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Kodak APS (Advanced Photo System)

by Philip Greenspun, 1996


Every ten years or so, Kodak decides that 35mm film is too good for consumers. They do a survey and find that "97% of pictures never get enlarged beyond 4x6". They conclude from this that the enormous 24x36mm swatch of film they've been selling you is excessive. Wouldn't you rather have half the image area? You'll barely notice the reduction in quality in a 4x6 print. And guess what, they'll charge you the same amount of money for film & processing despite the fact that they only have to use half the materials.

Kodak tried it in the 1970s with 110 cartridges. Image quality sucked so consumers rejected it. I've heard that the main reason for the bad quality was the lack of a pressure plate to keep the film flat.

Kodak tried it in the 1980s with the disc camera. They stuck tiny little pieces of film on the ends of plastic arms so that it was easy to rotate up to the next frame. Oh, yes, image quality was abysmal. Consumers rejected it.

My personal theory on what happened is that Kodak hired MBAs to do the surveys instead of photographers. Photographers know that one is lucky to take 10 great photographs a year. Forget 97% 4x6 prints; they'd be happy to throw out 99% of their negatives if they could get one more great picture. This is less true of casual photographers but even they probably have only a handful of images that they want to put up on the wall and look at every day.

The picture at right, part of my New York vignettes is about half of a 35mm Tri-X negative. I've had quite a few requests for enlargements. Had it been taken with a smaller format film, the grain would be the size of baseballs. The owl at left is a big bird. It was a snapshot in a zoo, now part of the infamous Heather Has Two Mommies. I never thought it would be a good image, but it turned out to be. I'm glad that I can enlarge it to 16x20. The owl deserves his wall space.

Half the size of 35mm

An APS negative is 56% the area of a 35mm negative. That's all that a serious photographer really needs to know about the format. Everything else is gadgetry.

If you want to be a little more exact, here are the dimensions of the various APS frames:

  • HDTV: 30.2 x 16.7 mm
  • Classic: 23.4 x 16.7 mm
  • Panoramic: 30.2 x 9.5 mm
  • (for comparison) standard 35mm camera: 36 x 24 mm

Bells & Whistles

Kodak did some cute things with APS that, had they been done with 35mm, would have been very nice. There is an optically clear but magnetically sensitive coating on the back of the APS film. The camera has a magnetic head like what you'd find in a floppy disk drive. It writes digital information on the magnetic coating. There is the obvious stuff like date and time and exposure settings. To help the processor, the use of flash is noted.

Communication with photo labs is expensive and they charge you for it. That's why a 4x6 machine print costs about 20 cents and getting one done at a pro lab, that sometimes won't even be as good, will cost you $20. APS lets you communicate with the photo lab by pushing buttons on the camera at exposure time. You can say "I want this to be panoramic", in which case the lab will print only from the center strip of the negative. You can say "I want this to be fake-zoomed", in which case the lab will print from only the center section of the negative, sort of as though you'd used a longer lens (except that image quality will be much lower because you're throwing away most of what was already a very small negative).

Film handling is better with APS. The cartridge is used to store processed negatives so they can't get dusty. You can use half a roll and then switch to a higher speed emulsion for night-time pictures, then switch back without going through leader-retrieval gymnastics like you'd have to with 35mm.

But they are making better film now

Aside from $millions in PR, the reason APS won't flop like 110 and the disc is that today we have films like Fuji Super G Plus. It really is possible to get an acceptable 8x10 print from a tiny negative. Kodak has even promised and delivered some improved emulsions in the APS format. However, any technology that makes APS film better is just as applicable to 35mm film. Fuji seems to be keeping its 35mm film right up to date with its new APS emulsions.

The Bottom Line

If you are reasonably serious about photography and are willing to be reasonably careful about choosing a lab and storing your negatives, 35mm is a better format. At least your images will have the potential to be great.

And now for a word from my vastly more intelligent friend...

... Kleanthes Koniaris ( kgk@martigny.ai.mit.edu) who already has his Ph.D. (and it isn't in a sissy field like computer science, but rather in physics).

For weeks, I wondered "How can somebody as smart as Greenspun not realize the genius behind the APS system?" Eventually I realized the answer: Greenspun looks at gear through the eyes of a professional, while I look at gear through the eyes of a guy who wants to properly document his vacation. It turns out that we're both correct, and you have to decide what you want.

The main idea behind an APS camera is that it is idiot-proof and it takes fantastic vacation pictures in sizes like 4x6", 4x7", or even 4x12".

Film Canister

There is no leader on the film canister, it is an elliptical prism. You never see your negatives, they also reside inside the canister. Each canister is uniquely identified by a six-digit serial number marked on the outside for humans and magnetically written on the film for the processor. The cartridge also displays one of four icons: unexposed (circle), half-exposed (half-circle), exposed ("x"), and developed (box). Canisters are available with 15, 25 and 40 exposures.

The magnetic surface on the film holds your bits, so be careful to keep it away from things that will erase your credit cards or floppy disks! (My local WalMart always tries to put my developed film on a plate that warns "WILL ERASE YOUR CREDIT CARDS" and I always manage to stop them just in time!) Neither Fuji nor Kodak warns against this hazard, but it would seem to be common sense to avoid magnetic fields.

[Comment received from one of my moles inside the Kodak research labs: "The magnetic particles used in APS file are similar to the particles used in Super VHS tape: They have a coercivity (Hc), i.e., field required to erase them, of about 900 Oersteds, three times the 300 Oersteds coercivity of credit cards and standard bias audio cassettes. Those nasty plates on the checkout counter have fields of around 300 Oe, enough to erase your credit cards and do funny things to audio tapes, but they shouldn't affect APS film. Of course I wouldn't take unnecessary risks, but if you get distracted by the same old photos of Jon Benet or princess Di, you probably won't have anything to worry about."]

Index Prints

Processed APS film comes with 4x7" sheet of index prints showing the roll ID (and bar codes, time stamps, etc). Each index print is numbered so you can say "I want to reprint picture #39 from roll ID850-939."

Prints

Prints come in 4x6" (classical), 4x7" (HDTV) and 4x12" (panoramic). Classical means "crop the sides," while panoramic means "crop the top and bottom." The form-factor is recorded when you take the picture, but you can override your choice when reprinting. WalMart charges me $.25 for each 4x6", and I believe that the price goes up to $.44 for a 4x12".

Printed on the back of each photo is the ID number of the roll, the picture number, the time of exposure (optional), as well as camera-specific printing. For example, my Canon ELPH can print "Happy birthday" (or four other phrases) in one of five languages. This printing is done by the developing machines, which read the magnetic bits off the back of each frame. I'm thinking of setting the camera to write "I love you" on the back of my prints in Japanese. The camera can also write hints to the printing machines (like "I didn't get as much light as I wanted"), so most of your vacation pictures are keepers.

Camera

I bought a Canon ELPH for $295 from B&H Photo. It is tiny, with a sexy black leather case. Girls find it very cute and tiny and always ask where they can get one. The viewfinder automatically masks itselfs to match the mode (classical, HDTV, or panoramic), which is nice, but the viewfinder corners are blurry. The only other thing that I dislike about the camera is that I sometimes press the "on/off" button by accident. This makes the lens extend and stretches the leather case, but hasn't caused the camera to fail.

The LCD display is always on showing you the time. I set the time to Universal Time (UT, also known as GMT), since I don't have to change it when on vacation---I just have to remember what time zone I was in (i.e., where I was!). For example, I'm looking at a picture of a dinosaur taken at the Minnesota Zoo at 5:40pm on 96/6/22, and I believe that Minnesota is -5 from GMT, so the local time was 12:40pm. Easy, huh?

You load/unload the ELPH (like all APS cameras) through a hatch, and I am sure that anybody can do it. My camera cannot do mid-roll swapping, but it will not load exposed film, etc.

Summary

If you want to fill up photo books and send 4"x or 5"x prints to relatives, APS is for you. If you tend to be caught without a camera, APS is for you. Compare my Canon ELPH to Philip's Yashica T4 Super and you will be amazed by the size difference---but mine has a zoom as well!

If you want enormous enlargements to hang on your wall, APS is not for you.

More


Text and pictures copyright 1989-1996 Philip Greenspun

Article created 1996

Readers' Comments


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Robert SIlvers , January 17, 1997; 11:28 P.M.

Comments on Fuji APS film scanner: ---------------------------------- The Fuji film scanner is an automatic device that deals with film handling in a way no 35mm scanner can -- it will scan an entire roll on its own. It has the following problems: It only has a bilinear CCD, meaning one 1024 element array is for green, and one is for blue/red. This has more noise and less color resolution than a trilinear array. You can see this in the images. Quality is low. In fact, scanning from a small print on a flatbed is better than this scanner. The image is low in resolution and has visible noise. If it had more pixels one could scan at a high res and downsample to reduce the noise, but this scanner only captures less than 700,000 pixels. The images are suitable for TV display, and web pages (although the noise will make jpeg compression less efficient and I would not want to use it for *my* web page). I can only recommend this scanner because it is cheap and there are no real alternatives for APS yet except scanning prints.

Thom Hogan , February 03, 1997; 01:07 A.M.

Your take on APS is certainly that of a professional photography "snob." While I doubt I will ever use it for my serious work, I get asked to take photographs for others often enough that I carry a Canon IXY (Elph in the US) with me, take the pictures, pop the cartridge, hand it to them, and let them take care of the rest. For casual photography, even 8x10s are quite nice (assuming you don't use the ISO 400 film).

Correct tools should be used for the correct job. I have three primary photography tools, ranging from APS to 6x6. Any good photographer does the same (albeit they may stick to one format--for awhile I used an Olympus Stylus instead of the Ixy).

William Bell , March 28, 1997; 11:45 A.M.

First, Phillip your comments about the 110 system and the reason for its decline I feel miss a few points. First, the format still sells a fair amount of film, which is amazing considering how long it has been since a high quality 110 has been made is amazing. I shoot 110 to 4x5 and find that for certain things the better 110 cameras deliver very good results as long as you keep the enlargements down to 8x10. The lack of a pressure plate is only really an issue at f-stops larger than f/2. I have high quality 110 cameras from Kodak with 4-element Ektar lenses, as well as many high quality Minolta models. All offer more than adequate results for the "typical" shooter. I was very sad when Fuji stopped selling Super G 100 in 110 - now it is Super G 200 Plus. I really wish they had made Reala and NHG 400 in 110, as I feel they are the two best color neg films available in those speeds. Ektar 100 in 110 would be a blast too.

What killed 110 was the fact that it was a mature format used for non-professional applications. As for APS, I don't have any real problem with the frame size, as I also have some lovely 5x7 enlargements from 1/2 frame OLY Pens. With the 35mm 1/2 frame, the ability to shoot Ektar 25, Kodachrome 25, Velvia, APX 25 and even Tech Pan makes graininess not really an issue in all but very large prints. I personally like to shoot Tri-X in my OLY Pen and enlarge to 5x7.

What kills me about APS is that, somewhat like 110, only the most expensive cameras have the features that make up in some ways for the lack of image size. You can not set manual f/stops, you can not set shutter speeds, you don't have a pc-sync and you can not change film mid-roll on all but a few very expensive models. If there was an APS Canon Rebel - priced about like the Rebel, I'd consider it carefully. Also, the lack of a black and white film and the difficulty of printing it yourself will keep away a lot of users who many not number so many, but are likely to shoot 100 times as many rolls of film a year as the typical snap shooter.

Martin Davidson , April 10, 1997; 05:08 A.M.

APS offers a real step forward to P&S shooting. The real test comes when you are buying an SLR -- would you really forfeit the advantages of 35mm when buying your MAIN camera? The Minolta and Canon APS SLR's have received very good reviews here in the UK, and the results I have seen suggest that for the majority of photographs, they are indistinguishable from 35mm. And yet.... But in the world of P&S, the gimmicks on offer, are great fun. Index sheets, negs in their canisters, three different sizes, the fun of instant compositional experiments, particularly with Panorama mode, the fact that a 3X zoom camera is the same size as a fixed lens P&S -- all of these are real virtues in the context of fun, holiday/social life photo grabs. I love my little Fuji zoom for all these reasons. BUT, the lack of film range, the fact APS cant (yet?) be developed in under three days, and the fact it costs so much (in my experience TWICE what a roll of 35mm costs -- admittedly there are three more shots, and many will be in panorama mode, but you do notice it -- are all a drag. For babies, beaches, barbecues and office parties, it's a blast.

David Seymour , June 11, 1997; 12:20 A.M.

IN DEFENCE OF APS!

My front-line photo gear comprises an Olympus OM-series camera system with several bodies, and lenses ranging from 21mm to 500mm. I shoot nature/landscape and commonly use the OM4 in spot or multi-spot mode to carefully analyse reflectivity in a scene before shooting.

Yet, from this "serious" photographer's perspective, I think that APS is great! Much of the negative comment I've read about APS may be a result of expecting the format to fulfill a role for which it was not intended. I'm sure the designers never felt that APS should act as a viable alternative for a professional or semi-professional 35mm SLR system - so, perhaps comparisons against such "primary" systems are missing the point somewhat.

APS acts as a viable, but more convenient alternative to point-and-shoot 35mm lens-shutter cameras. Amongst these, I had for years been searching for a model with the following combination of features: Optional manual control of shutter speed and aperture Option of manual focus Manual exposure compensation control Spot metering option Mid-roll change Wide to tele zoom More compact than an OM series SLR Without spending huge amounts of cash (e.g. on a Leica or Contax rangefinder system, which you could hardly describe as P&S anyway), the closest I ever got to this wish-list was my little Olympus XA, the original model which had manual rangefinder focusing, manual aperture control and sort-of exposure compensation by manually fiddling the ISO index.

