New Kickstarter project promises digital back for Nikon 35mm film cameras

There is a new project on Kickstarter that promises a low cost digital back for 35mm analog cameras:

"In the final version that will put the sale already mounted, I will use a hardware and software owned by a supplier and producer of cameras, and therefore, the quality will be higher than that presented here, because it would have a larger sensor (16mpx) and already dispose from a complete menu."

Camera details (assembled):

  • Sensor: 16Mega CMOS
  • Panasonic Lens:7G+IR F=2.5 f=3.0mm
  • Lens:Close-up
  • Video Resolution:UHD24(2880*2160) QHD30(2560*1440) 108OP60/30 720P120/60/30 VGA240
  • Picture Size: 20M 16M 12M 10M 8M 5M 3M VGA
  • Video Format:MP4 H.264
  • Picture Format: JPG
  • Storage Capacity:Max 128G
  • USB interface:USB2.0 Display:2.0"capacitive touch screens
  • HDMI Output:yes
  • Auto White Balance:yes
  • Auto Eve :yes
  • WIF:I yes
  • Menu Language:EN FR ES PT DE IT CN RU JP
  • Battery:3.7V 1050mAh

Some sample photos can be found in the comments section of this post.

Update - here is the new version of the camera:

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  • Kodak makes one already. I use to use it…
    Google DCS 760C
    It only cost $1,000,000 15 years ago…

  • Jeff Bridges

    Great idea, poor results.
    I’d spend more $ on this idea if the results were better.

    • CaMeRa QuEsT

      Loved you and Beau on “The Fabulous Baker Boys” (Michelle Pfeiffer wasn’t half bad, either, je je). Also, love how you handle those Widelux shots!

  • T.I.M

    Yes, it was invented 25 years ago, it was called Kodak digital back.
    (recording was made on floppy disk)

  • What size will the sensor be?

  • luan

    If the sensor was at least aps-c format, it would be amazing, but looking at the schematics on their page, it seems to be a very tiny sensor. Anyway, interesting solution to keep the same angle of view from the lens. If they try to make an adapter based on that idea to keep the angle of view of FF lenses in aps-c cameras, it could be an interesting thing to have when using wide angle FF lenses.

    • Spy Black

      Yeah, what’s the point if they don’t use a full frame sensor?

      • mikeswitz

        I’m not sure there is a point, even with a full frame sensor.

        • Spy Black

          Depends on how it’s designed. This one’s too clunky to be practical.

    • Dmitry Anisimov

      it’s called focal reducer. for SLR lens for mirrorless they already exist. for SLR-to-SLR it would be so bulkier than whole FF SLR.

  • TurtleCat

    Other than the “gee-whiz” factor, what’s the point? I’d rather have a modern Nikon than a F100 (for example) with a digital back. Yeah, I could switch to film now and then, but it’s adding lots of points of failure, battery issues (That F100 chewed through batteries like a toddler with Doritos), etc.

    • tomskyphoto

      True – the only parts that an analog camera can contribute to such a contraption are the lens mount, prism/viewfinder/exposure meter and shutter. All of that with an extremely poor level of integration into the new digital system. Not worth the effort at all.

      I was briefly intrigued by ideas like these in the early 2000s as I had a number of Nikon film bodies but already realized back then that it didn’t really make much sense.

  • IronHeadSlim

    Put some Tri-X in it and stop already!

  • samellos
  • Mistral75

    So their concept consists in putting a focusing screen where the film would have been and photographing the picture created on the focusing screen with a photo module made of a 3mm f/2.5 close-up lens put in front of a smartphone sensor.

    I am so enthralled…

  • samellos
    • Is such bokeh possible with such tiny lens?

      • Mistral75

        The tiny lens photographs the 24mm x 36mm focusing screen which takes the place of the film roll and on which the camera’s lens creates the 2D image of the 3D reality.

        Therefore the bokeh comes from the camera’s lens (and from the focusing screen’s slightly grainy surface), not from the close-up lens + sensor device which only digitalises the 2D image formed on the focusing screen.

        To put the things in a different context: imagine you take a picture with a 24×36 camera, print it on a 8″ x 12″ piece of paper, scan the print and visualise the scan. The bokeh of the scanned image will be that of a 24×36 camera, not that of a 8″ x 12″ field camera.

      • samellos

        Nikkor 50mm f 1.2, I do not think it’s small as a lens … 😉

        • Sorry my bad. I meant sensor.

        • Nobody Knows

          For an F/1.2 50mm lens it is tiny

          • samellos

            Perhaps I did not understand its placement, but I can only reaffirm how much said, that the photo is made of the surface of the focussing screem, and that it receives a good illumination with an optic f 1.2. Hug.

      • samellos

        Ah okay, I got it. Well the sensor is of the dimension of a made for photographic cameras, and if not error, the quality of the photos that we make with our cell phones is not bad, right? But as I said, I do not want to compete or do anything better than our 25 mpx digital cameras. My only desire is, if possible, to reconnect people (normal users of cameras, who now use only the cell phone) to the world of analog cameras, beauty, and mechanics that has been parked for all these years. Only that. Actually the cool thing about I’m Back is that anyway brings back that taste of the “not perfect” and that “I got it!” “the photo came out good” … I thought it would not come out … finally memories of a time that is gone. Ok, its my opinion. Hug.

