Film Friday: This DIY device lets you capture metadata information for your film photography

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Metadata in the days of film photography mostly consisted of whatever notebook and pen you had on hand. While there are a few cameras that stand out as exceptions, film photography typically didn’t encode any kind of capture information, such as shutter speed, aperture and ISO, alongside the captured image.

To remedy this problem, research and development software engineer Alessandro Genova created a DIY solution to not only capture the metadata of each photo he captures, but also serve as a light meter for old film cameras whose light meters have broken over the decades. This ‘Film Photography Memo and Light Meter’ was Genova’s first Arduino project, which is rather impressive considering how well it turned out in the end.

As detailed in the overview above, the device allows the user to create individual ‘rolls’ of film, each of which has a slot for every exposure. Using a pair of rotary encoders, users can dial in the aperture, shutter speed and ISO of each shot, which is then saved to the roll. The built-in light meter shows the exposure on a meter on the bottom of the display, which takes into account the selected aperture and shutter speed to give you a meter reading.

Genova even added presets within the menu so they can select whether it’s Fujifilm or Kodak film being shot. Presumably, other film stocks could be added within the program to account for your typical shooting patterns.

The device consists of seven main components: a microcontroller (Adafruit ItsyBitsy 32u4 3.3V), a display (a 128×64 OLED display), controls, a photo transistor (for the light meter), a battery, an enclosure, and a hot shoe mount. There were also additional strip PCB boards, wires, capacitors and other components used throughout the project. In total Genova says they spent ~$40 for the project, give or take a few dollars depending on what you have sitting around at home, including the tools required to put this together.

With all of the components in hand, Genova got to work on piecing together the device and using C++ and the Arduiono library to program the device. You can see some of the code they used on the Github page detailing the project, as well as detailed instructions, including a wire diagram for soldering the required components in place.

Genova concedes that such a device could probably be made for less money or outright bought pre-manufactured, but we applaud him for his efforts–especially considering this was their first Arduino project.

Head on over to the Github project page to see all of the components required and the code used to make the memo and meter.

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