Then, along came APS, and with it the Minolta Vectis S1 SLR - admittedly in the upper price bracket of APS. Initially a little sceptical, I've used this camera for several months now, and it seems perfect for my intended use - which is essentially as a "photographic diary" camera carried along with my 35mm system, but having enough "serious" features to provide a similar degree of control in taking photos, and perhaps more to the point encouraging such an approach. I've even found myself with the S1 mounted on a tripod, taking as much care over the focus, framing and exposure as I would with my OM system. And the results have nearly always been markedly better than I ever achieved with any 35mm point-and-shoot. On the other hand, features such as the index print and back-printing of full data on each print have been great for my "photographic diary" needs.

The main problem I used to have with 35mm P&S was processing variability, largely due to the fact that the postcard-print processing machines in typical minilabs make their own automatic decisions about print exposure and filtration. I'm convinced the main reason for the better print quality in APS is the ability of the magnetic strip on the film to exercise control over the vagaries of the print-processing machine. In my opinion this is by far the most important achievement of the APS system - what a pity it's never been done in 35mm!!

Mike Morgan , July 21, 1997; 01:16 P.M.

I take my Kodak 4100 APS camera on my business trips instead of my Minolta 35 mm. I am happy with it, but just experienced an unusual problem. Somehow, I double exposed a role that I had shot in Japan. I was under the understanding that it is impossible to double expose APS. Anyone else hear of this?

Mike Morgan

Graham Toal , September 27, 1997; 08:21 P.M.

One thing strongly in favour of the Canon ELPH no matter what you think of Advantix, it that the tiny cameras are *great* for strapping together in pairs for taking stereo (3D) photographs. Until I discovered the ELPH, I had been getting through a _lot_ of pairs of daylight disposable cameras.

Stereo photography is a fun hobby and I can recommend it to anyone who hasn't tried it before. Using advantix disposable cameras, you can get into it very cheaply.

Andrew Studer , October 17, 1997; 04:23 A.M.

I think we should compare it the right way if we look at APS:

It stronly depends, - what for a film-laboratory mades the film. I know laboratorys here in Switzerland which can ruin the best expensive film from Kodak or Fuji if you'll send them one... - which film you compare with APS. You can't compare a Kodak Ektachrome 64 with a Kodak Advantix 100/200. A Advantix 200 film makes better results than a (normal) Gold 200. But that's all. - and at the end: it would be more fair to compare same things with same things. A ~10*17 cm APS photo must be compared with a ~13*20 picture from 35 mm. Compare it with a Gold Film: Advantix will win (and include the Pentax-method to do Panoramic photos, you'll be surprised what a superb quality APS really has... ;). This isn't that bad like we read that from this article. If someone doesn't agree: I'll write all the time an article in which I describe what a "toy" 35mm films are compared with 70mm negatives...

So: for small cameras, for all users who are happy with excellent color pictures for their albums, APS is really THE thing. I have a Canon IXUS (ELPH) along with my Nikon 801 and this small tiny thing makes almost excellent pictures. I see it this way: this Canon is so small, she's always here for me. I wouldn't have a Nikon 801 all the time for going to work, weekends, holiday on bike e.c.t. and now i have never ever the situation again to say "Geez, that would be nice if i could take a picture from THIS scene."

Jim Kiricov , November 15, 1997; 08:29 P.M.

First of all, let me just say that I live in Rochester, NY, and I really do love Kodak!! Rochester is Kodak, and Kodak is Rochester! But as an insider, I can not for the life of me figure out what Kodak is thinking of half the time. We all know about thier wonderful film and paper quality! We forget about the huge blunders though! The 110 film, the disk, the Polariod rip-off, to name the most notorious! As far as the technology behind the APS goes, it's brilliant! Too bad they didn't apply this brilliance to enhance the 35mm format! But it seems Kodak has a reverse prospective on film, and continues to believe that smaller is better. You would think after thier other disasters, they should know better by now!! I've read many reviews about APS, some favorable, most not so favorable. I've also seen print comparrisions from top of the line Canon and Nikon APS compared to low end point and shoot 35mm camera's. I am 100% convinced that a cheap $50 35mm point and shoot camera produces better quality prints of ANY size over the $500-$600 high end APS cameras!!! A picture tells a thousand words!! Bottom line, APS sucks, unless you have no eye for photography!

Michael Siek , December 06, 1997; 06:03 P.M.

I just bought the new Contax Tix. The results are absolutely amazing. I would challenge anyone with another 35mm Point and Shoot camera. Many people agree that the APS film is a better quality film (emulsion) than 35mm today. The better quality seems to make up for the reduction in negative size. So, the better the lens quality, the better the picture. Because the APS cameras are smaller, so are their lenses. The Contax Tix uses a very fast 2.8/28mm lens. It is in my test the best lens for an APS camera out. In other words: if APS manufacturers spend more time on lens quality and reduce overall costs to your better Point and Shoot camera, this will be the ultimate choice camera.

James Abbott , January 31, 1998; 05:26 P.M.

For those out there who just aren't listening-- APS IS NOT INTENDED FOR THE PROFESSIONAL MARKET. I've been selling cameras for quite a few years now (all formats), and I'm firmly convinced that once a customer has identified him or herself as a point and shoot photographer, APS is the camera to buy. When I show two like cameras, one 35mm and one APS, similar prices, similar zooms, etc., I'd say 7 out of 10 shoppers will want APS. And about enlargements, our store has enlarged APS negs. to 30x40", and customers want to argue about the camera used. Finally, Wal-Mart expects to have every one of their stores in the U.S. with a photo lab doing APS by the end of this year. Many of us, big and small, in the industry are very bullish on this photo system!

Michael B. Crutcher , February 19, 1998; 05:09 P.M.

Left unsaid in praise of the APS system is the mini-contact sheet one receives with the developed pictures. While theoretically this is available with 35 mm, for most snapshot shooters it is not. But with APS you get an easy-to-see sheet with all your pictures in color -- it's easy to pick out the ones you want enlarged or to have copies of -- no more holding up those negatives to the light and squinting: "Gee, do I want 17 or 18?"

I take the pictures and my lovely wife has to sort them. She's on strike as far as 35 mm is concerned. With APS she's happy to do it.

Godfrey DiGiorgi , February 20, 1998; 06:06 A.M.

As a lover of interesting photographic tools and subminiature cameras, I own several Minox 9.5mm cameras, a Minolta 110 Zoom SLR, several very compact 35mm cameras, and just bought myself an Canon ELPH Jr. I might have gone with the Contax Tix if the price were just a little lower. I've run two rolls of film with it now, and am quite pleased with the results. It's not 35mm, nor is it 6x6, or 4x5, or anything else. It's not Minox either.

The key is that good photographs should transcend format and they should satisfy at least the photographer. All these cameras can do that, and do it well. If I can get results like this (see < http://www.bayarea.net/~ramarren>, see "Some Family Portraits" or if that's gone, look for the APS section of the photo galleries) then I really don't care too much about the sensibilities of the professionals' need.

If I am demonstrating a little too much attitude, well, I've gotten just a little tired of all the silly blather I've been reading for the past year or so bashing APS. It's a good format, has some excellent features for what it's intended, and that's about it. Now go out and take some pictures, enjoy your cameras!

Godfrey

Eielrt Anders , March 02, 1998; 04:49 P.M.

The good features of APS, such as multiple formats, on- film record making to aid in processing, change of film in mid roll, etc., could have been applied to the 35mm format. Why wasn't if? I think it is a marketing tactic to generate more business, and that fact is what placed the burr under my saddle. You can bet that the advantages of APS will not be applied to the 35mm format because it would then become a competitor to the APS system. Too bad. I think kodak and the camera manufactureres would have made more money with a 35mm "APS" like system than with the current APS system they have foisted on the photographic public.

Duncan Fitzgerald , March 06, 1998; 02:42 A.M.

Regarding APS and large print sizes: actually, I have gotten some really nice crisp, sharp enlargements up to 11x14 (or is it 10x14 with that thing?) from my Minolta Vectis. Being somewhat of a "purist" and likening APS with the next coming of the Disc, I do have to admit that it has somewhat surprised me in quality. However, I'll still take 35mm any day.

Shannon Young , March 06, 1998; 12:34 P.M.

I've worked for Kodak making APS cameras for about two years now and have learned a few things which may be of interest:

With reguards to intended user: APS is intended for folks who just want to take pictures. Getting THE BEST quality is not their aim. For these people, there are some great APS cameras out there.

Film type: Kodak and Fuji are both putting out new film types for APS and will continue to do so. Kodak just announced B&W APS film which should be available this spring. There aren't as many film-type options, but then the format hasn't been around for as long as 35mm.

Why the smaller format: When Kodak first looked at making a film that was easy to load and incorporated magnetics they pushed for keeping the 35mm format size. The other camera makers in the original partnership (Canon, Minolta, Nikon) wanted a smaller format so they could make a smaller camera. Kodak was out-voted. Given the history over the past two years of APS film, it was probably a good thing because one look at the Canon Eplh Jr shows how small they can get!

Marty Breslow , April 29, 1998; 03:58 P.M.

The major point in favor of APS seems to be consistently in processing. Often, the typical 1- hour photo shop will print pictures that are too dark, occasionally too light, for pictures I have taken under studio conditions. I wish they had offerred two additional formats: 4 x 5 and square. Meanwhile I am sticking with 35 and my Beseler paper cutter.

Nancy Lehrer , August 17, 1998; 12:13 A.M.

My words for APS: Just Say No!

I recently bought a Yashica Acclaim 170. It has a 33 to 170 mm zoom. I took several roles of different makers (AFGA, Fugi, Kodak), different speeds (100, 200, 400), and had them printed at both a good camera store and mailer to Kodak.

In short, I was very dissapointed in pics that resulted. Color saturation was terrible. Focus was erratic, and forget about taking any picture where the sun was located anywhere but behind your back (unless you *like* 1/2 inch green spots in the center of you pics).

So either APS isn't there yet, or the Acclaim is a very poor specimin for a camera.

Co Boer , September 15, 1998; 04:34 P.M.

After many days of squinting at 35mm negatives I was tempted to switch to APS and its INDEX print. Then I found that KODAK offers the PREMIUM service with an INDEX print. This was somewhat expensive. Now I am taking my films to COSTCO which also offers an INDEX print at no extra cost.

I make extra exposures (at picture taking time) for my friends and visitors. I ask for a single copy (rather than doubles)at processing time. I find that I usually need 3 or 4 extra prints of the best shots and none of others. This is very easy to do with an INDEX print.

Greg Kandra , November 19, 1998; 04:43 P.M.

Time is finally catching up with APS: two years after this format was introduced, you can now get one hour prints, for almost the same price as regular 35 mm film developing. Also, ELPH is pointing the way to the camera of tomorrow; these suckers are getting tinier. And, thankfully, cheaper, too.

The pictures are of good-to-very good quality -- more than adequate for us snapshooters who just want shots to send with our Christmas cards.

The result of all this? More people will be carrying more cameras more often, taking more pictures on more occcasions. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so.

In the end, APS might just save the photo industry from the increasing encroachment of camcorders -- helping to keep alive a wonderful way of documenting life.

Neal Williams , December 24, 1998; 02:06 A.M.

I just purchased a Pentax Efina, and THEN found this website. I was concerned with the negative comments about APS and was ready to return the camera, until I just received my first set of prints. I primarily wanted a snapshot camera that provided better flash pictures than my Pentax IQ Zoom. I tested the Efina outdoors against my dependable Olympus XA, trying carefully to frame the same shots with each camera. I used 400 speed Fuji film for each. Quite frankly, I can't tell the difference between 4X6 prints, even under a 30X microscope. So much for the concern about grain size, etc. What really sold me on the Efina, however, was its remarkable handling of flash snaps under very difficult conditions. I took a picture of a coworker in her cubicle, which is lit overhead with flourescent lights. She was standing 6' in front of a window wall. In the distance, the sun was setting over a mountain range. The snapshot was amazing. The cubicle was evenly lit, her skin tones were natural, there was no glare from the window, and the sunset was quite clear in the background. The flash was even from corner to corner of the prints, and everything was in focus. I used the automatic red eye mode and there was no hint of red eye. I'm keeping the Efina!

Matthew La Rochelle , February 25, 1999; 12:36 P.M.

I think it's important to keep in mind that APS in general, and the Cannon Elph [IXUS] in specific, was designed with upscale amateurs in mind. I love the ease of use and performance of the APS format and my Elph. Because of it's small size and durable construction I find I keep it with me all the time and use it far more often than any camera I've ever owned, included SLRs. Granted the frame is small, the manual controls non-existant and the flash not much more than a pen-light, but I know that I can take quick snaps of friends and family anytime, and even hand it over to the girlfriend, young relatives or any inexperienced user without worry of "wasted" exposures. What more could you ask for a consumer P&S camera?

Michael Collins , March 07, 1999; 02:52 A.M.

Comments comparing the quality of pictures from a $100 35mm P&S to a $300 Canon Elph are very unfair. A $100 Olympus Stylus Epic with a 35/2.8 lens is certainly going to take better pictures than an Elph with a slow zoom. If, however, a comparison is made between the results from a $100 Olympus Stylus and a $120 Elph Jr., with similar film, the quality is very much the same. APS is probably not a viable replacement for 35mm for the enthusiast or professional, but for the average consumer, it is quite possibly a superior alternative to 35mm.

I'd also like to mention that 1-day APS processing is available in some areas. Wegman's Supermarket has an in-house minilab that does APS and can turn them around in 1-day with rush service (same policy as 35mm). Still no 1-hour APS labs though...

