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Nikon patents revive the dream of a digital back for film SLRs?

By Richard Butler on Dec 19, 2012 at 20:41 GMT

A patent filed by Nikon in Japan appears to revive the long-held dream of adding a digital sensor to an existing film SLR. The Japanese Engineering Accomplishment blog found the recently published patent that shows a mechanism for mounting and adjusting the position of a digital sensor on a rear door that could be used to replace the conventional film door. However, the patent only covers the mounting of the sensor relative to the film guides - it doesn't address any of the hurdles that have stood in the way of anyone realizing this long-discussed idea.

Attempts to use digital sensors in film cameras dates back as far as the digital camera itself. The first digital SLRs were significantly-modified Nikon and Canon film models with alternative backs mounted on them. However, attempts to create systems that could be installed in a wide range of cameras, such as Silicon Film, have foundered.

The patent diagram shows a method of fitting and aligning a digital sensor on an alternate back for a film camera.

The most fundamental problems of retrofitting a digital sensor into the film bay of an existing SLR include lack of battery space and the need to constantly open the camera to change ISO, White Balance or any other image setting. And that's assuming many modern photographers would be willing to live without a rear LCD to check their images on.

The Nikon solution appears to involve a replacement back for the camera which would give the manufacturer more flexibility to overcome some of these problems.

However, there are still plenty of engineering challenges to overcome, as the blog post points out. The digital back would need to know when the shutter was being fired, in order to sync its exposure with the shutter's movement. The toppings in front of the sensor (microlenses, low-pass and IR filters) would need to be incredibly thin to avoid fouling the shutter, which is mounted very close to the film plane in conventional SLRs. Finally, existing bodies leave little room to fit the sensor's mounting board if it were to use a full-frame sensor, but using cropped-frame sensor would then require a means of masking the viewfinder to show the relevant crop.

All of these challenges could be lessened if the back were designed in concert with a new camera body.

Consequently, existing film SLR users might not want to get their hopes up too soon - we think it's unlikely Nikon would want to take on these challenges for each of a series of backs to suit the many existing models. Also consider that the number of old bodies can reasonably be assumed to be shrinking as they break or fall into disrepair and that only a proportion of owners would be willing to buy a digital back, and the market for each back looks increasingly small (meaning a handful of users would end up sharing the development cost of each different back).

Many film SLR owners have long harbored the dream of converting their camera to digital. This patent doesn't bring that possibility much closer.

The Engineering Accomplishment blog points out that, if you were to assume Nikon has continued the development of its film cameras, then the F6 is due for a replacement around now. If Nikon is intending to do anything beyond protecting a clever idea one of its engineers had (a fairly common fate for patents), we think it'd still involve having to buy a new camera first. (via PetaPixel)


Total comments: 147
By mestreamador (5 months ago)

Com esta entrada retro no mercado da Df, seria de bom tom pensar na Nikon D1, de 1999, lembra?, de boa aceitação dos fotografos no momento pois era novidade na epoca. obturador de 1/16000 ???.
Que tal fazer na D1, o que foi elaborado na Df, seria muito bom também.
Eu seria os primeiros a adquirir o equipamento.
Parabéns a Nikon pelo investimento neste segmento.

By Footloose1949 (Jan 6, 2013)

I wonder if the main reason why some people yearn for something like this, is because they are cheapskates, and just want to keep on using what they already own, without having to 'shell out' for film and a film scanner?

By AlanG (Jan 6, 2013)

Well how cheap do you think it could be? Entry level DSLRs are pretty cheap as are many used ones.

By oysso (Jan 6, 2013)

Well, that might make people cheapskates anyway. does it not?
Or many think, why buy new camera? my old one is working still ....

jon voranart
By jon voranart (4 months ago)

How cheap do you thing an F2AS is worth, I bought one first hand a long time ago with a 50mm/f1.2, no my friend it took a lot of bread out of my stomach but it still perform up to the second 28 or so years later. Yes and yes for a digital back.

