Convert your film camera into a digital camera with your iPhone....Seriously!?

Discussion in 'News' started by NHSN, Jan 28, 2022.

  1. From DC Watch JP via google translate:

    On January 26, Fireworks Co., Ltd. announced the "Digi Swap," an attachment that allows you to attach an iPhone to a film camera. It is scheduled to be sold on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter around the beginning of April 2022. The selling price starts from $ 199 for the main unit and $ 49 for the app (both prices are planned). The actual machine will be exhibited for reference at CP + 2022.

    An attachment that allows you to "upcycle" a film camera to a digital camera using your iPhone. Remove the back cover of the camera and attach the attachment using the tripod screw. You can use the dedicated app to record photos and videos on your iPhone without using film. Compatible models are Phone X / XS / 11/11 Pro / 12/12 Pro / 13/13 Pro.

    So, do you think this will be a success?
  2. Stranger things have produced similar excitement. Remember "Silicon Film?" Who could forget that epic piece of vaporware:

    Silicon Film Strikes Back?
    SCL likes this.
  3. There is no standard back on these cameras. Every type, also within brands, will have to have a custom fitting made. So anyone investing in such a kickstarter project is sure to have lost money. Unless, of course, you happen to have the same camera the maker of this thingy happens to have.
    And even then, why the hassle? Get a digital camera if you want to use a camera.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2022
    IPSfoto likes this.
  4. Silicon film actually made sense as an idea (to me anyway) - it just wasn't possible to realise the idea for technological, financial or whatever reasons.
    This one.. the Digi Swap - I can't evnen fathom who will find it useful. It is probably a wise choice to test the concept on Kickstarter before starting the assembly line.
  5. No, I'm pretty doubtful.

    Vaporware? Are you quite certain?

    I actually sat down with a couple of those guys at the PMA show, and saw the so-called prototypes. At the place where I worked we were interested in a digital conversion, of sorts, to our long-roll studio cameras. We had an appointment with them to do some test shots the next morning, before the show opened. But later in the day they canceled, saying that the second prototype had now also failed.

    As I recall the internet rumor mill later had it that their earlier demos had been faked. Were they? I dunno. I've never seen convincing evidence to support this. Could've been, I guess; I'm just not convinced one way or the other.

    They did also present a technical paper at an IS&T conference, going through the technological issues. I didn't see anything that would have prevented success, within reason.

    Fwiw "we" did actually end up building our own ground-up digital camera. Initially we hoped to have it as an interchangeable magazine, giving us the option of shooting either digital or film by just swapping magazines. But the physical layout of the sensor package was not conducive to this. (We were not willing to tap into only the central area of the frame as the silicone film, or whatever, people were doing.)

    I really suspect that what ultimately killed the silicone film idea was the rapid drop in cost of digital cameras. At that time high-quality digital backs, in a nominal 35mm film frame size, were selling for around $25,000 US. But in only a couple of years DSLR cameras, same sensor size, dropped below $10,000 or so. As one's competition is dropping prices, the writing seems to be on the wall. What once might have been a financially lucrative product is now losing a lot of the glitter. Anyway, this is my guess as to why things didn't work out.

    Regarding this current kickstarter project, it would seem to be essentially a field lens assembly inside of a box, with the image being photographed by a camera phone. Maybe they have an improved sort of field lens, or whatever, but I just don't see any viable future for it, other than just a fun gimmick.
  6. What killed silicon film was a failure to deliver a working prototype. The small sensor and limited MP count. They could not pack enough battery in that drop-in contraption. And (as mentioned above) it took a custom model for every single camera model out there. Not even a model fitting a Nikon would fit all Nikons.
    So would they be able to produce, as a commercialy viable product, a 1.3 MP, 2.5 and-them-some crop factor, low powered product for the many thousands of cameras that take a 35 mm film cannister?
    Though the idea may have appeal, and can be presented as something not too difficult to do, there was and is no chance at all. And that was clear right from the beginning.
    But if someone would be able to solve the issues, there is a fair market waiting. But that is not going to happen.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2022
  7. I believe I have seen traces of devices meant to cobble SLR lenses on iPhones before?
    I am really not much of a phone- or (in my case) tablet shooter and rather quiet than "publishing" from such a tiny screen. Owning some digital ILCs, I 'd adapt heritage lenses to these. But I can kind of understand smartphoneographers who 'd like to explore the bokeh of grandpa's 80s consumer zoom on ME Super or the absence of AF in a Nikon FM without messing with film. So some fools will buy this and it might take amyear till it ends collecting dust in a corner. The market can't be big. Why should lovers of film cameras have contemporary iPhones at hand? What is the appeal of exposing thumb nails on a phone with a native film body instead of putting that heritage lens on a cheapo MILC and transfering a picture?
  8. Why? Instant sharing potential. That's what matters. Capture device really no longer matters. Communication does. This or some refinement may be a hit.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  9. If the "capture device really no longer matters", but "instant" does, why make life complicated and try such a contraption instead of using the phone alone?
    So based on that too, this will not be a hit.
    IPSfoto and za33photo like this.
  10. Reading the description above, you remove the back and attach it to the tripod socket.

