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Archive 2012 · Digital back for 35mm cameras
  
 
briantho
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


Isn't it time for some company out there to manufacture digital backs for 35mm cameras? I read up on the subject, and there were a few failed attempts in the last decade. I feel now, however, technology is where it needs to be to make this happen.

I see two possibilities. A universal cartridge with a digital sensor that is inserted in to any 35mm camera instead of film. Of course, this won't give you any feedback until you upload the exposures to your computer. Here is a design concept I found on the web:







http://seoulcolors.com/2011/05/digital-camera-back-for-35mm-film-by-hyun-jin-park/

The other solution would be to replace the original back with a new one, which has a digital sensor and an LCD screen on the back for preview of captures. Many cameras already have replaceable "data backs", so this should be pretty straight forward. There would have to be a selection of backs for different camera bodies.

Even if the sensor was "only" APS-C, this would be something I'd buy immediately. Production costs shouldn't be too high. After all, it would be a much more simple design than for instance a full NEX camera, so the cost should be below that of a new NEX 5N.

It's going to happen, sooner or later, so make sure you have a copy of your favorite vintage camera body when it does, because prices will sky rocket. I just wish some company would hurry up and get it done... like NOW!

What are your thoughts?



Feb 23, 2012 at 07:09 PM
ken.vs.ryu
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


leica dmr?


Feb 23, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Lotusm50
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


I guess this guy didn't hear of the failed Silicon Film idea. The ultimate in Vaporware.

Yes, I agree that there might be some demand for such a product, and maybe with recent advances it might be more possible than it was when the Silicon Film folks were messing about. It is, however, hard to imagine it being any cheaper than a NEX body, and have a lot more limited market.




Feb 23, 2012 at 07:18 PM
briantho
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


Right, the Leica DRM and Silicon Film were the failed attempts I was referring to. Done right, however, and if cost can be kept low, I belive the market would be huge, especially since there is zero competition.

This would be much more interesting for a smaller company to engage in than releasing yet another new mirrorless system with dedicated lenses.



Feb 23, 2012 at 07:30 PM
JimUe
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


That'd be a novel idea. My Minolta maxxum 7 feels half the weight and thickness of my Sony a900. But the price would probably be astronomical for it to be economic for the manufacturer given the seemingly smaller remaing user base of film camera users.


Feb 23, 2012 at 07:39 PM
telyt
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


The huge variation in physical dimensions of film cameras limits the opportunities for economies of scale and the critical lack of communication between the digital insert and the camera, the limited battery space, and the loss of one of digital's biggest advantages, the near-real-time feedback, limit the potential market for an insert.

A replacement back still has the variations in physical dimensions to deal with and to handle the remaining problems you'll end up with a camera as big as a D3; this to hang off the back of a camera that is likely 10+ years old and no longer supported by the manufacturer. Not many companies will take this risk and survive to tell about it.



Feb 23, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Kenneth Farver
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


This always appears on April 1st


Feb 23, 2012 at 07:49 PM
carstenw
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


This is an idea which could have taken the world by storm 10 years ago, had it been possible. It wasn't and it didn't. Tolerances are too loose on film cameras, and add everything telyt listed and it is not hard to see why.


Feb 23, 2012 at 08:05 PM
AhamB
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


Forget about it, will never happen, not commercially made anyway.
Just think how you are going to set the ISO for example, and communicate this to the camera's metering system. There's countless other problems like this.



Feb 24, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Mescalamba
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


Im not sure how Leica DMR was "failed" in any way. Its superb 10mpix APS-H. More than usable even today..

Only "fail" might be slightly high price..



Feb 24, 2012 at 01:53 PM
 

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carstenw
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


Price was not a fail, as Leica's other systems show, a lack of sufficient sales to fund a follow-up was. Really nice camera/system, some of the best SLR lenses ever made, but I think the world wanted AF too much.


Feb 24, 2012 at 01:55 PM
obik
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


Mescalamba wrote:
Im not sure how Leica DMR was "failed" in any way.


It failed to save the R system.



Feb 24, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Smiert Spionam
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


I remember well the initial enthusiasm and subsequent disappointment about Silicon Film -- an intriguing idea, but clearly one which couldn't be commercially developed.

The idea of a universal insert may still be quite a reach (look at how little room there is in most manual SLRs between the pressure plate and the back, for starters). If I were to develop a dedicated back, though, the place I'd start would be with the Nikon FM body, which would give you compatibility with their most popular compact SLRs: FM/FM2/FE/FE2/FM3a. I'm probably biased, as a Nikon user, but even so, that seems like the most likely single platform, not least because the FM3a is still available new.

Still probably a fantasy, though.



Feb 24, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Smiert Spionam
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


I bet there are some interesting experiments in Nikon's labs and archives. If I had a zillion dollars, I'd figure out how to get a couple of their engineers to make me a handmade FM3D, with a D4 or D800 sensor. Heck, maybe one of each.

So far, though, the only manufacturer that has really carried the feel and mechanical operation of their film camera over to a new digital body is Leica, with the M8/9. Much more common are things that look only cosmetically kinda-sorta like the legacy gear. The Fuji X100 and XPro1 are probably among the better such hybrids; the new Olympus OM-D / EM-5 looks far less convincing -- as if the reason people still miss film cameras is the SLR hump.




Feb 24, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


I'd pay $500 or $600 for one. In a hot minute!

And I think they should start by offering it as a back replacement (reversible mod) for the 5 or 6 most popular camera bodies. F3, AE1 / A1, OM4, etc.

I wanna know how they intend to initiate the capture tho. Would high-speed light sensors be fast enough for SS integrity? They would need to employ at least 6 or them even if they were. And how would that work for night exposures? I suppose they could use a vibration sensor off the mirror movement? Of course most likely we would get a lot of blank frames from false positives as we jostled the camera around. And some would be terribly long exposures.

I've wanted one of these for ages and I'll be very interested if it ever materializes!!!



Feb 24, 2012 at 03:16 PM
campyone
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


Since almost nobody makes 35mm film cameras any more (AFAIK) such a back would have to rely on users of old cameras for sales. A relatively small number of people in developed countries use those cameras and the people in third-world countries couldn't afford the back. Eventually the cameras will break and the people using them will switch to digital, die, or whatever. IOWs, it's a market that's going to diminish with each passing year. Kind of sounds like Kodak's problem and they're in bankruptcy.

Just my thoughts, I abandoned 35mm in the early 1990s so I don't keep up with that world. Maybe I'm overlooking something.



Feb 24, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


Naw, I think you're right. If it were to happen it would need a very small and very tight startup capable of showing a profit on or before the thousandth unit sold. Or a very rich enthusiast who was really into it. It's very possible but quite unlikely for the right people to come together over something like this.


Remember also that Kodak did indeed make something like this already that fit the F3. It was too big tho. I still see the 6mp version on the auction sites from time to time.

Here's what the two versions looked like:


Version 2 (2001):

There a standard SCSI hard drive inside there!




Version 1 was a couple of years prior and needed all kinds of extra equipment:













Feb 24, 2012 at 03:37 PM
sjms
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


we have traveled too far down the river to visit this idea.


Feb 24, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Smiert Spionam
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


Almost certainly true.


Feb 24, 2012 at 04:27 PM
briantho
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Digital back for 35mm cameras


I'm not as sceptical as most of you. If sensors become cheaper the chineese could put stuff like this together for very little money. I'm just surprised they haven't already. We'll see...


Feb 24, 2012 at 04:29 PM
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