By AlanG (Jan 4, 2013)

So this patent application is for a drawing that shows how one can move something up and down and left and right a little. What an accomplishment!

The first Kodak digital cameras were simply backs that fit onto existing Nikon bodies. Leica did the same thing with the DMR. I guess today's technology could allow one to make such a back much smaller.

The only reason I can see this happening is not for older cameras but to make a new line of cameras where the sensor and possibly all electronics are modular. Thus the body could be upgradeable and you could also have specialized sensors for IR, b/w, high ISO, video features, and high resolution. However I don't know why such a modular design would need to be able to move the sensor. If you look at how tiny the Nex cameras are including their focal plane shutters, the electronics alone can't take up too much space.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By stevez (Jan 4, 2013)

I believe the last sentence of your article is the most likely explanation. The other might be to discourage and or reap some of the profits from a digital back made for a Nikon.

By scrane (Jan 1, 2013)

It will never happen. It's like putting air conditioning on a horse.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
By Marty4650 (Jan 1, 2013)

Yet another solution searching for a problem.

If you loved your Nikon F, then you will really love a Nikon D4. And the D4 can use the same lenses, complete with aperture rings. Plus a brand new D4 costs about the same as a Nikon F did when you adjust for inflation.

I suspect this patent is 100% about owning the rights to something, and not about any plan to produce something.

The 2013 Chevy Corvette really is a better car than 1957 Corvette. Even if you drop a 2013 engine into it, the 2013 Corvette is still a much better car.

By grkdave (2 months ago)

Several good points and succinctly put, Marty. Thanks. Sentimentality plays a big role with men and their toys, be they cameras, cars, watches, etc., and, certainly is key, here.

By Rip57 (Dec 31, 2012)

The only reason this appeals to me at all is because I miss solid construction, good glass, and f-stop ring / shutter speed dial manual controls at an affordable price.

But I "miss" old muscle cars as well - until I get back behind the wheel of one and remember what sleds they really were, and with none of what we've come to expect in modern vehicles.

I guess with a digital back you could do the equivalent of an automobile "resto-mod" (classic restoration with modern components) on your old Nikon. I don't know if it would be affordable or truly competitive with a modern Nikon, but it sure would be fun.

Meantime, I think I'm going to dig out some of the old cameras and run some film through. Just for fun. Now where's that scanner?

Happy New Year, all!

1 upvote
By UncleJim2 (Dec 29, 2012)

So, why not bring out MY dream of a simple manual camera with lights (red and green) along the bottom for a meter. Won't fire until you get a green light on AF, and BULB, fer' cryin' out loud! And a very FEW "D" features like image stabilizer, AF / MF, 3 shot mode with 2 stops under, over, and normal, Auto advance (single shot), no movies! And auto exposure as well as manual meter focusing WITH Field of View Preview.
I would like to see built in reciprocity failure at 25 to 100 asa (ISO) to hype up the colors. JPG and or RAW feature.
I long for the days when I could control my own exposures with simple controls, NOT international traffic sign symbols.
Make it a beginner's camera!
Jim Prather, Moore, Ok.

By nipa (Dec 28, 2012)

So my Nikon FE-2 might come out of the closet, after so many years!

munro harrap
By munro harrap (Dec 27, 2012)

Patents can be usaed to prevent competitors producing what you yourself do not want to, but see as a threat.
Besides Leitz already HAVE Digital backs for their later R series SLRs.

1 upvote
By HDRcam (Dec 26, 2012)

Still fullframe sensors are expensive.... but see in 5-10 years they will much cheaper and normal people could afford to upgrade old cameras. The kit could include:
1. Glue-on thin FF sensor.
2. Shutter sensor.
3. Additional sensors registering the dials. (where possible)
4. Wlan or other wireless connection to next generation smartphone.

JeanLouis LLECH
By JeanLouis LLECH (Dec 26, 2012)

Do you remember that, a few years ago, Leica made a digital back for their R8-R9 SLR. The system was very performant, and allowed 10 Mpix on these two cameras. Exchanging the film back for the digital one was made by the user himself, without factory return. A really great system, whic allowed to use all R Leica lenses... What did Nikon invented ? Leica patents are always current.