Eddy Brown , March 13, 1999; 10:37 A.M.

After years using several manual focus Canons, I purchased a Kodak 4100ix point and shoot just to give the APS system a try.When I got the first set of prints back I thought that maybe my lab had given me the wrong prints back or maybe I really didn't take them with the APS camera. WHY ???? Because the prints where the exact opposite of what I expected as an "advanced amatuer who shouldn't give much credit to that tiny 24mm format." I was so impressed with the quality using Agfa Futura 400asa and the Kodak 400asa B/W that I decided give a better APS camera a try. To make a long story short, I purchased an Olympus Centurion-S SLR APS and my old Canons haven't been removed from the camera bags since. Sure a case can be made that APS negatives don't enlarge as well as 35mm. But don't 6X4.5 negatives enlarge better than 35mm???

A. C. Lvesque , March 29, 1999; 08:51 P.M.

Hey Phil, which of your pictures are being seen and appreciated the most, the 8x10s on your wall or the ones on your web site? I'd say the ones on the web, and most of them could have been taken on APS film and no one would notice the difference, even those 1000x1500 "suitable for printing" (as you say) , 'cause APS scanned gives 1800x2500 ! So there !

Mike Gratis , March 29, 1999; 10:03 P.M.

Having compared APS & 35mm prints in side by side comparisons, I'll stick with 35mm any day of the week! The APS prints came from a Kodak camera (...sorry, I can't remember the model designation; but it was the next step down from their "top of the line" model) and Olympus Newpic AF 200; while a majority of the 35mm prints came from a cheap Kodak camera and Yashica T3, with a few from my Ricoh KR-10 Super SLR thrown in for a "standard" reference. Processing was done by a variety of sources, including Kodak, Konica, Mystic Color Lab, and Clark Color Labs. For a vast majority of the shots, the 35mm prints had better clarity, contrast and color without a doubt. Though the APS Panoramic mode is a nice novelty, the prints are generally grainy and fuzzy looking upon close inspection. The bottom line is that the APS prints could not hold a candle to the 35mm prints, even those taken with the cheap Kodak camera. Maybe a high end APS camera can do much better; but then again, so will my Ricoh or another quality 35mm camera.

Chieh Cheng , March 31, 1999; 06:58 P.M.

I am sorry, but the three criterias (clarity, contrast, and color) you mentioned above has nothing to do with film format. They are artifact of the lens, film, processing, or enlargement. Since when did film size dictate contrast and color? APS film and 35mm film are made out of the same film sheet. Previously, APS films are formulated even better than 35mm. I could only attribute the poor contrast and color to the poor lens of the camera, poor processing equipment, or poor enlargement equipment.

Chieh's Web

Gene Cantwell , April 18, 1999; 10:18 P.M.

I can only speak for one APS camera: the original Elph IX. The lens on this camera is great. Wish all of my 35mm lenses were this sharp. The major drawback of the camera has to be the red eye from the flash. If I could guarantee that an aps slr with sufficient controls would have this sharp of a lens in the same or wider (more wide angle), I would dump my 35mm system. No, I don't enlarge them very big. Most of my framed prints are only 9"X17". No one knows they aren't from my 35 mm system although they must wonder why I switched to a higher aspect ratio print. Oh yes, the viewfinder on the elph could also be better, but it is easier to see through than looking at ground glass in an slr for a lot of conditions.

Gene Cantwell

MJ Zygel , April 21, 1999; 08:05 P.M.

When I get 35mm film processed, I can verify that the negatives I received are mine before I leave the lab. With APS, it is possible to get back my prints, my index print, my film cassette, and someone else's negatives inside the cassette. It happens with a large national lab, more often than you would think. I would never know that I don't have my negatives unless those pictures are important enough that I want more prints... Imagine that the person with MY negatives never makes a reprint - they'll never even know that they have my negatives!

David Mathews , April 29, 1999; 03:00 P.M.

I have read many of the comments regarding the APS system with interest...and many bring to mind an old camera I once had - an Olympus half-frame. It took incredible pictures, razor sharp thanks to a very well made small lens - I carried it through Viet Nam where film was a rare item and I could get 72 shots out of a 36 exposure roll. The point??? It's not JUST the size of the piece of film you're exposing that makes the quality of the shot - it's a combination of that, plus the camera, plus the lens, etc. Some of the APS cameras are very sophisticated little gems that would always be in your pocket when you needed them for that once in a lifetime...well, you get the picture. Pro or Con? What will you use it for? Will it be SUPPORTED by film companies, etc. in the future.

Andrys Basten , May 01, 1999; 12:38 A.M.

David, good point re getting a picture that would not have existed at all if we depended only on the larger cameras we sometimes carry.

I hardly ever travel but the last big trip I took 30 years ago (before my recent Peru one for which I used an APS camera) I used an Olympus PEN FT and, like you, I appreciated the sharpness of that lens and the lightness. While it was half-frame I remember the B&W enlargements I printed were extremely sharp. I didn't like those tiny slides though! APS may appeal to those who just would rather travel light and who appreciate the organizational features of APS.

- Andrys

Randy Shafer , May 11, 1999; 11:21 A.M.

Many commentators have mentioned that APS is not intended for professional use. Although this is surely true in the larger sense, it does not mean that there are no professional uses for APS. I use a Nikon Pronea with a Nikkor 16mm fisheye lens to do advance work and test shooting for my Noblex swing-lens panorama camera. The APS camera has approximately the same field of view as the Noblex when shooting panorama-mode prints. Unlike the Noblex, I can shoot 25 4"X11" panoramas for about $11 including film. That's truly cheap at under 50 cents per APS shot compared to the $2 per shot cost of the Noblex with transparency film and almost $6 per shot for prints. Of course for image quality, the APS pleads NO CONTEST when up against the Noblex, which is capable of producing 12" X 30" prints that are very sharp. But the APS prints are quite acceptable for test and scouting prints and now I'm never without my little ELPH, which rides around in my pocket wherever I go.

Manfred Mornhinweg , May 21, 1999; 08:35 A.M.

There is one aspect of APS that makes this format totally unsuitable for many amateurs and almost all professionals: There is no such thing as an APS slide film! Anyone buying into APS must be very sure that he will never want to shoot slides.

Timothy Breihan , May 25, 1999; 08:44 A.M.

Phil is perhaps a bit hard on APS, but only a bit. True, image quality will be inferior, but then again, if you're not making contact prints from 8X10 negatives shot on ISO 25 film with a Schneider lens, then your image quality will be inferior. The fact is, you can't always either afford or carry a monorail view camera around.

My experience with APS has been restricted to only two rangefider-type point-and-shoots, a $50 Kodak Advantix piece of garbage and a $400 Canon Elph. The Kodak's image were not bad in terms of contrast and color, but they were all out of focus. The Canon was pretty good, but I would prefer a T4 as a pocket camera.

The bottom line? If you're satisfied with it, good for you! APS is a wonderful format for people who are not absoloutely concerned with getting razor-sharp pictures. However, when it comes to APS cameras, you do get what you pay for.

Barrett Benton , May 25, 1999; 04:29 P.M.

Recently, a friend asked for advice on buying a "really compact" camera, and asked me about the merits of 35mm vs. APS. I told her that, while I have my reasons for sticking to 35mm myself (for one thing, the film scanner I own handles 35mm only, and I won't ditch it just for the sake of APS compatibility; for another, I'll never, ever own a camera of any format with built-in, red-eye-inducing flash), APS does have advantages for convenient, on-the-go shooting. I suggested a few brands; she chose a Konica. The thing *is* a little jewel - like most companies offering APS cameras, Konica made an effort to make the look and feel of the camera as appealing as possible. It was fun to compare it with my Hexar - she won't give up hers, I won't give up mine. And the world's big enough for both of us.

Matthew Durell , May 30, 1999; 09:45 A.M.

In response to Andrys Basten's comment regarding the ability to identify the negatives as your own, the APS system has a number that uniquely identifies each roll of negatives. This number appears on the index print and is acquired from either the magnetic or optical information stored on the film.

I am also under the impression that the whole film strip never leaves the canister during processing. Even if it does leave the canister, all APS, as I understand it, is automated. Because of this automation it should be virtually, if not totally, impossible to have someone elses negatives inside your canister.

It does, however, make reasonable sense to compare the canister ID with the ID printed on the index card(s) before leaving the lab/store. This makes good sense even for a high-quality lab with excellent quality control procedures in-place.

Paul Rubin , May 31, 1999; 12:40 A.M.

I've been shooting 35mm for 20+ years. I just got a Canon Elph Jr. APS camera. I love it. It is tiny and the results with standard size prints aren't noticably different from 35mm. If you want to make wall-sized enlargements, the difference is there--but if you want to do that, why are you messing with 35mm instead of medium or large format? It's great being able to flick a switch and shoot a frame in panorama mode and automatically get a 4x11" print back (yes, I know, with 35mm you can ask the lab to make you a print with the panorama mask, but that means doing a reprint and making another trip to the lab. With APS, the format info is recorded on the film when you take the picture and it all happens automatically). On the 4x11" prints with Kodak 200 film, you can see grain if you look close. No big deal. It's smaller grain that what I'm used to seeing on 8x10" prints that I've shot on 35mm Tri-X. I haven't tried the Fuji Fine Grain 100 speed APS film yet. If I take the attitude that APS is really a subminiature format and compare the results to 110 format or to Minox 8x11mm, APS is terrific by comparison.

I also very much like the idea of being able to get a relatively cheap totally automatic film scanner (Kodak Film Drive FD-300 is less than $300), drop in an APS cartridge, push a button on the computer, and get all 40 negatives from the cartridge scanned while I go do something else--no need to handle a series of neg strips.

That said, I've seen results from other people's APS cameras (Revio Zoom and so forth) and they're nowhere near as good. The lens is maybe more important than it is with a 35mm neg, because of the higher magnification. The Elph Jr. has quite a good lens, and it's not a zoom, and it's relatively fast (f/2.8) which means faster shutter speeds and less blur from camera shake. It also has more AF steps than most other models (beware of the inferior Elph LT). So I'd say if you go APS, get a good non-zoom model with accurate AF, or an SLR.

George Gaspari , May 31, 1999; 02:21 P.M.

I have a Kodak 3700ix and am quite impressed by the quality of the prints. Flash handling is great, and the "flip-up" design eliminates red-eye (which my Nikon 38-70QD fails to do most of the time). Optics is good, and although the Nikon is better, a comparison to Kodak's KD60 (Cameo Sharp Focus) shows that the APS model is better compared to that one. Also the small size, and easy 2-step shutter button (for "focus lock") are great. About the focus, the 200-zone passive system makes pictures through glass and other reflective surfaces possible without hacks like "infinity focus" wich is basically turning your high-priced active multi-beam IR focus into a $10 focus-free camera :)

The viewfinder is extremely clear and sharp. I love it. The ix system also helps making your photos look good, sometimes correcting exposures and reducing that orange tint with indoor photos lit w/ tungsten lamps (or the greenish effect w/ fluorescent ones), for example. The alternative on 35mm is to use specific "T" film or have loads of filters with you every time.

The major drawback of this system, here in Brazil, is price and availability - only one lab in my city processes APS film, and while it offers same-day delivery (after 6pm), it's just not enough for a 2,800,000 hab. state capital. And the developing/prints are WAY more expensive - while I can get 36 4x6" 35mm pictures for around $9, 40 APS photos often cost around $20 including the index print (maybe more if you use too much the panoramic format)

BJ Little , May 31, 1999; 10:54 P.M.

Here's the great thing about APS, as far as I'm concerned: it is, relatively speaking, idiot proof.

My mother is probably the most mechanically inept person I've ever met, but only selectively so (and she'll back me on this). She can thread her sewing machine in nothing flat, but can't load the film in a camera to save her life. APS is perfect for her. She drops in the film, picks a format (which she finds really cool, for whatever reason), and the camera makes the rest of the decisions.

This is what she needs. The ability to take decent family snapshots without spending a fortune on complicated gear she won't understand, and without relying on outdated (IMO) stuff like 110.

Remember the target market when casting aspersions. APS is NOT for professionals. APS is, so to speak, your father's Oldsmobile (with a few really cool gadgets).

Bill Napper , June 11, 1999; 06:27 P.M.

APS - Does what it is designed to do.

My wife just had her eyes "fixed" (LASIK laser surgery.) Now that she can see I purchased a Canon Elph 370 for her to carry in her purse. She always has it and has already made some great shots. Sure it doesn't do as good as my 6x7 cm neg. or the 5x7 view camera but it is always in her purse! As far as the discussion concerning if it is suitable for "PRO" use I would say NO. Of course I don't think 35 mm is really good enough for PRO use. A real pro will almost always go to med. format for anything of real quality. And for the ultimate PRO only a 5x7-8x10 will really do. No way to have a really impressive print in B&W except to do a contact. Just my opinions.

Alex Bell , June 29, 1999; 07:58 P.M.

After taking shots with a regular 35mm SLR camera, I switched over to a Nikon Pronea S SLR APS camera, and was astounded by the results. The images I took were just as sharp and colorful. Why people cry that you can't achieve the same results is beyond me. It's the equipment and not the film. If you use a $20 APS camera, of course the quality won't be good. The setback is that I pay more for developing but then again I usually shoot in 4x7 format which would be more expensive anyway. This camera allows me to do what other SLR's offer me (manual focus, shutter speed, exposure, lens exchange, etc.) But for someone whose not as experienced it is also fully automatic. I believe this is truly the wave of the future. So please, just try a more pricey camera before you complain.

Fredrik Levander , July 07, 1999; 04:05 A.M.

