Magazine article Insight on the News
'Photo System' Comes Close to Perfect Pics
As video cameras become smaller, more versatile and easier to use, consumers increasingly have turned away from traditional photography. Innovations have failed to spark the market. Anyone remember Eastman Kodak's disk camera? How about Japan's stillborn video-still camera?
Now comes a new technology that developers are convinced will forever change the industry. The advanced-photography system, or APS, is not just an innovation, say its advocates, it's a "revolution" that will make 35mm photography obsolete by the turn of the century.
The brainchild of Kodak and the fruit of a joint research-and-development effort involving its fierce competitor Fuji Photo Film and camera manufacturers Minolta, Canon and Nikon, APS is designed to ensure optimum images regardless of common mistakes and miscalculations by amateur photographers.
The system's biggest selling point may be its compactness. The equipment is smaller and lighter. APS cameras generally are 5 to 25 percent smaller than existing versions; some disposable models run about the size of a credit card. A Fuji spokeswoman tells Insight that "dragging a bulky camera around" is one of the main reasons generation Xers aren't snapping pictures.
Likewise, APS film (called "Smart Film" by Fuji and "Advantix" by Kodak) measures 24mm and contains a magnetic strip that records data about lighting, f-stop setting, shutter speed and so on. New photofinishing equipment reads this information and corrects for over-and underexposures within certain ranges as it makes prints. Users also have the option of making three different sizes of pictures on the same roll of film: classic (4-by-6 inches), group (4-by-7) and panoramic (4-by-10).
If a photographer wants to change film in the middle of a roll -- say, switching from a standard ASA 200 to a low-light ASA 400 -- the camera automatically will rewind the film and, when it is reinserted, advance it to its previous position, eliminating waste and the danger of double exposure.
But APS's most significant innovation may be its storage and filing capabilities. Rather than receiving strips of negatives along with processed photographs, photographers receive an index print, much like a contact sheet only smaller, and the original canister of film into which the negatives have been rewound. …