A Brief History of 110

c.f http://www.cameraquest.com/pentx110.htm

Never had any film format been so popular so quickly, only to fall out of favour so quickly.

Kodak introduced 110 film in 1972, amid much advertising hoopla for this new, smaller, more convenient consumer format.  The original Kodak 110 line-up consisted of the Kodak  Pocket Instamatic  20, 30, 40, 50 and the top of the line 60 with rangefinder focusing .  A big selling point was the Pocket Instamatic's long thin design  to allow easy carrying in shirt pockets or purses. Those clever folks at Kodak always love great ad slogans. As popularity soared, many photography magazines carried articles wondering if the success of 110 would mean the demise of 35mm (like the APS articles of the late 1990s). 

Over 100 million 110's were produced (and are still being produced) in hundreds if not thousands of different designs. No one really seems to be sure what ALL the different models are.  No "110 Book" of ALL models with production figures has ever been published.   Most of course, were inexpensive low end snapshot cameras.  Today 110 cameras offer the collector a virtually untapped area, with hundreds of different, often inexpensive, cameras to fill out their collection.  United States, European and Japanese designs which weren't exported add to the collector's possibilities.  

Of the hundreds of different 110 cameras marketed only a few really stand out. 

Of the millions of 110 cameras, probably less than 10% of them, maybe less than 5%, had built in metering.  Most were very simple fixed aperture cameras with a very limited list of photographic choices.  Since 110's were designed for the rank beginner amateur market,   it's not hard to figure out why local film processors had so much trouble with 110 film.  The exposures were all over the place on a small negative.  Underexposure gave dim dark prints.   Overexposure increased grain and decreased sharpness.   

Besides the exposure problem,  there were always suspicions that 110 cartridges failed to hold the film flat, though I have never seen any official reports to that effect.

Faced with mediocre results from low cost cameras and processing, 110 popularity noticeably started to decline as soon as 1976.   By 1977, despite all the predictions of amazing new cameras, new designs started to dwindle to a trickle.  The American photo publication Petersen's Photographic started a 110 column in March of 1975.  In January 1978,  the column  was discontinued because it was obvious from declining sales and lack of new models that 110 was going nowhere.  Pentax System 10 was not introduced until 1978, when 110 was already on the decline.

At one time 110 film variety rivalled 35mm,  including  fast and slow B/W emulsions, Kodachrome, Ektachrome, fast and high speeds colour negative films.  In the later 1990s and early 2000s only 200 or 400 ASA colour films could be found. 

Today 110 information is relatively hard to find.  The only 110 book is, amazingly titled. "110 Format Photography,"  in  soft cover published by Petersen's Photographic in 1976 by Kalton Lahue.



Modern Photography published some resolution data on the Pentax and Minolta 110 cameras.

PENTAX 110, Pentax 24mm/2.8 lens

f2.8 64 56
f4 72 64
f5.6 72 72

MINOLTA 110 25-67/3.5 ZOOM AT 25MM

f4 56 44
f8 56 50
f16 50 50

MINOLTA 110 25-67/3.5 ZOOM AT 40MM

f4 55 44
f8 62 50
f16 55 49

MINOLTA 110 25-67/3.5 ZOOM AT 67MM

f4 68 60
f8 68 62
f16 61 52

Some 35mm format wide angle lens has very high resolution for instance Konica Hexanon 21mm/f2.8 lens for has a resolution figure of 96 lines/mm at F4. And that was a lens covering an area ten time bigger than 8x11 frame.

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