I just wanted to say that slides are now available for the APS system. I4ve just got my first roll of Fuji back, and the colors and grain are perfect. So now there4s no need for more than one camera, just an APS with midroll change.

Kevin Ault , July 13, 1999; 07:11 P.M.

I've gone from "point and shooter" to serious hobbiest over the past year. I'm appreciative of improvements in 35mm negative film obviously driven by the smaller image size of APS, although negative films aren't good enough for me anymore. My admittedly selfish concern is this: will fragmentation of the film/photography market lead to higher costs for 35mm. Right now APS seems real expensive, I'm assuming because the volume is so low. Is that the future of 35mm: low volume, high cost?

michael Bullington , July 18, 1999; 08:41 A.M.

I just wanted to add my comments, on the APS camera's. I bought the Nikon Pronea APS SLR camera, and been very happy with it. It's like having a n70 nikon with all the metering and options of a regular 35 slr camera. The Pronea will take any lens made for all my other nikon camera's.That is one reason I bought the pronea (Lens Interchange) It seems though to have a higher contrast when used with long zoom lens, but most of my pictures come out like regular 35's. I wish they would come out with moe choices of films....especially chrome films

MIKE

william manahan , July 21, 1999; 03:48 A.M.

Well, I have a high end Nikon APS, and I am really happy with it. In fact I shot a friends wedding, and bride and groom are quite happy with the results.

I have only once blown up a picture beyond 8x10 since 1988, so I don't see a loss in using a smaller negative; although I would agree, technically speaking, under best exposure and processing for both formats, there has to be some loss of image quality in the APS format. Is it relevant?

What about the next wave of digital cameras? They seem to be taking over despite their lacking image quality.

http://flash.net/~wileman

Ross Bagley , July 23, 1999; 08:50 P.M.

A newcomer to the wonderful world of photography, I bought the Canon IX APS SLR body and two lenses (50mm f/1.4, 28mm-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS) and went on a fishing vacation in Western Ontario. I'm certainly no professional, but I read books (of course I had my new camera and a subject nearby) on nature and low-light photography for weeks before going on my trip. On the trip I used the Manual and Aperture Priority modes for most of the time.

12 rolls of film (developed overnight upon my return) later, I am the very happy recipient of 21 photographs that I am quite proud of. From landscapes to macro, low light to artificial light, murky skies and sunny, this camera did fantastically. In each of the photos I don't think is great, I'm able to see a few things I did wrong, and in only about 10 shots was I able to find anything that the camera, lens, or film screwed up (a few film scratches, a little vignetting, etc.). The print quality is fantastic. I have had two of the shots blown up to 8x14 for framing, and I can find some grain with a loupe, but not very much.

There are several things I want that I don't have with the Canon I.X. body: multiple exposures, depth of field preview, better metering predictability (where is that zone anyway?). But the wireless remote is really cool, the autofocus is speedy, and the metering only messed me up twice in 300 frames. On the back of the film are all of my camera settings (mode, aperture, shutter speed, flash) along with the roll id and the frame number.

My next camera will probably be a 35mm body that fits my existing lenses so I have an excuse to build a darkroom, but I still give APS a big thumbs up.

Kelvin Mah , August 30, 1999; 01:58 A.M.

I purchased a Minolta Vectis Beam 300 APS format camera a year ago for my girlfriend. She was looking for a no nonsense, easy to use, easy to carry camera. As beautiful as the camera is, I've found the image quality considerably lacking. Our biggest complaints involve lack of sharpness, graininess, and poor colour saturation. We've tried various brands of film and have shot under many different circumstances with results that have been far inferior to any PS camera used in the past. I would be interested in any comments regarding this particular camera. After reading the comments of other's experiences with APS, my experiences would appear to be below average.

M Biango , September 11, 1999; 12:57 A.M.

After reading the posts, I bought a popular and rather expensive APS Camera. After shooting 5 rolls, I returned it. I thought that the quality of the pictures was terrible. The focus was more often than not way off and never sharp. The lack of resolution is evident in the pictures themselves - you don't need to enlarge the pictures to see it. The additional features related to the magnetic stripe turned out to be not much after all and seem hardly worth implementing. As for the choice of different size pictures, I can only say that the panoramic size is interesting. Unfortunately, the resolution is simply not good enough. Also, the packaging of the processed pictures is bulky, cumbersome and the cost expensive.

Mike Johnston , September 18, 1999; 07:57 P.M.

Everybody seems to neglect mention of one of the primary reasons why APS is smaller than 35mm: because consumers mostly buy point-and-shoots, but then they mostly buy point-and-shoots with the longest zooms (smart folks, those consumers; as we know, the market in its infinite wisdom is infallible by definition...yes, I'm being sarcastic). Smaller film size means point-and-shoots lenses can be smaller, cheaper, lighter, and easier to manufacture and still zoom way out like consumers want 'em too.

We are hastening backwards. Now, instead of flexible, upgradeable system SLRs made of metal and meant to last, the consumer gets a cheap-ass plastic pack of cigarettes with 5% failure rates out of the box that are essentially intended to be disposable, with zooms that are somewhat superior to pinholes in their ability to gather image-forming light, shutter lag times measurable in seconds, "red-eye reduction" that annoy the crap out of anybody forced to endure it and that makes it impossible to do the one thing that might allow a skilled operator to actually take a good picture--i.e., take the picture at something like the right time--and that oh, by the way, doesn't reduce red-eye, which was a nonexistent problem with SLRs in the first place--and now, half the film size of a format (35mm) that is too small itself. Okay. And all just in time to aid and abet the incursion of digital cameras into the mass market!

'Scuse me while I go wipe away this lather around my mouth. After that I'm going down to the street to buttonhole some stranger and babble wildly about conspiracy theories vs. the incompetency paradigm in the photo industry. Or, I may just go lie down.

--Mike J.

Jon Anhold , October 01, 1999; 03:56 P.M.

With regards to index prints, Motophoto offers index prints with their 1-hour 35mm processing, for something like $1 more/roll.

Bryan Clapper , October 15, 1999; 12:14 A.M.

Someone may have mentioned this, but my biggest complaint about APS is that there's no way to get slides or transparencies from it. In fact, I've been searching for negative carriers for APS film to no avail. As an amature nature photographer and professional music photographer, I prefer to use transparencies as I can scan them directly into my computer.

Like digital photography, I feel that APS will have little or no effect on professional photography, but will make am. photography more accessible. This is a good thing. When people get more interested in photography, companies will realize this and put out more products for us photo-nuts to criticize!

Bryan

Laurence Grayson , October 15, 1999; 09:16 A.M.

Bryan - to my knowledge, both Canon and Nikon have good neg scanners with optional APS transports. Take a look at the CoolScan III (http://www.klt.co.jp/Nikon/Film_Scanners/index30.html) - maybe this would help. As far as APS (or any other subject in photography) is concerned, it fits its purpose perfectly. Like the iMAC - it takes an often obscure and complex occupation and makes it totally accessible to the layperson. My biggest problem with APS isn't necessarily the size of the neg, but the quality of the optics, which can be appallingly poor on some APS models.

L.

Mel Gregory , October 22, 1999; 12:13 P.M.

I just bought a Pronea 6i at a closeout from Ritz camera. I have always used Nikon 35mm and Mamiya medium format equipment which I still have. I got my first results back and was a little stunned to see the amount of quality from the smaller negative. I used the Fuji 400 aps film. Now I will admit that it does not rival 2 1/4 square nor does it rival my beloved slide film in 35mm, but it is good. I can see this camera as my snap shooting camera for those times when I am forced to use negative film for casual shooting. Coupled with my Nikon 24-50 AF D, my 35-70 AF D, the 85 1.8 AF D, the 180 2.8 AF D, my 80-200 2.8, Sigma 90mm macro and Sigma 400 5.6 APO it makes a formidable snapshot camera and has the added advantage of making the telephotos be just a little stronger. I will continue carrying my Nikon 35mm cameras but this is a nice little camera for those times when digital imprinting comes in handy. In addition, the pictures are sharp, I like the index print and love the storage of the negatives.

Mel

Michael MacDonald , November 05, 1999; 03:30 P.M.

Just a quick note on the ELPH. The only thing I find lacking about the package is the soft case which Canon provides with the camera. Before leaving for a month of backpacking last summer, I slipped a bit of cardboard which had been cut to size in front of the camera (the front of the case). Now I don't have to worry about accidentally activating the camera and damaging the motor or draining the battery as it strains to push the lens out through the case.

I have written to Canon with the suggestion that perhaps they could put a thin piece of plastic in between the cases' layers, but haven't heard anything back on it.

d jh , November 11, 1999; 12:52 P.M.

I never encourage anybody half-serious about quality to buy APS cameras. However, yesterday somebody showed me this picture and I was impressed enough. APS is getting there...

cya,

djh

Harry Meijer Splendid Fototechniek , December 02, 1999; 10:10 A.M.

Since selling camera's is my daily job i'd like to add something about APS.It's a good system for no-nonsense photographers who only fill their holiday album with small sized pictures. Slide film for the APS system is available in my country (the Netherlands). But please don't use it. You have to buy a new lens in your slide projector.(focal lenght is a prblem or put your projector some feet back) And watching a aps-slide enlarged that much is no fun. When watching vertical and horizontal slides you always see a wide black strip. All slide films are processed and mounted in H-format, wether you like it or not. Develloping and mounting only takes 4 weeks, allthough fuji claims 14 days. All european films are develloped in Munich(Germany). Slides taken with the Canon Z-90 came out very dark from a customer who went to Japan.There is only 100 asa and with auto flash when zoomed in, objects are most times too far away to take a good picture. Buying slide film in Tokio is also a problem. The price we charge in the Netherlands is about $20. Dear customer buy APS for easy pics, but not for slides

Steven Kieffer , December 10, 1999; 04:52 P.M.

Just would like to say that I didn't have any success with APS P&S, UNTIL I switched to 400 speed film. Before I was using 200 speed APS and my pictures lacked sharpness and were washed out. I was really wondering what I was doing wrong until I stumbled across something that made all the difference. The problems were coming from too slow of film being used (small aperture zoom camera; especially at those longer focal lengths). And me being a person who only used SLR's, I thought 100 speed or less was the only way to sharp, rich-color pictures; I was wrong. Now, with 400 speed film, my APS P&S is taking pictures that are sharp and rich in color. The lesson I learned is not to apply SLR mentality to P&S. Put some 400 speed into your APS, and see the difference.

Chester George , December 14, 1999; 12:22 P.M.

I've used Nikon and Pentax 35mm SLR gear for about 20 years. I wanted to get a small point and shoot that would be easy to use and my wife would enjoy using (she hates turning knobs). I decided to give APS a chance and bought a Canon ELHP Jr. I chose it due to it's small size and fixed f/2.8 lens. The C and H formats are OK, but the P format is truly awful. This camera has been a BIG disappointment and turned me off to APS. On the plus side it's cute as a button (OK, that's not important when the pictures come back, but well, it IS cute) and it is tiny. It slips easily into my wife's purse or my pocket. I can hide it in my palm before taking a picture, so it's good for candids. But the sharpness is just terrible above 4x6 snapshots. I've tried different films speeds and a tripod (a funny sight). I wonder if the focus is off or I have a defective lens? Or is APS just plain bad at the large 4x11 P format. Has anyone else had this problem with this camera?

Andrys Basten , January 06, 2000; 07:59 P.M.

Might be a defective lens or, more likely, a bad lab, the latter a very common problem. One guy I read had horrible results for a year and then discovered a lab that made them look like custom prints.

  I have an Elph2 now and with its little zoom lens which is a slow f/4.2, it's considerably less capable than your fixed lens Elph Jr. (when not defective). Many people with Nikon SLRs are finding the Elph Jr. just fine, with the understanding it's so small it can be with you all the time so it doesn't have to be 100% the enlargeability of heavier 35mm.

  The Elph 2, inferior to yours in sharpness and contrast and speed, is better than the Elph (1) that I bought for a Peru trip 2 years ago. But I used the Elph2 the other day with ISO 400 when the day was ending and we had some artificial light outside where they were barbecuing. I took a closeup with flash and the results surprised me in that the camera is sharper than my old Elph (while not as sharp as yours).

  I've uploaded one shot that illustrates what even a zoom-type APS can still do while certainly more limited. I scanned the 4x6 color print on an HP4C Scanjet at 200dpi (I usually use only 106dpi for web-monitor images to keep it within an 800x600-res screen and not too-long to load).

  Since the detail is better than I'd expected, I put two versions on my website for people who ask on the newsgroups how the new Elph2 is and whether it's worth getting. So far, my overall results have been better than with the older Elph which I used for my Peru site.

  The smaller shot is 135k and takes about 35 seconds to load with a 56k modem. It's re-sampled from the large one scanned at 200dpi.

  Here's the smaller full-screen sized one.

  And here's the the actual 200dpi one, which is huge and, even as a jpg (not ultra compressed), it's 600K large and will take about 3~ minutes to download. If you're getting out-of-focus photos OR maybe just have higher standards than the average, you'll get an idea, at any rate.

Mark Barkasy , January 09, 2000; 01:45 A.M.

I formerly worked for Gretag Imaging, and our Chicopee,Mass. location designed splicing machines for the APS system. We where the first to design the device to pull the film out and place it back in the plastic cassettes after developing (I was diverted from electrical to detail the parts for the prototype of this device and had to assemble it also, everyone wanted a chance to play with it). The reason given me for the odd picture size area was to match the standard CCD for digital cameras. My thought is that this system should would have had more luck catching on if it where invented a few years before digital cameras became better priced (if you are going to buy a new type camera, digital is the easier choice for consumer shooters). United States sales of APS has fallen far short of corparate projections, althought in Japan APS is very popular.

