Category Archives: Product Review

Mechanical Shutter Testing Part 2 & Giveaway

This week I want to share some of my own testing results and summarize the benefits and downsides of this specific shutter testing unit. The camera I selected to test is the Olympus OM-1n MD from 1979. To begin the test, the lens of the camera is removed. The LED must be placed in the center of the lens opening so that light can reach the sensor when the shutter is triggered. I’ve drilled a hole in a 35mm film canister and taped it to the desk, so it won’t move while testing. The curtain sensor is the placed on the back of the open camera. I’ve used a rubber band to keep the sensor in place and tight against the camera. Lastly, the testing unit is powered on and setup for the correct shutter type.

To record my results, I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet. The camera will be set at the fastest shutter speed, tested 10 times, recording each of the results in the spreadsheet. Then the camera will be set to the next slowest shutter speed, tested 10 times, recording the results. This process is repeated all the way to the slowest shutter speed on the camera. In the spreadsheet, I have it create an average speed based on the 10 individual tests.

When I received this unit, I went to my friend Maurice and asked him about industry standards and shutter test tolerances. He explained to me that for speeds 1/125th of a second and faster, there is a 30% tolerance on either side. For speeds slower than 1/125th of a second, shutter speeds can have an acceptable tolerance of 20% on either side.

When testing the OM-1, I could not get the unit to register a speed of 1/1000th. This unit is designed to test up to that speed, and other cameras I’ve tested at this speed have been successful. I’m not sure why the testing unit doesn’t like the OM-1 at this speed. As you can see from the results, at 1/500th of a second, the speed was too high, giving me about 1/910th of a second. As the shutter speeds became slower, the more accurate they became. What does that mean for this camera? It could be sent off for a CLA to have the speed adjusted. Or, I can simply make myself a note that the two highest speeds are a little too fast.

Pros of this unit:
– Small size.
– Easy to operate.
– Easy to read screen.
– Setup is quick.
– Build quality is good for a product that’s not mass produced.
– Price

Cons of this unit:
– Documentation is poor. Trial and error helped me more than trying to understand the documentation. The documentation for the sensor we’re giving away is much better.
– May not be 100% accurate, but close enough to help you make a decision about a camera.
– The unit must be turned off if you decide to make changes to the setup. For example, testing the shutter, then deciding to test the shutter and curtain.
– Navigating the menus with a single button can be difficult.

As I promised last week, let’s give away a shutter testing sensor! This is a sensor that can be used with a computer, tablet or smartphone. You will need to supply your own light source, like an LED flashlight. When you connect the light sensor to your preferred device, you will need (free) audio recording software. For example, Audacity on the PC. The sensor doesn’t record audio, it interprets the light and displays it on your screen. All of this information is detailed in the included instructions.

Rules: One (1) entry per person. Participants must provide email address, full name, shipping address, and country. Giveaway will be open 5/9/2018 through 5/31/2018. A winner will be chosen at random on 6/1/2018 and notified via email. A total number of participants and the winners name will be posted in the comments of this post on 6/1/2018.



Mechanical Shutter Testing – Part 1

Have you ever purchased a used film camera and asked yourself, “I wonder if the shutter speeds are accurate?” Or simply thought, “Sounds good enough.” There are inexpensive methods to test mechanical shutter speeds like mobile apps and do-it-yourself projects found online. When I was doing some research to test my own cameras, I came across Vasile Florin, a Romanian seller on eBay that sells premade shutter testing units. He has several combinations of equipment. For example, some units are made to test shutter speeds beyond 1/1000th, and others are simply a sensor that plug into the mic jack on your computer.

Vasile Florin’s Version 10 Shutter Testing Unit

The tester I’m using is Vasile Florin’s version 10. It includes a main unit that has a 6 row, 14 column LCD display. On the main unit are jacks for an LED light source, a curtain sensor, and a DC input for power. The unit can also be powered by a 9-volt battery. When powering on the main unit, you use the black button below the curtain sensor input jack to make your selections in the testing menus.

Top to bottom: LED light jack, curtain sensor jack, menu selection button, on/off switch.

This unit can perform both a shutter test, or curtain and shutter test. The last menu prompt before testing begins is: focal plane, leaf, diaphragm, or other. This is a nice feature that separates this unit from cheaper ones. The curtain sensor on this model has 5 light sensing photo cells. The middle photo cell can be turned on by itself if you are using the sensor plugged into the mic jack on a computer.

