IELTS Data Reading Passage 138 – The Rollfilm Revolution

IELTS Data Reading Passage 138 – The Rollfilm Revolution

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 26 -38 which are based on IELTS Data Reading Passage 138 – The Rollfilm Revolution Reading Passage 3

“The Rollfilm Revolution”

The introduction of the dry plate process brought with it many advantages. Not only was it much more convenient, so that the photographer no longer needed to prepare his material in advance, but its much greater sensitivity made possible a new generation of cameras. Instantaneous exposures had been possible before, but only with some difficulty and with special equipment and conditions. Now, exposures short enough to permit the camera to be held in the hand were easily achieved. As well as fitting shutters and viewfinders to their conventional stand cameras, manufacturers began to construct smaller cameras intended specifically for hand use. 

One of the first designs to be published was Thomas Bolas’ s ‘Detective camera of 1881. Externally a plain box, quite unlike the folding bellows camera typical of the period, it could be used unobtrusively. The name caught on, and for the next decade or so almost all hand cameras were called ‘Detectives’. Many of the new designs in the 1880s were for magazine cameras, in which a number of dry plates could be preloaded and changed one after another following exposure. Although much more convenient than stand cameras, still used by most serious workers, magazine plate cameras were heavy, and required access to a darkroom for loading and processing the plates. This was all changed by a young American bank clerk turned photographic manufacturer, George Eastman, from Rochester, New York. 

Eastman had begun to manufacture gelatine dry plates in 1880, being one of the first to do so in America. He soon looked for ways of simplifying photography, believing that many people were put off by the complication and messiness. His first step was to develop, with the camera manufacturer William H. Walker, a holder for a long roll of paper negative ‘film’. This could be fitted to a standard plate camera and up to forty-eight exposures made before reloading. The combined weight of the paper roll and the holder was far less than the same number of glass plates in their light-tight wooden holders. Although roll-holders had been made as early as the 1850s, none had been very successful because of the limitations of the photographic materials then available. Eastman’s rollable paper film was sensitive and gave negatives of good quality; the Eastman – Walker roll-holder was a great success. 

The next step was to combine the roll-holder with a small hand camera: Eastman’s first design was patented with an employer. F. M. Cossitt, in 1886. It was not a success. Only fifty Eastman detective cameras were made, and they were sold as a lot to a dealer in 1887, the cost was too high and the design too complicated. Eastman set about developing a new model, which was launched in June 1888. It was a small box, containing a roll of Paper-based stripping film sufficient for 100 circular exposures 6 cm in diameter. Its operation was simple: set the shutter by pulling a wire string; aim the camera using the V line impression in the camera top; press the release button to activate the exposure, and turn a special key to wind on the film. A hundred exposures had to be made, so it was important to record each picture in the memorandum book provided since there was no exposure counter. Eastman gave his camera the invented name ‘Kodak’ – which was easily pronounceable in most languages and had two Ks which Eastman felt was a firm, uncompromising kind of letter. 

The importance of Eastman’s new roll-film camera was not that it was the first. There had been several earlier cameras, notably the Stirn ‘America’, first demonstrated in the spring of 1887 and on sale from early 1888. This also used a roll of negative paper and had such refinements as a reflecting viewfinder and an ingenious exposure marker. The real significance of the first Kodak camera was that it was backed up by a developing and printing service. Hitherto, virtually all photographers developed and printed their own pictures. This required the facilities of a darkroom and the time and inclination to handle the necessary chemicals, make the prints and so on. Eastman recognized that not everyone had the resources or the desire to do this. When a customer had made a hundred exposures in the Kodak camera, he sent it to Eastman’s factory in Rochester (or later in Harrow in England) where the film was unloaded, processed and printed, the camera reloaded and returned to the owner. “You Press the Button, We Do the Rest ” ran Eastman’s classic marketing slogan; photography had been brought to everyone. Everyone, that is, who could afford $25 or five guineas for the camera and $10 or two guineas for the developing and printing. A guinea ($5) was a week’s wages for many at the time, so this simple camera cost the equivalent of hundreds of dollars today. 

In 1889 an improved model with a new shutter design was introduced, and it was called the No. 2 Kodak camera. The paper-based stripping film was complicated to manipulate since the processed negative image had to be stripped from the paper base for printing. At the end of 1889 Eastman launched a new roll film on a celluloid base. Clear, tough, transparent and flexible, the new film not only made the roll film camera fully practical but provided the raw material for the introduction of cinematography a few years later. Other, larger models were introduced, including several folding versions, one of which took pictures 21.6 cm x 16.5 cm in size. Other manufacturers in America and Europe introduced cameras to take the Kodak roll film, and other firms began to offer to develop and printing services for the benefit of the new breed of photographers.

By September 1889, over 5,000 Kodak cameras had been sold in the USA, and the company was daily printing 6 -7,000 negatives. Holidays and special events created enormous surges in demand for processing: 900 Kodak users returned their cameras for processing and reloading in the week after the New York centennial celebration.

Questions 26 – 29

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in IELTS Data Reading Passage 138 – The Rollfilm Revolution Reading Passage 3? In boxes 26 -29 on your answer sheet write 

YES if the statement agrees with the writer
NO if the statement does not agree with the writer
NOT GIVEN if there is no information about this in the passage

Question 26. Before the dry plate process, short exposures could only be achieved with cameras held in the hand. 

Question 27. Stirn’s ‘America’ camera lacked Kodak’s developing service. 

Question 28. The first Kodak film cost the equivalent of a week’s wages to develop. 

Question 29. Some of Eastman’s 1891 range of cameras could be loaded in daylight.

Questions 30 -34

Complete the diagram below. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.  Write your answers in boxes 30-34 on your answer sheet.

IELTS Data Reading Passage 138 – The Rollfilm Revolution

Questions 35-38

Complete the table below. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer. 

Write your answers in boxes 35-38 on your answer sheet.

IELTS Data Reading Passage 138 – The Rollfilm Revolution

IELTS Data Reading Passage 138 – The Rollfilm Revolution Answers

(26) NO

(27) YES

(28) NO








(36) 1886



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