Mark Barkasy , January 09, 2000; 01:53 A.M.

...one more point on APS. Kodak may have been the driving force of this new format but the design was a joint project of Kodak, Fuji and Agfa. If this was going to fly or sink, Kodak needed company. Also, why is it that past 1 AM that spelling gets reelly baad?

John Lapp , January 11, 2000; 02:10 A.M.

This whole forum adds some good points, and also some that I strongly disagree with. APS provides a very good point and shoot. I am by no means a professional photographer, but I think that they sould agree that print quality is determined much, much more by lens quality and lab quality then anything else. Film is film, and there are plenty of terrible 35mm films out there. I am the proud owner of two APS cameras, a Fuji Endeavor 4000ix P&S SLR that takes wonderful pictures, and a Pronea 6i that I purchased not even a week ago. I have not gotten the pictures back from the latter yet, but I have enough confidence in the system to have bought this camera. It all comes down to camera quality. I find that for me and all of the other shutterbugs that use APS the convenience and features are worth the slight extra cost in film. I give it an overwhelming thumbs up.

By the way, the original article here was written about four years ago. Don't you think it's time for a new article now that the films are better. And use a high end APS SLR like the Pronea 6i or the Cannon EOS IX.

Dan Carey , January 14, 2000; 11:17 A.M.

Stop the weddin'!!! There's a zoo in Minnesota where one can photograph dinosaurs? I'm all over that. Seriously, APS is a great photographic tool that affects other formats, such as by providing film manufacturers with the incentive to develop better emulsions. And I'd have to agree with Phil; it would indeed be nice if the magnetic recording were to migrate to the, ahem, better formats. That way we wouldn't have to remember to bring a pencil along to mark out film holders.

Norbert Jennes , January 25, 2000; 02:46 A.M.

Boys & Girls,

I've found a small, but interesting page about APS, unffortunately in german, have a look, folks! http://members.tripod.de/APS_2/ There you can read all about the new ones foto-nintendos!

Norbert

william manahan , February 07, 2000; 12:28 A.M.

Hello all!...

I have a Nikon Pronea APS (1997), and I am really, really, happy with it. In fact I shot a friends wedding, and bride and groom are quite happy with the results. Some are located at:

http://io.com/~abenson/wedding

Only once have I blown up a picture beyond 8x10 since 1988, so I don't see a loss in using a smaller negative; although I would agree, technically speaking, under best exposure and processing for both formats, there has to be lower image quality when using a smaller negative.

Is it relevant? For me it is not. I like my photos, and my enlargements. I may switch up to a larger format someday when I get paid more to take pix, and the market requires it. Some of my nicer images are at:

http://WilliamManahan.com

Are we not netizen's? I reduce my available image quality when posting on the net; so visitors to my site do not have to wait 5 minutes to see my favorite images.

If someone would buy me a medium or large format camera, pay for the film and processing, and carry it around, and keep all the photo's indexed, and would develop my photos +/-3 EV when I ask, and did a few other chores (scanning), I would be happy to use it. Did I mention the Kodak FD300 batch APS scanner?

I think 35mm slides are required for publication because it has BEEN that way for SO long; and also because it is hard to have a slide without having the copyright owner's permission to use it.

I am maintaining a fledgling Nikon Pronea newsgroup, if you are interested join at:

http://WilliamManahan.com/news

ron scott , February 17, 2000; 07:43 P.M.

I took my brand new Nikon Pronea 6i to Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando. I was a manual SLR user who for years wanted a nicely featured SLR for a good price. On the Ritz closeout mentioned earlier I got the Nikon N70 like Pronea 6i, a 24-70 (aps 30-87.5) and a 60-180 (aps 75-225) for $400 total.

I was prepared for a let down, even from Nikon. I was amazed that even at the advanced enthusiast level with sometimes more amateur camera skills, I could achieve the results that I did. I should have left my emotional issues with a 58% size inferiority to 35 mm frames behind. As a self proclaimed scientist and artist, I should have focused on this fact:

35 millimeter cameras can take fantastic and convincing images of huge scenes. That little square can see a room, a city scene or a landscape and take you back there after it has done its thing. Why should I think that some exponential curve is stealing this brain fooling majic simply because the little square is chopped to between half and two thirds the size?

If I am not sending chromes to production than I dont need to sweat it. As a camera for the overwhelming majority of pictures most people take, APS is perfectly acceptable. Not only that but the new ease of handling features make the system user friendly, simple and plain fun. I understand how purists tout optimized systems, but a very good shot is infinitesimally better than the non existent one missed because the camera is to big to bring around in life.

I still want to experiment with medium format and pro slide films for 35 millimeter. I dont see people throwing thier computer monitors against the wall because they dont have enough pixels. So to me APS film is improved, compact and well respected in the high end control laden SLR's of Nikon, Minolta and Canon. Pocket models well chosen also do justice to "photography by walking around". I admire pure excellence, but man (or woman) please be sure to get the shot first before you get into quality arguments. How many "I wish I had my camera" moments do we accept before we take action.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their very useful experiences.

Kristopher Liu , March 21, 2000; 12:33 A.M.

I am a working freelancer a.k.a. semi-pro (since I have another full-time job I cannot truly say I am a professional photographer) who shoots on Canon EOS equipment for my work (EOS-1N HS and EOS 5 QD), and have been considering entering medium format with the new "affordable" Mamiya 645E. Regarding the APS format, I have heard very mixed emotions from fellow pros in my local area. I work at my full-time job with a traditionalist pro who shoots on nothing newer than the venerable Canon T90's and refuses to touch anything AF. On the other hand, I know another pro who shot some pictures on the Nikon Pronea S just puttering around, and was thoroughly impressed with the image quality (compared to how he'd expected it to turn out). Upon examining an 8x10 enlargement I, too, wasn't exactly thoroughly impressed, but the shot was definitely better than I too had expected. At the time I already owned a Canon Elph 2 pocket-sized metal marvel I use for personal pics while out-and-about at events, clubs, and other locations where I wouldn't dream of having a potentially $2K+ setup be even remotely available to the hands of a thief. But I only use the Elph 2 occasionally, as my "wish I had that shot" camera. It's taken some okay pictures, but just that, okay. Its' lens has a slow max aperture, and isn't any better than a $100 consumer zoom for a 35mm SLR, if even that. But it's fun, and available whenever I need it. And I can give it to a friend to shoot pictures without worrying that it is too complex for him or her to use. I now keep it in the center console in my car.

So, being a "new-school" photographer and willing to try new things, I did what I had to in order to formulate my formal opinion: I picked up a Nikon Pronea 6i body, a Zoom-Nikkor 28-200 f/3.5-5.6 D aspherical lens (35-275mm 35mm format equivalency when used with the APS format), and an AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.0 D lens (43mm 35mm format equivalency, making this a relatively fast normal lens). I also had some old-school AIS manual Nikkor lenses from an EM from days bygone in the closet I could use. After doing the research I decided that despite I am a Canon-using-and-loving photographer that the Pronea 6i was the closest thing to anything available in the APS format that would satisfy my needs in a somewhat advanced camera--more suitable for even remotely pro work than the Canon EOS IX or IX Lite.

Shooting on ISO 100 and 200 Kodak films (I haven't tried the ISO 400 or black-and-white yet but plan to) I have to say that I am indeed impressed. My take on the whole sharpness (or lack thereof) issue is this: most pros who scoff at APS were either not looking at any visual evidence whatsoever, or they were looking at pictures from a point-and-shoot APS rather than the relatively scarce SLR's made by Canon, Minolta, or Nikon (and in my opinion only Canon and Nikon's lens compatibility with their 35mm units ensures the availability of pro-quality optics, at least for now). I haven't really used this camera for work uses yet, but there is the one marked potential advantage for me: automated whole-roll (or in the case of APS, cartridge) scanning. More recently I have had a few portraiture jobs where the clients requested digital delivery, despite that I tried to talk them into high-quality prints (just did a short sitting this evening, in fact, with digital delivery request; my client will receive a CD-ROM with scans of 35mm images). I think if APS processing turnaround time were a bit faster that it would be a viable higher-quality (and lower-cost--just look at the cost of a Nikon D-1 or Canon EOS D2000, not to mention the much more pricey Kodak/Canon/Nikon hybrid units) alternative to using full digital mediums. Not that one can't get a 35mm film scanner of much higher quality, but they generally won't scan an entire roll of 35mm at a time, unattended. It would be a nice convenient way to get 15, 25, or 40 pictures batch scanned with relatively decent quality (both in terms of sharpness and color quality). This is a take on the APS format that I haven't heard from any pros, and when I mention it they say "oh yeah, why didn't I think of that?"

Now I am thinking of purchasing a fast prime 85mm f/1.8 (106mm 35mm format equivalency) AF Nikkor portrait lens (I usually focus manually thus my love for the Canon system with the unique AF with MF-on-demand a.k.a. FTM and MF with AF-on-demand modes, but for event photography and sports, AF is still invaluable, IMHO), a Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm (93-375mm 35mm format equivalency) f/4-5.6 ED-D lens (I won't fully spring the $$ for the better f/2.8 AF-S lens until I know I want to use this camera for more than one work-related use), and an SB-28 Speedlight and some form of wireless controller for it. I want to experiment more, and potentially eventually use this setup for my portrait work, if a client requests either APS (at this time I still don't see why anyone would) or digital delivery of a whole shoot. If only my Pronea 6i had a PC strobe connector (though I can use a hot-shoe converter for this), mirror lock-up, depth-of-field preview (at least I can "cheat" and unscrew the lens to achieve this--thanks, Nikon, for keeping the F-mount mechanical couplings!), a faster motor drive, faster X-sync speed than 1/160, and a 1/8000 or faster shutter, it would be perfect for my uses for it ... one can only wish.

I am a pro (or semi-pro as I put it previously) who is sold, at least on the *possibilities* of the APS format.

In closing, I think the APS format is definitely here to stay, if even only as a consumer format relegated to point-and-shoots. I wish Nikon hadn't discontinued the Pronea 6i for the inferior Pronea S, but companies make what consumers (and sometimes pros <smile>) will purchase. The Pronea 6i was criticized by some to be too complex, with too many buttons to remember. I like buttons, so isn't a problem with me. Like some comments I read above, and with my own additions, I think the following would make pros sit up and notice:

* Canon, Minolta, and Nikon would all make pro-level APS SLR's (seeing as they all make "entry-professional" digital units a la EOS D2000, Dimage RD-3000, and Nikon D-1, that all have "inferior" image quality to any film medium including APS scans). If Canon can make a digital EOS-1N, and Nikon a digital F-5, why not APS versions (EOS-1V IX? Nikon F-5A? Minolta Maxxum 9ix ... they already had a 9xi (pun))? Of course, the right films would make a difference too ... hence my next wish-point ...

* Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, and perhaps even Ilford would make a mix of APS versions of their popular pro films. I for one would love to try out an APS version of Portra 160NC, or Ektachrome E100VS (APS slides? A novel concept given availability of a projector to go with it ...). And how about my "other" favorite, T-Max 100 (seeing as I can make a great 20x30 enlargement from this film on 35mm, a good 16x20 shouldn't be impossible from an APS version)? Let's see something better than a consumer ISO 400 black-and-white, Kodak! Of course, no film manufacturer will do this unless the hardware manufacturers are willing to risk manufacturing the tools to do the job ... I think more pros (and manufacturers) need to be optimistic about it like I am ...

* APS processing would be faster, or the average darkroomist could afford APS processing equipment ... perhaps not in this lifetime?

* Minolta would make better V-series lenses for their Vectis SLR (along with a nicer SLR). That would lure the new Maxxum 9 and older Maxxum 9xi pro lovers out there. A la G-series Vectis lenses, or something similar. Or they could just make an APS SLR that uses the Maxxum A-mount like they should have ...

That's my two cents. Anyone got change for a five <smile>?

Any comments feel free to E-mail me: lewster@earthlink.net

I am curious to hear anyone else's take on my ideas and ideals.

Ed Bolton , April 15, 2000; 09:46 P.M.

I bought a cheap point-and-shoot APS camera by accident last year. I was looking for an SMALL inexpensive camera I could carry in the back pocket of my cycling jersey and operate with 1 hand while on the bicycle. I didn't want to be devastated if I crashed on it and broke it into a million pieces. I bought a bubble packed Kodak F300/1600 at Wal-Mart without noticing it was APS. I had never heard of APS till I opened the package (which had the film in it).

I was skeptical, but I tried it and have been thoroughly happy. The local Ritz processes the film just as fast as 35mm (though for more money) and the quality is phenominal for a $30.00 camera. Way better than anything digital. I haven't had an enlargement made since the early 80's, so I don't know and don't care if they would not be optimal. Maybe the local Ritz here just has a better machine than some of the places others go to.... And I did crash on the camera. Slid going around a corner and landed right on it. I got a bruise where the camera was but the camera survived fine.

That said, the P format does seem to stand for Pretty stupid. I leave the camera in H now. Besides, getting a bunch of different shaped pictures back isn't all that convenient anyway and covenience is the huge thing with APS.

I've bought a better APS camera now, for when there is no chance I will be sliding on pavement. Am looking forward to using it. And I'm still riding with the F300 and having fun with it. I hope APS will be available a good long time.

william manahan , May 13, 2000; 04:07 A.M.

Hello all!...

