APS and Digital Photography

Both of the latest developments in photography draw on electronic technology. It was almost inevitable that digital photography would emerge in the wake of digital computers and digital sound recording. The key component of a digital camera is a powerful sensor capable of translating the light components of an image into a sufficient number of pixels for it to be reproducible as a continuous image. In 1986, Eastman Kodak developed the first megapixel sensor, with a capacity broadly equivalent to the content of a 13 by 18 cm (5 by 7 inch) photograph. Digital cameras soon followed, with Japanese companies predictably leading the way in making the technology affordable. All digital cameras have the common feature of being filmless, but there are several methods of storing images, including computer floppy disks, removable memory cards, and built-in memory. Eastman Kodak’s PhotoCD pioneered digital technology whereby negatives on film can be scanned and stored digitally on compact disc. The PhotoCD system was introduced in 1990. For the private consumer, the main disadvantage of digital photography is that the quality of output from the typical home printer is far below that of conventional photographic printing.

APS, the Advanced Photo System, was developed by a consortium of five companies—Eastman Kodak and four Japanese companies, Fuji, Nikon, Canon, and Minolta. The APS project began in 1992, and APS cameras and film went on the market in 1996. APS cameras take cartridges of 24 mm film, which incorporates magnetic strips for storing information from sensors about date and time, exposure length, and size settings. Date or message imprinting and normal/panoramic size settings were features already incorporated in some 35 mm cameras; the additional advantages of APS are that the film is thinner and hence the cartridges are slimmer, permitting corresponding slimmer and lighter cameras, and the developed negatives are rewound into the cartridge after printing, so there is less danger of damage through mishandling. A reference set of contact prints is provided to facilitate reordering of prints.