Turning film cameras into digital cameras

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by aniramca, Apr 7, 2007.

  1. aniramca

    aniramca Guest

    Let's for the moment we think "out of the box". If there is a product
    which has the shape of either a 35 mm or 120 film cartridge, and you
    can just load it into your old film camera. However, this product acts
    like a digital "film", in which it will store images in digital
    format, instead of into film, would you buy such a product? It is
    just exactly like your old film cartridge, put into the back of your
    camera, set the camera as it has a film in it, advance the lever ,
    take photos, go to next shot, etc. The difference would be when you
    complete the shots (24 or 36 exposure), you connect this cartridge to
    your computer and downloaded the digital data, just like a media card
    in your digital cameras. This product would be re-used again and
    again, just like the digital cameras.
    Some of you may said that is the same question whether there is a
    "back cartridge" that can be fitted into the old Hasselblad, Mamiya RB
    or M645, in which it changes into digital cameras. However, I heard
    that this speacil back is very expensive. Correct me if such a product
    exist for professional photographers, but at a very high costs! (such
    that it is just easier to throw away the old cameras and buy a new
    digital one).
    The next question is whether technically this is possible. Will people
    buy them, and use their old cameras (which some had invested heavily
    before the digital era came to play). This sounds like a crazy idea,
    but I sometime wonder that if it is possible. There are lots of smart
    people and inventors in this world, and I am sure they have the brain
    to create such a product. I am sure that this would not be welcomed by
    digital cameras' manufacturers, as it will compete with their product.
    Although some of the "players" are still the same (Kodak, Fuji, Nikon,
    Canon, Pentax, etc).
    Unfortunately, we are living in a world which are driven by narrow
    "track of minds", set by big corporations which decided upon our
    direction into the future.
    Thanks for sharing my "dream". I am now awake from my day dreaming.
    Thanks for the discussion.
     
    aniramca, Apr 7, 2007
    #1
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  2. aniramca

    ray Guest

    I've not seen anything that looked like a 'film cartridge' but there are
    indeed digital backs for a number of cameras.
     
    ray, Apr 7, 2007
    #2
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  3. aniramca

    Pat Guest

    It's been done. The old Nikons had removeable backs. When things
    first went digitial, you would swap off the back and put on a digital
    back.
     
    Pat, Apr 7, 2007
    #3
  4. Do a search on "Silicon Film". It's a lengthy saga, with little sign
    of any real product despite a lot of calls for investors...

    It's a nice idea, but has some *very* significant practical
    difficulties, which is largely why digital backs are not made for the
    35mm market.
     
    mark.thomas.7, Apr 7, 2007
    #4
  5. aniramca

    Charles Guest


    Sounds like the old "silicon film."

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0109/01091702siliconfilmvaporizes.asp
     
    Charles, Apr 7, 2007
    #5
  6. aniramca

    Chuck Guest

    Companies would rather sell you a new camera and lenses!
    There were a limited number of digital converter backs a few years ago.
    I did see notices that they were being discontinued from several of the
    mfrs.
     
    Chuck, Apr 7, 2007
    #6
  7. aniramca

    gnekker Guest

    I doubt that people will stand in line to buy product that that would
    make a very poor digital camera - no AF, no AE, no macro, OIS - sounds
    like SF, what - only 36 exposures instead 150, 330, 550....
    And no movie mode, no preview, no review
    And image quality most probably much worse than decent P&S camera, not
    to mention DSLR
    Now, if you can find a place where to put an IR filter....
     
    gnekker, Apr 7, 2007
    #7
  8. It would be possible and even reasonable with the Rollei 35mm SLR.

    http://auction-team.de/new_highlights/2003_10/045.htm
    http://rlfc.world.coocan.jp/PlaywBody/Rollei/3003/Rollei3003.html

    I doubt anyone'll do it though.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
     
    David J. Littleboy, Apr 7, 2007
    #8
  9. Google for Leica's DMR. There's a post today on the AP bulletin board
    suggesting that it's now been discontinued.
     
    Malcolm Stewart, Apr 7, 2007
    #9
  10. aniramca

    Justin C Guest

    Why would it have no AF, or AE, or macro abilities? Neither would it
    need to be limited to 36 exposures. I accept there would be no movie or
    review, but what's a view-finder if it's not a preview? I've still got
    my EOS100 (Rebel in the US, IIRC), plus a bunch of lenses, I'd love to
    have a film canister capture device.

