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Camera Reviews How-to's

FAQ - What Camera to Buy?

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on May 21, 2002


Keywords: nikon, camera, bodies, product, articles

Some say that one hot summer, somewhere around Tokyo, camera and film manufacturers gather together, very late at night in a dark sushi basement bar and came to conclude that they were giving away "too much negative" for the kind of snapshots people were taking and ordering prints from, in small sizes (3 1/2 X 5, or 4 X 6 inches). Therefore "also too much of cameras and lenses" for such menial tasks; no enlargements!

To top it all, the registered statistics on film loading failures was amazing, as proven by the high number of unexposed rolls being developed at the corner photo shops and the taped loud screams from customers. To make things worse, customers were dismayed and taking less and less pictures and ordering less and less reprints from the poorly handled negatives. Top of the line camera models were not moving from retailers' shelves, but disposable cameras were on the rise. So ...... after much laugh from the anecdotes and serious concern for the future, the "Advanced Photo System" or APS came about, with features to solve the common problems ..... of the moronic.
 

The Canon Elph APS camera
 The camera that created the appetite for APS. The Elph, with great marketing.
.

 

 

The cold facts:
The following table shows film dimensions and relative area sizes

 

Film type
or format
Negative
size
mm
Area
square
mm
Relative negative area
(as % of the base chosen)
APS
base
35mm
base
645
base
6X6
base
6X7
base
APS - H
16.7X30.2
486
100%
56.3%
 20.7%
 15.5%
 12.5%
APS - C
16.7X23.4
391
80.4%
45.2%
 16.6%
 12.5%
 10.0%
APS - P
9.5X30.2
287
59.0%
35.2%
 12.2%
9.2%
 7.4%
35 mm
24X36
864
177.7%
100%
 36.7%
 27.6%
 22.2%
645
56X42
2,352
483.9%
272.2%
100%
 75.0%
 60.4%
6 X 6
56X56
3,136
645.3%
362.9%
 133.3%
100%
 80.6%
6 X 7
56X69.5
3,892
800.8%
450.5%
 165.5%
 124.1%
100%

.

Several conclusions can be drawn from the simple table above and can be related to the factors selected for consideration:

The APS negatives use -at best- only 56% the area of a 35mm negative. In other words, the 35mm negative is almost 78% larger. And the APS negative is less than 16% of a 6X6 one. Do I need to say more? These cameras provide several conveniences but have only one place: a small pocket or a ladies small handbag.

..
Neg size comparison
  • APS does not let you handle the negatives, the film is kept inside the cartridge to avoid scratches, hamburger grease, soy sauce or nail polish 
  • Some APS camera models are the most convenient in terms of size and weight   
  • Film is not always available at all locations  
  • Most are fully automated, both for focus and exposure   
  • Some models are very solidly constructed but the somewhat fragile flip-up flashes and built-in flashes are not powerful enough 
  • "Good" APSs are in the mid level price range 
  • In terms of status, these give you not much, some are 'cute' but they all are very affordable and can be found at K-Mart, Wal-Mart or Target 
  • APS format cameras have been discontinued by Nikon
Great for what it was designed for: 4X6 snapshots; unless you use Fujicolor Nexia H400 or 800 film at all times, to obtain reasonable shutter speeds with those small aperture zoom lenses, avoiding blurred images. But one cannot expect to get great results always, regardless of advertising. As long as you are aware of what to expect from them, they can be nice to have if the only other option is nothing. Few (if any) professional photographers use them at all. This format was designed to expand the interest in photography and it has in fact increased film and processing sales and margins. At that it has been very successful. However, to the limitations of the lenses (specially zooms with their large number apertures) we must add those inherent to the negative size, plus the fact that the integrated tiny flashes on these units typically have limited power for distances beyond 10 feet or enough coverage for group pictures. Sorry, but I still crack in tears when I remember guys taking flash pictures towards the center of a dark stadium, at night, with an APS camera; and a sweet girl taking shots at the moon with flash! ("To have it well illuminated").

.
APS Recommendation:

For about the same price of an APS you can keep convenience and move up to at least a "compact" or Point & Shoot 35mm camera, just a bit bigger but better armed in terms of both negative size, better lenses and nice integrated flashes, most of them now with red eye reduction capability and variable power.

If nevertheless somehow you must, take a look at some APS options ...»

.

(2 Votes)
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J. Ramon Palacios J. Ramon Palacios (jrp)

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

San Pedro Garza García, Mexico
Admin, 35045 posts

2 comments

Larry Jones (Larry443) on May 4, 2014

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

Outstanding! Thanks so much for the overview and the recommendations. I enjoyed reading about each class or group you presented. I especially liked your closing comment as that's what it's all about for me. Thanks again! Larry

Zita Margit Kemeny (zkemeny) on March 5, 2013

Very good points which we may check when we want to buy a new camera. Thanks.

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