvement, negatives returned in the original cartridge, and
All three aspect ratio prints (C/H/P) must be supported. Prints
are defined as having a maximum width of 5 inches. (Print widths
greater than 5 inches are considered enlargements and are not
subject to the requirements of the certification.)
The image shall cover the entire print area in the desired aspect
The vertical dimensions of C and H prints shall be the same within
a photofinishing order.
The following table identifies the nominal print sizes for 3.5-inch and 4.0-inch Advanced Photo System pictures.
Photofinishers are required to print the film frame number and
cartridge identification number on the back of each photographic
print. In addition, when the date and time of the exposure and
titles are present, these too must be printed. The photofinisher
may print the date of processing if the date of exposure is not
Although the Advanced Photo System incorporates a negative format
that is smaller than the 35 mm negative format, the print quality
possible from the new system meets consumers' expectations. This
is made possible not only by advancements in film emulsion technologies,
but also by the ability to use scene related data, captured and
recorded magnetically at the time of exposure, in automatic printing
algorithms to improve the quality of the photograph.
Information such as the brightness of the scene, whether or not
the camera flash fired, and whether or not an artificial illuminant
was present can be used in photographic printer color correction
algorithms to provide potentially higher quality photographs (e.g.,
correcting photos containing flash or artificial illumination).
Processed negatives are returned uncut to the consumer in the
original cartridge. This provides the consumer with a convenient
means for storing and handling the negatives. Furthermore, this
feature, in conjunction with the cartridge identification number,
is the foundation for easy retrieval of processed film for print
reorders. With the cartridge ID number and the frame number printed
on the back of every photograph, the consumer no longer needs
to examine negative strips to locate a specific negative for reprints.
An index print contains a small image of each frame exposed on the roll of film, displayed in the same order as the frames appear on the filmstrip. In addition to the images, the index print must contain the film identification number, identify the frame number for each image, and indicate the C, H, or P print size for each image.