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Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Film-Based Camera Equipment : 35mm Cameras : SLR (Single Lens Reflex) Cameras

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Photography Question 

member since: 11/26/2001

Keeping Track of Camera Settings of Photos Taken

I am wanting to become a better photographer as I view more books and sites I see that most pictures in print or uploaded show what settings - speed and aperture - were used. How do you keep track of them? Is there as SLR that has a memory for this information? TIA

12/11/2001 9:25:42 AM

Laura Johnson

member since: 10/4/2001
  Hi Tia,

I do this manually. I carry a tiny notpad in my camera bag. I set up the shot, take it and then record the settings. I also always try to take the same shot with a small aperture and the recommended shutterspeed, then one stop up or down and then I close the shutter right down (to a bigger number) and take two more. I record all these settings. When I get my prints back three are useless, expect that they have helped me to see which is the best way to take that kind of shot. I always compare my shots to my records. It improves your ability to photographer much quicker than just snapping away. I know this is more than you asked for, but I hope that it helps.


12/14/2001 1:28:30 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  Some cameras have (or have available) what are called data backs which actually imprint this information on the edge of your film. I think Laura's suggestion is a good one. Keep a notebook with you and take notes. I've made exposure data cards I carry with me and use them under peculiar lighting situations. You will find after a while that you will simply remember what you did on a particular shot and not need to take as many notes. Of course this only works if you get your film developed right away and immediately review it.

12/14/2001 2:01:19 AM

Laura Johnson

member since: 10/4/2001
  Jeff. I love the idea of data cards. What info do you capture on them?

12/14/2001 2:27:10 AM


member since: 7/6/2000
  I carry a small voice recorder. It's a digital recorder the size of a credit card. It also has a clip to hook on to your belt or camera bag. I'm in the process of figuring out how to secure it to my camera strap. I just say the frame number, settings then described the conditions and what I'm trying to achieve. To be a creative photographer you really have to understand the best way to set up your camera under different situations.

12/14/2001 7:16:04 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  I have friends who use the digital recorder and I've thought about doing that as well. I don't keep many notes any more as the "focus" of my photography has shifted from nature to portraiture so it hasn't been a priority. A stock photographer I know goes so far as to draw a sketch of the scene and make notes for each shot.

My data sheets are printed on half sheets of paper and glued together. They are very basic. At the top I have the Date, Location, and Film type. Below that is a table with a Frame # column, and exposure column, and a notes column. That's usually enough to figure out what I did.

Once I get the film back I examine it with my notes in hand and determine what worked and what didn't. If I notice anything significant I make a note of it in my journal that I carry with me in the field. The hardest part of all this is getting into the habit of using the data sheets.

12/14/2001 12:39:58 PM

Sunil Mishra

member since: 9/17/2002
  The idea of keeping record on note pad is perfectly O.K. But Nikon make cameras in models F5 F100 & F80 with special backs QD & S do have facility of recording exposure values in between the two frames beside inprinting date etc on the film.

11/6/2002 4:31:11 AM

Rick Rohlfing

member since: 5/18/2003
  Hi Tia,

The cheap and immediate solutions are:

- to carry a small note pad and pencil.

- or better, carry a small voice recorder and record a verbal annotation for each picture you take.

My experience was that I wasn't disciplined enough for the note pad. The voice recorder worked better, but still required a degree of discipline. Invariably, somewhere in recording the info for the roll, I'd miss an exposure or two, or make a mistake with the exposure number. As I said, its a question of self discipline.

The optimum - but expensive - solution (and the route I finally took) was to buy the Canon EOS 1v camera. This is one incredible camera! It stores the photo exposure for every frame for like the last 100 rolls you shot. Using the EOS Link software (for Mac or Windows) you can download the camera data to your computer. The software also allows you to then annotate each frame with additional information AND attach a digital thumbnail of the photo if you have one. This very HOT STUFF - albeit expensive also.

You can see Canon's blurb on it at:

By the way, EOS Link software also allows you to export the data in a variety of common formats that can then be imported into Excel, FileMaker Pro, Access, etc.

If you'd like to see more, send me an email and I'll reply with a sample Excel spreadsheet with some data.

Best of luck.

5/18/2003 3:01:12 AM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/22/2002
  For the digital folks: Digital camera files contain special information about the camera and its settings at the time the photo was made. This information is called EXIF (Exchangeable Image File).

Here an example of what's containtted in an EXIF file:

Captured: May 11, 2003 12:32:47
Aperture: 6.3
Shutter speed: 1000
Focal length: 23.7
Flash: Off
Dimensions: 1600 x 1200
File name: 17384_d2003514194325P5110016.JPG

This information is embedded with the image and will need to be extracted via software. It is still important to keep a small note book to record other information not in this file, i.e. weather conditions, exposure compensation, ISO settings, etc...



5/18/2003 1:37:15 PM

Adam J. Lucas

member since: 2/8/2004
  I used to use a note pad, but you need to be disciplined to do this for every shot. I bought a small digital recorder, which is a great way of recording descriptions of what you were trying to do and not just the exposure info. Olympus make nice neat small models for about 50.

Alternativey, the Minolta Dynax 7 is a fantastic camera that has a memory on-board that records all the exposure data you would need to know for up to 7 rolls of film (this is expandable if you buy the data saver which connects to the camera by removing the lens and putting this on, you can download all the data to it and then transfer it to your computer, 1000's of films worth of data can be stored)

The only limitation is that if you want to record info on filters you used or info on different techniques you used, then you'll still need a digital voice recorder or notepad to do this.

4/18/2004 11:10:49 AM


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