History of Disc Film Negatives

Like many other film formats popular among amateur photographers, disc film and negatives were developed by Eastman Kodak, and first entered the market in 1982.  Disc negatives remained in use for less than 20 years. Today, most people with disc film are unable to get the negatives processed if they want to get prints from the negatives, and need to look for a disc film scanning service to create digital images of their negatives.

Disc film negative cassettes

Disc negatives and film were manufactured in the shape of a flat disc which was encased within a plastic cartridge.  Each disc houses fifteen separate exposures.  Each exposure is 8mm by 11mm, and is arrayed around the circular edge of the disc.  Each cassette has a light and dark side.  The dark side of the cassette stops light from hitting the negatives when the disc is removed from the camera.

The rotation of the disc negatives enables each disc negative to be exposed with a single image.  When compared to other cartridge-based formats, the thinness of disc negatives enables relatively sharp images.  However, the acetate base of disc negatives are much thicker than more traditional 4 inch by 5 inch sheet negatives and film and result in comparatively grainy pictures.

Disc film cameras

Disc film cameras were marketed to consumers and amateur photographers.  Like so-called “point and shoot” or “all in one” cameras, disc negative cameras were self contained and easy to load and unload.  As such, they were marketed to beginners in photography, and were popular with teenagers and young adults.

Manufacturers of disc negatives and film

In addition to Eastman Kodak, several other film companies produced disc film.  Among other film and negative manufacturers were Fuji and Konica.

Popularity of disc negatives and film

Disc negatives and film never gained wide acceptance among amateur photographers.  The relatively small size of the disc negatives – 8mm by 11mm – resulted in grainy pictures.  Eastman Kodak understood this potential issue and recommended to developers that images from disc negatives be printed using a relatively sophisticated six-element lens developed by Eastman Kodak.  Unfortunately, most developers used three-element lens (which they used for larger negatives).  As a consequence, the images resulting from disc film negatives were often grainy and of poor quality which proved unacceptable to many amateur photographers.

Seventeen years after its introduction in 1982, Eastman Kodak ceased to make disc negatives on the last day of 1999, although disc film cameras had been long absent from the market.

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