Photo CD (1992 – 2004)

Photo CD was an optical disc system based on the Compact Disc that allowed the storage of up to 100 high quality images in a proprietary format. It was introduced by Kodak in 1992, and the format is defined in the Biege Book standard (one of the Rainbow Books covering Compact Disc standards). Kodak’s Photo CD system also included the scanners for photo processing labs that could take scans from film negatives or slides. Photographers could take exposed film to a Photo CD processing lab, where the film would be developed and scanned to a Photo CD, or they could have previously developed film scanned to Photo CD.

Photo CDs were designed to be played on a dedicated standalone Photo CD player connected to a domestic television, but they could also be played in a CD-i player. It was possible to play them on a computer with suitable software, but at the time CD-ROM drives were still uncommon.

The system was not popular with consumers, though it was more accepted by professional photographers.  Although there were around 140 Photo CD processing labs in the US alone by 2000, by this time domestic scanners enabled consumers to scan their own photographs. In 1999, Kodak had also introduced the more affordable Picture CD system, with images in JPEG format burned onto a recordable CD that also held the software required to the view and edit the images on a computer.

Kodak had completely abandoned the Photo CD business by 2004, but never released the image specifications. However, it has been reverse-engineered so it is possible to convert images to other formats.

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135 film (1934 – )

135 is a photographic film format, using a single-use cartridges of 35mm film. The designation was introduced by Kodak in 1934 for use in its Kodak Retina camera, and quickly grew in popularity, surpassing formats like 120, 126110 and APS and remains popular today despite digital photography. 35mm film was used in still photography before this time, but had to be loaded by the photographer into reusable cassettes in a darkroom.

135 cameras can be loaded in daylight as the film is contained in a light-tight metal cartridge. In most cameras, the film is wound onto a spool as the film is used and rewound into the cartridge once fully exposed, but in some cameras (particularly disposable models) the film is unwound fully to begin with and exposed in reverse order so there is no need to rewind at the end.

Negative size is 36mm x 24mm, and this size is still used by digital camera image sensors. The half-frame format (18mm x 24mm) had some success in the 1960s, and some cameras have used different negative sizes.

Colour and monochrome films, negative and positive have been produced, as well as specialist films such as those sensitive to infrared radiation. Generally, the number of exposures on a 135 film are 12, 24 or 36, although until about 1980, 20 exposure films were the only films generally available with less than 36 exposures. It is often possible to get a few more exposures on a film. Since the 1980s film cassettes have been marked with a DX encoding pattern so cameras can detect the film speed. (ISO).

By the 1970s, SLR and smaller compact 135 cameras proliferated, and automated processing and printing machines made developing easier and less expensive, so quality colour prints became available from supermarkets and chemists as well as camera shops, often in less than an hour.

Despite the popularity of digital photography, 135 SLRs, compact point-and-shoot cameras, and single-use cameras continue to be built and sold, and 135 film is still readily available.

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16mm film (1923 – )

16mm film is a format for cinematography, introduced by Kodak in 1923 as a less expensive amateur alternative to 35mm film. An original selling point was the availability of films to buy or rent from the Kodascope library. 16mm film stock has always been on acetate safety film.

Sound was added by RCA in 1930 (film for sound use was perforated on one side only to make room for an optical or magnetic soundtrack), and colour in 1935 with the introduction of Kodachrome.

By the 1930s, 16mm film began to make inroads into the educational film market, and in the post-WWII years there was a huge expansion of professional filmaking for government and industry. Television production also made use of 16mm film, especially for new-gathering and exterior filming (in the UK, most exterior television footage was shot on 16 mm film from the 1960s until the 1990s). The BBC played a large part in the development of the format, working with Kodak in the 1950s and 1960s to bring 16 mm to a professional level.

Home cinematographers moved to the smaller 8mm and Super 8mm formats.

Super 16 was developed in 1969 and has a larger picture area and wider aspect ratio, but this is at the expense of the space for the soundtrack so the film is optically or digitally enlarged onto 35mm film for projection.

16mm and Super 16 film is still used in television, and sometimes in film making.

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Preservation / Migration

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Advanced Photo System (APS) (1996 – 2004)

Advanced Photo System or APS was a film format for still photography introduced in 1996 by a number of camera manufacturers including Kodak, FujiFilm, AgfaPhoto and Konica.

APS film was 24mm wide, and could take photos in three image formats or aspect ratios, Classic which was equivalent to 135 film aspect ratio (3:2), High Definition which was wider (16:9) and Panoramic which was wider still (3:1). Most APS cameras could use all three aspect ratios.

Film was available with 15, 25 or 40 exposures. Film was automatically wound and rewound, and in certain cameras partially exposed film could be removed and used later. The film cartridge had indicators to show the state of the film, such as whether the film had been processed (since processed film was stored in the original cartridge).

The film surface had a transparent magnetic coating, and some cameras could use this information exchange (IX) system for recording information about each exposure such as aspect ratio, date and time the photo was taken, captions, or information such as shutter speed and aperture setting. Cheaper cameras such as disposable models used an optical system to record aspect ratio only.

APS film was mainly used in amateur point and shoot cameras, and although some SLR models were available, it never caught on with professional photographers due to its smaller film area and small selection of film speeds and colour formats.

A few years after its introduction the falling price of digital cameras saw APS camera sales plummet and in 2004 Kodak ceased APS camera production.