1 upvote
By Shamael (Dec 26, 2012)

What did Nikon invented is not a great subject to discussion in what you say. But, what Leica never invented, is a price that just anyone can pay, not one that a few are willed to pay. Leica's digital back could have made a long way with many other cameras, I think about the Bronica Boxes. Today we can see such systems exclusive for Hassy, Pentax and Mamyia mid format bodies. Bronica's with the same digital backs would make a great job and many of those cameras would still live with such backs. When Fuji bought Bronica, they just buried the brand, this was a fault. Leica's idea was good, but it remained a crippled project, and this is mainly due to Leica's pricing policy that is not defendable anyway. A Nikon F6 with such a system could fit me, there is no discussion about that.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
JeanLouis LLECH
By JeanLouis LLECH (Dec 28, 2012)

I agree with you, Shamael. Leica digital back was very expensive. It was not a "crippled project" or an idea, as you write. This digital back was produced and sold for a few years. At a very high price, I agree. But it was.
Later, Leica decided to place all efforts on their S2 MF cameras and M8-M9. IMO, that's a pity. Developing such digital backs for DSLR cameras would have been great.
But, when you say "a price that just anyone can pay", I doubt that these high-end technical products might be really affordable.

By sproketholes (Dec 26, 2012)

"The most fundamental problems of retrofitting a digital sensor into the film bay of an existing SLR include lack of battery space and the need to constantly open the camera to change ISO, White Balance or any other image setting. And that's assuming many modern photographers would be willing to live without a rear LCD to check their images on."

You have got to be f kidding me right? THE LACK of hyperactive interference might actually HELP the vest majority of you babies to actually get a picture instead of playing with your cameras.

By brdeveloper (Dec 26, 2012)

Yes. Moreover, with bluetooth or wi-fi, old cameras can transmit pictures directly to a smartphone for post-processing, viewing and sharing. You could also set all the adjustments in the phone. If the camera supports mirror lock-up you can even have Live View.

For shutter releasing detection, you can "teach" the electronic-film device to hear the shutter sound pattern in each speed. You can also use a IR sensor to detect when the shutter opens. Every SLR shutter emits a specific noise when it opens, so looks very straightforward detecting its release.

All settings that require exposure can be solved in Bulb mode or mirror lockup. A small touchscreen device could be attached in the film-label frame behind the back present in most old-time SLRs.

By km25 (Dec 25, 2012)

Someone said they liked the handling of the F2AS. I had an F2S. The handling was great The F3 was the best manual focusing camera ever made. The sutter on the Nikon F2 cameras were of poor design. I had trouble with my F2S photomic prisim. It had to be repaired twice. Once on Nikon and one time on me. On the secound time the repairman ( this guy was the best Nikon guy in L.A.) told me he got my sutter to be 1/850 @ 1/1000, 1/1150 at 1/1500 and at 1/2000 it was 1/1450 of a sec. He told me this was as good as it get's. This would effect exposures. The MD was great. The film advance felt like it was going break every time you used it, but it was short. I loved/hated my F2S. My F3 was so good. The LCD screen was just a bit to small. The FM's were also really great.

Dré de Man
By Dré de Man (Dec 27, 2012)

Either this 'best' Nikon guy was a fraud or your memory doesn't serve you well. Do you really think the F2 could have been such a enormous success with a 'poor shutter design'? It was in fact the best shutter available then.
Besides that, there was no way to set a shutter speed of 1/1500 s accurately: the dial only clicked in at 1/2000s and at 1/1000s. I had three of them, bought them old and battered since I was a student and tested them myself many times: they always were exact and never malfunctioned, nor did any other of my old and battered Nikon bodies. The only shutter speed that was less exact, was 1/80 s, but that was on purpose, since it was the x-synch time.
*If* this story is true, your F2 suffered from the repairman who didn't know how to repair the camera. Other possibility: his shutter meter was 'of poor design'!

