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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:57 pm    Post subject: I'm Back! Reply with quote

I'm not sure which forum this should go in. It fits here, but it also fits in the digital rangefinder forum, and it also fits in the adapters forum. Has this been discussed here? If so, I managed to miss it.

I'd not heard of the I'm Back until yesterday, but apparently it's been around since April. I don't know if it's gone on sale yet, and I don't know what its sale price will be. But I can tell you this -- I am definitely interested. I've been looking forward to somebody coming up with a way to use old 35mm cameras digitally since the year 2000.

See more here:
http://imback.eu/home/

I've looked at the specs and I haven't been able to find a sensor size. But I have found repeated reference to being able to "take 35mm photos." So that sounds like full frame to me. A full frame 16 megapixel sensor is not so bad, really. Definitely worth playing around with if it's halfway affordable. The inventor likened it to Lomography as far as image quality goes. So it's an "art piece." But that's fine, if it produces useable photos.


PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The digital back does not use a FF sensor. It project the image from a focusing screen into a Panasonic MN34120 1/2.33 inch sensor.


PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This could interest me, too.
A picture on their Indiegogo page indicates a possible price of under US$300. Exclamation
This could put me in a full-frame arena for a fraction the cost of a full-blown
digital SLR/MILC camera, allowing me the use of those gloriously bright,
large, 100%-coverage optical viewfinders!
I can imagine using an Olympus OM-1 in such a manner...

However, it's very large & bulky, putting a typical 35mm film camera into
the neighborhood of a Canon EOS 1D-series, which I would not want.
It also projects from the back of the camera significantly, which I think
would make using the optical viewfinder a very trying affair.

Ideally, I'd like to see a camera-back replacement, keeping original
depth dimensions of the camera, with the electronic goodies housed
underneath the camera in a package not exceeding the camera's footprint
and coming at 1-inch or less in height. I feel this could be done now,
adding to the camera's depth by only the thickness of an LCD display.
I'd suspect the obstacles to making this happen are lack of a proven
demand for such, firstly, as well as proper funding for R&D and
manufacturing.


PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your idea is a good one, Craig. If the back is meant to replace the 35mm's back exactly, that will most likely add to the price. It looks like the I'm Back back is held on by clamps of some sort, which means it doesn't have to be as precise a fit, I suppose. Also, if anyone were to pursue your idea, they'd almost have to insure that the sensor were full frame, else what's the point to a very large extent?

Me, I'm still holding out for somebody to invent "digital film" and have the entire digital camera contained within a container the same size as a film cassette, with the sensor jutting out to occupy the spot were the film would be, where the sensor could be moved in or out a bit to deal with different distances from the cassette. Perhaps a pipe dream, but I believe that it is technically possible. In the mean time, though, it might be fun to play around with an I'm Back, providing the price is not too prohibitive.


PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately this digital back comes too late, IMO...

Probably a similar digital back for the 6x7 or 6x9 RF cameras and with no crop factor will be, at least for me, more appealing.


PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Meh. Not very good. There's a focusing screen, some mirrors and a tiny tiny phone sized sensor (1/2.3) that takes a photo of that focusing screen. Image quality is extremely bad. I just found a youtube video (here) where a guys makes a huge poster sized print from a 35mm slide and it's perfectly fine. Until a digital back can reach such a level of image quality, I'm not interested.


PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

miran wrote:
Meh. Not very good. There's a focusing screen, some mirrors and a tiny tiny phone sized sensor (1/2.3) that takes a photo of that focusing screen. Image quality is extremely bad. I just found a youtube video (here) where a guys makes a huge poster sized print from a 35mm slide and it's perfectly fine. Until a digital back can reach such a level of image quality, I'm not interested.


I understand this, and I too long for a digital back with such capability. But the authors clearly emphasize the "artiness" of the I'm Back and state that it shouldn't be compared with digital cameras. They write:

“I’m Back was created with the intention of reusing the old analog in a digital way, but maintaining a “retro” aspect in the photos thanks to the focusing screen. It is not intended to have the quality of a digital camera of last generation, therefore, it is not an accessory to be at par with a digital or even an analog. I’m back gives a unique result in its genre. In similar solutions, like “Pinhole”, “Lomography”, it gives photos with the use of a “Scanner” and other art form, yes, the art of photography is after all an art form and not something to be judged by the quantity of pixels or any less.
I’m Back was designed not only for professional photographers, but for ordinary people who are passionate about photography and for technology from old cameras, for anyone who wants to have fun like they used to, even when the photo was not good and it was a source of anger and also a laugh. Good times!”

The example images they provide are rather interesting, I think, and I can see how they might appeal to the art of photography. Lomographers might be early adopters. And as long as the price is reasonable, I think a lot of folks will be willing to give it a try. If the I'm Back is a success, it will likely spur interest for higher output versions, which is what I'm hoping for. I wouldn't mind paying upwards of $1,000 for a back that was full frame and provided at least 16 megapixels worth of image.


PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
Your idea is a good one, Craig. If the back is meant to replace the 35mm's back exactly, that will most likely add to the price. It looks like the I'm Back back is held on by clamps of some sort, which means it doesn't have to be as precise a fit, I suppose. Also, if anyone were to pursue your idea, they'd almost have to insure that the sensor were full frame, else what's the point to a very large extent?
Yeah, full-frame would be my goal, though I'd imagine APS-C and similar would also be acceptable and marketable, as well as desireable.
I actually imagine back replacements to be modular, with a standard sensor 'carriage' or assembly, made to fit within different molded back replacements available for specific popular/common film cameras. A ribbon cable from that down to the controlling electronics mounted to the camera's tripod socket...

cooltouch wrote:
Me, I'm still holding out for somebody to invent "digital film" and have the entire digital camera contained within a container the same size as a film cassette, with the sensor jutting out to occupy the spot were the film would be, where the sensor could be moved in or out a bit to deal with different distances from the cassette. Perhaps a pipe dream, but I believe that it is technically possible.
Even better! Wink
This sounds entirely feasible to me, too.
Imagine it: an assembly to fit across the film path, occupying spaces for the film spool and takeup. It simply fits in as a single unit across the film path, with a couple 'canisters' for the controlling electronics. You need only remove the sprung plate from the camera's back used to hold film to the focal plane, to allow it to fit. Ribbon cable again, which simply wraps around under/over the back from the inside, for an LCD with function/settings buttons to be attached to the outside of the camera. From this perspective, perhaps the only setback would be integrating the camera's physical shutter button to operate the electronics, at least as far as purely mechanical cameras. Doing this without physically connecting to an external flash actuator, making it a nearly drop-in solution, would be an exceptional innovation. Hell, even a back-button shutter actuator would do the trick for me, and make it a complete solution.


PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've thought extensively about digital film. I've even drawn up examples of what it could look like. As for how it would work, things need not be overly complex. I envision it as a device that would look like a film cassette with a sensor section that juts out at right angles that would cover the opening for the film. The sensor section, if about 1mm or less in thickness, could fit between the pressure plate and the film rails without requiring the removal of the pressure plate. The exterior of the cassette could have a small LCD and a few small, recessed buttons that you would use to cycle through and set various functions, mostly ISO.

As for operation, things could be quite simple, the way I picture it. One could push a button to activate the camera, then place it in the cassette well and close the back. When the button is pushed, the camera, being active, takes a picture of nothing, but that's okay because we want it in that state. The camera would be programmed such that it resets itself for the next exposure when it sees complete darkness. So when the active digital cassette camera is closed up in the main camera and the back is closed, the camera resets itself for a fresh exposure. And then you just use the camera as you normally would. For example, you could meter a scene using your camera's on board meter, select shutter speed and aperture as necessary, compose and shoot away. You could even use your camera's auto exposure or program modes if you wish. You would have to manipulate the film wind to reset the shutter of course, but since there would be no digital components over on that side of the camera interior, it won't affect things. There might only be a problem if the camera requires that film be moved through the wind mechanism. But I don't own any like that, so for me it isn't an issue.

As far as flash goes, you could use an accessory flash the same way you would if you have film loaded. Cameras that do TTL flash might even work unless the camera were doing OTF metering, in which case things might be a bit off.

After you've shot your fill, you just pop open the back, remove the cassette camera and plug it into your computer with a mini USB connector, then download the images from the camera's internal memory storage. And given how small micro SD cards are, you could probably include a micro SD slot in the camera so you could D/L the images from the card instead of the camera. But the mini USB cable would still be used to charge the cassette camera.

So anyway, that's my pipe dream.


PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:

As for operation, things could be quite simple, the way I picture it. One could push a button to activate the camera, then place it in the cassette well and close the back. When the button is pushed, the camera, being active, takes a picture of nothing, but that's okay because we want it in that state. The camera would be programmed such that it resets itself for the next exposure when it sees complete darkness. So when the active digital cassette camera is closed up in the main camera and the back is closed, the camera resets itself for a fresh exposure. And then you just use the camera as you normally would.


Perhaps not an accurate approach, Michael.

For example, how would the 'cassette' be synchronised for an activation by light if relying on the physical operation of the camera? There would surely be a lag of at least milliseconds between the physical shutter's opening and the digital sensor recognizing light upon it, so that alone would make judging an appropriate shutter speed difficult, if not altogether a gamble at faster shutter speeds.

Also, what about changing settings(ISO, image quality, exposure speed, etc.) on-the-fly?
These are some important adjustments to make with digital, as we know the medium now.
I wouldn't want to be opening the camera's back to make such setting changes
if I'm trying to capture *whatever* in a suitable exposure for the scene.

I like your approach, generally, but I think I'd prefer to have more of the camera's operational controls placed on the outer parts of the camera, just like I'm now accustomed to.

I like your idea of "digital film" a lot, but for me, it would need to allow me more adjustment and setting changes during shooting, not pre-determined.


PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, to me, the limitations I present are liveable. For instance, changing ISO. With film, we don't change ISO in mid-roll, whereas with digital film, it will be possible, but it will require opening the back, and punching a couple of buttons -- ones that can be positioned so that they can be easily accessed when opening the back -- then closing the back again. An exposure would be "wasted" when the back was opened, but the camera would reset itself again as soon as the back is closed.

As for sensor sensitivity to light and any sort of delay -- is this really an issue nowadays? My NEX 7 is capable of firing off 11 exposures per second when set to a mode where AF doesn't occur between frames and each one is perfectly exposed, provided the light is bright enough for the necessary shutter speed. Further, my NEX exhibits no lag whatsoever -- that I can detect at least -- between the time I push the shutter button and the exposure is taken. So I don't really see this as an issue. But if for some reason it is, well then a fudge factor could be created where the photographer would get used to using slower shutter speeds so that the sensor would have time enough to react before the camera's shutter closes. Frankly, I don't see this as an issue -- not these days, at any rate.

I suppose what I see with digital film is, in a way, forcing it to work in an analog world, with all its limitations. The photographer wouldn't be able to pixel peep between images. The photographer would have to at least pause in the middle of things to change ISO. The photographer would have to wait until he or she had shot enough pictures to feel they'd reached a good stopping point before viewing all the images that had been recorded.

If, for some reason, syncing the digital camera with the outside camera's shutter is a problem, this would require a complete rethink and the result would be a situation where having the digital film camera isolated within the camera would not work well. In that situation, having a back with external components would work better and would most likely be necessary. But then it becomes camera specific, which will severely limit the installed base, and would undoubtedly also be much more expensive.

But if a real digital back were the way this dream could be realized, I'd support it. Fortunately, I have a broad enough collection of cameras now that I'm bound to own at least one for which a back would be made. As long as the backs fit more than Leicas, that is. I don't own any Leicas.


PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frankly, I would much rather spend $25 on a developer kit and learn how to process C-41. I already have tanks, thermometers, film scanner, slide duplicator, and a huge pile of expired film.


PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gardener, you should just give it a go. Processing C-41 is easy. Just make sure you use a water bath or similar to maintain the correct temperature. And then when the film comes out of the tank, I learned the hard way -- don't squeegee the negatives. Use a good stabilizer instead. Usually the stabilizer in the kits is barely adequate. Kodak's Photo Flo works but Kodak's C41 Final Rinse and Replenisher works even better.

For me, the challenge with C-41 is what to do after I've developed it. These days I'm using my Sony NEX 7 to duplicate my slides and B&W negatives, and I've also duped a lot of C-41 negatives as well, but the process can get tricky when working with color negs. Still, when I've been able to successfully pull it off, the results are much better than I've been able to achieve with my scanners.


PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes to house electronics in canister.

Unmodified camera requires sensor no thicker than film.

Camera coupling can be mechanical, as simple as a sprocket-wide strip taken up (better recycled in loop) by winder.

Find the least-cost FF camera body. That's how much FF I'm Back will cost, duh, less many features.

Very poor cost/benefit ratio imho. The number of film cameras is going down, as are mechanics which must be maintained.


PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
For me, the challenge with C-41 is what to do after I've developed it.


I have Epson v700. It generally does a good job with decent negatives. Is there a C-41 kit/source you can recommend?


PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you mean a developing kit? I just use the C-41 Unicolor kit.

If you mean some sort of digitizing kit, I could use my scanner, but I prefer using my camera nowadays. I have a 55mm f/2.8 Nikon Micro-Nikkor attached to extension tubes and other stuff that I use for duping negatives. To process the dupes, I use either Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. My results vary, but usually I wind up with good results.


PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This has been an interesting discussion. I've been reminded of Keisuke Matsumura's wonderful camera of 6 years ago. A Sony wx30 squeezed into a Zorki, presaging the boom in retro morrorless cameras, although manufacturers have currently stuck to the 1970s/80s so far.


Will we see, for example, digital versions of the pre-war rangefinders, complete with a manual lens? I wouldn't discount it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFnAefTly6k


PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sciolist wrote:

Will we see, for example, digital versions of the pre-war rangefinders, complete with a manual lens? I wouldn't discount it.


Aren't the interchangeable lens Fujis pretty close to that -- in terms of looks at least?


PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
Sciolist wrote:

Will we see, for example, digital versions of the pre-war rangefinders, complete with a manual lens? I wouldn't discount it.


Aren't the interchangeable lens Fujis pretty close to that -- in terms of looks at least?



I've always thought of their current rangefinder 'style' cameras as 1960-'70s era, and their SLR 'style' as 1970-'80s. I always think of pre-war rangefinder 'style' as basically Leica. Perhaps I shouldn't limit it to just that.


PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the idea is fun and fascinating and I wish them the best of luck. I don't think I am their target audience, but I applaud the effort. I hope it goes well.


PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is similar in concept to the Nikon E3- use a relay lens at the focal plane to project the image onto a smaller format sensor.

I'll probably get one- to use on the Nikon RF's, as the inventor does. I have a great set of lenses in S-Mount.