Advanced Photo System

About the Advanced Photo System


Introduction:

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:

  • Magnetic information exchange (IX): A virtually transparent magnetic layer coated across the filmstrip that can be used by cameras and other writing devices to record scene related information that, in turn, can be retrieved by photofinishing and post-processing equipment to provide higher quality pictures and other features.
  • Drop-in film cartridge loading,
  • Three different picture formats (Classic, HDTV, and Panoramic aspect ratios),
  • Visual and machine readable indication of the exposure status of the film,
  • Double exposure prevention,
  • A filmstrip thrust mechanism that enables the filmstrip to be contained entirely within the film cartridge,
  • Mid-roll change, which enables the film to be removed before being completely exposed, and subsequently reloaded at a later time in some cameras,
  • Date and time, title, and other user information printed on the backs of photographs,
  • Negatives returned in the original film cartridge, which provides storage of processed film, and
  • A cartridge, smaller than a 35 mm film cassette, which enables smaller and more portable cameras.

Advanced Photo System Features:

Basic Film Cartridge Features

Physical Features (All measurements are approximate.)

Physical Features

Film Cartridge Size
Height: 39 mm
Diameter: 30 mm (longer axis)
21 mm (shorter axis)

Film Cartridge Weight (May vary by film manufacturer)

15-exposure cartridge: 9.2 g
25-exposure cartridge: 10.1 g
40-exposure cartridge: 11.6 g

Thrust Mechanism

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.

Visual Exposure Indicator

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:

Unexposed film
Unexposed film
Partially exposed film
Partially exposed film
Film fully exposed but not processed
Film fully exposed but not processed
Processed film inside cartridge
Processed film inside cartridge

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.

Irreversible Processed Indicator

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.

Double Exposure Prevention

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.

Film Specifications

Filmstrip Size

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 below.

15 exposures 780 mm
25 exposures1090 mm
40 exposures 1570 mm

Negative Image Size

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 cameras.

image areas of various film
sizes

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.

Film Base

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.

Perforations

The filmstrip is designed with two perforations per frame. This enables extremely accurate film metering in cameras and photofinishing equipment.

Information Exchange (IX)

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.

Optical IX

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 load).

Magnetic IX

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.

Location of Data Tracks


Other System Features

Multiple Aspect Ratios on the Same Roll of Film

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 composition.

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 following diagram.

three supported print aspect ratios


Drop-in Loading

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.

Smaller Size

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.

Cartridge (CID) and Filmstrip (FID) Identification Number

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.

Photofinishing Service Certification

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 index prints.

Print Size Requirements for Photofinishing Service Certification

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 ratio.

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.

Nominal
Nominal Print Size
Designation
Aspect Ratio
3.5-Inch
4.0-Inch
C-type
2:3
3.5 x 5
4 x 6
H-type
9:16
3.5 x 6
4 x 7
P-type
1:3
3.5 x 8.5
3.5 x 10.5
4 x 10
4 x 11.5

Enhanced Backprinting

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 available.

Print Quality Improvement

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).

Negative Return in Cartridge

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.

Index Prints

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.