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Old Jan 27, 2004, 2:34 AM   #1
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Default converting a film slr to digital?

Seeing as there are about a bizillion perfectly good slr cameras floating around out there, has anyone ever tried to come up with a conversion kit to make their film camera into a digital? Seems like you could mount the ccd, memory and associated electronics in the door (or whatever the hell ya call the part that swings open). Ideally you could have a camera which you could swap back and forth from digital to film depending on what you were shooting. Seems to me that this would be a relatively cheap way to get into dslr.
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Old Jan 27, 2004, 3:04 AM   #2
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I've thought about this (since I do have a 35mm SLR sitting around collecting dust). Apparently, there have been some unsuccessfull attempts at making conversion kits.

My roommate and I have half-jokingly discussed taking apart his quite old 1-megapixel Kodak and trying to put the electronics into my SLR. It wouldn't work, but if it did, imagine what the focal length multiplier (or field-of-view crop) would be! Like 4x!
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Old Jan 27, 2004, 5:43 AM   #3
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Ya, a few companies have tried it. There are a variety of difficulties that you run into. The biggest being that you have to place the sensor in exactly the right spot. I think its the focal point of the lens. This means you'd have to make a custom back for every camera model (i.e. very expensive.) Or something that is very adjustable (also very expensive?)

It is appealing as an idea, though.

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Old Jan 27, 2004, 5:52 AM   #4
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Seems like it ought to work. As long as the ccd was in the same position as the exposed section of film. There might be an issue with the ccd being exposed to dust/other crap when the door is open. But having it protected by a layer of glass should work. Imagine having a good SLR that could swap back and forth between film/digital in less than a minute. Seems like it ought to sell.

Next question. Why the hell are DSLRs so expensive. If the major manufacturers can come up with fairly decent film SLRs for under 200 bucks, why does the price jump by 800 bucks when they slap a ccd in there? I guess it's just the fact that they are still relatively new. I would guess that a 200 dollar film SLR could be made digital for another 100 bucks.

Anyone got any idea when we'll see a decent DSLR for $300?
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Old Jan 27, 2004, 8:39 AM   #5
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One company, I can't for the life of me remember who, tried to come up with a digital film thing that looked like a film canister with the leader out and some wired connection to the digital works that bolted to the bottom of the camera.
I think one of their big problems was that it would only work in one or two camera bodies (Nikon F4 I think ) and they would have to make a different model to match every camera. The technology has been sold to several companies, none of which have managed to develop it to market successfully.

A big sticking point is the digital stuff needs to integrate with the cameras electronics. There is only one on the market that has that capability right now and it is the new digital/film capable Leica.
(There is rumor of a system NIkon comming where you buy the body for 2K$ buy a digital or film back back for 2K$ and buy the metering stuff for 1K$, I'm totally guesing on the prices for this rumor but they sound what would be in line)

As for the high costs, you are paying for the high R&D costs to produce a new camera, with a short life and fairly low sales volume before it is obsolete. The makers need to recover their expendatures while showing multi diget profits. Welcome to the digital age.
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Old Jan 27, 2004, 8:43 AM   #6
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Found a it Silicone FIlm

Popped on the scene back in 2001, and disapeared again
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Old Jan 27, 2004, 9:05 AM   #7
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You can't just slap a digital back onto the back of an SLR without making provisions for power supply, and either internal or removable storage. Not to mention the trademark of any digital camera, an lcd screen. Sillicone Film tried and failed, then I hear Leica has something similar in the works, and rummors of a hybrid Nikon F6 for sometime in the future. I think a custom digital back for each SLR in the market would cost more than a DSLR sold today. But that's just my opinion, you're welcome to disagree :lol:
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Old Jan 27, 2004, 9:40 AM   #8
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In the medium format world there are a number of digital backs available for Hasselblad bodies (http://www.vistek.ca/details/detail_...&Specs=N&Box=N). Of course that system is much more modular than SLRs with different film carriers, lenses, viewfinders etc.

In addition to getting the sensor in the right place you'd have to:
  • if the sensor wasn't full size - add optics to the view finder to adjust for the cropping
    get power to the imager - likely an add-on battery grip
    get power to and information from the imaging chip - likely a replacement door for the camera (i think the F5 & EOS 1 have interchangeable doors)
    integrate a memory card reader

Either you'd have a mess of wires or you'd need a custom setup for each camera. Never mind getting it all to work well.

As for why the difference in costs. First off a film camera can be much simpler than a digital SLR. There's no LCD screen, less power requirements, no imaging chip - the BIG expense etc. In addition it's the same pricing curve that all electronics follow - early adopters pay a premium - two years ago I considered getting a D60. It was $3600 (Cdn), less than 2 years later a DigiRebel is $2000 less with kit lens. And in many ways it is a better camera too.

There likely is some room for improvement in pricing, when you compare a G5 against the rebel. But it's a long way from a $200 SLR plus imaging chip to a dSLR.

I would guess that the dRebel will be $599 by Christmas 2004, likely in anticipation for a newer model in spring 2005.
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Old Jan 27, 2004, 9:55 AM   #9
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There are a lot of different backs for many different brands of medium and large format cameras.
With a price to match, the Leaf Valeo 22 I've been slobbering over is 43,000$cdn. I think the company i'm with has a contract with PhaseOne (who also has a 22mp back out now) so I'll probable never get to use one.
These backs are absolutely great for product work, I don't think I would want to go out in the field with one.

But you are right these cameras are designed to be "system" cameras. The slr's were not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ursa
In the medium format world there are a number of digital backs available for Hasselblad bodies (http://www.vistek.ca/details/detail_...&Specs=N&Box=N). Of course that system is much more modular than SLRs with different film carriers, lenses, viewfinders etc.
Now that would be nice or the 10d for 1000$

Quote:
Originally Posted by ursa
I would guess that the dRebel will be $599 by Christmas 2004, likely in anticipation for a newer model in spring 2005.
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