Photography

I'm Back 35 gives old film cameras a second life

I'm Back 35 gives old film cam...
The I'm Back 35 is reported compatible with 99 percent of film camera models
The I'm Back 35 is reported compatible with 99 percent of film camera models
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Samuel Mello Medeiroshas launched a new version of the I'm Back 35 digital camera back on Kickstarter
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Samuel Mello Medeiroshas launched a new version of the I'm Back 35 digital camera back on Kickstarter
An image taken using the latest I'm Back 35 digital camera back
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An image taken using the latest I'm Back 35 digital camera back
The I'm Back 35 is reported compatible with 99 percent of film camera models
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The I'm Back 35 is reported compatible with 99 percent of film camera models
An image taken using the latest I'm Back 35 digital camera back
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An image taken using the latest I'm Back 35 digital camera back
View gallery - 4 images

Back in early 2018, Samuel Mello Medeiros launched a project on Kickstarter aimed at giving old film cameras some modern relevance. The I'm Back attachment added a digital image sensor and touchscreen display to 35-mm film cameras of old, and now the next generation has been revealed.

The first 3D-printed I'm Back 35 attachment was launched on Kickstarter in 2016, and followed by another version in 2018. Mello Medeiros turned his attention to vintage medium format film cameras in the middle of last year, but has now reworked the 35-mm format device and again launched a Kickstarter to fund production.

The digital back essentially gives photographers the choice to use their dusty old analog snappers as film cameras, or to go digital. This latest version sees the camera back wear a fresh new look, get a bigger (7.4-V/2,400-Ah) Sony battery, and gain the ability to fully control shutter speed and diaphragm aperture through manual mode. An auto mode is also available.

Samuel Mello Medeiroshas launched a new version of the I'm Back 35 digital camera back on Kickstarter
Samuel Mello Medeiroshas launched a new version of the I'm Back 35 digital camera back on Kickstarter

This edition is reckoned compatible with "99 percent of all 35-mm analog cameras available on the market," though dedicated covers allow for a better fit to specific film cameras. It benefits from a PCB that's been specifically designed for the new camera back, with a Sunplus V39 processor, Panasonic 34112 image sensor, external microphone, USB-C connectivity, and flash sync. The device can output RAW and JPEG format images to microSD card or over Wi-Fi via a dedicated mobile app.

The new I'm Back 35 is reported capable of snapping up to 14-megaxpixel images and up to 4K video at 30 fps. That said, the setup uses a focusing screen, bouncing it off of mirrors and eventually onto the sensor. As a result, you won't get the kind of crisp and detailed output you'd expect from a modern digital camera but "something between analog and digital."

"You have full control of your camera," its creator said in a press release. "You can shoot now with your old analog as you always did and record the photos and videos digitally."

Kickstarter pledges for the new I'm Back 35 start at CHF 249 (about US$260) and, if all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in December. The video below has more.

I'm Back® 35 - An 50's camera that takes digital photos?

Source: I'm Back

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8 comments
Signguy
I will pay full price when it comes to market; I've lost too much money when they "run out of money" and fail to deliver.
PAV
I'm not at all clear why anyone would do this rather than buy an actual digital camera. Especially when you consider... "you won't get the kind of crisp and detailed output you'd expect from a modern digital camera but "something between analog and digital."
JeffK
Way too much extra hardware tacked on for a marginal image. One of my favorite humorous SciFi authors uses the phrase "...don't do a vast thing in a half-vast way...". If you have a high quality analog camera that you want to continue using, then buy the film and pay for the processing at about $25.00 for 36 exposures, according to this site: https://www.analog.cafe/r/film-photography-costs-and-prices-kd5j#how-much-does-it-cost-to-try-35mm. In the early 1970's when I served in the U.S. Navy, I put around 50 rolls a year through my personal Canon F-1, so at today's prices about $1,250 annually.

Here's the kind of digital conversion that I would pay that kind of money for. A unit that would fit in any 35 m.m. body with the pressure plate removed so that a full frame sensor with a minimum 20 megapixels would fit at the focal plane. The electronics would fit in place of the film cassette and take up spool (which would likely also need to be removed). There would need to be a mechanism to function in lieu of the sprocket holes in the film when the advance lever, or motor drive if so equipped, "advances" the "film" so that the camera cocks the shutter. The camera, including all controls and features, would function exactly as if film were loaded. The electronics package of the adapter would connect via Wi-Fi with the users phone or tablet so that the sensitivity could be set to match the camera's ISO setting, thus allowing the camera's exposure metering system to work normally. This would also allow photos to be viewed on the phone or tablet. The technology exists to develop this kind of device, it would take some market testing to determine if there are enough potential buyers to make it cost effective to actually produce. i hereby release my idea to the public domain for anyone that wants to have a go at it.
Cody Blank
For that sort of money you might as well get a used DSLR and not have to worry about having two different batteries to sort out to shoot. #hipsterproduct.
JeffK
Cody Blank - I actually gave my Canon T3i to my daughter and son-in-law and bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300. I have a 24X equivalent zoom with Leica glass that does everything I need. If I could get a good quality digital conversion system that would work with my old match needle SLR's and would also plug in to my rangefinder 35's I would do it. The simplicity of shooting without all of the "extra" features on a DSLR would be great and I can do any specialized stuff in post. If I do get another digital with interchangeable lens it will be a mirrorless though, it's nice not having to listen to the mirror clattering around.
MemoriaTechnica
This is exactly what I'd assumed the pro digital camera market would be back when digital cameras first came out some 20 years ago. So many people had spent thousands on equipment and lenses that were still perfectly useful, all they needed was a digital sensor back. Maybe I should have jumped on that idea way back when before everyone bought all new equipment.
Brian M
Nice idea from a nostalgic perspective - but that's it.

If you have a good 35mm etc, then there is a fair bet that the lens will fit a modern digital camera. Its the cost of the optics that really kills you!
VictorV
This is not anything new, it has been done before. In 1995 there was The Kodak DCS 460 was the flagship of the Kodak DCS 4xx series and sported a 6MP sensor. The SLR body again was a Nikon N90 / N90s or F90 / F90x