I have a Nikon Pronea APS (1997), and I am really, really, happy with it. In fact I shot a friends wedding, and bride and groom are quite happy with the results. A funny image is at:

http://williammanahan.com/photography.htm

Last thanksgiving we went to the Tahoe area and the scenery was beyond wonderful. Some of my nicer images are at:

http://williammanahan.com/tahoe.htm

Also we APS shooters should be able to get our 4x7 prints blown to 8x14, I think we just need to push for it a bit. Most of the pharmacy photo labs offer the service, they just have a real hard time delivering it correctly. I have been assured by an out of state lab that they can double 4x7 prints to 8x14 correctly. They are Dale Laboratories in California.

Finally I have a corrected URL for my Nikon Pronea Newsgroup:

http://williammanahan.com/nikon_pronea_list.htm

And I started a newsgroup for the Kodak FD 300 APS batch film scanner:

http://williammanahan.com/kodak_FD300_list.htm

-night all-

Steve Sheldon , June 10, 2000; 03:15 P.M.

I'm somewhat amazed that in all of this commentary on the APS film format, not one person has mentioned the old 126 cartridge!

Why are you comparing the APS film with the bungled 110 and disc? That's just plain stupid given that the APS negative is more the size of the 126 than it is of the 110.

The APS will succeed, just like the 126 cartridge, because Kodak/etc now has a format which combines the strengths of all those various formats and creates a wonderful compromise in size and quality.

The 126 took some amazing snapshots. I had one as a kid and I really miss the ease of use and quality snapshots it took for being a $20 camera.

luke k , July 05, 2000; 02:10 A.M.

i work in a photo lab and i am so sure that i can say all the bad things about APS format all day long (with the exception of one or two good things). some said that, "You never see your negatives, they also reside inside the canister." it's totally wrong. every time the film carier cannot get the film out of the canister (which happens very often), we have to do it by hand. and with 35mm film, you can have all C, H and P format if you want. index print for 35mm? the answer is also yes. APS is the worst thing ever happened to photography! lk

Tim Thompson , July 08, 2000; 02:13 A.M.

When the APS system was first introduced to retailers it was spouted as the new and wonderful film format of the future. This did not seem out of place for Kodak to say. What I realy found amazing was the statement that it comes from a long line of successful film formats such as 110 and disc. When I later asked how Kodak could possible consider two of the most misserable films ever concieved as succesful I was told it was from a marketing perspective not a photographers. Later I was privy to a Kodak report stating that APS was way down on projected sales, But was already considered successful due to the processing equipment sales to all major photo labs and mini labs. Currently Kodak is so desperate to unload their APS cameras that if you buy one you can get one for your friend at NO Charge! And we still havn't seen much of an increase in APS sales.

Robert Kennedy , July 11, 2000; 04:16 P.M.

People keep saying APS will die. But it's been around for a while now and keeps growing. APS is here to stay. Everyone I know is buying them. Usually an Elph or something similar for simply P&S use. One thing I found was that after my girlfriend got an Elph she started taking a lot more pictures than with her old 35mm P&S. She just found it easier to use and more fun. I would not be surprised to see that this is the case with a lot of people.

I myself own a Nikon Pronea 6i. This is probably the closest to a "pro" APS camera you can get. The results are amazing. I really enjoying being able to shoot B+W and then get it developed in one hour. Good luck finding a place to do that with 35mm!!!

If people want to bitch about "the worst thing to happen to photography", they should look towards digital. People are buying a LOT of digital cameras. The quality is obscene when compared to APS and 35mm and the cost is an outrage. You can't carry a lot of "film" with you easily (unless you have a LOT of cash) and they chew batteries like there is no tomorrow.

Stop being scared of new things people.

luke k , August 06, 2000; 06:17 A.M.

first, 1-hour b&w film for 35mm was introduced long before it was to aps. second, we are not afraid of new things... we love new things, but we THINK before using them. :) "he who knows does not speak. he who speaks does not know" confucius.

Rob Oborn , August 08, 2000; 10:07 A.M.

I also work in a photo lab, and have been selling cameras and equipment for over 6 years. APS had a good initial selling as something new and wonderful, and a better system in some respects. An indicator on the side of the film, index prints (just don't loose it), good negative storage and even easier loading.

There are a few drawbacks though. You're paying through the nose to get a lot of zoom on one. Canon's highest zoom in a compact is around 69mm (85-90mm in 35mm). The highest compact zoom size I've seen is 120mm (Minolta Vectis 40, around 150mm 35mm) but it's a lot more expensive than it's equivilent Minolta 150mm (35mm format). People have mentioned that APS is a non-pro system. I've had complaints in quality from your everyday Joe Customer, let alone that none of our business or pro customers even touch APS.

Some have mentioned that APS would be great for vacation shots. I'm sure this is true if you're on vacation most of the time, and can afford to go back to the place that you took photo's if you find out that you didn't get any good results. Most of the people I know of (including myself) aren't traveling all over the world all the time, and most people (again like myself) usually develop the photo's at a home lab where the quality can be trusted. Guess what, it's too late to go back and take another shot if the photos turn out like crap. Oh, and take only H format photo's people. It's like 35mm panorama people, cropped, not wider.

From having a full range of APS cameras in store when aps started, we now stock all of one. We've been told B/W and slide film IS available for APS, but we've never seen any here, nor is there enough call for it to be stocked. We can't do white borders on APS either, or enlarge it to anything cept 6x8. 1hr photo's aren't available on aps (unless you catch us at a particular time of day) due to the change over of paper that is required, and the far greater call of 35mm to be 1hr available.

Would have been a good system to add to 35mm, or at least be compatible with it. Most labs I know of still can't develop APS on site. Will it die? No, I don't think so. Everybody's still pushing it along cos they don't want to loose the bucks invested in it.

--James Mailand - , August 10, 2000; 04:20 P.M.

Last time I checked you can get 35mm c-41 b&w film from Konica, Ilford, and Kodak. Ive used all 3 films with a good 1 hour photo lab and the results were excellant. Ive also used the same films from Kodak and Ilford in medium format, with negatives having about 16 times the size of APS. If one hour photo labs for medium format existed I'm quite sure they could have processed my prints. Also Kodak sell c41 b&w film in 4x5 and 8x10 for view cameras. Lens and camera quality being simular, bigger negatives make better image quality prints.

Larry Smith , August 11, 2000; 09:43 A.M.

APS has its own niche and it was never intended to replace 35 mm photography even though I would guess that in their dreams Kodak and other companies who invented the new standard hoped it would take a bigger piece of the market. That's why Canon, Nikon and Minolta designed such advanced APS SLR's (EOS IX, Pronea 6i, Vectis S100) aiming them at advanced amateurs and even some pros (primarely photojornalists who don't need the highest image quality) They all discontinued by now and replaced with "lite" (=stripped) versions. After some initial success APS is on decline. "Serious" photographers simply did not accept it. For them all those PQI etc. are not necessary - they use slide film anyway. As for "Point-and-Shooters" - they are scared away from APS by higher film, camera, processing cost. There is, however, no doubt that despite all these facts and some photofinishers complains APS is not going to die just now. Even 110 still exists! APS has certain appeal for some people, and I am among them too. I like three print formats, especially "H". I would never order 8" by 12" enlargement just to cut a pseudopanorama out of it, by I use "P" once in a while and sometimes it looks pretty good. The fact that there is no slide APS films does not bother me. Like vast majority of amateur photographers I prefer "old good prints". My favourite APS feature is FTPM. At least you can see what you have really done, bad or good. You can even bracket and see the difference of +/-0.5 stop! Try to do this with 35 mm print film: you'll get everything 18% grey. What irritates me though that some people who use 35 mm and like it keep saying "APS sucks!" How I understand it - "Don't like it? Then don't use it!" After all there are pretty many different photographic formats which are piecefully and successfully coexist and APS is going to be one of them. The bottom line is that even though APS is not going to overturn the photographic world and became the only format :) it'll probably have its share of the photographic community.

Larry

John Smith , September 01, 2000; 06:53 P.M.

Each format has its purpose. Despite all the conveniences built into APS, I think its most important benefit is that it allows a smaller camera to be built that delivers acceptable 4x6/4x7 prints. I have an Elph 2 that fits in my pocket. I tried this with 35mm, including a Ricoh GR-1 which is one of the smaller 35mm's, but I never found one so small that I'd keep it in my pocket. My other camera is a Leica M6. It runs rings around the Elph for available light, focusing accuracy, image quality in enlargements, etc. But it's an apples and orange argument because that M6 isn't going to fit in my pocket. Sometimes that's a requirement for me when photography doesn't come first. An APS camera is better than no camera at all and it's actually pretty good in its own right for small prints to share with others. What I don't understand is why some people like the larger APS cameras. There you have a camera equal or greater in size to a camera with a larger format, 35mm. That would be like using a chunky 35mm the size of a 2 1/4" without benefits to justify the size, such as a fast motor drive. Well, that's been done too, ha. If you don't need the smaller size and convenience of APS, why use it? Go 35mm. If you don't need the smaller size of 35mm, why use it? Go 2 1/4". See what I'm getting at? There's a camera size/film format tradeoff. It's like 35mm vs. medium format, medium format vs. large format.

Graham Redman , September 22, 2000; 05:55 P.M.

Coming from the UK I am rather surprised by all these comments on the expected demise of APS or otherwise. It would seem unlikely that Leica would just release a new APS camera (the C11), their first, if the format were in such terminal decline. Also I recall reading in AP last year that in the rest-of-the-world APS compacts out-sell 35mm & overall camera usage, in terms of photos taken, has gone up as a result (of their ease of use?)

Robert Kennedy , September 26, 2000; 02:03 A.M.

People who say APS will die are confusing it with Disc film. Which is like confusing a 2000 model year car with a 1943 model year car... The real question is, if there is a sales decline in APS is there ALSO a sales decline in 35mm? A lot of people are also buying digital. And regarding C-41 in one hour: I have yet to find a reasonably priced 1 hour where I live that will touch the stuff. Especially since it's mostly Walgreens here. The guys look at it and say "Sorry". Then again they ain't the brightest. But their machines do a good job on APS film though. Better than on the 35mm stuff. If anyone wants some "good" APS prints, just e-mail me. I would post them, but my scanner sucks so the images look like dog-meat. :( But my Pronea 6i does a bang-up job....

DAvid W. Griffin , October 13, 2000; 10:17 A.M.

As a camera for people who don't understand or want to understand cameras, APS is head and shoulders above the former alternatives (127, 126, 110, disc, and so on). It's easy, and it tends to result in good snapshots. You can get more out of them, but I'd have to ask why, other than just to say you could.

Every format obviously has tradeoffs. In the APS you get a smaller negative. Since the same film technology has migrated to 35mm, given equivalent lenses and films, you can expect to get bigger enlargements from 35mm. Assuming that matters to you, what does APS give you that convinces you to forgo the capability for your picture to have more detail. Convenience is nice, but the more serious photographer can already handle his own cropping and probably can load film without trouble. The only thing I can think of is size.

But is there enough size difference to really matter? The Elph is a very nice tiny camera, but there are full 35's not much bigger (Contax T2 and the Minox 35GT are the ones I have). The very minor reduction in size of the Elph over the T2 and the 35GT seem inconsequential to me. In SLRs, the Pronea and it's lens don't seem much of an improvement in size over other 35mm SLRs either. Only the Minolta Vectis SLRs are smaller, and even they aren't that much smaller than small SLRs (Contax Aria and it's 28-70 lens for example). To me that is the thing. Sure cameras can be made a *little* more compact, but not enough to matter. If they got down to the Minox 16mm size that might be something. If they got down to Pentax's little 110 SLR size, that might be worthwhile. But as small as APS actually gets you, 35mm seems like a lot of image improvement with very little increase in size or weight. Given it's greater availability of film types, and the greater ease in finding someone to process it for you, APS seems like a bad choice for anyone wanting more than snapshots, even though the format is capable of doing more.

I have to wonder if once digitals give you good 5x7 (or even 8x10's) for under $300 prices how much APS film is going to get bought. Especially if you can get prints made directly from cheap digital film memory chips. 35mm's greater resolution and versatility will protect it for at least a little longer.

David Griffin, currently carbon_dragon@yahoo.com

Bud Colby , October 29, 2000; 01:06 A.M.

The camera that takes the best picture is the one that's in your hand. Portability is precisely what APS is good for, and specifically the Canon Elph Jr. A tiny thing that slips into the sleeve pocket of a bomber jacket and becomes nearly invisible until a photographic moment comes along for which it just happens to be the only camera available to capture the moment. I believe the Jr. has the largest negative available for anything in it's compact league. If it was any larger, it would have been left at home with all of the other fine equipment. Thank goodness that it has the fastest lens in APS land (f2.8.) as well. What I find amazing is that people spend as much on an APS "system camera" as they would on a leading brand 35 and maybe, just maybe, save 20% on the camera's weight and volume.

David Wing , November 19, 2000; 02:11 P.M.

Just a note about the risk of losing the magnetically stored information on APS films should they happen to be brought into close proximity to a magnetic field. A property of magnetic fields is that they can not penitrate into metal containers (the contain itself sets up a counter magnetic field which exactly nullifies the external field). Thus if the film cannister is made with a metal (i.e. one that is electrically conductive), then the magnetic information on the film should be protected. Unfortunately, I have never used or examined an APS film cannister. If they are not made of metal but say plastic, then they would not be protected.

Chris Saul , November 28, 2000; 04:46 P.M.

The cannister is made of plastic.

Graham Redman , November 28, 2000; 05:31 P.M.

I wondered if anybody knows why it is that in N. America Kodak APS processing produces a panoramic 4x11.5" when in England they used to come back at 4x10"? The extra 15% enlargement has a marked effect on the resolution of the panoramics, which obviously were borderline at 4x10". Here it seems to be landscapes only on "P" when I never had this problem before (I'm assuming that the Kodak film is the same in both markets).

