The Difference between DX and APS film??

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by wheelygirl, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. wheelygirl

    wheelygirl Member

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    O. K., a request of info:
    Is there a difference between DX and APS film? I have seen Kodak APS, but I know nothing of DX. :confused:
    This type film is required of my Pentax P3; which I do hope to use with color film, while I use the Minolta for my b&w class assignments. All responses gratefully appreciated!!:smile: :smile:
     
  2. thebanana

    thebanana Subscriber

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    I think you are talking about 2 very different things. DX coding refers to the bar code printed on 35mm film canisters which is read by a sensor in your camera, and automatically (if your camera has this feature) adjusts the ISO within your camera's settings. (ISO 50, 100, 400 etc.)
    APS film refers to a type of film produced for specially designed cameras. I believe it is approx. 24mm, not 35mm. APS film cannot be used in 35mm cameras, and vice versa.
     
  3. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    APS (Advanced Photo System) film was a format introduced by Kodak and copied by everyone else It was a replacement for the Instamatic formats first introduced in the mid-1960's. These formats all had in common that the film was in a plastic cassette that the user simply dropped into special cameras. The camera would then automatically thread the film. After exposure, the user then took the plastic cassette to the processor who would open it, remove the film, process it and make prints, etc. Both the APS and Instamatic formats also shared the common characteristic that the film was an orphan size - the first Instamatic film was slightly narrower than traditional 35mm and was perforated on only one edge, while the second generation instamatic was a tiny 16mm width that worked just fine for 4x6 drugstore prints, but was unacceptably grainy if enlarged to any degree. APS was also a narrow film, but it also had a data track along one edge.

    Both the Instamatic and APS formats were attempts to expand the photography market by producing dumbed-down products for people who were incapable of dealing with the mechanical challenge of loading a 35mm camera. The cameras were all simple point-and-shoot, fixed focus box cameras. APS never really found a strong market, and the introduction of point-and-shoot 35mm cameras that automatically loaded and threaded film pretty much killed the format.

    DX film is ordinary 35mm film in a special cassette. The only thing special about the cassette is the way it is painted - there is a pattern of rectangles on the side of the cassette that is the encoded film speed. DX cameras have a set of contacts in the film compartment that read the film speed from coding on the cassette. It's generally not possible to manually enter a film speed in a camera that requires DX coding, but DX film can be used in conventional 35mm cameras.

    As far as I know, all commercially-packaged film today comes in a DX packaging, so you should not have a problem getting materials for your class. The APS format, by contrast, is essentially obsolete and may be hard to find.
     
  4. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Hi Wheelygirl,

    Simply put - you want to use the DX film in your camera.

    As was earlier explained, the DX is simply a bar code that film producers put on the cannisters. Any camera that is capable of "reading" the bar code will automatically adjust its settings to the ISO of the film in the cannister.

    However, it is just a code on the cannister of what is regular 35mm film. So someone with an older camera that doesn't automatically adjust the ISO setting can still use the film. They just do as they would always have done - and manually adjust for the ISO on their camera.

    For a while there was both DX-coded and older, non-DX-coded film on the marketplace. Now, just about everything is DX-coded.

    Whatever you do, don't buy the APS stuff - it won't work with your camera!
     
  5. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The APS format was adopted by a consortium of at least 3 film manufacturers which included Kodak, Fuji and Agfa. They designed the entire system from the ground up. The group also included several camera manufacturers as well so that high end cameras could be designed to fit this. The Nikon Pronea is one of them.

    The film was designed to work with digital photography and the format of the image size was chosen to be identical to that of then current sensors for digital cameras.

    It was intended to be both an amateur and professional film. I have posted the structure of this film elsewhere on APUG. It has extra layers for data recording that inculdes exposure information, date and time.

    The introduction date was simultaneous (as much as possible) with all manufacturers who participated in the design phase.

    PE
     
  6. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Actually, there were APS SLRs. AFAIK, they didn't sell very well, but they did exist.

    I seem to recall that one of the selling points of APS was that negatives were returned in the original film cartridge, thus protecting them from damage. (I've never used APS products, though, so I could just be misinformed.)

    I'm not sure I'd agree that "easy-load" 35mm cameras were what killed APS, since such cameras predated APS by quite a wide margin. APS was introduced in 1996, according to Wikipedia, but almost idiot-proof auto-loading 35mm cameras existed well before then. (My mother gave one to my sister for her birthday in the late 1980s.) I've seen claims that what killed APS was digital cameras; they became popular soon after APS was introduced, thus cutting into the planned APS market share.

