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Monday, 03 May 2021


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Always looking for the perfect pen for signing my books with black endpapers. This might be worth a try if the point is fine enough. Last time I was in USA I raided an art store stock of Shorpie extra fine markers in all sorts of colours not available here in extra fine at the time. Don’t like signing on the real pages.

The good news: Sharpie Metallic markers -can- write on dark plastic surfaces.

The bad news: It can wear away quickly with handling.

All my Fujifilm cameras were black which has nice contrast with the white numbers on the dials. Then I got an X-E3 in silver, which also has a smaller exposure compensation dial, my most used control. I just couldn't see it without putting on reading glasses, especially to zero it out after use.

Out came my red Sharpie and I put a red line on the "zero" line two years ago. I can still set the dial to 0 without fail as that red line is still perfect. Love Sharpies.

Nice tip. But beware! There are other offerings that include other metallic colors and the shipping on those items is outrageous.

They're great. I've used them for years to mark my camera batteries. Each one gets a letter and I use them in order. That way I always know which ones are fresh and which ones need to be recharged. I also use them to mark the black, cloth-covered archival binders I use to store my much-too-large CD collection.

I've been using silver paint Sharpies for years to organize and number the dozens of black digital cameras my students use in class. They are great for that (and I don't care about resale value...middle schoolers wreck most of the cameras eventually). But, I have to re-mark the numbers often. The paint rubs off shiny Canon PowerShots pretty easily.

Labeling lens caps, body caps, batteries and even chargers have been a game changer for me in terms of keeping things organized, since I'm using lens adapters and cameras that use different batteries. I like using a label maker to create adhesive white labels with black lettering. Easier to see in the dim insides of a camera bag...

Vandalism? Or commitment?

Imagine the relief of going "You know what? I'm going to wear this camera out. I'm not going to baby it to try to max out resale value. It's not a rental or a whim. It's fit for purpose and I'll drive it till the wheels fall off it."

In reality, you commit to photography, not to the tools of the moment. Isn't that what the planet needs right now. Less of pining the for the new when the old hasn't even been run-in.

I've marked batteries that way for years, writing on a spot not subject to much handling, so info wearing away has not been a problem. I had NOT thought of Albert Smith's trick of marking the default position on a hard-to-read dial. (Looking at you, Fuji.) Great tip.

A warning: One thing not to use these on is writable CDs and DVDs. This may be an urban myth, but several years ago there were stories about the metallic Sharpies making these disks unreadable, possibly because of reflections from the labeled surface. I can't find references to this issues just now, but it seemed like something to avoid.


Sharpie also makes "paint" markers that will write durably on plastics. They come in a variety of colors. The black ones seem to be very good. But there's a bit more to using them than just uncapping and writing. They need to be "started". The white ones are quite a bit more finicky to get restarted after first use.

Great suggestion Mike!

And for further variety of silver markers:

I'm not affiliated with JetPens other than being a (happy) customer for some years and knowing to trust their descriptions.

For photographic use, I think a finer tip size could be useful. Also, a marker that won't dry up when sitting unused for a long time.

I mark chargers with them, mostly. I've got one over 10 years old still going strong (always stored point down, not point up or lying flat).

I have to say these are two broad at the tip for marking memory cards, and I don't need to mark lens caps since they're already marked generally. I have written on the pentaprism of a silver SLR with a regular Sharpie, too (to make my two identical bodies distinguishable; paid off big-time, since I also recorded which body reach roll came from, and got slides developed while still in England, and detected that one body had a 2/3 stop meter error! Saved half the rest of the trip.)

I was in the market for white paint Sharpie, but didn't like the risks of clogging, so I jumped on these instead.

I use them to mark the column of my enlarger with my usual sizes (this high for 5x7, that high for 11x14, etc), and also to annotate contact sheets on the image side. The silver markings are also quite visible under inactinic light, unlike coloured ones like green or red.

Discovered these worked best when proofreaders needed a marker that would show up against a variety of color ad proofs we sent them. Gave them others options as well, but silver was used the most… just a bit thick in the point. Now I use them for pretty much all the reasons mentioned earlier… have to check if they’re standing point down, though…

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