7 February 2011

Using the Minolta Data Saver DS-100 to transfer EXIF data from the Minolta Dynax/Maxxum/Alpha 7 to scanned JPG files of negatives

Filed under: EXIF data, film cameras, Minolta Data Saver DS-100, Minolta Dynax 7 — Howard @ 12:00 am

The Minolta Dynax 7 was one of the last hurrahs of the 35mm film SLR camera age – a great enthusiasts’ camera with a wealth of electronic trickery built into it.

One feature, also available in the Dynax 800si and in other Minolta –i series cameras equipped with the Minolta Data Memory 2 (DA) Card, is the ability to record exposure and lens information for each negative on a roll of film. The Dynax 7 goes a step further than most of its predecessors in providing a facility to export this data to a computer.

The Data Saver DS-100 is a device that interfaces with the camera and downloads information stored in the camera to a Smart Media card. This card can be read on a suitably equipped PC and the data imported as structured (TSV) TXT files. People on the Dyxum forums have written small routines in Perl that, with the help of ExifTool, read the data from the TXT file and transfers the information to corresponding JPG files, writing the data to standard EXIF file structures widely recognised by photographic software and web sites like Photoshop Elements, Picasa, and Flickr.

I shall try to summarise here what I have understood from the Importing DM-9 / DS-100 data into scans thread on Dyxum. The key post for me was this one by hotwire together with subsequent advice and modification by Vitor (see this post), though my thanks go to all who contributed to this useful project. The summary here is for PCs using the Windows OS (I have XP).

None of the equipment discussed here is manufactured any more. The Dynax 7 was introduced in 2000 and I believe the DS-100 is of similar vintage. Both were probably withdrawn from sale in 2006 when the Konica Minolta photographic business was closed (and digital SLR assets were transferred to Sony). Smart Media cards are no longer manufactured. The DS-100 is supplied with a 4MB card (sufficient for data from 400 rolls of film) and the maximum card size supported is 32MB (1900 rolls of film).

The focus here is on using the Dynax 7 setup. However, I think it should be possible to create structured data files for other Minolta cameras manually, using the Dynax 7 TSV files as a template. The original thread at Dyxum focuses mainly on what can be done with the Dynax 9 and its associated files and gadgets, and this is beyond the scope of what I present here.

Any errors or misunderstanding that remain are entirely my own, and I’d be grateful for any clarifications and corrections.

The gear

Minolta Data Saver DS-100

(Above, clockwise from bottom right) The DS-100, case, manual, and the supplied Smart Media card.

DS-100 docked to a Dynax 7

(Above) The DS-100 docked with the Dynax 7; data communication is presumably via the 8 contacts in the alpha mount.

Data format

The TSV .TXT file contains exposure and lens information in the form

Frame   Shutter  FNo.   Lens        +/-    PASM     Meter    FL +/-     yy/mm/dd      Time
1    160      16     80  /5.6     0.0     P      Multi      -        2010/11/10    14:38
2    320      25     110 /5       0.0     P      Multi      -        2010/11/10    15:03

36    30       4.5    50  /1.7    -0.7     A      Multi      -        2010/11/12    20:06

When you scan the negatives it is helpful to name the resulting JPG files with a consistent pattern that ends with the frame number , e.g. in this instance dn1-0001-01.jpg, dn1-0001-02.jpg, through to dn1-0001-36.jpg (or whatever the last-numbered frame is for your film).

Software and preparation for conversion


Now we are ready to run the program and to convert the source JPG files to EXIF-enhanced copies, together with associated XMP files.

Open a ‘DOS box’ by clicking on Start > Run… > typing ‘cmd’ > pressing Enter or clicking ‘OK’. At the DOS prompt in the window that opens type cd\perl\<directory>, where <directory> is the name of the directory containing the data file, JPGs, and

At the prompt type pattern@F dn1-0001.txt

Where dn1-0001.txt is the TSV data file and pattern@F is the naming convention for the scanned JPG files comprising an identifier prefix (‘pattern’) and the digits of the frame number (@F).

The program runs, generating status messages and a sequence of XMP files and new –exif.jpg files with the EXIF data embedded.

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