    "Generally" is an important word in the above. Some DX-capable cameras have ISO speed overrides. (The Ricoh XR-X 3PF is one of them that I happen to own, and therefore know about.) It's also possible to use tape to cover silver areas and a knife to scrape away paint on non-silver areas of a DX code to change what it reads, but that's not exactly convenient -- especially not after you've loaded the film!

    I bought some Efke film from Freestyle a few months ago that claimed to be DX coded but that wasn't. Pieces of black tape covered the DX codes on the cartridges, rendering them useless. When I peeled the tape away and manually decoded the DX codes, I found they were for much higher-speed film than was loaded in the cartridges. I'm guessing they got cartridges with the wrong codes or ran out of cartridges with the right codes and so just covered them up. FWIW, I didn't notice this immediately; the first clue I had was when I loaded a roll of Efke KB50 (ISO 50) in my Ricoh XR-X 3PF and its display reported that the film was ISO 100. Because of the camera's DX override this wasn't a problem, but if I'd used certain other cameras that don't report the DX film speed I'd have exposed it at ISO 100 without realizing it. (Most cameras with DX sensors default to ISO 100 if no DX coding is detected.)
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The Nikon Pronea that I mentioned above was a very high end SLR in the Nikon tradition.

    PE
     
  8. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    Is that they way it happened? I was thinking APS pre-dated digital imaging (as we know it today...) and that the digital sensors were designed after the APS formats.

    (I'm not questioning you -- this just sounds backwards to how I -- perhaps wrongly... -- remember it. :smile: )
     
  9. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I think slow implementation of the plan was another major contributor to the lackluster success of APS. I'm pretty sure there was a Canon, and another make of SLR in addition to the Nikon, but there was practically nothing other than C-41 film available. As a result, high end users didn't queue up to buy the fancy high margin cameras because the choice of films was too limiting. Also, the point&shoot models could be extremely compact -- I have a Canon Elph Jr that I really liked for those don't really want to carry a camera but might wish I had one situations. It fits in a pager-sized belt pouch and works very well within its capabilities. But the SLRs were almost as big as 35mm, so the size advantage was minimal. Then the much heralded exposure info encoded on the film to optimize printing was ignored by many labs, so that advantage was ineffective. The end result didn't provide much foundation to fight the onslaught of the bit bucket brigade.

    Too bad in a way, but what is, is!

    DaveT
     
  10. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Nikon, Canon and Minolta made APS SLRs.

    Nikon had two Pronea models -- the 6i and the S. I have the S, and it's a nice little camera.

    Canon's was the IX or something like that. Minolta made the Vectis.

    APS predated digital by a couple of years. APS first, digital SLRs second -- not the other way around. In fact, most believe digital killed APS.

    Processing costs for APS generally are abnormally high. I wonder how long it will be before APS film is no longer available and processing is no longer offered.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2007
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Kodak had in-house sensors made at their facility before the APS format. I remember handling them. At the time, they were working with the electronics industry on a format for the camera sensor and decided on the current size, which is APS in aspect and size.

    APS was being designed at about that time as well. They were both aligned and issued probably about the same time. It may well be that the APS came first, but the size question was resolved and set for both. I have no idea why they chose the format they did for these.

    PE
     
  12. mawz

    mawz Member

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    Actually APS (1996) postdated the DSLR(1991) by a number of years. However APS never had much in the way of serious gear available for it, all the APS SLR's were low/mid range units for the consumer market. Nobody ever made a semi-pro or pro APS body. And the advent of market-ready P&S Digital withing a couple years of APS really killed off the APS market, while processing costs limited growth prior to that.
     
  13. mawz

    mawz Member

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    The most common digital format currently (DX Format, 16x24mm) is not an APS format, although it is similar in size to APS-C. Canon does use the APS-C format for their 1.6x crop bodies, and borrows the APS-H designation for their 1.3x crop bodies (which aren't actually APS-H as they use a standard 2:3 aspect ratio).
     
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  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I measured an actual APS frame on some film and got 19.05 x 30.16 mm which is very rough as I don't have a metric caliper and so converted from fractions of an inch.

    I think we are close enough to demonstrate the point that this near correspondance in size was no coincidence. Otherwise, why have APS smaller than 35mm by such a large factor? IDK, as it required a lot of lens redesign and etc. But the same lenses can be used on SLR APS and Digital cameras. That was one long term goal AFAIK.

    I have a Pronea and a D70 and can interchange lenses.