1 upvote
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Dec 24, 2012)

Sadly never gonna happen, the nearest we can hope for are cameras such as the Olympus OM-D (nice) however longer term ALL normal cameras are dead - can you see many people dragging a big bag of kit around with them in say 10 years when they have grown up with the speed and access of a smart phone ? No, nor can I.

By Zolty (Dec 24, 2012)

I do not think N is going to manufacture/sell this type of back, but I wish they did for one reason:

I'd be able to use it on Nikon cameras which do not have problems with dust/oil/left AF.


Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (Dec 22, 2012)

The old Kodak DCS 400 cameras had a similar arrangement - they had digital sensors mounted in an extended back that fitted onto a modified Nikon F90. Perhaps this is something to do with Kodak's recent patent sale. Was Nikon part of the consortium that bid?

By ginobi (Dec 22, 2012)

Please support me, I'm filing a patent on putting film back into DSLRs :)

Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (Dec 22, 2012)

Loved the picture of the old Nikon F. Just great.

Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Dec 24, 2012)

I loved the way the Nikon f2AS handled - sheer class (used to retail such) when the F3 came out we had pro's desperate the buy up the last of our stocks. How the world has moved on...

By jedinstvo (Dec 25, 2012)

I kept one black, non-meter Nikon F and it's on the shelf next to my desk. I was one of those pros who didn't want to give up on the F2....until I found out how cool the F3 was. The F3 remains my favorite Nikon. Switched to Canon in '92....

1 upvote
By totunu (Dec 22, 2012)

Anyway, this is a solution just for the body, because many of the old lens are not designed for digital use. I have not experience with Nikon, but I have tested few old lens and an adapter for Canon. After testing, I see that the cheapest digital Canon lens, are delivering much higher image quality. After testing, I drop in a box all my old lenses and the adapter. All my hopes about reusing old gear is ended.

1 upvote
By JCMello (Dec 22, 2012)

Strange. I use various old AI (pre-autofocus) Nikkors with a D5000 together with modern lenses, and see no difference in quality, they are really sharp. Using only the central area of the lenses helps improve this. And Canon lenses are no less sharp than Nikon, I'm sure. Regards.

1 upvote
By totunu (Dec 26, 2012)

JCMello, my statment was to short and I need to bring some details: my old lenses are by Pentacon and other less famous makers, made in 1980 for M42 mount. No one of my old lens are Canon or Nikon. But even if the image quality was better, the manual focus of the old lens take to long for me, in most situation.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
By salvofoto (Dec 22, 2012)

Back in the 90's when I used to sell a lot of Nikons, I asked my colleagues what the two round terminals by the film canisters were for. No one seemed to know. I told them probably Nikon is thinking ahead and will make a digital back for film cameras. A company from Irvine, CA did this with a low MP sensor for $700 then moved to the midwest and disappeared from the map. I'm so glad Nikon is finally going to be doing this approach since the price of the FX sensor will go down and a lot of people can simply buy digital back for existing 35mm SLR's. Although I think this will be good at first for Nikon cameras with the capability of easily removing the back with a simple lever (17c) as with the pro F series. I hope Nikon won't take so long before putting this out on the market. Also, can you imagine there probably won't be any problem with oil on your sensors?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
Jeroen Bouman
By Jeroen Bouman (Dec 22, 2012)

Those contacts were for a 'data-back', the one that imprints the date into each frame. Nothing to do with preparedness for digital backs.

1 upvote
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Dec 24, 2012)

Funny ! But sadly it will never happen with or without oil patches !

By Spectro (Dec 22, 2012)

I remembered a 1.3mp digital back on slr (some other company) back in 2001ish that was reported on cnet. That thing just never did fly. I was planning getting it too. What happen to that patent. I don't think they will release one, but it would be a fun idea. Mamiya has been doing digital back and film for awhile, that has a patent itself.

