Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's new at The Loft - Episode 63

Macro 3.6.5. Challenge

35 mm Film

ISO 800, f/11.0, 4.0 Second

35 mm film is the basic film gauge most commonly used for chemical still photography (see 135 film) and motion pictures, and remains relatively unchanged since its introduction in 1892 by William Dickson and Thomas Edison, using film stock supplied by George Eastman. The photographic film is cut into strips 35 millimeters (about 1 3/8 inches) wide—hence the name. The standard negative pull down for movies ("single-frame" format) is four perforations per frame along both edges, which makes for exactly 16 frames per foot (for stills, the standard frame is eight perforations).

A wide variety of largely proprietary gauges were used by the numerous camera and projection systems invented independently in the late 19th century and early 20th century, ranging from 13 mm to 75 mm (0.51–2.95 in). 35 mm was eventually recognized as the international standard gauge in 1909,] and has remained by far the dominant film gauge for image origination and projection despite challenges from smaller and larger gauges, and from novel formats, because its size allows for a relatively good tradeoff between the cost of the film stock and the quality of the images captured. The ubiquity of 35 mm movie projectors in commercial movie theaters makes it the only motion picture format, film or video, that can be played in almost any cinema in the world. 

The gauge is remarkably versatile in application. In the past one hundred years, it has been modified to include sound, redesigned to create a safer film base, formulated to capture color, has accommodated a bevy of widescreen formats, and has incorporated digital sound data into nearly all of its non-frame areas. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Eastman Kodak and Fuji film have held a duopoly in the manufacture of 35 mm motion picture film.

In 1880, George Eastman began to manufacture gelatin dry photographic plates in Rochester, New York. Along with W. H. Walker, Eastman invented a holder for a roll of picture-carrying gelatin layer coated paper. Hannibal Goodwin's invention of nitrocellulose film base in 1887 was the first transparent, flexible film; the following year, Emile Reynaud developed the first perforated film stock. Eastman was the first major company, however, to mass-produce these components, when in 1889 Eastman realized that the dry-gelatino-bromide emulsion could be coated onto this clear base, eliminating the paper.

The early acceptance of 35 mm as a standard had momentous impact on the development and spread of cinema. The standard gauge made it possible for films to be shown in every country of the world.  It provided a uniform, reliable and predictable format for production, distribution and exhibition of movies, facilitating the rapid spread and acceptance of the movies as a world-wide device for entertainment and communication.

The film format was introduced into still photography as early as 1913 (the Tourist Multiple) but first became popular with the launch of the Leica camera, created by Oskar Barnack in 1925.  Just as the format was recognized as a standard in 1909, still film cameras were developed that took advantage of the 35 mm format and allowed a large number of exposures for each length of film loaded into the camera. The frame size was increased to 24×36 mm. Although the first design was patented as early as 1908, the first commercial 35 mm camera was the 1913 Tourist Multiple, for movie and still photography, soon followed by the Simplex providing selection between full and half frame format. Oskar Barnack built his prototype Ur-Leica in 1913 and had it patented, but Ernst Leitz did not decide to produce it before 1924.

I hope you liked today's photo.  Comments are welcome so please drop me a line and let me know what you think.  Thanks for stopping by and come back soon. 

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