What is 35mm Film?

We all know about camera. Right? But, do we all know what is 35mm film camera? How does it work? This article is all about this topic. Go through a glance.

There is nothing comparable to a camera to fulfill our passion and profession. There was a time when filmmaker fulfill their professional requirements with 35mm movie camera. At this present digital age people start forgetting about 35mm format. But, still it belongs to traditional value and has its own appeal.

Let us first know about the so called definition of 35mm film, then read about its origin, history and manufacturers.

Acquaintance with 35 mm Film

35 millimetre film refers the standard photographic film format for analog single lens reflex (SLR) still camera. The 35mm film frame is 36 x 24mm. The term 135 format usually refers to a 36×24 mm film format, commonly known as 35mm format. The 36×24 mm format is common to digital image sensors, where it typically refers to as full frame format.

In motion pictures that record on film, 35 mm is the most commonly used gauge. The standard image exposure length on 35 mm for film is four perforations per frame along both edges, which results in 16 frames per foot of film. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43 mm.


The format originated with Oskar Barnack and his introduction of the Leica camera in the 1920s. Thus it is sometimes called the Leica format or Barnack format. The name 35 mm originates with the total width of the 135 film, the perforated cartridge film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame DSLR. The term 135 format remains in use. In digital photography, the format has come to know as full frame, FF or FX, the latter invented as a trade mark of Nikon. Historically the 35 mm format sometimes called miniature format or small format, terms meant to distinguish it from medium format and large format.

Early History, Development and Decline

George Eastman founded the ‘Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company’ in 1880. Eastman mostly known as the pioneer of photographic film. He started production of paper film in 1885 and celluloid film in 1889.In 1888, he launched Kodak, a camera he made using photographic film. It was a normal camera, and had a fixed focus lens. In 1900 another of his cameras came on the market, the Kodak Brownie.

Kodak Brownie was popular and quite cheap but it was not compact. So Oskar Barnack, a German photographer decided to work with a compact camera. He built a prototype camera in 1913 using 35mm film, called the 35mm Ur-Leica. Earlier 35 mm. film used for motion pictures, but Bernak was the first person to prepare the film for still pictures.

For World War I, Bernak’s invention interrupted. So at the end of war he went back to work and released the Leica 1 on a trial basis from 1923 to 1924 and received a good response from buyers. Then began its commercial production.

35mm film quickly grew in popularity. By the late 1960, it became the most popular photographic film size. Oskar Barnack is the inventor of first commercially successful 35mm still-camera.

In the transition period centered around 2005–2015, the rapid conversion of the cinema exhibition industry to digital projection has seen 35 mm film projectors removed from most of the projection rooms as they are replaced by digital projectors. By the mid 2010 most of the theaters across the world have been converted to digital projection.

Early Manufacturers

Eastman Kodak, Fujifilm and Agfa-Gevaert are some companies that offered 35 mm films. They are the oldest main manufacturers of 35mm film. There are some companies who still make 35mm film. They are: Kodak, Fujifilm, Harman Technology, Carestream, Foma and Adox.


About 200 years ago, ordinary people did not even imagine the camera. Just as the invention of the camera did not happen overnight, it has come a long way to get a modern and developed one. Although DSLR camera replace the traditional 35mm film but it still exists in a niche market for enthusiasts and format lovers.