Digital Cameras

Camera back brings classic 35 mm film cameras into the digital age

Camera back brings classic 35 ...
The I'm Back camera attachment is currently raising funds on Kickstarter
The I'm Back camera attachment is currently raising funds on Kickstarter
View 12 Images
Example of a photograph taken using the I'm Back digital attachment
1/12
Example of a photograph taken using the I'm Back digital attachment
Menu navigation and settings control is undertaken via the 2-inch touchscreen panel on the I'm Back attachment
2/12
Menu navigation and settings control is undertaken via the 2-inch touchscreen panel on the I'm Back attachment
Example of a photograph taken using the I'm Back digital attachment
3/12
Example of a photograph taken using the I'm Back digital attachment
The I'm Back camera attachment has been designed to offer 35 mm camera owners the option to take photos on photographic film or in digital mode
4/12
The I'm Back camera attachment has been designed to offer 35 mm camera owners the option to take photos on photographic film or in digital mode
The I'm Back unit is attached to the host camera via a bayonet mount
5/12
The I'm Back unit is attached to the host camera via a bayonet mount
The I'm Back camera attachment is secured in place using two lateral clamps
6/12
The I'm Back camera attachment is secured in place using two lateral clamps
The I'm Back camera attachment is currently raising funds on Kickstarter
7/12
The I'm Back camera attachment is currently raising funds on Kickstarter
Covers designed to match the style of classic 35 mm film cameras have also been created for the I'm Back camera attachment
8/12
Covers designed to match the style of classic 35 mm film cameras have also been created for the I'm Back camera attachment
A version of the I'm Back system is available to 3D print at home and use with a Raspberry Pi microcomputer
9/12
A version of the I'm Back system is available to 3D print at home and use with a Raspberry Pi microcomputer
Rather than focus an image directly through the lens onto a modern CMOS sensor, and possibly suffer cropping, the I'm Back attachment sends the light coming through the host camera's lens onto a focusing screen, bounces it off mirrors, sends it through a lens and then onto the sensor
10/12
Rather than focus an image directly through the lens onto a modern CMOS sensor, and possibly suffer cropping, the I'm Back attachment sends the light coming through the host camera's lens onto a focusing screen, bounces it off mirrors, sends it through a lens and then onto the sensor
The I'm Back attachment sends the light coming through the host camera's lens onto a focusing screen, bounces it off mirrors, sends it through a lens and then onto the CMOS sensor
11/12
The I'm Back attachment sends the light coming through the host camera's lens onto a focusing screen, bounces it off mirrors, sends it through a lens and then onto the CMOS sensor
The I'm Back camera attachment has been designed to offer 35 mm camera owners the option to take photos on photographic film or in digital mode
12/12
The I'm Back camera attachment has been designed to offer 35 mm camera owners the option to take photos on photographic film or in digital mode

Though photographic film still has its proponents, for the majority of snappers today, digital is now the medium of choice – whether through the tiny lenses of smartphones or courtesy of bigger sensors inside dedicated cameras. But older shutterbugs may still have a classic rangefinder or 35 mm SLR stowed away in a cupboard somewhere, gathering dust and unloved. Italy's Samuel Mello Medeiros may have a way to inject new digital relevance into boxy old film camera classics with his I'm Back Kickstarter project, a camera back that sports a 16 MP CMOS sensor and touchscreen display panel.

The I'm Back project has been 5 years in development, and seen a number of prototypes come and go. The camera attachment has been designed to offer 35 mm camera owners the option to take photos on photographic film or in digital mode, simply by attaching the I'm Back module. The first version was successfully funded on Kickstarter in October 2016, and was built around the processing power of a Raspberry Pi. This latest design makes use of a 16 MP Panasonic CMOS sensor paired with a Novatek processor.

Rather than focus an image directly through the lens onto a modern CMOS sensor, and possibly suffer cropping, the I'm Back attachment sends the light coming through the host camera's lens onto a focusing screen, bounces it off mirrors, sends it through a lens and then onto the sensor
Rather than focus an image directly through the lens onto a modern CMOS sensor, and possibly suffer cropping, the I'm Back attachment sends the light coming through the host camera's lens onto a focusing screen, bounces it off mirrors, sends it through a lens and then onto the sensor

Rather than focus an image directly through the lens onto a modern CMOS sensor, and possibly suffer cropping, the I'm Back attachment sends the light coming through the host camera's lens onto a focusing screen, bounces it off mirrors, sends it through another lens and then onto the sensor. The result is a digital image that retains a vintage film camera flavor.

Stills are captured to a microSD card in the attachment's housing, but the system can also record up to 2,880 x 2,160 resolution videos. It has built-in Wi-Fi, and HDMI and USB ports. And photographers can adjust ISO light sensitivity (from ISO100 to 1,600) and exposure control using the 2-inch capacitive touchscreen display panel (which can facilitate Live View) and three buttons underneath (for menu navigation and settings control). A 3.7V/1,050 mAh battery provides the juice.

The I'm Back unit is attached to the host camera via a bayonet mount
The I'm Back unit is attached to the host camera via a bayonet mount

A user first needs to fix a bayonet attachment to the bottom of the host camera using the tripod mounting screw and the digital back then slides into place, locking in position with two lateral clamps. Covers designed to match the style of a range of classic 35 mm film cameras have also been created.

The bayonet docking system is currently compatible with Nikon F, Nikon F2, Nikon FM, Nikon FE, Nikon S2, Canon F1, Canon A1, Canon AE1, Pentax ME super, Pentax spotomatic, Pentax K1000, Praktica b200, Praktica MTL, Contax II, Contax RTS, Contax G2, Olympus OM1, Olympus OM2, Minolta Dinaxx 7000, Olympus OM10, Yashica JP, Yashica FX3, Leica M, Leica R, Diana F, and Diana F mini cameras. But if you're retro classic isn't included on that list, a universal accessory has been developed that will fit almost all other cameras.

The I'm Back project is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, where pledges start at €225 (about US$280), though there is a €45 option that allows backers to 3D-print an I'm Back module for a Raspberry Pi. If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in September. The pitch video below has more on the project.

Sources: I'm Back, Kickstarter

Make digital photos and videos with your old analog camera!

2 comments
f8lee
Talk about a solution in search of a problem - for what reason would someone want to add a finicky and bulky add-on to their old SLR when in virtually every other aspect more modern DSLRs are just better (if for no other reason than technological advancements). Long ago there was an attempt to build a digital imaging chip plus circuitry into a package that would have fit into the back of the film camera like a normal film cartridge - were that to exist then it could possibly perhaps maybe make some sliver of sense. But for anyone who longs to shoot film along with digital (and I do both myself) this thing is so big and bulky it save no space over simply carrying a Nikkormat or Canon F1 or whatever in the bag that will use the same lenses.
Gregg Eshelman
This is sort of re-creating the earliest professional digital cameras that were modified Nikon SLRs. https://www.macworld.com/article/1156514/cameras/35yearsofdigitalcameras.html#slide4