Making of FRANKENCAMERA

biomed

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I ran across this on another forum.

FRANKENCAMERA

Probably not the first time this has been done. The folks on the other forum seemed rather excited about the possibilities. I personally don't see much of a market for the development of this as a product. But just the same it is interesting.
 

janneman

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Wonderful!
The real puzzling bit is why none of the camera makers choose this route in the past 20 years.I do realise the components have gotten small enough only in recent years, but still, this seems so much more logical!
With some development, this could finally be the camera with interchangeable sensor that I would like to have. Black and white sensor, colour sensor, new generation sensor... There were many good film bodies that had the handling I liked, a digital back like this would have been the best solution.
 

silver92b

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Awesome results and a great project. I think there is a market for digital range finder cameras, particularly if they have the FF sensor.... I am not the only one who pines for something like the Leica M, but can't afford to spend but a fraction of its cost...
 

dougjgreen

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Wonderful!
The real puzzling bit is why none of the camera makers choose this route in the past 20 years.I do realise the components have gotten small enough only in recent years, but still, this seems so much more logical!
With some development, this could finally be the camera with interchangeable sensor that I would like to have. Black and white sensor, colour sensor, new generation sensor... There were many good film bodies that had the handling I liked, a digital back like this would have been the best solution.
There was a company that attempted to do this - I would say it was maybe 15 to 10 years ago - making a digital back for existing 35mm SLRs. I forgot their name, might have been Digital Film. They sucked through tens if not hundreds of millions of venture capital before admitting failure and shutting down. At the time, they couldn't get sufficient battery power in a small enough package to make a go of it. I think they originally were trying to fit their entire product in a package that was the same size as a 35mm film canister with an extended film leader, and quickly dropped that idea to replacing the entire back of 35mm film cameras for which that was feasible. But, in any case, it was tried, back when the market opportunity for doing so would have been huge - but they couldn't do it because of the battery technology at the time. The fact that it now could be done as a One-off with a camera as small as a Konica Auto S3 shows the degree to which the components have miniaturized since then.

Incidentally, my compliments to the person who did this for having the immense great taste in his choice of target camera and lens.
 

usayit

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Its already been tried. Several times. Each one failed.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS01/982172823.html

I don't believe there is a wide market for it. The vast majority of consumers don't want a digital capable old film camera. Even with MF digital, the preference is to move completely to a modern platform that was designed around digital; Hasselblad H versus V w/ digital back. The later simply exists because of the existing investment in Hasselblad hardware. Furthermore, the typical consumer doesn't just look towards the sensor.... they see the package as whole.

I would love to have such a product mature to market... I have a boat load of vintage cameras that I would love to bring into the digital world. However, I do realize I am not the "typical" consumer. I and many here see vintage cameras as a item to be cherrished and maintained. The majority of the market sees cameras as a consumable to use and throw away. I also beleive those relative few with vintage lenses would be satisfied with adapting those lenses to something like the Sony A7.


I could see a small company making a decent income converting the most popular vintage cameras to digital similar to what was done for FrankenCamera. The availability of 3d printing should make it achievable without too much capital.


PS> I can't find the link but someone inserted a P&S camera into a Leica screwmount body. Not quite as interesting as FrankenCamera because only the Leica body shell was maintained for asthetics.... the lens was still from the p&S.
 

dougjgreen

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There was a company that attempted to do this - I would say it was maybe 15 to 10 years ago - making a digital back for existing 35mm SLRs. I forgot their name, might have been Digital Film. They sucked through tens if not hundreds of millions of venture capital before admitting failure and shutting down. At the time, they couldn't get sufficient battery power in a small enough package to make a go of it. I think they originally were trying to fit their entire product in a package that was the same size as a 35mm film canister with an extended film leader, and quickly dropped that idea to replacing the entire back of 35mm film cameras for which that was feasible. But, in any case, it was tried, back when the market opportunity for doing so would have been huge - but they couldn't do it because of the battery technology at the time. The fact that it now could be done as a One-off with a camera as small as a Konica Auto S3 shows the degree to which the components have miniaturized since then.

Incidentally, my compliments to the person who did this for having the immense great taste in his choice of target camera and lens.
Thanks to usayit for the link. The company I was thinking of was called Silicon Film, not Digital Film.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1000760900.html

http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2013/08/20/history-doomed-to-repeat-project-promises-digital-cartridge-for-film-slrs
 

usayit

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Yup.. I couldn't think of the other companies that tried but I think Silicon Film came pretty close to market. One thing I recall that was a problem was there was limited ways to "talk" to the unit. How do you check exposure? As much as we don't want to admit it, "chimping" is a huge value proposition that photographer's today use heavily. How about quickly changing ISO setting? Of course, we could probably solve it today with Wifi or bluetooth (in a metal body?) but that doesn't speak well for the whole integrated experience.