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127 film (1912 – 1970s)

127 film was a roll film format for still photography, introduced by Kodak in 1912 for use in the folding ‘Vest Pocket Kodak’. Other camera manufacturers also made Vest Pocket-format cameras, and so 127 film at the time was often labeled ‘Vest Pocket Film’. It was most commonly used in amateur cameras (such as the Kodak Brownie range), and most 127 negatives were contact-printed rather than enlarged.

The roll is 46mm wide, giving images of 4×3, 4×4 or 4x6cm (the backing paper had markings for 4×4 and 4×6 image formats), placing it between 135 and 120 films in terms of negative size. With the 4×4 image size, each roll gave 12 exposures.

It enjoyed widespread use until the 1960s when its usage declined with the popularity of 135 film, and newer cartridge-based films such as 126.

Kodak stopped making 127 cameras in 1970, and stopped making 127 film in 1995, but it is still produced in small quantities for niche use.

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120 film (1901 – )

120 is a still photography roll film format introduced by Kodak for their Brownie No. 2 camera in 1901.

Originally intended as an amateur format, it is still in use by both professionals and amateur enthusiasts, despite being superseded by 135 film. It was the most popular film format in the 1960s, and because of the larger negative size, provides better quality images than 135.

120 is a medium format film, on an open spool, A typical film is between 76 and 84cm in length, and 61mm wide, with a backing paper to protect the film and provide frame numberings for different size images. The number of exposures available depended on the size of the images chosen, which could be anything from 6cm x 4.5cm up to 6cm x 24cm depending on the camera.

220 film, introduced in 1965, has no backing paper and therefore offers twice the number of exposures.

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126 film (1963 – 1988)

126 was a cartridge-based photographic film format introduced by Kodak in 1963 for its range of Instamatic cameras. The number 126 had previously been used for an unrelated roll-film format.

The number 126 comes from the dimensions of the negatives, 26.5mm square.

It has a continuous paper backing, and the frame number is visible through a small window at the rear of the cartridge. Cameras for this type of film were equipped with a larger rectangular window in the back door, through which was visible not only the frame number, but also a portion of the label showing the film type and speed. The cartridge has a captive take-up spool, but no supply spool, with the film simply coiled tightly in the supply end of the cartridge.

The film is unperforated, except for one registration hole per image. A sensing pin in the camera falls into this hole when the film is fully advanced to the next frame, at which point the winding knob or lever is locked. The film does not need to be rewound, and is very simple to load and unload.

The film is pre-exposed with frame lines and numbers, a feature intended to make printing and viewing easier. The top edge of the cartridge above the film gate has a square notch in a specific position corresponding to the speed of the film in the cartridge, used by some higher-end cameras.

Originally available in 12 and 20 exposures, by the time regular production stopped it was only available in 24 exposure cartridges.

Around 10 million 126 film cameras were made by Kodak and other companies, mostly fairly simple amateur models. Kodak stopped making 126 Instamatic cameras in 1988, and stopped making 126 film in 1999, but some 126 film has been produced by other companies since.

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Disc film (1982 – 1988)

Disc film was a cartridge-based film format for still photography, introduced by Kodak in 1982.

The film was in the form of a disc with 15 exposures arranged around the edge, contained in a slim cartridge. Each negative was just 8mm x 10.5mm, less than 40% of the size of the already small 110 film negatives.

Disc cameras were aimed at consumers and were generally completely automated and very simple to load and unload.

The size of the negative led to generally unacceptable grain and poor definition in the final prints. The film was intended to be printed with special 6-element lenses from Kodak, but many labs simply printed discs with standard 3-element lenses used for larger negative formats.

The film was officially discontinued by the last manufacturer, Kodak, in 1999, though Disc cameras had disappeared from the market long before then, with Kodak ending production in 1988. In its lifetime though, over 25 million Disc cameras were sold.

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Slide carousel (1950s – 2000s)

A slide carousel was a circular tray for holding 35mm slides for use in a slide projector, allowing slides to be stored and viewed sequentially.

The most well known was the Kodak Carousel projector, introduced in 1962, but based on a design by Louis Misurace from the 1950s, which originally used an 80-slide carousel (some later models could use a 140-slide carousel) in a horizontal position so the slides dropped into the projector. A locking ring holds the slides in place.

During the 1970s, Kodak also produced a Pocket Carousel projector for use with 110 film slides.

Another family of projectors, the RotoTray, was based around a design originated by Sawyer’s/GAF and later sold under many brand names. On these, the carousel was mounted vertically, and slides pushed in from the side. Slides were held in place by friction.

Kodak stopped producing the Carousel projector in 2004.

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110 film (1972 – 1990s)

110 was a cartridge-based film format for still photography, introduced by Kodak in 1972 for use in its Pocket Instamatic cameras. It was based on Kodak’s 126 format, but with a smaller negative size (110 uses 16mm film) making it difficult to enlarge successfully, but allowing for very compact cameras. Both 126 and 110 film were introduced to meet consumer demands for film that was easier to load and unload than roll-film cameras.

When in use, the frame number on the paper backing was visible through a window at the rear of the cartridge. The film did not need to be rewound. It was pre-exposed with frame lines and numbers, a feature intended to make it easier and more efficient for photo processors to print, and contains one perforation per frame. Negatives were returned from processing in strips, without the original cartridge.

A tab on one side could be used to indicate the film speed, either ‘low’ (ISO 100) with a long tab, or ‘high’ (ISO 400) with a short tab. Most cameras were unable to make use of this feature.

Most 110 cameras were low-cost, but more sophisticated models were available, with multi-element focusing lenses and electronically controlled exposure systems.

110 slide film was available from Kodak until 1982, and Kodak stopped making 110 cameras in 1994, although 110 film is still available today for specialist use.

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