# 35mm film and how much we are required to waste

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• 01-13-2013, 11:50 AM
David Lyga
35mm film and how much we are required to waste
We all know that because of the need for movie film to withstand the rigors of constant, steady movement along a projector's sprockets (without tearing!) that this film had to have large sprocket holes in order to be ‘born’. That factor took up a lot of real estate and that waste is part of the legacy that movie film has left for the ‘identical’ still film. But do we know what the quantified result is? Absolutely shocking! We are required to waste about half of this expensive film just because of that ‘necessity’.

Counting the leader, a 36 exposure roll of film is about 63 inches in length. With avoirdupois translated into metric, that 63 inches becomes 1600 millimeters per roll. (i.e. 63 inches x 25.4mm per inch). This 1600mm length times the 35mm width becomes 56,000 square millimeters of film per roll, total. Now, we take 36 pictures on the roll and each frame is 24mm x 36mm, yielding 864 square millimeters per frame or 31,104mm (I.e. 864 x 36 frames) used for actual image recording. 31,104 divided by 56,000 is only about 55.5% of the total film area that is actually used! We waste almost half.

Again, even worse: Counting the leader, a 24 exposure roll of film is about 45 inches in length. With avoirdupois translated into metric, that 45 inches becomes 1143 millimeters per roll. (i.e. 45 inches x 25.4mm per inch). This 1143mm length times the 35mm width becomes 40,005 square millimeters of film per roll, total. Now, we take 24 pictures on the roll and each frame is 24mm x 36mm, yielding 864 square millimeters per frame or 20,736mm (I.e. 864 x 24 frames) used for actual image recording. 20,736 divided by 40,005 is only about 52% of the total film area that is actually used! Again we waste almost half.

What more is there to say about the most popular film size ever created? 120 film does not waste nearly as much and sheet film wastes virtually none. And, remember, my calculations assume that all frames are usable. – David Lyga
• 01-13-2013, 12:00 PM
Peltigera
120 film does not waste so much film but it does waste a great deal of paper.
• 01-13-2013, 12:01 PM
David Lyga
Well said, Peltigera! But the same could be said about the multitude of frames on 35mm. - David Lyga
• 01-13-2013, 12:03 PM
Richard Sintchak (rich815)
35mm film and how much we are required to waste
And think of the leaders on 35mm too!
• 01-13-2013, 12:03 PM
Richard Sintchak (rich815)
35mm film and how much we are required to waste
Wait you mentioned that..
• 01-13-2013, 12:05 PM
eddie
This is like complaining because your T-Bone steak is 48% bone...:)
• 01-13-2013, 12:07 PM
David Lyga
Yes, rich815, 'I said that' but it is important enough to repeat.

In fact, I consider rolls to film to be 'bulk loads' and load film into the camera in the dark. I put about two inches of tape onto the film advance spool and, in the dark, I tape the bottom of the film so that it extends just onto the sprockets. That way I do not waste more than about one frame per load (of course, I use 100 foot rolls and do bulk loading; for standard cassettes you would have to cut off the leader first). In this way I get to use a roll of film for three or four sessions and develop the film after each session. I despise waste in all areas of life (even if the money wasted is not mine). It is simply intrinsic with me.

eddie: I am a vegetarian so 'T-bones' matter not to me! Besides, for those who are not, the bone and its marrow can make soup, or be used to feed your dog. - David Lyga
• 01-13-2013, 12:08 PM
EASmithV
They made something that solved this issue, wasn't it called 828 film? It never really caught on.
• 01-13-2013, 12:11 PM
David Lyga
Yes, Bantam never caught on. There is something positive about a product being everywhere as was 35mm film, as well as the noble extent of the precision built into the '35mm genre'. - David Lyga
• 01-13-2013, 12:15 PM
Les Sarile
Casual observation on my part at the moment - pending an exact measurement with my next roll that I process, but wasting almost half seems quite excessive. I know the full auto advance bodies use a minimum leader amount, but I have only managed to get a 39 frames from a 36 exposure roll when I load with only one advance with my manual bodies.

I see counting the sprocket hole area too as part of the total film area.
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