For many, film has a plethora of advantages over digital, from it’s looks, tonality and dynamic range to it’s realism and the way it changes your approach to shooting, slowing you down and forcing you to make considerations. A film-lover’s approach to photography is often from the heart rather than from the technicalities. As a film shooter, it’s almost a prerequisite that you need to accept the flaws and unpredictability of film and accept that it’s more about what you saw rather than the settings you entered. We rarely, if ever, get a chance to fully review our settings and retrospectively learn from how we technically approach a scene.
Meta35 changes that.
One thing film cameras lack when compared to digital cameras is a way of easily reviewing metadata. There are a number of film cameras that do this but you would be forgiven for not knowing even if you owned one, of if you do for not retrieving it through sheer difficulty.
I’ve been testing out the Meta35 with my Canon EOS 1v, a camera that does record metadata. There is at least one other method of retrieving data from my 1v but I’ve never attempted it simply because it required cables I didn’t have and software I struggled to find. Meta35 puts everything you need right in your hands.
What Meta35 does is allow you to very simply match up your film scans with the metadata associated with each image. It’s a very useful tool! It helps you to learn from your images but it also allows you to embed that data so that others can learn from it. Flickr for example would be able to pick up on the metadata applied to your images and help inform others how you achieved the image. It would show the camera you used rather than the scanner it was scanned with. It’s easy to drop in your copyright info as well and apply it to the whole roll with a single click. It’s all about ease of use with Meta35.
What it also allows you to do is dig deep into your camera’s custom functions, unearthing things you likely never knew you had options for. Mine came up with some very useful features I wasn’t aware of - like a silent film rewind and the option to leave the film leader out after rewinding, useful for when hand developing. But going one step further, Meta35 allows you to create a profile of custom functions and save them. You can then easily change between profiles for portraiture, landscapes, weddings and have your camera set up exactly the way you want and need.
What I also really liked, and perhaps my favourite feature, was how it acted as a method of giving my photos some order. Organising them by roll, just as my camera organises them by roll with it’s metadata. Yes, it would be excellent if all my camera recorded metadata and I could store them this way, but if you predominantly shoot with one main camera, this is an excellent method of organising your work.
Overall, it’s an excellent piece of software and the hardware is robust and easy to use. It can open up new possibilities with your camera that you may not even have been aware of, and ultimately makes it easy to explore those possibilities. I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more from their images. It runs on both Windows and OSX on 7 Nikon cameras, 6 Sony/Minolta cameras and the Canon EOS 1v. At the time of writing, the Meta35 is $149 (or $199 for the combined Canon and Nikon package) which to me feels like a good price point for this amount of functionality and for being so much easier than the proprietary methods from the camera manufacturers.