Ed Bolton , December 09, 2000; 04:26 P.M.

My first APS camera, the 'cheap and dirty' Kodak 1600 is going to the dump. It was a great camera for the price. It survived 2 years in the back pocket of my bike jersey, taking all my wieght in a crash at one point, getting drenched in sweat and rain, suffering lots of other torture. The only problem it has developed is a sticky shutter button, but these things are such a value it seems dumb to take it apart to clean it and uneconomical to pay someone else to. I'll be looking to by a third APS camera, another small, cheap one, to carry on the bike next season; maybe the same model, maybe another.

My second APS camera is a Canon IX. It did fine on my vacation, thank you. I was not worried about having to go back and rephotograph. The local lab does as well or better with APS as 35MM. They are just machine jockeys anyway. People who seem to be having processing problems should find new jockeys.

Yes, the negative is smaller. Yes, in theorey large prints may be of lesser quality than a negative twice as big or whatever. But in practice the system works fine and makes for nice little rugged cameras. As an engineer, I like that. The physicists can worry about the theorey.

S. Agplater , February 19, 2001; 12:11 A.M.

I work in a busy camera shop/photo lab. Every day we print from 3,000 to 7,500 photos, about 5% of which are from APS negatives.

My APS customers are very happy with their cameras and the results they obtain. Typically, APS owners cite compact size and ease of film loading as the major sources of satisfaction. Admittedly, most APS users are not terribly sophisticated about their cameras or their photo skills.

Over the last year I've had customers complain that APS film is not available world wide (and neither are CR-2 and CR-123 batteries). Middle eastern, Indian subcontinent and far eastern areas seem to be largely without APS film and/or facilities to properly process the film.

Several customers related incidents where they left their APS film for processing in foreign camera shops (the middle east and Indian subcontinent appear to be the worst in this regard) only to have the shops break open the plastic canisters to extract the film. To add insult to injury, the negatives were processed, then cut into 1 to 3 frame strips to accommodate their ancient printing equipment. Cutting the negatives renders them essentially unprintable on conventional APS printing equipment as we have in our shop.

Based on these stories I would be very circumspect about selecting an APS camera if travel or use outside of North America, Europe, Japan and Australia is contemplated. 35mm still is the world standard.

Brad Willmore , May 16, 2001; 05:05 P.M.

Very nice review of the pros and cons of APS versus 35mm. I think the defining issue for a buyer isn't whether or not you're a professional photographer but whether or not you sometimes enlarge your snapshots. Like Phillip mentioned in his introductory article, the vast majority of everybody's photos stay in 4X6 format. With APS you're fine with a small print, but when you have one of those spectacular shots you really want to enlarge the quality suffers with a smaller negative, or is not as great as it could have been. Even the amatures among us like to have the option to enlarge a great shot.

The truly annoying thing about APS is they didn't need to shrink the size of the negative to get all the other groovy technology. Even if you can make up lost size with better emulsions why sacrifice size to begin with? Particularly since your APS film is in a 35mm footprint anyway. Was it really a photo company that invented this?

Axel Farr , May 22, 2001; 03:44 A.M.

Some three months ago, I managed to get a Canon EOS IX from eBay together with a lens. To me, the bundle was cheaper than a new lens alone, and it was just some months old - so I decided to bid for it, in the intention to sell the EOS IX soon.

But what happened? I did some test shots with it, using various films and different lenses. The image quality was not different from 35mm. The last reason to convince me from the advantage of the new format was the imprinting on the back of the prints: Date&time of exposure, focal length and aperture of the lens, exposure time and aperture used get printed on the back of each image. Since I am a lazy photographer and normally do not take notes on every image I have taken, this is a big deal for me.

Since I made some enlargements to 30cmx54cm (about 12"x21"), I am convinced that good photos can be made of nearly the same quality as with 35mm. Difference between the two is similar to the difference between 6x4.5 and 6x7 format - you see it, if you really take a close look and the print is large enough, but it is not such a big deal as the difference between medium format and 35mm. Especially images taken with the Fuji Nexia F100 are not to distinguish from images taken on any 100 or 200 speed negative film in 35mm.

Some big disadvantages of APS are:

- the limited number of films

- the size difference makes it useless for slide photography if you want to mix it with 35mm slides

- the costs of enlargements are still higher than for 35mm

So, if you want a second or third camera, APS might be an alternative, the same is true if you want to start photographing and do not intend to take slides. If you have a Canon EOS and some lenses, the start to APS will cost you some 200 - 300$, so it is not such a big deal.

I wished that some of the enhancements that APS got would be available in 35mm or a format compatible with 35mm soon - such as recording of date/time the image was taken.

Greetings, Axel

David H. Hartman , June 10, 2001; 10:04 A.M.

APS is for just fun!

APS is very small and very light, you can carry it with you all the time. APS doesn’t replace 35mm anymore than 35mm replaces 6x6 or 6x7 replaces 4x5. Help me understand here Phil, you don’t like heavy or medium weight 35mm SLR(s) or extremely light APS cameras just light weight, all plastic 35mm SLR(s) with all plastic 50/1.8 lenses that you throw away from time to time. ;-)

I love this Website, who else lets me mouth off like this!

Thanks Phil.

Michael Walter , June 15, 2001; 03:19 A.M.

I haven't read through all of the posts going back to 1997, but I thought I would throw in my 2 cents as my reasons for getting into APS were a little different than most. The camera size was not all that big a factor. The different features of midroll change and data imprinting were not a factor. The thing was that I got sick of screwing up rolls of film by having them not feed properly, or advance properly or having my kids open the back of the camera in the middle of a roll. It seemed to me that while camera companies would spend tons on the development of better lenses, better autofocus and better zooms, but the film holders and spools were almost always the same junk.

A lot of the negative discussion is from 35mm enthusiasts who consider the smaller APS negative to be unacceptable and incapable of producing pictures of similar quality to a 35mm negative. I think this is probably a similar discussion that medium format enthusiasts would apply to 35mm. My first camera was a 35mm Minolta, but I learned photography on a medium format Yashica. I loved medium format and even when I was nearly broke and cameraless, I hunted out a medium format camera a pawn shops rather than spend money on a 35mm. I felt that a medium format just allowed better composition and more latitude and better picture quality. While 35mm folks are saying that an APS picture can't be equally enlarged to 8X10, I felt that 35mm was too limiting in enlarging to 16X20, and even at 8X10, there is a significant difference between a medium format and a 35mm picture.

Eventually though I needed something more portable after my kids were born. I couldn't afford an SLR system and settled on a 35mm P&S. Was fine, but after various light leaks, a stuck roll of film that ruined a roller, after my daughter opened the back of my camera with a great pic of my son inside and after thinking my film was advancing only to find that it was spinning, I gave up.

My first APS was a Nikon Nuvis 75i. It did at least as good a job as any of the 35mm point and shoots I had had. I soon fell in love with the system because I never had a mis-spooled roll and I loved the safe storage of the negative. I can put a dozen rolls in a videocasette box and dont have to worry about trying to find which negatives went with which pic or worry about negatives sliding out of sleeves or getting fingerprints. I have some beautiful 8X12 pictures on my wall taken with the Nuvis and I guarantee you would not know if they were from a 35mm or APS.

My second APS was a Minolta Vectis 2000. This one was for the size. I found the elphs just a little too small. The Vectis 2000 could be closed to elph size and slid open to a very comfortable size. My wife loved this camera.

As I was more pleased with APS P&S than 35mm, and as I had a bit more money, I decided to try an APS SLR system. I went with a used Nikon Pronea 6i. I'm very pleased with this camera. As with any camera you get, your pictures 6 months after you get it are better than the first ones you took, and now after almost 2 years with the pronea, I'm very happy. Not every shot is a winner but this happens when I try to make the camera do things it can't do, and it happens to every photographer regardless of the camera or film size. I trust this camera and again, I have never had a film "accident" since using APS.

APS may not be for everyone, but it was for me. I love it and even after I eventually move into digital, the film camera I keep will likely be APS. Which brings to mind for those that focus on the size of a negative, how big is a CCD on a digital camera? I've never seen an argument that digital cameras are of poorer quality then 35mm because the CCD is smaller. The arguments seem to be just as with any other system; the quality of the lens and the quality of the CCD or software processing.(addendum: I guess there are arguements for CCD size after all, the hp photosmart 912 promotes itself as having better image quality in part due to its larger CCD. I guess it never ends.)

The caveats I would take if you are thinking about an APS camera are as mentioned above by others, don't get it if you travel out of the country frequently (or bring all the film you could possibly need), and don't get it if you think you want to make slides. The film choices are still very limited and probably won't be improving anytime soon, and processing can be a bit harder to find and a bit more costly. Also, don't get it just for the pseudo-panoramic feature. Very tricky to get a high quality panoramic, though that also improves over time with getting familiar with what the camera can and cannot do.

Bob Johnson , June 16, 2001; 04:03 P.M.

Re the availability of APS film overseas... I did a two week vacation in Scotland in early May and APS film (most often Kodak) was available everywhere in at least 200 speed where film was being sold. That means every place that was a tourist attraction and had film available had APS. And of course photo stores in Glasgow had full speed range available. Only t hing not seen was new Fuji 800, but only place I've seen that in US was in a Target store in Michigan. Since it was available in Scotland, it may be safe to assume equal availability anywhere in UK. One thing did suprise me... Jessops was selling Minolta S-1 with lens for 250 pounds... or very much more than the discounted price that seems to prevail in US now. Ditto the duty free shop in Glasgow.... same price. Bob Johnson

Jake Pon , June 28, 2001; 04:22 A.M.

I would like to offer another perspective on comparing the resolution of APS films to that of 35mm.

When I compare computer printers, I'd call the 600x600dpi model as having *twice* the resolution as the 300x300dpi counterpart. Similarly, when comparing computer screen resolutions, 1600x1200 is twice the resolution of 800x600. If you compare the two in terms of area, the number squares and the difference becomes four-fold.

That's exactly why I look at APS film as having 70% the resolution of 35mm, rather than saying it has roughly 50% of the film area. [16.7mm (height of APS) / 24mm (of 35mm) = 69.583%]

Of course that does not change the empirical loss in resolution. It's just that I feel this is a more accurate approach in quantifying the difference in image resolution.

Bob Johnson , July 05, 2001; 05:35 P.M.

Greetings. Here are some comments after looking at 12-14 rolls of Fuji 100 and 400 pictures from an early May trip to Scotland, nearly all taken in the "H" format w/a Minolta S-1 using 22-80 (mostly), 80-240, and 50mm macro. Many taken in gardens, most of the rest landscapes, some hotel interiors. (Alas, unlike France, could not shoot interiors even w/o flash almost anywhere.) Polarizer on 22-80 often, the others not much. Overall, these are fine 4x7 prints that will well serve the primary role... a record of the trip to share with friends in a large page photo book display. Took APS for the light weight of the kit... my other cameras are XE-7, XK, SRTs and lenses of the period. Heavy stuff for the same lens range. Drawbacks? The smaller viewfinder does make composition more of a challenge. And the slow max apertures limit use of 100 film in anything except the brightest light at a decent shutter speed... and I don't like to shoot in bright light. Next time I'd just leave the 100 behind and stay with 400. (So much for mid-roll change.) Do it again? Don't know. Have done 35mm and APS on two different trips to France. Deciding factor? Just might be the larger viewfinder. And maybe a faster lense for interiors when you can use it. Pack an extra (aged) body in the suitcase for backup and carry the XE-7, the 28-85mm, a 200/4.5 and a 35/1.8 for interiors. Pay a weight penalty. Bob Johnson

Doc Walter , July 06, 2001; 12:14 P.M.

I have been standing behind a camera for over 25 years. I have taken portraits of Presidents of the United States to the quick "shake and grins". I've worked and studied around the world and received my PhD in Fine Arts back in 1986. Until recently, I wouldn't consider using a 35mm for anything but vacation snapshots of the family. However, with the advent of the newer high grade films I double shot several sessions with the RB67 and a Canon 35mm. To say I was impresssed that a negative 1"X1.5" would produce 8-10's of such quality took me by suprise. Maybe in another 25 years they'll get me to try an even smaller format, i.e. the APS. Untill then, I'll continue to use a good crew in the darkroom that doesn't have to be told by the camera how to make a good print.

Danny Toman , August 18, 2001; 12:40 A.M.

Several comments have been made about the "protection" provided to APS negatives. I work in a photo lab, and my experience is that negatives that have been curled for a long time don't like to be flattened. Add about 50 years and your "protected" APS negatives will crumble before they are flat enough to print.

Paul Rentz , March 02, 2002; 02:22 P.M.

APS is slowly going to go the way of 126, 110 and Disc. Minolta just announced that it would put its APS development staff into its digital camera development staff and end any further work on APS cameras. Minolta was one of the Big Five in development of the system! The format was almost doomed from the beginning because of the lack of coordination between the system developers and the people who would be selling it- the specialty retailers and minilabs that process film. If you have one of these cameras, don't worry- processing and film will be around for a while, but watch out for 2004. By then, most cameras will be digital with very little new coming out in film cameras of any format. The next step for the photo industry is to not repeat itself in the digital age. The first year digital cameras were sold in large volume, 40% were returned! Many more were left to collect dust in the closet! People assumed they could do the same things with a digital camera that they did with a film camera, but the digital cameras of that generation were not ready for that roll. Now they are, but are photo processors ready? Not everyone wants to spend the evening after taking pictures to print them out! Not everyone even has a computer and a photo printer to print them out. Not everyone even knows how to! Many still want to leave their "film" with a lab and come back in an hour. Is that possible? Yes! It is! But how many people know that? I'm working on the knowledge issue- hopefully you'll see results soon. Paul Rentz Corvallis, OR

Derek Fong , August 07, 2002; 04:35 P.M.