Curtain Sensor with 5 Photo Cells

LED Light Source

Curtain Sensor with 5 Photo Cells – Close Up

Vasile Florin’s Version 10 Shutter Testing Unit

Next week, I’ll continue with part 2 of this post and share some of my own testing results along with some pros and cons of this unit.

Make sure to come back for part 2, because I’ll be giving away a shutter tester that you can use with a smartphone, tablet, or computer.


PhotoMemo Photographer’s Memo Book

Mike Padua at has spent the last year creating unique vinyl stickers, patches, and lapel pins that honor traditional film photography. The latest release is the PhotoMemo Photographer’s Memo Book. The book is intended to give film photographers an easy-to-use and inexpensive way to record data. - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

The internal pages of the PhotoMemo is a two-page spread designed as a “roll journal,” with space for photographers to note: roll number, start & end dates, camera & lens used, film type, ISO, subject & location, push or pull x-number of stops, and where the photographer is at with the processing, scanning and archival process of the negatives. – PhotoMemo Photographer’s Memo Book

Each book is 48 pages with 22 two-page spreads, and measures 5.5” x 3.75” (13.9cm x 9.5cm). The cover is 100 lb Neenah Environment Desert Storm (30% post-consumer fiber). The book pages are 60 lb Finch Opaque Smooth Text that are acid-free and archival quality. - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

To give you an idea of the size, and usefulness of the PhotoMemo, let’s compare it to the high-end Galaxy Photo Planner & Handbook. I was an early backer of the Galaxy book on Kickstarter. I was also one of the majority that are somewhat disappointed.

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

The PhotoMemo book costs $9.99 for two, the Galaxy was $37, now $35. The Galaxy is larger, and thicker than the PhotoMemo. The outer design of the Galaxy is a reproduction of a Moleskin notebook, very attractive. The outside design of the PhotoMemo is simple, like any notebook you might find at an office supply store. But really, it’s the inside that counts, right? Unfortunately, the creators of the Galaxy wasted several pages that could have been useful for noting photo data. Instead, they included names and website info for various online camera stores, photo galleries, agents, major photo suppliers, photography media – magazines and publishers. For me, the one main advantage of the PhotoMemo book is the two-page spread that allows you to write the width of the book. The Galaxy book requires you to turn the book ninety degrees to write the same type of data. Why did they do this? The PhotoMemo pages allow enough space for a photographer to record not only the details of the shots, but make additional notes for developing chemistry and darkroom data. The Galaxy book has grouped these pages together, i.e. x-number of pages for recording shot information, x-number of pages for recording darkroom and chemistry details, and even different pages for photographers recording data for large format photos. It makes no sense to me why the Galaxy book was formatted this way.

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Fellow film photographer and host of the Classic Camera Revival Podcast, Alex Luijckx, asked me if the paper thickness would allow him to write with a fountain pen. Not having one of Alex’s fancy fountain pens, I decided to use different types of ink on the paper: a standard Bic pen, Write Dudes 0.7mm pen, Pioneer Albums CD pen with permanent ink, and a classic Sharpie. With the two permanent markers, there was some bleeding through and onto the next page. What you would expect. The 60 lb paper in the PhotoMemo held up better to my two standard pens than they did on the paper in the Galaxy book.

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Overall, skip the fancy and expensive notebooks and get a two-pack of PhotoMemo notebooks. You won’t feel guilty about writing an email address on the cover or sketching something over the top of the pre-formatted pages in the PhotoMemo. For the price of a single Moleskin, you could buy eight PhotoMemo notebooks! - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Use the discount code UTAHFILM and save 20% on your PhotoMemo order at While you’re there, get some cool vinyl stickers, camera bag patches, and pins. - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book & Vinyl Stickers

Mike Padua at has been gracious enough to give one lucky Utah Film Photography reader a set of PhotoMemo notebooks. Simply leave a comment below and share what film and camera you would write in your PhotoMemo notebook. A random comment will be selected as the winner on October 31, 2016.


Film Is Alive!

If you don’t follow Utah Film Photography on Pinterest, you should. I was one of those people early on that complained about Pinterest. Now I see the value to pinning all of my favorite camera brands and types in one area for reference. One of the boards I keep on Pinterest is for Film Camera Clothing & Accessories. This board inspired me to create my own Utah Film Photography shirt last spring. It’s a black button-up Red Kap work shirt, something you’d see a car or motorcycle mechanic wear. I had a company create a custom Utah Film Photography patch, and found the vintage Pentax patch on eBay.

