Another Concept Design for Digital Film

One of the biggest hits this past April Fool’s Day was RE-35, a futuristic cartridge that transforms any 35mm film camera into a digital one. As the website went viral, many people actually thought it was a real product, prompting the design company behind the design to issue a notice on the website explaining that it was fake. As stated by numerous readers, digital film isn’t exactly a new idea — an actual company called Silicon Film attempted this product about a decade ago (and even gave a demo at PMA 2001) but ran into “storage, battery, environment and sensor size limitations“.

Judging from the response to this April Fool’s Prank, however, it’s pretty clear that this is an idea that would be enormously popular with photographers if it were to actually exist and perform reasonably well. The above illustration is another concept design for “digital film”, created by students of Hongik University for the iF Design Awards this year.

Hey camera corps, we want this to exist!

(via Yanko Design)

  • Spidey

    What they need to do it streamline the power use. WANT!

  • dale.

    Most cameras like this can have the door removed. If you remove the door, there’s no space constraint anymore. Been thinking about this for 15 years!

  • Nicolaiperjesi

    Nikon, Canon and the rest would run out of business if this came on the marked!

  • Spidey

    No they wouldn’t they same reason that I use a DSLR, a film SLR, a medium format TRL, box cams, holgas and pinholes.

    This would be a nice way to update my KS500, have some fun AND still shoot film with it.

  • sbfw

    This would sure be a blessing. Then you could find the right camera body and just upgrade the sensor when better technology came available. This would eliminate the constant need to upgrade the entire camera just to get a larger sensor and increase in pixels. People could then focus on buying lenses like when they used film. This would also eliminate for photography enthusiast the aggravation have all the crap add on with digital cameras. I love my Canon EOS 7e because it is simple to use. The DSLRs have too many menus and to many add on which I don’t need (i.e. video).

  • PhotoIreland

    I’d love to get my old Canon FD lenses back in action and to relearn how to manually focus!!!

  • Mikeprice4269

    It makes the SLR a more accessible and exploitable medium again. You now have a Digital format and can always stick in some good old film when you want to capture some 35mm frames to develop manually whilst manipulating and beguiling!

  • Edwin Serrano

    This actually existed back in the day. However, it only worked with certain upper-end cameras that printed capture data. I think they piggybacked on that signal to trigger the sensor. It also was a complete back that replaced the camera’s original one and not just a cartridge. Lemme see if I can still find that old website…

  • Vlad K
  • Pingback: Digital film design concept | Photo Rumors()

  • Luke Brannon

    It wouldn’t make camera companies go out of business it would just give a use to the old cameras that you may have that you would love to use again. It would make for a more economical and evironmentally friendly situation because instead of churning out cameras that go obsolete in a few years you can use a camera that was made in the 70’s and will last for years and years due to the lack of flimsy electronics. Old SLR’s were essentially light tight boxes unlike the technical DSLR’s today. I have thought about this for a while and it’s definitely pheasable you just need someone with the money to take the risk.

  • M. Federico

    10 years later, with new technologies, why aren’t they working on some concept?

  • Andy Schulz

    I would buy it in a heartbeat! Using my old Nikon FM2 with that perfect! And all the old Filmcameras would get a new usage and would not lay around like rubbish and getting dust .
    I like always to reborne old stuff like my byron

  • Andy Schulz

    uups sorry

  • Mark

    Hm, this might just be a feasible thesis subject for my BsC degree of Electrical Engineering. Any suggestions (ie which sensor)? ;)

  • Djnikel

    A start up tried to bring a product exactly like this to market back in 2001 – they faded out when funding dried up in the post .com bust years. Too bad, they had a great idea….

  • Co

    Actually, i don’t think that it would be so easy … Your sensor need a way to communicate with the camera to know exactly when the shutter is open and therefore know when he has to “empty” the sensor and start processing the image.

    If your sensor has “to look” continuously for light to know when to “trigger” then you are closer from a video camera then a still camera. Just check wich is the highest video resolution available (and a what price) and compare it to the resolution of today dslr … and you’ll clearly see that i won’t be really interesting.

    The concept could still work with a dedicated camera build to shoot film & digital.

    But i might be wrong as my understanding of CMOS sensor is not perfect.

  • Paulo 

    Leica calibrates the perpendicularity of M9 sensor angle with cheaps of 1/100 mm and you expect to get a clip/plugin sensor. In your dreams….

  • Richard M

    “Your sensor need a way to communicate with the camera to know exactly when the shutter is open and therefore know when he has to “empty” the sensor and start processing the image.”

    Been thinking about this and it’s doable, you just need a second button. Click button to say turn on sensor, then click shutter. Sensor stays on until light stops (or a percentage or light) ie. shutter has opened, and closed. Image is processed, unit turns off. Click button, unit turns on, click shutter … 

    I think it could also actually be triggered by a sensor that watches for movement in the film advance. I don’t think it’s actually *that* hard, it’s more finding the right sensor, at the right price, given that we’re basically talking about a full-frame sensor, or close to it.

  • gmillwater

    Not that difficult. This would be for purists and there would be a few trade-offs. The unit can be switched on/off using the rewind lever, but the sensor would be active at all times (just like film) so power consumption must be low. Once pic is taken, the advance lever should flush the buffer immediately and be ready for the next shot. Also, if power is turned off, flush the buffer. It would just be procedural and a purist would have no problem. This unit would also have to be drop-in and not a back replacement (it needs to be light-tight). Obviously care needs to be taken with cleanliness just like with film. Some type of mini-slide switch for ISO and should be at 6mp for the prototype. Design, technology, electronics, logic…ALL EASY AND INEXPENSIVE. Prototyping and marketing…that’s where the money comes in. 

    But it can be done…now if I could just hire an engineer from one of the camera mfgs.

  • Me

    Leica Module R anyone?

  • John A. Dodge

    I could get my old Pentax SLRs out of storage.

  • Peter “Pots”

    All I want is a reasonably priced back for my old ‘Blads…please note that I said reasonable.