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What is an APS Film Camera?

Ken Black
Ken Black

An APS film camera is a camera that takes advantage of the Advanced Photo System™ procedure invented by the Eastman Kodak Company, in association with several other photography companies. The point was to introduce a new type of film and camera to the mass market that would be more user-friendly than anything up to that point. In some cases, it was dismissed as a marketing scheme and in others it was praised as a new standard in still photography.

The development began in 1991, but it was not until October of 1995 the new system was announced at a trade show in London, followed by a trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, in February of the next year. The system reached its apex of popularity in the late 1990s, but then found itself floundering as more advanced digital cameras started flooding the marketplace. Kodak marketed the APS film camera under the brand name Advantix®. By the middle part of the first decade of the 21st century, APS film cameras were no longer being manufactured.

Woman holding a disc
Woman holding a disc

The APS film camera works with the film in a number of different ways. First, there is a magnetic strip that can help the photo processor when it comes time to develop them film by providing information such as exposure information, time and date and other things. Second, the APS film camera is designed to take advantage of a smaller film size.

Whereas most film cameras use 35mm film, the APS film camera takes advantage of 24mm film. The other benefit to the camera is its auto load feature, which keeps the user from being required to handle the actual film at all. This was one of the primary advantages the user could see right away between the APS film camera and others.

The idea Kodak had to experiment with image size was nothing new. The company had tried many different sizes of films, continually trying to infuse new life and excitement in an older technology. In the 1970s, they invented 110 film. In the 1980s, the disc film was tried. While these new film types never truly caught on as well as the 35mm film, APS was perceived to be the best reinvention of recreational film photography.

It is quite possible the APS film camera would have been around for a much longer period of time if not for the rise of the digital camera. However, despite the praise, the APS format did have some shortcomings. The film was too small to produce quality images more than four inches by six inches (10cm by 15.25cm). Further, the cost of the film and processing was more expensive, when compared to 35mm film.

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