    PE
     
  16. Brac

    Brac Member

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    All the "instamatic" formats had SLR cameras made for them so none of them were confined to just "box" type cameras, though agreed the SLR cameras weren't intended for professionals (though at least one UK professional made a speciality of producing pictures on 110 Verichrome Pan film - I have examples of his in a book on professional photography).

    In the 126 size, SLR's were made by Kodak, Ricoh, Rollei & Zeiss Ikon. The APS SLR's by Minolta are very nice cameras (I haven't used the Canon or Nikon models). I think the format will be around for a few more years and in the UK Asda's processing prices are very reasonable and they will also put the photos on a CD-ROM if you wish. It's a pity they came in just when digital cameras were beginning to take off. They go very cheaply on ebay!
     
  17. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Amazing!

    Wonderful expositions on the history (obscure) and utility/failure of APS as a film system.

    But did anyone else here remember that Wheelygirl was asking a practical question?

    Wheelygirl - if you are still even reading this thread - just remember to get 35mm DX film for your camera.

    Sometimes - simple answers are sufficient and cleverness only creates confusion!
     
  18. elekm

    elekm Member

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    On the consumer market, there were no digital SLRs using APS-sized sensors for the general public. They might have been in development, but they weren't affordable.

    Consumer digital cameras with tiny sensors and VGA resolution (0.3MP) were about $600 in the mid-1990s.

    I think I recall a pricetag of $25,000 or so for an early Kodak digital SLR -- not exactly an off-the-shelf item.
     
  19. wheelygirl

    wheelygirl Member

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    Wow, and. . .

    Thank you all--especially George!
    When I download my Pentax P3 manual from the Web, I panicked just a touch:surprised: when I read of the use of the DX film--I thought, "I not only have to buy b&w, but also this 'specialized' film, for this camera!!:sad: "

    Thanks for all the info about both DX & APS films. I'm indeed alot less panicked!!:rolleyes:
     
  20. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I've got a Pentax P30t, which is closely related to the Pentax P3, although I'm not sure of the exact differences. The manual for mine specifies that it takes DX-coded film from ISO 25 to ISO 1600, in 1/3-stop increments (e.g., ISO 25, 32, 40, 50, 64, 80, 100, etc.). This covers almost everything available today, but the camera won't work right with some exceptionally slow or fast films. I recommend you double-check your manual; yours might support a slightly different range of film speeds. Also, I've run into a few cameras that only support full-stop film speeds (e.g., ISO 25, 50, 100, etc.). I doubt if Pentax would have released an SLR like that, but it's best to check it if you intend to use something like Kodachrome 64 or Ilford FP4+ 125.
     
  21. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I am still using the 35mm camera that's why I am here. I like almost everything about APS except for 2 things.
    First, it's a smaller format than 35mm and because of that I can never get the same quality as 35mm.
    Second, the silly 3 frame size option. The standard non crop frame size is too wide for most uses.
    The thing that killed APS is really digital because there are a number of people like myself who would like APS but don't go for it because of the smaller format. Others would like it for the P&S aspect of it but those found a much better convienient in the P&S digital.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Chan;

    The actual APS recorded frame size is invariant regardless of which of the 3 sizes you pick. The difference is the data recorded on the film in the data track and what you see through the viewfinder when you take the picture. The recorded data tells the printer what format to print the frame in.

    So, when you unwind a processed spool of APS film, you will not see any difference from frame to frame and can print any format you wish. I print them using a 35mm negative holder in my enlarger with no problem.

    PE
     
  23. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    wheelygirl - Basically all 35mm film you can buy will have a DX code on it so don't worry about it. If you were bulkloading your own film, then you'd have to buy or make your own DX codes on your canisters. Eventually you might want to play around with modifying the DX codes on the canister if you can't manually change the ISO on your camera but that's probably for another day and time :smile:
     
  24. pauliej

    pauliej Member

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    Can I bulk-load APS film? Is there any reason I would want to? Just wondering...

    PJ
     
  25. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    No you cannot. Lots of reasons you would not want to. None you would want to.

    PE
     
  26. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I know but the uncropped frame size of the APS is too wide for most cases. I think either keeping the 3/2 ratio of the 35mm format or changing to the 4/3 format is better. In fact I think changing to the 4/3 format but keeping the diagonal to the same 43mm or so of the 35mm format would be a great thing. That way one can uses lenses made for 35mm and yet getting a larger area. The "native" APS format (what is really on the film) is close to the 16/9 and is too wide in most still images.