Kodak might actually own the original patent, and maybe they sold it to nikon part of the bankruptcy liquidation.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
By audijam (Dec 22, 2012)

this is a great news!!!! if Canon doesn't follow I will switch....this is a fabulous idea!!! I'M LOVING IT!!!

tom james
By tom james (Dec 22, 2012)

Wonderful News!
I'll order three of the backs right now for each of my three of my Nikon F bodies. The news (if it materializes) is a dream come true.

By bblam88 (Dec 22, 2012)

I would love to put a digital back on an F3HP!!! Already have two of those at home. =D

Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Dec 24, 2012)

Never gonna happen - as likely as Sony reintroducing the Sony Walkman with digital guts... mind you....

Paul Farace
By Paul Farace (Dec 21, 2012)

Damn! And I sold my F and FM2n !!!! Whether they ever do it or not, I am not selling my S-2 rangefinder .. in case they actually do this for cameras that have removable backs! Or as the poster below said... I can just shoot film and scan it! Nothing is impossible, but it would be like putting a jet engine on a Ford Model T -- it can be done, but why do it? Besides, today's automotive cup holders are light years ahead of anything a Model T had. And the autofocus, ergonomics, etc., of today's cameras blow the doors off our beloved classics!

By acidic (Dec 21, 2012)

This would be a dream come true (for hipsters).

Analog is coming back for various media, not because its practical, not because of functionality, and certainly not for quality. But because it's cool.

For the bearded guy who wears women's jeans while riding a fixie: Too bad that you won't be able to pretend to be shooting film. You'll actually have to shoot film.

By steelneck (Dec 21, 2012)

This is very sad news for anyone who like to see a working digital back for old cameras.

That Nikon patents this only means that they will use this patent to stop anyone else that have the same idea and want to put it in production. This is the main usage of patents today.

And BTW, this patent should not have been granted to begin with, there is nothing technical new in it, any one with even the slightest technical skill could have thought of this. Heck, many engineers have thought of it and even put together some cameras. Digital backs on existing cameras was the base in how the early digital cameras was developed.

By Xellz (Dec 22, 2012)

If Apple could get a patent for rectangular shape and rounded edges, then this certainly would not have any problems.

1 upvote
By probert500 (Dec 21, 2012)

3 thoughts:

If you love film cameras - and why not - shoot film and scan it. Or better yet - print in a darkroom. No one's stopping you and you'll be truer to your vision.

If you have a bunch of manual lenses - use them on your dslr. I use nikkors on my canon 5d2.

Wasn't this already done - I remember a sensor attached to a film canister looking thing that you could load in where the film was.

1 upvote
By mestreamador (Dec 21, 2012)

Nikon patents revive the dream of a digital back for film SLRs?.
Excellent idea from NIKON., In reviving their old products, SRLs(Film) and try to put a digital sensor(Nikon F5,F6...).Imagine NIKON D1 - (jun/99) with CMOS sensor, 16MP, shutter - 1/16000s ! or Full-Frame sensor. It would be great for us enthusiasts NIKON.
21/12/2012 - BRASIL

By valentin_neda (Dec 21, 2012)

This is how a digital back would look on a Nikon Fm3a:

1 upvote
Miguel Osorio
By Miguel Osorio (Dec 21, 2012)


There is only one thing that would be needless, the back screen. It would make the equipment cheaper and ... a film photographer definitely would not need it.

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
By acidic (Dec 21, 2012)

Just get an Olympus OMD. Purpose buit, smaller, and less buggy I'm sure.

Miguel Osorio
By Miguel Osorio (Dec 21, 2012)

Yes, this is what I am waiting since I bought my Nikon FM2n in 1996. I have lots of manual lenses. I keep shooting film. I do not have a digital CAMERA, I have only a point & shot.

I think this is a fantastic solution. See for instance

Nikon could adapt the MF12, MF16, ... data backs. All have an electronic sync for the flash. Perhaps that would help digital sensor sync.

Sony has full frame body (RX1) smaller than the Nikon's MF## databacks. Nikon could also do something like that.

