Can someone share a history or origin of why 35mm FL was the "chosen one" in the first place?

Started Jul 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
Mike Fewster Veteran Member • Posts: 6,815
Re: Can someone share a history or origin of why 35mm FL was the "chosen one" in the first place?

If you mean 35 fl as the focal length, I don't think it has ever been the standard. 80mm was the standard for 2 1/4 format film cameras and 50mm was the standard for 35mm cameras. This was because both gave what wa felt to be the same field of view as the human eyen. This interpretation of standard length according to the size of the sensor (or film). ie, 80 mm on a 2 1/4 format gives about the same fov as 50mm on 35mm format.

If you are referring to why is a sensor of approx the same size as a 35mm negative regarded as full size, it's a different story. In the old film days, most cameras used roll film that didn't have sprocket holes along the edge. Leica began using movie film with the sprocket holes that were originally used to move the film through the camera moving mechanism. This film was relatively cheap and easy to obtain and when packed into cassettes was easy to handle. Cameras of this size became popular and most manufacturers made models for this format. It became the most popular formatb it still wasn't known as full frame at this time..

At the arrival of digital, cameras enthusiasts had film system cameras based on 35mm and bags full of expensive interchangeable lenses for these cameras. Sensors of the same size as 35mm fil were just too expensive to make, so manufacturers, keen to get enthusiasts to move to digital, made lcameras with lens mounts that took the 35mm camera lenses, but only used the centre of the images produced that were the smaller sensors available. The sensor size used for these is the APS-C format. Note that different companies have slightly different sized APS-C sizes. Canon for example uses a slightly smaller APS-C than Sony. Somehwat incorrectly, the term APS-C became used for the mount as well and meant a mount that would take a 35mm film format lens on a camera that was only using the middle section of the image the lens formed. In time, lenses were made using the same mount but which only made an image on the smaller sensor (DX lenses). Cameras like the NEX started with a clean slate and used the same APS-C sensor but designed the body and lenses to best work with this sensor size.

As larger sensors became more economic and available, those of about the same size as a 35mm negative, became known as Full Frame because now the full image created by those traditional lenses was able to be used.

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Mike Fewster
Adelaide Australia

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