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08-25-2013, 05:33 PM   #1
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Turn a film SLR into a digital SLR

How cool an idea is this!?! I think it deserves lots of support and I for one will be signing up...

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08-25-2013, 05:57 PM   #2
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hm. I am a little bit unsure about the picture quality. Don't know if it is "that easy" to just put a sensor behind a lens and have a finished DSLR.
I guess Pentax, Canon, Nikon, and all the others took a little bit longer of development and learning to produce the nice DSLRs we have grown used to.

Looks interesting though, thanks for sharing.
I definitely won't be backing, because I only have one 35mm SLR and I intend to keep using it with film.
08-25-2013, 06:13 PM   #3
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eFilm has been proposed before and nothing ever happened because of the technical issues related to sync'ing up the shutter/wind cycle with the digital processor. (The detector does not know when to begin/end capture and the camera does not know when the detector is ready to go again.) There is also a question of providing power to the detector and image processor. I noticed in the video that the camera was in B mode (mirror up and shutter open) and that the capture had to be manually done with the back of the camera open. Clearly there is a lot of work to do to even get to a working prototype.

The big question today is why do it at all. Film photography is still a viable option and film cameras are still being made. Strangely, the price of a premium film camera is the same or more than a comparable digital camera. That leaves the rapidly shrinking stock of used vintage film cameras as market for this product. I own about a dozen of those and would have no interest in buying a gadget for digital capture.

All that being said, I would suggest that this fellow devote himself to developing a minimalist digital SLR similar in concept to the late and much lamented Epson RD-1. It is very possible to build a full-frame digital camera with the same handling and usage dynamic of a fine manual focus camera of 20 years ago in a similar form factor. Something like that I would buy and might even consider funding.


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08-25-2013, 06:14 PM   #4
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Very cool, I like the idea of using old film cameras again. I hope it all comes together.

08-25-2013, 06:16 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The big question today is why do it at all. Film photography is still a viable option and film cameras are still being made.
Agreed.
08-25-2013, 06:30 PM   #6
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Already discussed here, BTW.
02-14-2014, 10:40 PM   #7
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It would be easiest to make a digital cartridge for cartridge cameras, such as 110. The sensor could be actuated by the sound of the shutter (or by a light-sensitive diode, triggered when the shutter opens). ISO could be selected by a 2-position switch on the cartridge, since 110 cartridges were originally made for ISO 100 and ISO 400. Cartridges have a built-in frame counter, 110 cameras all have a frame counter window on the back; the digital version could have a small readout (good for telling how many images stored) in place of the frame counter. Upload images and recharge the battery via mini USB port on the cartridge.

This would breathe life back into my higher-end 110 cameras, including my Pentax Auto 110.

It won't happen, of course, but the problems aren't technical.
02-14-2014, 11:01 PM   #8
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The really interesting thing about the 110 format is that the frame size (13 x 17mm) is almost identical to that of the four-thirds digital sensor format (13 x 17.3mm) and yet FT cameras tend to be a lot bigger all round than the old 110 cameras. Of course, the LCD probably accounts for most of the added bulk, and the old 110 cartridge cameras don't lend themselves to the incorporation of a usefully-sized LCD. However, the Pentax 110 is a reflex camera, and doesn't need the LCD for composing. A wifi or USB connection to a phone or tablet would allow viewing of the image after taking. Fitting all the electronics, along with a battery, into the cartridge might be a real challenge, as would IBIS, but the lack of an LCD would reduce the need for a large battery capacity.

02-14-2014, 11:53 PM   #9
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I don't think an LCD screen would be needed for even the simplest 110 cameras. If the cassette is kept to the minimum necessary, and no more, There should be adequate space in the 110 cassette for the battery (rechargeable would be best, I think) and the sensor and the electronics. Anumeric display should suffice; all the information we ever got from our film 110s was the frame count. If the memory capacity is limited to, say, 100 or 200 frames, the cartridge could be removed to upload the images and erase the memory. During the process, the battery could be charged via USB.

Any device that simulates film will have limitations. I think making the film camera useful again, even with some of the same limitations as film, is a positive thing in and of itself.
02-15-2014, 01:12 PM   #10
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They have flip up LCD's on cameras now. Is there any reason why they couldn't just fit the digital works inside the camera and then attach an LCD to the back somehow? I don't think this project needs a typical internal LCD. With all the Micro 4/3 type technology out there now might that not be the way to go?
02-15-2014, 02:18 PM   #11
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The reason would be expense.
It would be cheaper just to manufacture a digital camera than to perform surgery on an old one.
The kind of cartridge I have in mind would simply drop in, and behave for the camera just as a film cartridge would, except that it would be able to hold many more images in memory. It would have many of the same limitations as film, including not being able to see the results until it can be "developed."
02-15-2014, 03:43 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Old Man Quote
Very cool, I like the idea of using old film cameras again. I hope it all comes together.
Same here. I have a Mamiya TLR medium format system with three Mamiya-Sekor lenses that I would love to digitalize....at reasonable cost.
02-15-2014, 03:57 PM   #13
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Good idea, *in theory*

The volume of high quality digital cameras, DSLRs, etc, out there is so high, that cost wise I doubt this will ever be viable.

Look at the sensor sizes, too. They mentioned a mirror/viewfinder mask. Imagine a nice viewfinder, in say, an ME Super. Now try to picture focusing and composing on something about 1/8 the size of that-- which is their MEDIUM projected sensor size.

Then there are all the issues with syncing the shutter up to the sensor. It would require major modification or a pretty complex solution. Yes, you could probably put a sensor on the shutter button or mirror bumper to tell the sensor to turn off, but without a coupling and sensor to the shutter speed dial, it wouldn't know how long to keep recording data.

Also, look at the sensor sizes. It'll turn your 50mm prime into a special purpose telephoto. Lenses that would get normal FOV would be in the ULTRAwide category, and cost prohibitive (not to mention with all the correction, optically inferior to normal length primes).

They talk about giving people something to do with old cameras when film goes away... that won't be for a long time. Not to mention at the sensor size, just load it up with a roll of real film and have it scanned during processing. That's the best way to shoot a film camera 'digitally'.
02-15-2014, 04:29 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by brettpr Quote
How cool an idea is this!?! I think it deserves lots of support and I for one will be signing up...

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02-15-2014, 05:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Beaugrand Quote
It would be easiest to make a digital cartridge for cartridge cameras, such as 110. The sensor could be actuated by the sound of the shutter (or by a light-sensitive diode, triggered when the shutter opens). ISO could be selected by a 2-position switch on the cartridge, since 110 cartridges were originally made for ISO 100 and ISO 400. Cartridges have a built-in frame counter, 110 cameras all have a frame counter window on the back; the digital version could have a small readout (good for telling how many images stored) in place of the frame counter. Upload images and recharge the battery via mini USB port on the cartridge.

This would breathe life back into my higher-end 110 cameras, including my Pentax Auto 110.

It won't happen, of course, but the problems aren't technical.
I think that is such a cool idea. I've looked at the Pentax Auto 110 sets on eBay. I've always thought they looked like such cool little cameras.
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