A Film Photographer’s Note-Taking App

FILM LOG Is a Digital Memo “Holder” for All Your Film Cameras

5 min read by

Film cameras advanced photography from nil to near-perfection in the past 197 years. Still, they could never fully fix the metadata issue — only digital cameras can record date, location, filter, camera, and exposure settings seamlessly.

A beautiful and useless reminder knob on Voigtländer Vitomatic I.

Some types of metadata are essential for film camera users as they inform your light and exposure choices. Manual film cameras need you to remember at least your film’s ISO and type (negative/positive, colour/monochrome). If you plan to push/pull your film or try to intentionally under/over-expose specific frames — this info will need to be written down as well.

The only reliable metadata film cameras can provide is an exposure count.

Many attempts were made to resolve this. Some older film cameras have a memo dial — a physical knob with (likely sponsored) film brands and exposure conditions (daylight, shade, flash). Unfortunately, they are not very useful today as the films advertised are no longer available. Other mid-century and younger cameras came with tab holders, a small frame where you can slide a piece of the cardboard packaging so that at least you remember what’s in the camera. These memo/tab holders may look nice, but they won’t fit many common 35mm (and smaller) cameras and probably aren’t great for large-format/movie cams.

Film Log is an app I built to resolve all those problems and improve your scanning/archiving process.

What film is inside my camera?

I like to keep a few cameras loaded with different film types and speeds. My wife shoots about a roll a year. We both forget what’s inside our cameras.

Film Log solves that by storing film type and camera on the device and on the cloud. The film/camera digital memo can then be moved from Film in Camera to Done Shooting, Film in Development, or Scanned/Archived.

Logging film/camera before going out to shoot via Film Log.

This way, you can accurately track the status of your film during the entire photographic process and, importantly, keep an automated record of everything that happened on that roll. All you need is the device you’re reading these words on and your free Analog.Cafe account.

I’ve worked hard on Film Log’s design to ensure that it’s easy and fast to use; its purpose is to get out of the way rather than be another tool or device to take care of or maintain.

Logging exposures.

Film Log was launched and announced on 35mmc last summer. I’ve since updated the app a few times, with the major improvement landing past weekend when I implemented augmented note-taking.

The app automatically logs your film’s journey through various steps, recording the dates and actions. Additionally, you can edit those records to include your personal observations, such as weather, lens filters or lenses used, and exposure settings. These notes can help you later to improve the quality of your photographs based on what you’ve learned or plan better photoshoots based on trial sessions’ notes.

You can edit your film notes by tapping the Edit button next to your film record and then the three dots (...) to bring up the advanced menu popup. At the top of the popup, you’ll see all the info app has populated for you, which you can edit by tapping it and then saving.

Once you’ve saved an edit, a pink dot will appear next to your film records to help you remember that you’ve got some additional info there.

Film Log will continue adding dates and actions to the bottom of your notes as you work with your film.

✪​ Pro Tip: If you want to bold anything in your notes, surround it with two asterisks, **like this**.

Film development notes.

Sometimes I like to push/pull or rate my film at a different speed than the box. Following this weekend’s update, it’s now easy to jot that down to avoid confusion down the line.

I’ve also begun noting the developer and lab notes to see the effect any changes produce on my photographs. And since I started processing in C-41, Film Log became helpful in tracking the freshness/exhaustion of the chemicals.

Scanning and archiving film.

Film Log does a little more than remind you what film’s inside your camera. The records it keeps help me store and organize my film after development and the scans I get from it. I expect those records to live and be useful for many years.

Film Log is free to use; you don’t need to download anything. But you can still keep it on your device next to your apps if you like.