I also think manufacturing these days have advanced enough that it would simply be cheaper and easier to design a "retro" camera rather than try to retrofit existing cameras.
 

agentlossing

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Lomography should do it. A lot of their (admittedly niche) audience would love it, I highly doubt the majority of their customers are only interested in film, I think it's more yesterday's gadgetry that intrigues them.
 

fortwodriver

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I had that Silicon Film gadget for a week... it was inside an F801s - on loan to the North York School Board in Toronto. It was about as junky and unstable as it could be. No heat control, fixed memory, huge crop factor, lack of camera body support, poor battery life... I think it held 100 photos. The "unloader" (I think it was called an eDock or something like that) device would randomly scramble images.

They could barely make them reliably and one of their manufacturers nearly held the company hostage due to patent litigation and poor quality control... I think even Kodak, at one point, came in and essentially threatened to crush the company in litigation.

Finally, nobody wanted them - domestically they ended up with under 100 orders!

Even if this came out today, it would largely be a "who cares?" product. Generally, people who buy film cameras now, buy them to shoot film.

UPDATE: Apparently this has been tried again more recently with the Digipod:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/digipod#home

The guy didn't even come close to the financing he required to get things underway.
 

Kai

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Something like this would be a dream come true for me. Especially if it was done in both rangerfinder style and in SLR style (like Nikon FM2). I like the convenience of digital technology and the aesthetics of cameras of yesteryear. Of course there are Leicas, which are too expensive for me and the Nikon DF, which is a huge modern body with a bit of retro styling added on top (also too expensive). So being too poor or lazy to do anything about it myself, I'll just keep dreaming that maybe one day..
'
 

RDM

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Lomography should do it. A lot of their (admittedly niche) audience would love it, I highly doubt the majority of their customers are only interested in film, I think it's more yesterday's gadgetry that intrigues them.
yea, because they do make things for Digital users too, like the New Petzval Art Lens.

Leica also tried this some years back and it didn't catch on: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/4888226123/leicadigitalr9.
Well that is not a good example, because it was over ten years ago and cost more than ten thousand dollars US .. No one was surprised that it did not take off. Even Leica.
 

fortwodriver

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Well that is not a good example, because it was over ten years ago and cost more than ten thousand dollars US .. No one was surprised that it did not take off. Even Leica.
Actually, Leica did very well with the digital back for the R8. They sold every one they made, and couldn't make them fast enough. It was a last gasp by Imacon before they got snatched up by Hasselblad. Remember, this was pre-Kaufmann Leica, so while the R8 back was being sold, Leica was already tempting potential buyers with the possibility of a fully integrated digital R8... and at the time, the back was cheap! I think they even had a trade-up program for the fully integrated version for a while...
 

fortwodriver

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Lomography should do it. A lot of their (admittedly niche) audience would love it, I highly doubt the majority of their customers are only interested in film, I think it's more yesterday's gadgetry that intrigues them.
Lomography did do something for m43/digital users. They produced a set of three junky plastic lenses. I don't think they're selling very well though.
 

RDM

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Actually, Leica did very well with the digital back for the R8. They sold every one they made, and couldn't make them fast enough. It was a last gasp by Imacon before they got snatched up by Hasselblad. Remember, this was pre-Kaufmann Leica, so while the R8 back was being sold, Leica was already tempting potential buyers with the possibility of a fully integrated digital R8... and at the time, the back was cheap! I think they even had a trade-up program for the fully integrated version for a while...
Nobody is debating that Leica did not do well with that product.
I think you miss understood what "catch on" means.
In-other-words, other camera manufacturers didn't start do the same thing.
 

Ian.

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Forget all those businesses and money. This is about "maker" do-it-yourself fun. Using low cost parts from old, throw away gear. Much like the spirit of our "adapted lens" thread here.
Okay, so he had skills and access to CAD. But you could also do it by carving wood or modelling plastic. And smooth and spray it up to look good. Shopping around for lenses and non functioning camera bodies for peanuts. What about a TLR? That's the fun of this project. And I bet they get better the more you do.
 

usayit

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I think you miss understood what "catch on" means.
In-other-words, other camera manufacturers didn't start do the same thing.
If specifically the design that uses a film back which can be subsituted by a digital back, then other manufacturers do the same thing; Hasselblad for example, PhaseOne digital backs, Mamiya etc.
 

fortwodriver

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Nobody is debating that Leica did not do well with that product.
I think you miss understood what "catch on" means.
In-other-words, other camera manufacturers didn't start do the same thing.
...because other camera companies had entire camera chassis that were digital by then. There really was no point in doing this - and from a marketing standpoint, a completely integrated, unified digital camera in an SLR format was the best direction to take at the time. Leica had R8 users lined up to get these... Those were the people who bought the backs. Some had to trade their camera bodies in to get them (new camera + back).

Even the guys who bought medium-format kits with removable digital backs didn't really "look back" and swap out with film backs all that often - they stuck with digital because most of them were pros and their jobs ran a lot faster with the digital backs once they figured out their workflow.
 
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