Well said, Trevor. I have been using APS since 1999 when I bought myself a Nikon Pronea S shortly before heading off to Cuba for vacation. Since then, I have noticed a steady increase in the number of merchants who sell and develop APS film. It used to be that I could only find APS films at specialty stores, but now every pharmacy and most convenience stores now carry at least some APS films. In many cases, APS films now share the same prominence as their older 35mm siblings in store displays. Even in smaller towns, I have generally not had any problems finding APS film. Processing and film costs are still notably higher than with 35mm films, but I am willing to spend that premium for the convenience of the APS format (it's so easy to get spoiled by mid-roll change and automatic film loading).

Of course, it is unfortunate that some camera makers are scaling back their new APS camera models, but I think that is a sign of the photography market, really. All film-based cameras (35mm, APS or otherwise) are not doing as well as before, since digital cameras have taken over the market. When critics of the APS format point to lagging APS sales as a sign of non-acceptance by consumers, it's important to view it in this perspective and the fact that consumer spending on "luxury items" is still hesitant in many parts of the world. As long as facilities exist and continue to improve on the APS front, I will continue to use and enjoy my Pronea S, which BTW, takes very nice photos for such a small SLR. Don't dismiss APS just because it doesn't have the 100-year head start that 35mm has. In an ideal world, I would love to see both formats co-exist and receive equal treatment.

Fazal Majid , December 27, 2002; 03:22 A.M.

Not to flog a dead horse, but the reason APS is stagnating (hardly any new product development, 40% decline in P/S camera sales and 80% decline in APS SLR sales) is that even lowly consumer-grade digicams can offer better image quality, in equally compact packages (viz. the popularity of the Canon digital Elph). The format will take some time to die out, but since the market is almost entirely snapshooters, there won't be enough of a niche of enthusiasts to sustain it unlike 35mm.

Source: Photo Industry Reporter article 2002-06-17

Frank Schifano , April 19, 2003; 03:43 P.M.

So here we are some 6 years after this thread started. APS is, for all intents and purposes, a dead format. The way I see it, Phil was right from the start. Except for the ultra convenient film handling aspects of the format, there is no real advantage to Advantix. As for myself, I'll continue to use the largest negative I can for a given situation. Heck, I even think that 35mm is too small!

Bob Johnson , April 27, 2003; 09:54 P.M.

Well, Phil was mostly right six years ago as to the final outcome for APS. But I don't think he quite had the reasons right and couldn't have that far back in the past. I'd have to agree with my local camera sales folk that what really killed APS was the arrival of small digital cameras in the 2.0 to 3.0 megapixel range for prices under $300... and so now we have, for instance, the Digital Elph building on the brand recognition and market place success of the original Elph in APS. Konica is doing the same thing. For what had become the APS market, the jump to digital in the past year as a point and shoot replacement has been the end. Meantime, things like the Minolta Vectis S-1 and lenses are heavily discounted on eBay and people are buying them. Don't know how the Nikon and Canon SLR variants are doing these days. And I'll confess to still using my Vectix system for the same reasons I started a few years ago... a light weight vacation kit with 28 to 300 mm lense range. Just finished another round in Savannah last week, but now having negatives scanned at a megapixel level higher than a 5 megapixel digicam and getting my prints made at Adorama. Works just fine and I'll likely keep using this until the thing breaks. I've got 40+ rolls of Nexia 100 stashed away. And I recently got a very much discounted Contax Tix to carry around everywhere. A bargain, and I'm not worried about recharging batteries. APS will linger along for a while until more people migrate to digital... how fast that happens will depend on ease of processing prints in a way that makes point and shoot people happy.

Bob Johnson , July 21, 2003; 07:34 P.M.

For those who might still be interested, Kodak is now selling an APS 100 ISO version of their High Definition film in the UK and several other western European countries, although not Germany. I've sent an email to Kodak US to see if it might be available in US at some point, but I suspect this simply means that in the UK and several other places demand/interest in APS remains strong enough to support a new entry... at 100 ISO no less. I use Fuji Nexia 100 with a 50mm Vectis macro lens on a tripod, then have it scanned to CD... prints up to 8x10 from Adorama are quite fine. And so I'd love to try the Kodak film if ever the chance presents. Bob Johnson

Amber Tan , August 12, 2003; 12:26 P.M.

I'm a camera newbie and didn't even know APS exist until I bought my Olympus i-zoom 3000. Was only attracted by the size of the camera and didn't even know that it uses "a different kind of film" from my previous camera. Felt very cheated by the salesman as the camera didn't come cheap.

I was very worried that my holiday photos will not turn out well with this "unknown" type of film (although APS is around for more than 5 years i never heard about it!). However, my New Zealand photos turned out extremely well.. even better than my normal camera. All my friends praised the photos. Even friends who are into serious photography praised. I'm happy with APS :) Of cos, the only negative point i see is the cost of the film and processing fees. Other than that, i've no complaints!

joe zammarelli , October 07, 2003; 05:06 P.M.

I have to agree with Fazal. I was set to go with a top-of-the-line APS when I was given a middle-of-the-road 3mp ditigal. No contest. I balked for years, but the quality is finally there for digital p&s, even pros have been using digital for years and I see no real future in APS.

The selling point of APS is convenience, as in drop-in cannisters. What could be more convenient than no cannister? How about a memory chip that holds a couple of thousand images? Panorama? Got it. And the convenience of direct download to my PC is enough to sell me right there. But the clincher is I'll never have to buy, carry, or process a roll of film ever again.

Some complain that the manufacturers didn't apply APS technology to 35mm. If they'd have done that they'd have scared off a bunch of new buyers. I'll bet they did this on purpose. Bring out a new line of simple cameras, attract a new generation of shooters, get 'em used to taking pix, then hit 'em with the ultimate in convenience...digital.

Just my dos centavos.

Bob Johnson , October 30, 2003; 12:46 A.M.

I agree about the allure of digital... I got a Dimage 5 couple of years ago for Christmas and its what I use around the house and yard when I need to get a shot of something easily and quickly. But I still use the Vectis S-1 and lenses since that gives me a range that I can't duplicate yet in digital (prices for SLRs and lenses still too high although the new Olympus is tempting)... and on a recent trip to Oregon I got my first real appreciation for the rain resistant sealing while walking through a nature preserve. For small and light and range of focal lenghts, the S-1 system right up to the 400mm still has an advantage. I have the film scanned at high resolution and send to Adorama for prints. I suspect this will serve as "travel" system for another year or so. Bob Johnson

KENNETH GLUGOVER , November 20, 2003; 12:47 P.M.

I AGREE WITH BOB JOHNSON-OCT.2003.I OWN THE COMPLETE VECTIS S-1 SYSTEM. IF YOU'RE NOT SHOOTING FOR PUBLICATION AND DON'T NEED ANYTHING LARGER THAN 8X10,THE SYSTEM IS VERSATILE AND LOTS OF FUN. ALSO OWN NIKON PRONEA 6I SYSTEM. GET TO USE ALL MY NIKON MT. LENSES WITH 6I. I'M A TRADITIONALIST,BUT DIGITAL IS DEFINITELY THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL.

derek straub , July 05, 2004; 06:03 A.M.

Im a mean old photographer, and ive come to like APS as the prices are now rock bottom. The best cameras i find are ; (1) contax tix as i can fit in on my belt and the lens is the best around. (2) minolta s1 as its small and waterproof, pity the lens mount is unique (3) the 2 nikon slr's maybe the nuvis s is easier but the 600i is so versitile, plus any af nikon lens works (4) fiji 310ix as its flat and does 24-70mm equiv (5) fuji tiara ix 1010 cos its weeny!! there is also the leica/fuji c11, but the 310ix does the same, and is smaller. allways use 400 film, its a pity the slide film has gone,i've still got a few rolls, it doesn't seem to loose its speed up to 2 years past date! although i freeze them! camera shops in the uk are now reducing short dated film. keep going with it, i still use 126 and it works super, but aps has panoramic which can be fun! plus you get exposure details on the back!

regards derek straub 5th june 2004

Talbert McMullin , January 11, 2005; 03:29 P.M.

I have all of you beat. I would not touch an APS camera with a ten-foot pole. Instead, I carry an old Olympus Pen half-frame camera. The thing is tiny! Even though I do not have all the "technological advances" of APS, I can use ANY 35mm film my heart desires, even slide film, and come out with better photos.

As a marketing professional, I will let you in on a little secret: APS is nothing more than marketing gimmickry. That's it! Nothing more! If you don't want to mess with film or hassel with processing, forget APS and get yourself a good 4 megapixel digital camera. You'll love yourself for it.

Martin Kalaydjian , April 16, 2005; 09:20 A.M.

My experience may be unique. Years ago I ditched my 35mm Konica equipment (two bodies, six lenses, a dozen filters, flashes, and assorted accessories) for the convenience and simplicity of an APS Nikon Nuvis 125 point and shoot camera.

I really liked the format, but missed the flexibility of a SLR camera, so shortly thereafter I got a Canon EOS IX lite and a couple of USM lenses. This camera does fine for about 95% of your photo needs. But lately, it seems that APS is becoming another orphan format. The film selection is pretty sparce, processing is ridiculiously expensive, and nothing but the most basic cameras are being sold.

So.... I moved back to 35mm, by getting a used Canon Rebel 2000 and a couple of more lenses, so I could use the Canon lenses I already had. I was really pleased with the results, so I soon acquired a used Canon EOS 7E Quartz date...

I've noticed that the best bargains in photography are late model 35mm lenses and bodies. New models are released so frequently, that you can get used equipment at significant savings. Plus, the people who own mid range equipment tend to take pretty good care of their stuff.

Oh, and in a while, I'll probably be adding a Canon Digitial Rebel XT, or a Canon Digital EOS 20 to replace my 4 megapixle Olympus.

Gerald McMullon , September 08, 2005; 10:46 A.M.

I stayed away from APS because everyone pointed out that a quality 35mm even without zoom can produce a better enlargement and digital cameras at over 2Megapixel can as well. I therefore went the route of Minox 35mm but did get a Konica Revio which my wife does carry with her, does not leave behind which was happening with the Pentax compact 35mm she had.

Having used an Ixus II and Ixus V (digital) I looked into APS again. With many models down to under 30USD and even top models still in demand at below 30GBP I have collected a few to test out.

The Minolta Vectis S1 SLR has a large and interesting range of lens and produces the best results from an ISO 400 film I have ever seen. As my normal heavy shooter is a Minolta 7Xi this is praise indeed.

Tests with the Canon Ixus II have been impressive and it is certainly smaller than my Minox 35 cameras and has been no problem to carry around all the time.

The 35mm results, particular using ISO 100 are far better and A2 posters are stunning, but a camera left at home is more than useless. The results from Vectis S1 and Ixus II are suffiently good and the cameras small enough that I will continue to make good use of them.

Digital, now with 8 Megapixel cameras, is better, but it is swapping not having enough film available to never having enough charged batteries when you need it. The battery for the Minox 35 and APS cameras last more than a year. Batteries for my digital cameras are lucky to be still charged a week later, unless I do remember to remove them until use.

With many top model APS cameras how being sold for under $10 they are certainly worth consideration again.

Gerald www.submin.com/aps

Lee Osborne , November 10, 2008; 09:23 A.M.

You might think I'm strange, but I've only started using APS in the last year or so, even though it's clearly a format in its death throes.

I'm a photographer on a tight budget, and I can't yet afford a digital SLR of the quality I'd like. Even good 35mm SLRs are a bit pricey for me. However, APS SLRs are incredibly cheap, and I'm now the proud owner of both Nikon Pronea cameras. The S is a bit plasticky and basic, but still capable of lovely results. The 600i is a *serious* camera with all the features I could possibly want - available for a tiny fraction of an equivalent DSLR.

I rarely enlarge photos, so the smaller neg on APS is not a problem. Also, a lot of the APS features are seriously useful. Film handling is a joy, and mid-roll change is very useful (although increasingly less so as film choice gets ever smaller). The C and P aspect ratios aren't all that useful for me, but the 16:9 H ratio is unique to the format and very nice to work with, especially for landscapes.

Data recording on the film is a boon as well. Backprinted time and date info is a great thing to have. I get my pictures scanned onto CD at the time of processing, and the data recorded by the camera gets encoded onto the scans as EXIF data, making working with my images digitally a real breeze. I can even geotag them with the time/date info.

Jessops in the UK do a nice job with APS processing and charge the same as 35mm - with a free film every time. So, running costs are not high.

Quality of the prints is very good. Grain is slightly more noticeable than 35mm, but I've found my APS results to be more consistently good than 35mm. Perhaps it's because it's the ultimate machine-friendly film format, capable of talking meaningfully to the processing kit. As a result, even outdated film performs really well. ISO100 APS film is no longer produced, but I got some rolls of Fuji 100 of unknown vintage recently. The results were excellent, with very fine grain and lovely colours.

APS wasn't/isn't for everyone, but there's life in it yet, and for my purposes it's a joy to work with. I love the results and I love the cameras.

I suspect film will be available for a while yet. In the UK, you can buy APS in lots of places and it's around in fairly large quantities. Unfortunately, only 200-speed film is left, but 400 can be bought online and imported from Japan at a reasonable price, and I got all the 100 I could eat for peanuts on eBay recently.

Just because it may not work for you, doesn't mean it doesn't work for others. I'll happily shoot APS until it disappears. As film's last format, it was a great attempt to make a genuine improvement, and technically it's very clever. It did all it set out to achieve, and I'm glad it's here.


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