    I think the major reason this hasn't been done is that the technology
    isn't yet small enough. And it won't now be done because there are so
    few photographers who haven't yet gone digital - not only that, but with
    a film camera, once you'd got your body of choice, maybe a spare, a
    handful of lenses, that's it, you're set for life. There's no longer a
    revenue stream for the manufacturers. With resolutions improving all the
    time a camera is seen as obsolete in a short space of time and the
    perception is "it's not as good anymore, I need a new one", that's
    another $600, thank you. Why kill that cash cow?
     
    Justin C, Apr 7, 2007
    #10
  11. observed
    There was such a thing proposed and got to prototype stage, IIRC, back
    around 2000-1. Then I decided to sell my Leica M3 rather than to wait
    for such a chimera camera.

    Of course, Leica developed a digital camera back for the R series. - Is
    it still available?

    Mike

    [The reply-to address is valid for 30 days from this posting]
    --
    Michael J Davis
    <><
    Some newsgroup contributors appear to have confused
    the meaning of "discussion" with "digression".
    <><
     
    Michael J Davis, Apr 7, 2007
    #11
  12. aniramca

    aniramca Guest

    Thanks for the reference to the "silicon film", Honestly, I never
    heard that before. Again, there are people out there who have thought
    ideas like this. However, I wonder why this particular idea became
    "cold". Could it be for one or more of the following reasons?
    - it was not developed by a big corporation with big dollar. Would it
    make any difference if it was developed by Fuji or Kodak?
    - Big camera companies may oppose the idea, as they have their own
    agenda, or want to sell more digital cameras (therefore provide
    "barrier" instead of promoting it).
    - Expensive cost to develop, as well as to market against those
    selling digital camera. Remember those new 35 mm film system, which
    did not seem to "fly" just before the digital world take over... I
    even forget the name... the one that can be printed in various sizes?
    - Too restrictive of a product - i.e. the EFS (e-film) was only
    targetted for specific cameras only. The idea of the silicon film/e-
    film (after I read a PDF file from the developer in the web) was to
    have the product ready for only certain Nikon and Canon 35 mm cameras.
    My thinking was different. The product that I have in mind (similar to
    the EFS or silicon film), is not only that it looks similar to the
    existing 35 mm camera cartridge, it should function to ANY 35 mm
    cameras... not just certain brand of camera. If Kodak/Fuji can sell a
    35 mm film cartridge and fit to any cameras, why the silicon film can
    work only for certain cameras?. I think this is the main drawback.
    Perhaps with newer technology, the idea can be re-introduced and
    improvement to the silicon film can be made? Or they "missed the
    train" already?
    I still think it is a neat idea, but it has to be relatively cheap to
    compete with the current market.

    Thanks for all replies in these newsgroups!
     
    aniramca, Apr 7, 2007
    #12
  13. aniramca

    Guest Guest

    the main reason is that it requires physical modification to the camera
    for it to work.

    the surface of film is light sensitive, whereas the surface of a sensor
    is not - it has the bayer filters, micro-lenses, anti-alias filter and
    infrared cut filter in front of the actual light sensitive layer.
    thus, one can't just put a filter up against the film rails and expect
    things to be in focus - it would need to fit further forward.

    that means either milling the film rails or fit the whole unit within
    the film opening so the focal plane is physically in the right place.
    unfortunately, there's a shutter mechanism that gets in the way of
    doing that.

    if that problem was somehow solved, there would still need to be some
    sort of communication between the camera and the device so it knew when
    to read an image and store it.

    and then there's little things like a fixed white balance and fixed iso
    rating when it is the camera (just like film). or a readout for number
    of pictures available and battery level.

    other than that, it is a good idea. :)
     
