The Advanced Photo System (or APS) was introduced in 1996 as an alternative to or even as modern replacement for the 110 format.
The “IX240” film cartridges are optimized for fully automatic film load, enclosing the 24mm wide film completely when not in use. The film is even put back into its cartridge and returned to the user after it has been developed.
The film is housed in a single-spool 39 mm long plastic cartridge and was available in 40, 25 and 15 exposure lengths. The film surface has a transparent magnetic coating, and the camera uses this information exchange (IX) system for recording information about each exposure. The camera handles winding and rewinding automatically. The slot is protected by a light proof door and partially exposed films can, in certain cameras, be removed and used later. Numbered symbols (called ‘visual indicators’) on the cartridge end indicate the status:
- Full circle: Unexposed
- Half circle: Partly exposed
- Cross sign: Fully exposed but not processed
- Rectangle: Processed
Additionally, a tab on this end of the cartridge indicates that the cartridge has been processed.
Unique to APS, the developed APS film is stored in the original cartridge. Every roll of APS film has a six-digit ID code on the label, which is also stored magnetically and is visible on either end of the processed negative. This ID is usually printed on the back of every individual print. This ID was designed to be an additional convenience both for the photo processor (who can easily match each strip of processed film with its cartridge, and each cartridge to a particular customer’s order) and for the consumer, who can easily locate the correct cartridge if reprints are desired.
APS film is typically processed by using a small machine to transfer the exposed APS film from the original cartridge to a reloadable one, then re-attached to the original cartridge and rewound using another machine after processing.