        • fanboy fagz

          you didnt answer @umeshrw question at all.
          you just gave an explanation of what the product is for. he asked regarding the sensor.

          I realize that english is not your native language and thats fine, and I dont mean to be insulting but its a bit difficult to understand your explanation. maybe you can ask someone who can come online and answer questions?

  • Or just buy, you know, a digital camera!

    • fanboy fagz

      IQ looks horrible. although not expensive. still, way more better things to invest in..

      • Aldo

        I think this is the reason instagram filters are so popular… they have a subconscious effect on how we saw photographs back in the film days… shitty quality didn’t matter because they were the greatest moments.

        • fanboy fagz

          those filters disgust me. especially the low contrast b&w ones that even pros use. just horrible

    • FreeWorld

      exactly! It a perfectly good way to ruin a beautiful camera when you can just buy a digital junk one anyway.

  • MB

    Disappearing comments anyone?

  • br0xibear
  • Daniel Oh

    I like it. Useless I know but just the pleasure of using my film bodies again. Would love to use my Nikon F or FE…

    • samellos

      Hello! That’s why I created I’m Back, so I can have fun again, load the camera, click and hope the result is good! In the last few years there is a lot of talk about megapixels etc and such, but there is little talk about composition, creativity, beauty … Well I got tired. To work, obviously a digital sense with a good optics, but for fun, even a little box with a hole in the front is better! Well, that’s my opinion. Hug.

    • ZoetMB

      You CAN use your film bodies. Take pictures with 35mm film and then scan the negs or prints. Kodak is even bringing back Extachrome 100 by the end of this year.

      While I appreciate the creativity to put this together, frankly, I think it’s silly. If the purpose is to get people who had a 35mm film camera and are now shooting with a smartphone to use the film camera, one is not going to do it by doubling the size of the 35mm camera and requiring them to use their smartphone. And the smartphone gives better results anyway.

      And if the purpose is to get DLSR users to use their old film cameras, their DSLRs already provide better results and most people don’t want to double the size of their camera. If anything, they want the opposite which is one of the reasons there’s so much of a trend towards mirrorless. As others have mentioned, this brings us back to the Kodak/Nikon and Nikon/Fuji cameras of the 1990’s. Why do we want to go back to that?

      So aside from the gimmick that one can do this, what’s really the point? This is a solution for which there isn’t a problem, IMO.

      • kaptink

        Point about smartphones taking getting better results is highly debatable. It’s the ‘tog who creates the image. ‘Better’ by what measure?

        Double the size of their cameras? My two film SLRs are much smaller than my two DSLRs.

        Why do we want to go back to that? Because it improves technique by making you think more about the basics. Because it’s much more satisfying as a photographic experience. Because the appearance of images from film is lovely.

        I agree about this device though; if you want to go out an shoot with a film camera then put film through it. Otherwise all you have is an (outdated) digital camera with a great big, ugly doohicky hanging off it.

        • ZoetMB

          You misinterpreted me – perhaps I wasn’t clear. I have no problem with people shooting film. In fact, when I see someone in the street shooting film, I get pretty excited and usually wind up engaging in conversation. I love film.

          When I talk about doubling the size, I’m talking about this device that’s being promoted.

          My point about smartphones was that a good smartphone camera is better than the examples seen from this device.

          And if anyone wants to think about basics, all they have to do is to put their DSLR on manual. It’s no different than film cameras, except for the earliest ones. People put their film cameras on auto and shot with them. I’ve told this story before, but an acquaintance of mine bought himself an F4 back when they were new. That was in the days when I was shooting with an N80 (although I also owned an F3HP). To this day, this guy doesn’t know what ISO or depth-of-field means. He probably doesn’t even know that the larger the f-stop, the smaller the opening nor the relationship between stops. But he heard that the F4 “was the best” and he thought that meant it would deliver better photos to him. Except that he bought it with a crappy kit lens. He used the F4 on Auto and he uses his current digital camera on Auto. I told him at the time that it was way too much camera for him. Only now his wife won’t let him spend more money on cameras, so he’s still shooting with a D80, but only on rare occasions. Most of the time he’s using a smartphone, only he still doesn’t understand how to sync the smartphone to his computer (although he didn’t understand how to get photos off of the memory card either).

          • kaptink

            I see we are alike in our views. Yes, I misunderstood the comment about size. You’re right; I think the inconvenience would outweigh any benefit. Of which, incidentally, I can see little or none.

            Smartphones can do a good job. I entered a competition recently with a shot I took in Vienna on the U-Bahn with my smartphone; all I had with me. I post regularly on Instagram with smartphone shots when the opportunity presents, though I prefer to use one of my D/SLRs and upload after processing in Lightroom. I recently shot a pano in Italy on my phone; a series of seven or so shots that I stitched later with Lightroom. It looks great.