    Guest, Apr 7, 2007
    #13
  14. aniramca

    Robert Coe Guest

    On 7 Apr 2007 05:18:52 -0700, wrote:
    : Thanks for the reference to the "silicon film", Honestly, I never
    : heard that before. Again, there are people out there who have thought
    : ideas like this. However, I wonder why this particular idea became
    : "cold". Could it be for one or more of the following reasons?
    : - it was not developed by a big corporation with big dollar. Would it
    : make any difference if it was developed by Fuji or Kodak?
    : - Big camera companies may oppose the idea, as they have their own
    : agenda, or want to sell more digital cameras (therefore provide
    : "barrier" instead of promoting it).
    : - Expensive cost to develop, as well as to market against those
    : selling digital camera. Remember those new 35 mm film system, which
    : did not seem to "fly" just before the digital world take over... I
    : even forget the name... the one that can be printed in various sizes?
    : - Too restrictive of a product - i.e. the EFS (e-film) was only
    : targetted for specific cameras only. The idea of the silicon film/e-
    : film (after I read a PDF file from the developer in the web) was to
    : have the product ready for only certain Nikon and Canon 35 mm cameras.
    : My thinking was different. The product that I have in mind (similar to
    : the EFS or silicon film), is not only that it looks similar to the
    : existing 35 mm camera cartridge, it should function to ANY 35 mm
    : cameras... not just certain brand of camera. If Kodak/Fuji can sell a
    : 35 mm film cartridge and fit to any cameras, why the silicon film can
    : work only for certain cameras?. I think this is the main drawback.
    : Perhaps with newer technology, the idea can be re-introduced and
    : improvement to the silicon film can be made? Or they "missed the
    : train" already?
    : I still think it is a neat idea, but it has to be relatively cheap to
    : compete with the current market.

    I'm having difficulty seeing the point. Such a device would be heavy and
    probably expensive, and it's hard to see it doing a better job than today's
    digitals. I can understand that it may be a nifty technical challenge, but why
    would someone actually want to buy one? And assuming that it did sell, the
    market is decidedly self-limiting, because fewer and fewer people will have
    old film cameras worth converting.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, Apr 7, 2007
    #14
  15. Several years ago the group was flooded with questions based on a
    premature release of such a product. I seem to recall they called it
    "silicon film". Never went on sale- the effort folded. I believe,
    for one thing, that the development took so long that the resolution
    was far bypassed by the pure digital cameras. But I think there were
    other problems too.
     
    Don Stauffer in Minnesota, Apr 7, 2007
    #15
  16. aniramca

    Rich Guest

    Forget that, simply replace the back of any SLR with one housing a
    sensor. Just think of the ease of sensor cleaning! Swing the back
    open! The idea of doing this with an Olympus OM-1 was bandied about,
    but the logistics would have been daunting.
     
    Rich, Apr 7, 2007
    #16
  17. aniramca

    Bill Funk Guest

    There is no way to make such a product as you describe, for reasons
    already pointed out. Mainly, there just isn't room for the sensor
    using the camera's original back, as the sensor is several times
    thicker than film.
    But the associated support hardware already fills purpose-made digital
    cameras (have you ever seen cutaway or X-ray images of digital
    cameras?). There is no way to fit the PCBs digital needs into film
    bodies.
    Plus, the logistics of even Silicon Film's back were too much for
    actual production; each camera needs its own back (the production
    nightmares of this are well imagined); cooling of the electronics is
    seemingly ignored, upgrade paths are similarly ignored, connecting the
    mandatory controls to the camera's shutter and aperture would be
    different for each brand/model, to name just a few.
    The idea sounds good at first, but quickly fails under the weight of
    implementation.

    --
    THIS IS A SIG LINE; NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!
    The White House gave John Kerry's
    campaign nemesis Sam Fox, who funded
    the Swift Boat Veterans, a recess
    appointment to Belgium on Wednesday.
    Nothing ever changes. John Kerry
    insisted he was for the appointment
    before he was against the appointment.
     
    Bill Funk, Apr 7, 2007
    #17
  18. Kodak used to make digital backs for some Nikon film bodies.
    At the link below is a photo of my Nikon N90s fitted with
    a Kodak DCS 460 digital back:
    http://hannemyr.com/photo/dcs460.html
    It was somewhat bigger than a film cartridge, tho'.

    The Leica R8 and R9 also has a replaceable back, and can be fitted
    with the DMR ro shoot digital, or a film back to shoot film.
     
    Gisle Hannemyr, Apr 7, 2007
    #18
  19. aniramca

    jazzology Guest

    I was wondering about this very thing a few days ago. Your Kodak
    conversion makes pretty good images.

    I would give my bad eye ;) for an F3hp viewfinder on my digital
    Nik... If the current crop of DSLRs follows the same price curve...a
    d200 will sell for 50$ in ten years... and so will a cheesburger OY!

    Jazz
     
    jazzology, Apr 7, 2007
    #19
  20. aniramca

    Summer Wind Guest

    Could it work with medium format TLRs? The shutter is in the lens. That
    old Rolleiflex in the closet could have a new life as a digital camera.
    There would also be more room for the support hardware. The sensor could be
    something less than 6x6 film size and the surrounding area could poke into
    the camera a little further to accommodate a hardware enclosure, and the
    spool chambers could also house hardware.

    SW
     
    Summer Wind, Apr 8, 2007
    #20
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