In the late 1990s, as the digital revolution overtook photography, there were failed attempts to develop a digital upgrade for 35mm film cameras. Imagine a film cartridge with a striker sensor, so the idea was, that you could put in your trusty SLR and continue shooting digitally. As it happened, it never materialized and most film SLRs were shelved. So, here in 2023, it’s surprising to find a group called I’m Back a Promising Film. Something that looks a lot like a 35mm cartridge with a sensor attached.
The engineering challenges are not trivial, not least because there is no standard for the distance between the reel and the exposure window, and almost no space on the focal plane in a camera designed for film. They solved the problem by using a 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor that gives a somewhat cropped image, and what appears to be a ribbon cable that slides between the back of the camera and the body in a box that attaches to the bottom of the camera. It’s not entirely clear how they solved the actual window-to-window distance issue, but we’re guessing the sensor could slide from side to side somehow.
It’s an impressive project, and those of us who have shot the film in the past can’t resist a little nostalgia for our old gear, but we hope it doesn’t come too late. Digital SLR cameras are ubiquitous enough that anyone who wants one can get one, and at the same time, the boom in film use has given many photographers a new excuse to use their old camera the way it was originally intended. We’ll soon see if it catches on, as a crowdsourcing campaign for the project will begin in a few days.
Oddly enough, this isn’t the first project we’ve seen, although it is the first to have a usable-sized sensor.
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