PetaPixel

Convert Your Old Film SLR Into a Digital Camera with the DigiPod

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The idea of fitting electronics into a film SLR in order to capture digital photos with it is not new. The thing is, most of the ideas we’ve shared ranged from April Fools jokes to promising concepts that never seem to advance beyond that.

The DigiPod is the first product we’ve seen actually become a reality. It’s a digital cartridge that fits inside your old film SLR, and if it makes it to market, it could be quite groundbreaking.

The DigiPod was designed by UK developer and former photographer James Jackson, who has spent the last 5 years perfecting his design for this Digital Film Pod that could put his old Nikons, Canons and Leicas back in the game.

Much of his time designing the DigiPod was spent researching a similar attempt by a company called “Silicon” from 2000, and learning as much as he could about digital photography. The product he came up with is a simple “pod” that loads right into the back of your film SLR and interacts with the automatic or manual mechanics in the same way that film would.

Taking a picture is as easy as pushing the shutter button. And once you’ve taken a picture, you prepare the camera for the next shot by “advancing the film” in the same way you would if there were actual film in there.

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A prototype is ready and the manufacturers are lined up, all Jackson needs now is the funding, which he is attempting to secure through Indiegogo. In order for the DigiPod to make it into consumer’s hands, he’ll need to raise almost $307,500 (¬£199,000), and so far the first few days of the campaign have seen no backers.

That goal is set so high in order to maintain the current price of $370 ($310 for early bird backers). But if you want one of your own, there’s even more incentive to tell your friends. The current model will come with a 2/3-inch sensor, but the more people that back it, the bigger the sensor he’ll pack inside.

A sample photo captured using Jackson's 1/2.5-inch prototype sensor

A sample photo captured using Jackson’s 1/2.5-inch prototype sensor

Jackson needs 1,000 backers to reach his current goal, but if the number hits 2,000, the sensor size increases to 1-inch. And if they hit 5,000, they’ll go even bigger and put a 4/3-inch sensor inside.

For now 5,000 seems very far away when the campaign hasn’t even logged its first backer, but who knows what will happen in the next 41 days. To learn more about the DigiPod and put your name down for one of the early bird models today, head over to the campaign’s page by clicking here.


 
  • Guest

    James, while it sounds that you’ve solved some of the issues with designing a product like this, I strongly suggest that you design a prototype around a used aps-c or full frame sensor. Invest in a few old 6MP aps-c sensors or something, or you won’t get the backing you need. You need to make a professional looking video as well, as this video is directly related to your potential investors confidence in you. You might be a master engineer, skilled inventor etc, but none of that shows in the video. It’s not about ‘judging a book by the cover’, the problem is that there is no book. You are asking for money to write it. And this pledge for money needs credibility.

    I can imagine this type of criticsism is not that easy to take. I for one would probably give up if I was at the receiving end. But there is some very good advice there too, and potential backers. I wish you good luck!

  • Paulo

    Since flexible displays, maybe one day we’ll have flexible sensors to fit like a film in film cameras

  • Andrew Williams

    What is the point of shooting with vintage Nikons or Canons, which have a nominal native format of 24x26mm with a relatively tiny sensor? Only the central part of what you see in the viewfinder would get to the sensor, effectively making every lens far more telephoto. When they make one that is full frame, I will consider it.

  • That Guy

    Well someone’s a little jealous…. here’s a tissue. Cry somewhere else for a change and quit your bitching.

  • Zos Xavius

    I’m not james, but you are right. This is pretty much vaporware.

  • Camstone Fox

    Fair enough offer and reply… and making me both hopeful and skeptical that you’re really onto something, James. eMail to follow.

  • Josofa Harris

    Thank you for your time and information James!
    I look forward to seeing this product hit the shelves and later version with WiFi preview/management/additional control. ;)

  • Greg Lovern

    I tried to post comments on the Indiegogo page, but they didn’t seem to stick. Here are my questions:

    How do you handle off-the-film metering? Doesn’t a sensor reflect more light than film?

    How do you handle the fact that the camera’s meter would want to meter for the 35mm film frame, but the area covered by the sensor is a small part of that metered area and might need a somewhat different exposure?

    How does the pod “know” when to turn the sensor on? I assume you wouldn’t want it “on” all the time due to noise; normally a DSLR turns the sensor “on” just in time before the shutter opens, to minimize noise. Is the sensor always “on” when shooting?

  • http://keyofnight.com/ keyofnight

    I just don’t believe this project is capable of delivering‚Ķ it looks like he has a lot of kinks to work out.

  • lunebe

    I hope this takes off. I would expect most of the potential buyers to want a full frame just for the lenses. There are millions of slr camera ready to be back in service so it is very much a matter to provide the user with what they want and become rich. Full frame and good image treatment. A well worked out product can change the market. If not then I don’t need this as I have a phone with a camera, and a fat dslr.
    But that video needs to give some of the gritty details. One doesn’t sell a car without telling us what is under the hood.

  • hugh

    Nonsense!

    Patents are PUBLIC RECORDS. In fact, the
    downside of taking out a patent is that you are obliged to make your
    idea and designs public. This means the designs can easily be stolen and
    re-engineered by any company large enough to have the funds to hand in
    order to do this

    Also, patents are only valid the
    countries they are registered in, so a foreign company can use your
    designs with impunity, provided they do not attempt to trade in a
    country where a patent exists.

    This claim makes as much
    sense as the conspiracy theorist’s claims that oil companies have
    hidden all the designs to power cars from water, or for batteries that
    can power cars for thousands of miles and be fully charged in a few
    minutes.

    ANY story about a patent being locked away is a
    story based on fiction – unless it is a military device that could
    affect a nation’s security.

    Everyone should study
    patents, to see how these stories about stuff being hidden away is
    delusional fantasy perpetuated by conspiracy theorists, and intended to
    be fed to the gullible,

  • alec fitzgeorge

    i wont one very good.

  • Mick Anthony

    Much respect to Mr Jackson for developing the idea as far as he has, however as a lone developer I feel this is a VERY long way off becoming any sort or reality.

    I’ve been waiting for a solution like this for a long time, sadly I don’t think this is it unless it gets some serious corporate backing from someone who can manufacture a high quality unit at a decent price.

    You can blabber on about the romantics of using your old SLRs as much as you like, but if I’m getting home with an SD card full of images that look like they were taken on the Mavica my boss had in the late 90’s, then personally I’d rather just load in a roll of film and grab a good 2nd hand DSLR with the cash I’d have spent on this.

    Sorry but I wouldn’t even vaguely consider it until it has at least 4/3 sensor and even then not at the quoted price in this article.

  • Thom Luinenburg

    I would be more interested in a process that would develop the film digitally from my traditional SLR, and maybe even allow the film to be reused over and over again.

  • Carl Bendix

    I believe that there is a market for this thing. But the longer it takes to get it up and running, the fewer customers there will be. I’ve not gotten rid of my Pentax Spotmatic or Rolieflex 4X4 for this very reason. But… I’m not getting any younger.

  • oweniverson

    that the Big Players don’t have this product already indicates to me that it’s probably not feasible (at least with any degree of image quality). the Canons and Nikons of the world aren’t so blind as to not see this as a revenue stream and run it through R&D quite a bit.