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Five famous brands of the photographic industry are throwing their combined weight behind a new innovation. The camera they have developed will prove quite a blessing to the uninitiated amateur photographer

Published: Sunday 31 March 1996

'THE camera of the 21st century' was launched on February 1 by the big five of the photographic industry -Kodak, Fuji, Canon, Minolta and Nikon. Called the Advanced Photo System (APS), it is designed to overcome what these camera-makers believe are the traumas of photography: loading the camera and handling negatives. APS is really meant for beginners.

The 'most important component of the APS is a film cartridge. The film -fully spooled up inside the drop-in cartridge -no longer needs to be threaded onto a sprocket (which would eliminate loading errors); The films ( each frame 24 mm long) have a magnetic coating that captures data about lighting and exposure for each frame, enabling the new APS to automatically correct the photo- grapher's errors. What really marks the entry of photography into the information age is this invisible magnetic coating on the APS film. The coating registers a number of key features when the picture is taken and ensures that prints remain faithful to the image being captured.

APS also offers three shapes - all taken from the same negative - classic, group and panoramic. Classic has the same 3:2 proportions as today's prints; group offers a slightly wider 3.5:2 Tatio and panoramic prints a narrow 3: 1 strip from the centre of the negative, for landscape views. A single roll of the film can contain any combination of print shapes, chosen by the photographer at the time the picture is taken by sliding a switch on the camera. The shapes are automatically processed using the magnetic instruc- tions stored on the film.

The user-friendly features of the APS ate highlighted by various other facilities that it offers the amateur. The film self-loads, and cameras cannot be opened until the film has rewound into the cassette. Cassettes can be removed mid-film and reinserted as the magnetic coating on the film tells the camera where the next un- exposed film is located.. The statu~ indicator on the cassette informs the user whether or not the film inside is exposed, and also whether it is partially or fully exposed.

The negatives can be returned inside the canister with an index print to select reprints with ease. The APS'S films will be in three .sizes: 15, 25 or 40 shots per roll. The new system's developers are' already planning to refine it in future by including provisions to record time and date.

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