Digital Cameras

I'm Back MF breathes digital life into medium format film cameras

I'm Back MF breathes digital l...
The I'm Back MF attaches to the back of old medium format cameras via an adapter, and gives them a new lease of digital life
The I'm Back MF attaches to the back of old medium format cameras via an adapter, and gives them a new lease of digital life
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The I'm Back MF transforms a medium format camera into an analog/digital hybrid, of sorts
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The I'm Back MF transforms a medium format camera into an analog/digital hybrid, of sorts
The I'm Back MF features a 16 megapixel image sensor, Wi-Fi, a touchscreen display, and is designed to fit on the back of classic medium format analog cameras
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The I'm Back MF features a 16 megapixel image sensor, Wi-Fi, a touchscreen display, and is designed to fit on the back of classic medium format analog cameras
The I'm Back MF digital camera back is designed to fit most medium format cameras thanks to the use of adapters
3/5
The I'm Back MF digital camera back is designed to fit most medium format cameras thanks to the use of adapters
The I'm Back MF attaches to the back of old medium format cameras via an adapter, and gives them a new lease of digital life
4/5
The I'm Back MF attaches to the back of old medium format cameras via an adapter, and gives them a new lease of digital life
Samuel Mello Medeiros with the I'm Back MF and an array of old medium format cameras
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Samuel Mello Medeiros with the I'm Back MF and an array of old medium format cameras

Last year, Italy's Samuel Mello Medeiros hit Kickstarter with a chunky add-on that gave old 35 mm cameras a new lease of digital life. Now he's returned with a camera back that performs similar magic on classic medium format cameras like those from Hasselblad, Mamiya and Zenza Bronica.

The basic idea for the latest I'm Back family member is the same as the successfully-funded original, and the team has also taken to Kickstarter to fund this project too. The little black box features a 16 megapixel image sensor, Wi-Fi, a touchscreen display, and is designed to fit on the back of classic medium format analog cameras.

The I'm Back MF digital camera back is designed to fit most medium format cameras thanks to the use of adapters
The I'm Back MF digital camera back is designed to fit most medium format cameras thanks to the use of adapters

The back of the film camera is removed and replaced with an adapter, onto which the I'm Back MF digital back is mounted, which then gives the old Hasselblad or Bronica the ability to capture JPEG and RAW stills and record normal and slow motion video, which can be stored on a microSD card.

If the user wants to go back to film, the digital components are removed and the original back remounted.

Kickstarter pledges start at CHF 399 (about US$405), and backers will need to choose the appropriate adapter for their old medium format film cameras. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in April 2020. The video below has more.

Sources: I'm Back, Kickstarter

I'm Back® - Low cost Medium Format digital back

6 comments
f8lee
Well this is a lot of bark with no bite - while a nostalgic idea of this nature has some appeal, I find nothing on their Kickstarter page that indicates the actual physical size of the digital imaging chip. Is it 24x36MM (i.e. - “full frame” for 35MM film? So-called DX? Is it some variant of today’s medium format chips (the ones that are up to 100MP is resolution)? Is it a 24MP 1” chip as found in point and shoot pocket cameras? This is rather critical as it impacts the angle of view of whatever lens is mounted on the camera body - an 80MM lens on a 6x6 MF camera (a Hassy, say) is “normal” while on an FX camera it’s a short telephoto, and for a micro 4/3s camera it would be the equivalent of a 160MM or longer lens on a 35MM of FX camera. This is no small thing, and in avoiding the subject altogether it seems to me Mr Medeiros is trying to sucker gullible newbies who don’t know the difference.
Raycon
It actually doesn't matter what physical size the chip is. I think this works by interposing a fresnel screen and a small lens between the camera lens and the chip. That would explain the "pin-hole camera" effect in the examples, and while some people may be prepared to pay $400 for a nostalgic trip, I'm not.
Readout Noise
This is about reviving the romance and user experience (waist level finders, leaf-shutters etc.) of analog medium format cameras - but absolutely not their resolution, dynamic range or low-light/long exposure performance. As commenter Raycon said, the camera will project its image onto a screen, and the back will re-image that onto a tiny sensor. It is NOT a native image capture back. It won't crop the image, but it will severely degrade its quality. This is a more critical review and gives the actual tiny sensor specs: https://petapixel.com/2019/07/15/im-back-unveils-an-affordable-digital-back-for-old-medium-format-cameras/ If you can look past those disappointments, perhaps the most tempting thing about this is that the video shows that even some medium format cameras, like the Mamiya TLRs and first generation (metal) Mamiya 645, which did not have removable film backs - only rollfilm inserts - will have an adapter to this gizmo. I have a Mamiya 645AFD with a proper old 36 x 36 mm digital back, but the idea of getting out my trusty old Mamiya 645 1000s with its WLF and shooting something instant with it would definitely be fun. It's not fun worth €400 though...
f8lee
Hmmm - perhaps a better approach, then, would be an adapter to connect your smartphone to the back of the MF camera positioned at the precise point where it would be able to capture the image projected back from the lens.
hobojoe
I'm certainly no expert but, 16 MP sensor does not seem enough to capture a full-frame image.
Readout Noise
@f8lee "connect your smartphone to the back of the MF camera positioned at the precise point where it would be able to capture the image projected back from the lens." Unfortunately, that won't work. Only a bare sensor can capture a direct (aerial) image from the MF camera's lens. Smartphones can't do that because they have their own lens in the way...they can only photograph such an image indirectly, by using a semitranslucent screen to turn the image into a new "object". But that is essentially what this inventor has done anyway.