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  DX Coding on Film Canisters

Just what do those metal strips on your film do?

   

One interesting question that I get asked from time to time is how to manually encode DX information on film cansisters. I documented this in the original manuscript for Nikon Field Guide, but unfortunately it was one of the things that had to be left out due to page count limitations (in order to keep the book under US$20). Porter's Camera Store sells a set of foils that can be used to change DX coding (hint: search for "DX Coded Film Labels"), but I have rarely seen the information you need to make your modifications documented.

DX coding is specified by an international standard: ANSI/NAPM Standard IT1.14:1994. Refer to the picture of the film canister, below, for the 12 positions where conductive metal strips can be applied.

  • Positions 1 and 7 are always set to conduct (i.e., are metallic areas). They are used for alignment purposes.
  • The ISO value of the film is indicated by positons 2-6. Film speeds from ISO 25 to 5000 can be encoded.
  • The number of exposures are indicated by positions 8-10. Note that many Nikon bodies can actually get an extra exposure off most film when loaded correctly.
  • Finally, the exposure latitude is indicated by positions 11-12. Latitude is used by some automatic processors for print film, but is not relavent to slide film (note that the Kodak Gold film in the above photo shows that it has +3 to -1 stop latitude).

See the picture, above, for positions; see the tables in the right column to decode. Remember, the silver areas are conductive, the other areas are usually black and non-conductive (a few manufacturers use a different base color on some cassettes).

Film ISO   Conductive Positions
25   5
40   5, 6
50   2, 5
64   2, 6
80   2, 5, 6
100   3, 5
125   3, 6
160   3, 5, 6
200   2, 3, 5
250   2, 3, 6
320   2, 3, 5, 6
400   4, 5
500   4, 6
640   4, 5, 6
800   2, 4, 5
1000   2, 4, 6
1250   2, 4, 5, 6
1600   3, 4, 5
2000   3, 4, 6
2500   3, 4, 5, 6
3200   2, 3, 4, 5
4000   2, 3, 4, 6
5000   2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Exposures   Conductive Positions
12   8
20   9
24   8, 9
36   10
72   8, 9, 10

Latitude   Conductive Positions
+/- 1/2 stop   none
+/- 1 stop   11
+2 to -1 stop   12
+3 to -1 stop   11, 12


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