How a film camera superimposes the date onto photos
Have you ever wondered how on earth old film cameras added the date onto photos? I know I was always curious about this as a kid. Well, Ben Krasnow of Applied Science has the answer to our question. In the latest teardown, he disassembles an old camera from 1990 to show us how it superimposes the date onto photos.
The camera Ben uses for the teardown is the one he bought himself in 1990, and 2019 is actually the last year it can register. So, I guess it was high time for the teardown.
I won’t get too technical in the post, as Ben did it in his video way better (and more fun) than I ever could. But in short, the date display on the camera is powered by a CR2025 battery, not the AA batteries used for the flash. If you look closely, you’ll see that the print of the date is actually on the negative, so it had to be really small. The secret is in a super-tiny LCD projector with an incandescent light bulb. When you press the shutter, this little LCD projects the light onto the film, superimposing the date onto the negative.
Personally, even though I was always curious about how this worked, I hated seeing the date embedded in prints. When I printed my photos, I always wrote the date on the back, and I preferred having the photos intact. But still, I own some photos my friends took with their cameras, and they have the date on the front. Although I don’t like how it looks… Well, those prints are still precious memories.
Judging from the comments on Reddit, the opinions are divided. Some people, like me, hated seeing the date on their prints, and the others found it convenient. And from what I can see in some recent Facebook and Instagram stories, this format is becoming popular even in modern, digital snapshots people share on social media. I guess it’s about nostalgia.
And what about you? Did you use this clever piece of tech in your old film photos?
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.