Standard 35 mm film has individual frames with the size 36 mm by 24 mm. It is by far the most common film format for amateur photography, though digital cameras are improving in quality and becoming much more common. Edison's Kinetoscope, invented in 1889, set 35 mm as the standard. Legend has it that when Edison was asked by his workers how wide to cut the film (which was manufactured by the Eastman company), he held up his thumb and forefinger and said "About this wide."
More probable, however, is that the 35 mm width was derived by just slitting in half the readily available 70 mm wide Eastman roll film (unperforated, used for still-pictures). Supposedly 35 mm film was once even called Edison size.

35mm film is the standard film format for the majority of consumer level still cameras. It was introduced in its present form in 1934, and quickly grew to become the most important popular film format where it has remained since 1960. The film produces images 24mm x 36mm and can most frequently be found in rolls of 12 shots, 24 shots or 36 shots. The film comes in light tight rolls and is extremely sensitive to sunlight.

History: The Leica camera designed by Oscar Barnack was the camera that proved film as small as 35mm was suitable for professional photography. In its earliest days, the photographer had to load the film into reusable cartridges in a dark room and cut the leaders. The first single use cartridges (the forbearers to today’s single use rolls) were invented by Kodak in 1934 and market with a camera called the Kodak Retina. In 1935 Kodak launched Kodachrome color film, the first mass marketed color still film.

Use: If you have ever seen 35mm film, you have seen the perforations that run along the long sides. These perforations are called sprokets, and are used to move film through the camera. The roll of film has a tab sticking out when you purchase it called a leader. The leader is stretched across the open back of the camera from the spool of film, to the empty spool and locked into place, and then the camera is closed. The film is light sensitive and the camera is essentially a light tight box. To capture an image, the camera exposes a section of the film (24mm x 36mm) to light for the time chosen by the photographer. Once the film is exposed, it is moved out of the way, so that the next section of blank film can be exposed. Once the entire roll is exposed, it is rewound back into the original spool for storage. If you are new to photography, and think that you are going to forget about your film and open the back of the camera, you can purchase a reverse winding camera. These cameras wind out all of the film before you take a photograph, and then as you take photos, wind the exposed film back into the canister. If you open the back, you only ruin the film that you haven't taken pictures on, the exposed film stays safe in the film canister, unless you pull it out that is.

Development: Standard film that can be purchased at a drug store and developed at a one hour photo drop is developed using the process named C-41. This is the standard film development process. The machines develop the film and then shine light over the negatives, printing them on photographic paper. While some BW film can be developed using the C-41 process, most cannot and only specialized labs can do it. BW film is easy to develop at home in a dark room and can be printed at home as well. Developing film and printing pictures is beyond the scope of this node.

Types of Film: The most common type of film is standard color film that you can pick up in any store. In addition to color film, specialty stores will carry Black and White (BW) film and Infrared film. Black and white film captures images in black, white, and grayscale. Infrared film also captures images in black, white and grayscale, however, unlike your eye, it can see into the infrared spectrum.

Speed: 35mm film comes in various speeds each measured in 1/x of a second of exposure to light. For example: 200 speed is 1/200th of a second, 400 speed is 1/400th of a second. The higher the number, the shorter time the film is designed to be exposed to light for. Because the higher speed films are designed for only a brief exposure to light, they are more sensitive. The tradeoff is found in the grain of the film. The faster the film, the less light it needs, the grainier the film will appear.

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