            My view on MP is that no-one needs 46 of them. Neither of my DSLRs has more than 12.3. No-one ever told me a shot I took would have been better for having more resolution. In fact, I doubt if that ever happens when people view photos. Not hitting focus, yes, Camera shake too ruins a shot. But not more MP.

            I agree that all anyone has to do is to use their DSLR in the same way as a film camera; shooting manual may be one way but aperture priority is just as valid. But it pays to cover the LCD up to stop all that chimping. As I like to say, do your chimping in the viewfinder before you release the shutter.

    • kaptink

      Go ahead and use them. I shoot film now all the time. I take the exposed roll to a local lab. They send me an email a couple of days later with a link to download all my images as jpegs.

  • Dominic Siu

    With the module on the back it seems that we can’t put our eye near the viewfinder the take photo.

  • steeler_fanatic


  • CaMeRa QuEsT

    May I ask what’s the point of taking pictures of images proyected on a 24x36mm focusing screen? Surely even the grainiest of emulsions should beat the best definition coming out of the best ever micro-grounded glass, shouldn’t it?

  • Ed Hassell

    I’m totally not interested in digital module for a film camera with where technology is today. I’ve got plenty of old camera bodies and lenses for my film needs and plenty of new digital bodies and lenses for my digital needs. The one thing I would like is an updated F7 or F200 film body that could work with all of Nikon’s current high-tech lenses. Even my F6 is out of date. I actually still shoot B&W occasionally.

    • ToastyFlake

      Do you not use your old lenses on your digital bodies?

      • Ed Hassell

        Some of them, yes. My Noct is a perfect portrait lens for my D500. And my super-teles are all old ’80’s / ’90’s AiS lenses. Unfortunately, the film era wide angles suffer. Modern “digital” wide angles are tele-centric hybrids. Many of the older lenses don’t have the resolution to keep up with higher density sensors, either.

  • Another pointless item

  • Daniel Högberg

    If they cannot make it fit in the original film case space they do not need to bother. I can accept removal of the film pressure plate to make room for the sensor though.

    • Mistral75

      They can’t and won’t since, behind the matte screen that stands where the film would have been, they have to put a close-up lens and a sensor (to take a picture of the image on the matte screen).

  • Richard Hart

    Its a novelty and it will probably be taken as seriously as those lomolenses. There are so many variables that images will probably not be useable by todays standards. Plus the extra grip does not make it user friendly. I wish them all the best though!

    • Zos Xavius

      Man I would truly love for Leica to bring that back with a modern sensor. The R system was superb all around.

  • David Gottlieb


  • Tom Taubert

    Seems like a fun project.

    I have been thinking about how to upgrade the Ftn Photomic finder with modern CDS cells and a position sensor (replacing the resistive strip) using a microcontroller. So wouldn’t have to worry about flaky finders. The F otherwise seems to hold up quite well over the years.

    I do like the idea as some mentioned of a F200.

  • I think this would be good for a community that can’t use vintage lenses, unlike the Nikon community. For example, I have a 35mm f/1.4 AIS Nikkor lens from the 60s that fits on my D850. So I can compare and contrast it with my brand new 35mm f/1.4 G Nikkor. I get the cool optical effects with all of the amazing capabilities of the D850. And if I want to go LOMO with it, I can apply those effects in post if I ever wanted to. Not to crap on this man’s efforts. I think it’s somewhat nostalgic to use that old hardware and there are definite benefits to expanding your horizon in that way. I think he’s laying the groundwork for future technology maybe.

  • Allen_Wentz

    Far, far too late.

  • jimh

    Dejau vu, or have I seen this same vaporware product every few years since the mid 90s?

  • Kári Jensson

    I see why it is low cost, it is huge & ugly as bleep.

  • Snugge Dr.

    kickstart backers are the most gullible people ever. god bless em’

  • Michiel953

    More like a digital bottom, and ugly as one as well. Sensor size unclear.

    Not for me.

  • Mikey

    It looks like a really fun personal project for an engineer, but I really don’t see a market for it in the wider photography community. It’s too clunky, unwieldy and impractical for everyday use.

  • Ric of The LBC

    I AM not sure what to make of this

  • David in Signal Mountain

    In the mid 1980’s, EDN magazine (Engineering Design News) had an article where someone was developing a digital system that was the size of a 35 mm film canister with a leader hanging out. The unit was intended to be used in any 35 mm film camera. The “leader” tab would have held the sensor and would have laid over the shutter opening to be exposed when the shutter was fired. The electronics would have been in the canister also with a battery. I suspect the technical problems of positioning the sensor, battery life, and turning the digital sensor on and off were just a few of the technical problems that together proved to impossible to economically overcome.

  • Thylmuc

    The syncing of back and camera apparently is done via the flash triggering. If I am not mistaken, the flash will only be triggered when the shutter is already fully opened. Does this mean that only half (or less of half, given a delay in preparing the back) of the shutter Speed can actually be used?
    Turning e.g. 1/250 sec into 1/500 sec?

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