The 2015 Film Photography Project Walking Workshop at The Darkroom in San Clemente, California Photo by Michael Raso Canon T60 / Canon 24mm f2.8 lens Kodak E100gx Color Slide Film Processed E-6 at The Darkroom

Shaun Nelson at the 2015 Film Photography Project Walking Workshop at The Darkroom in San Clemente, California. Photo by Michael Raso. Canon T60/Canon 24mm f2.8 lens. Kodak E100gx Color Slide Film. Processed E-6 at

The latest patch additions to my shirt are from I discovered these patches while following San Francisco based photographer Mike Padua’s film work on Instagram. Mike has created a new line of patches and stickers that express the humorous and enthusiastic side of film photography.

ShootFilmCo.Com - Film Is Not Dead Patch

ShootFilmCo.Com – Film Is Not Dead Patch

Mike says, “Growing up as a kid, and being in a number of punk rock bands and also loving photography at the same time, I thought it would be cool to have something that kind of brings both worlds together. I always thought that the artwork on vintage patches and stickers were amazing.” is where you’ll find Mike, designing, selling and shipping his expanding line of products. Mike’s original item, the In Grain We Trust embroidered patch and sticker was released earlier this year. And just in time for Halloween, has created two glow-in-the-dark patches. Working with Illustrator, Andrew Denholm in the U.K., one features a skeleton with a TLR camera, and the other, Frankenstein with a large format camera.

ShootFilmCo.Com - Film Is Not Dead Patch (Glow-In-The-Dark)

ShootFilmCo.Com – Film Is Not Dead Patch (Glow-In-The-Dark)

Along with the groovy artwork, the vinyl stickers and patches are made from quality materials. These are not cheap items you would buy from a drugstore gumball machine. The patches are worthy of your favorite camera bag, jacket, shirt or hat. And the stickers would make a valuable accessory to your car, laptop or forehead. All of patches are made in the USA by in New York. Mike isn’t afraid to share who he collaborates with and feels that artists should share and support each other as much as possible.

I’ve added the Film Is Not Dead and In Grain We Trust patches to my Utah Film Photography shirt. Instead of sticking the vinyl stickers to something, I decided to cut some flexible magnetic sheets and mount them. This makes them into perfect magnets for the office or my film fridge (also called the kitchen refrigerator by my wife and kids).

ShootFilmCo.Com Vinyl Stickers - Made Into Magnets

ShootFilmCo.Com Vinyl Stickers – Made Into Magnets

Make sure to visit and pick up some items before they sell out. Mike says, “It’s so much fun and ever since I started this endeavor in March, the absolute most rewarding thing that has happened is that I have talked to, and am now connected to more amazing film photographers than I ever thought possible. So many people are still shooting film, or coming back to it, or discovering it for the first time, and I’m really excited for film and the community to keep growing.”


Step5 Polaroid Print Holder

I love using my Polaroid Land Cameras. Instant photography is the drug that brought me to shooting film. As much as I enjoy it, there are two problems when shooting peel-apart 100-series Fujifilm (FP-100C Color or FB-3000B Black & White). The first issue is dust and debris that can stick to a freshly peeled image. The micro particles don’t appear on the slightly wet print, but will appear when the image is scanned. The solution is to place the print in an environment so it can dry, dust and hair-free. The second issue with peel-apart film is what to do with the print. When I’m shooting, I’m always looking for a way to keep my photos from being damaged; folded, wrinkled, or sticking to other prints.

The Step5 Polaroid Print Holder is a 3D printed film holder that can store ten Fujifilm instant photos securely. Inside the holder are small groves that allow each print to slide inside. The spacing of the groves prevents prints from touching each other during storage. The print holder is small enough to fit anywhere in a camera bag. And it’s strong enough so prints won’t be crushed or folded.

Pros: The Step5 Print Holder keeps prints protected. Photos are evenly spaced and don’t come in contact with each other. The print holder is 3D printed at high density making the plastic strong and crush-proof. As a bonus, the gray coloring of the holder matches vintage Polaroid accessories. I’m not sure if this was done on purpose, but it works.

Cons: Because the holder is 3D printed, the open end of the holder is rough plastic. I found that I couldn’t insert my prints into the holder smoothly. To resolve this, I took some fine grain sandpaper and inserted it into each grove and that was enough to remove some of the plastic burs. This wouldn’t be an issue if the holder was created using plastic injected molding.

The Step5 Polaroid Print Holder is now available for $30.00 (USD) plus $6 for shipping ($15 international) from PhotOle Photography. They also have a new negative holder for photographers like me that keep our peel-apart negatives for bleaching (color) and scanning. The larger groves provide additional space to keep negatives from sticking to each other. It’s now available for $40.00 (USD) plus $6 for shipping ($15 international).