The film was in the form of a flat disc, and was fully housed within a plastic cartridge. Each disc held 15 exposures, the disc being rotated 24° between each image. The fifteen 11 x 8 mm images themselves were arranged around the outside of the disc.
The system was primarily a consumer-oriented product, and most cameras were self-contained units with no expansion capability. The cameras were very simple to load and unload, and were generally completely automated. The cassette had a built-in dark slide to prevent stray light reaching the film when the disc was removed.
As the film was rotated on a disc instead of over a spool, the cassette was very thin, as were most of the cameras. The completely flat nature of the format also led to the (potential) advantage of greater sharpness over spool-based cassette formats (such as 110 and 126 film). Disc film has a very thick acetate base, comparable with 4x5" sheet film, which holds the film much flatter than the other formats.
Disc film did not prove hugely successful, mainly because the image on the negative was only 11 mm by 8 mm, leading to generally unacceptable grain and poor definition in the final prints. The film was intended to be printed with special 6-element lenses from Kodak, but many labs simply printed discs with standard 3-element lenses used for larger negative formats. The resulting prints often disappointed the consumer.
There were several different manufacturers of Disc film. Kodak produced films throughout the complete lifespan of the format, but 3M, Konica and Fuji also produced Disc film. While Kodak film was always eponymous, 3M and Konica made Disc film for many third parties, branded with the retailers logo. As with most photographic film, the country of manufacture is the best giveaway to the make. Agfa never produced Disc film.
Kodak's newest ideas with sharp fine-grained negative film were always tested in Disc format first, typically being one or two generations ahead of the equivalent 135 films.
There are still labs remaining in North America and the UK able to develop disc film. Examples are Blue Moon Camera and Machine, Film Rescue, Dwayne's Photo, Rapid Photo and Rocky Mountain in the USA, and Process C-22 in the UK, serving Europe. These are specialist services and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The less expensive options provide a basic service while others are higher priced but include comprehensive digital corrections which greatly help improve the image quality of such long-expired film.
Disc film is not available to purchase new due to the very complex design. No manufacturers remain, nor are any likely to recommence production.
Disc film processors operating as of June 2008:-
LOS LOBOS' CREATIVITY EVIDENT IN NEW DISC FILM WORK KEPT L.A. BAND BUSY IN THE YEARS BETWEEN RELEASES.(Entertainment/ Weekend/ Spotlight)
May 03, 1996; Byline: Michael Mehle Rocky Mountain News Popular Music Writer Look under Los Lobos at any record store, and the Los Angeles band...