    That does seem to limit it to those with removable back, but otherwise it just needs to fit into
    where the film would be. It can stick out (backwards) pretty far.
  11. This smacks of "snake-oil" to me.
    Why "destroy" a perfectly good film camera for which film and processing may still be available in order to obtain inferior results , when a cellphone is so much more convenient to use.
    Film camera backs also vary , will they produce a device that will work across the board , somehow I don't think so.
    But there will be buyers no doubt.
    As the American saying goes:- "There is a sucker born every minute".
  12. "Wouldn't it be wonderful?"

    I still thinking "Apple ][ forever"
  13. @c_watson|1 Pardon my ignorance, I have no clue how much slower it is, to wait for a 5D's wirelessly transfered image or if phones can act as repeaters and start uploading images, while they are still arriving. But I guess holding only the phone is ergonomically desirable enough to justify that little delay?
  14. It's an interesting question and - as an exclusively 'digital' amateur photographer - it led me to browse why 'Digital Backs' for film cameras might appeal to some photographers. In general, my sense (from the internet) is that the 'analog (film) world and the 'digital' world are gradually merging. In the sense that film photographers are looking for ways to get their 'film' digitized more quickly and that digital photographers are looking to emulate the still elusive qualities of film.

    Universal (independent of brand and model) 'Digital Backs' for film cameras is an interesting development. Some brands (including Hasselblad and Miyama) have offered brand-specific 'digital backs' for some years. A perhaps more well-known universal 'digital back' is the ''I'm back' start-up which is already into its 2nd generation.

    From an (amateur) marketing perspective, I'm interested in the 'consumer groups' that these products are designed to appeal to. I'm also interested in how 'the optics' work.

    My wild fantasy is that universal 'Digital Backs' for film cameras may appeal to:
    a) film photographers (whose lenses can't be replaced by an iPhone) that occasionally want to shoot digitally. To enable them, for example, to change ISO values between shots without changing film or to quickly (digitally) share photos
    b) people who already have - or can cheaply buy - good quality film cameras + lenses and for whom buying a 'Digital Back' is less of an investment than buying an equivalent quality digital camera
  15. I wouldn't be too stuck on this notion. I know digital photographers who are intent on exploring the unique properties of digital photography. That doesn't mean they don't also sometimes emulate the best of what film had to offer. It just means they've also moved on and are excited about new possibilities, much the same way artists have always been when new mediums and methods are emerging.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  16. Clever, but stupid. A real chore to use the viewfinder unless you have removable prisms.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  17. Hi, I've explained it before, but the depth of the explanation really depends on how much understanding the "explainee" has of general image-forming optics. AND how much effort they are willing to put into it.

    If you really wanna get some understanding, try doing this... take a camera lens, by itself, and set it in some sort of stand. For example, perhaps a folded towel on your kitchen table. Most photographers realize that the lens can form an image on the film/sensor inside of the camera. But if the lens is removed from the camera it will still project such an image. If there is nothing there, such as a piece of film, or a white card, etc., to intercept such an image, it is known as an "aerial image." An aerial image cannot generally be seen UNLESS you get directly behind it and preferably view it with some sort of magnifier. If you know roughly where the image is, and roughly where your magnifier is focused, it should be easy enough for you to see it through the magnifier. (You will only see it against the clear aperture of the camera lens.)

    This is essentially what these cell phone digital "camera backs" are doing - they are photographing an aerial image formed by the film camera's lens.

    But... the size of such an image is severely limited. To understand this part you probably need to sketch some light rays coming from the lens. Most simply, draw some straight lines coming from an object (say a tree, or candle, or cereal box, or whatever suits your fancy) and passing through a pinhole lens. Next, sketch in a representation of your magnifier and eye. You can probably realize that all of the image-forming rays that miss your magnifier cannot possibly be seen. Right? So this explains why you can only see a small part of the aerial image.

    Finally, the part that most photographers won't be able to understand... the use of a so-called field lens - it increases the field of view. If you made a sketch of the light rays earlier, now put in a large diameter lens where the image is ideally formed. This lens will ideally bend the peripheral rays - those that missed your magnifier - back where the magnifier can see them. Because the field lens is placed on the image plane it essentially doesn't change magnification, etc. - it primarily enlarges the field of view. That's the whole gist of the thing, but you need to have a rudimentary grasp of ray-tracing to understand it.
  18. I did it. Simply taking a picture with the IPhone thru the SLR viewfinder. I can use any lens that can go on the SLR.
  19. Hmm.

    A right angle viewfinder, or extender (with appropriate optics) would also work.

    There aren't quite as many viewfinder attachments as there are camera backs.

    Some cameras have easily removable backs. For others, it might take some screws.

Share This Page