135 Film DX recoding solution

Problem: I own a Pentax P30t Film SLR which only allows ISO to be set via DX encoding on the film canister. If no DX code is present, the ISO defaults to 100.

Solution: There are all sorts of existing solutions involving tin-foil, stickers or scratching the canister but I wanted a more permanent re-usable solution and came up with this ‘shim’ idea.

The method is as follows, with simple explanation in the captions where needed:

0.4mm aluminium sheet
0.4mm aluminium sheet from a local hobby store
Measuring the canister
Measuring the canister
Sheet cut to size
Sheet cut to size, and edges filed nice and smooth / safe
Checking sheet for canister width fit
Checking sheet for canister width fit
Preparing to roll the sheet
Preparing to roll the sheet, note the socket I chose as a former is smaller than the canister 
Sheet taped to former
Sheet taped to former before rolling
Shim cut to length
Shim cut to length
Text fitting shim
Text fitting shim, it should ‘click’ into place nicely.
Marking out the DX block positions
Marking out the DX block positions

 

Code added and 2nd test fit
Code added with PVC tape and second test fitting
In-camera test
In-camera test, is JUST fits. Slightly thinner sheet would be better

Additional notes: 

  • 0.4mm aluminium sheet was the thinnest they had in my local hobby store. I plan on trying .3mm sometime soon.
  • Choice of tape matters. Good quality soft PVC tape can be punctured by the pins in the camera, and is also quite thick. Cheap electrical tape is probably better. Best would be to block-out the code with etch-primer and a suitable hard shell paint I think. Future version
  • The length of the piece of aluminium’s important as you want it to butt-up to the inside corner to prevent the shim rotating when the film is inserted.
  • Choice of former, in my case a socket, is a bit hit and miss. You want to over curl it and let it spring back to the final size.
  • I taped the sheet to the former before rolling with duck-tape.

Testing the shim:
For a camera like the P30t, there’s no way to read-back or verify which ISO value has been set by a DX code. i.e there’s no LCD display. So to check that the shim is working:

  1. Insert a factory canister with a DX code on it that differs from the one on the shim and take a light meter reading against a constant light source. A PC/Laptop screen showing a white background is a good one. Note the reading.
  2. Add the shim to the canister, and take another reading, noting it.
  3. Compare the readings with what you’d expect to see.
    For example let’s say the factory canister has a 100 ISO DX code on it, and the reading is 1/60th at ƒ8. If the shim has a 400 ISO code on it, you would expect there to be a difference of 2 stops in the reading. So 1/250th at ƒ8 or 1/60th at ƒ16.

This process inspired me to design a t-shirt, and ended up in a very tiny t-shirt collection on Teespring: https://teespring.com/stores/35mm

DX Encoding chart t-shirt

If you have questions, corrections or criticisms please leave a comment below. Or just let me know what you thought with a click/tap on a thumb: Nope, not helpful...Yep, more useful than not! (No Ratings Yet)
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Using Mac Image Capture with Nikon D70 (Direct Cable connection)

Problem: Recently I dug out my old Nikon D70 to take some pics on holiday. When I connected it to my Mac (OS X v10.8.4) via the USB cable, Image Capture fired-up as expected, but when I tired to Import them I got an error stating that Image Capture was unable to import the RAW images.

Solution: It turns out that the USB mode needs to be ‘M’ now, (Mass Storage Device Mode). To set this:

  1. Press ‘Menu’ on the D70 (after disconnecting it from the Mac.
  2. On the far left of the menu, select the spanner icon to enter the ‘Settings’ sub-menu.
  3. In the Settings menu, scroll up/down to get to the ‘USB’ setting.
  4. Enter the USB setting, and set it to ‘M’ rather than ‘P’ (Picture Transfer Protocol).
  5. Reconnect the USB cable, and the images should now import ok.