1 upvote
By Timmbits (Dec 21, 2012)

I had been thinking of filing a patent like this... I guess I'm far from the first to think about this. Would be awesome to turn a nice old manual camera into a FF digital.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
By AmaturFotografer (Dec 21, 2012)

Preventive patent. Prevent everybody else from making something useful of Nikon film cameras, without any intention to materialize it. But.. who knows, if Nikon will really make it for real.

By snegron (Dec 21, 2012)

I would buy it in a heartbeat! I would love to have a digital back on either my F or F3HP.

1 upvote
mr moonlight
By mr moonlight (Dec 20, 2012)

This would be a dream come true. One of the biggest issues I have with the current line up of DLSR's is the size. Especially the well built professional FF ones. My Olympus OM-2 fit inside my coat pocket with a 50 attached; it's very well built and has a huge viewfinder.

1 upvote
Alejandro del Pielago
By Alejandro del Pielago (Dec 20, 2012)

I stille love my F5, and despite my digital gear, I try to take pictures whit that Nikon beast sometimes...

It WOULD be nice a sensor in my F5, but frankly right now I'm considering very seriously a tiny but strong girl like the Oly or the Fuji...

1 upvote
By r_jak (Dec 20, 2012)

Good idea if the back is very less expensive than a high end DSLR. Then you can purchase a very good F6 body and use it for many many years, changing the back to update Mpix and other stuffs. Its better than buy a new D600 today, a new D6XX three years later and so on.

By alexzn (Dec 20, 2012)

10 years too late (and too little)

By JackM (Dec 20, 2012)


1 upvote
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Dec 22, 2012)


Jon Stern
By Jon Stern (Dec 20, 2012)

This would be a good contribution to the digital back had it been filed 12 years ago. Today it is irrelevant.

At Silicon Film, we investigated digital backs in addition to working on our digital film cartridge (I think I even have a patent relating to it - must check), and we worked with Leica in the early stages of the Modul-R digital back development for their R9 SLR.

Today, there are so many compelling DSLRs (from a price and performance standpoint) that this just doesn't make business sense. The window of opportunity has long closed.

By leversandgears (Dec 21, 2012)

I remember your work to that end, not to mention the prototype from 2001 that was substantially similar to what is being discussed in the above post. (See: -- Article in Japanese but the pictures are relevant.)

By Juck (Dec 21, 2012)

Sentiment rarely makes business sense. If someone makes this, it will sell. How much profit it makes is another thing entirely,,,, a company like Nikon could swallow the loss,,, a piddly little gnat of a company could not.

Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Dec 20, 2012)

Nikon 750 exposure film back vs D600 FF DSLR with 128GB SDXC card in one of the two SDXC slots for 3500 exposure RAW + JPEG 24mp.

1 upvote
By beckpalmx (Dec 20, 2012)

go to

1 upvote
Nuno Souto
By Nuno Souto (Dec 20, 2012)

Why dream? Just get a F6 - it's here now, it's the best film camera EVER made bar none, and it is not that expensive second hand through epay.
Alternatively, just forget all that Nikon crap and get a Oly OMD: it's got all the retro that you need and none of that silly mirror-up slap both Canon and Nikon insist on living with in this day and age of all digital viewfinders - a MUCH better solution!

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
By PhotoIgor (Dec 20, 2012)

I respectfully disagree! The BEST EVER will ALWAYS be either the NIKON SP or the original unmetered NIKON F w/ NIKKOR 50 /1.4 . Any photog of substance uses her or his MIND for preview, histograms and metering.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
By sanchil (Dec 20, 2012)

the best mechanical camera ever made is a nikon fm3a ... nikon sp comes a close second ... mainly because i own an fm3a and don't own an sp yet .... :D ... seriously spking though ... i had always wanted something like this. i wondered if there was a way to convert my fm3a to digital. nikon sp is a wonderful camera to own ... somehow i feel rather than release expensive and useless collector editions of nikon sp ... nikon must work to release a full frame digital and an affordable version of this beautiful rangefinder. it's simply unacceptable that leica doesn't have any competition ....

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Nuno Souto
By Nuno Souto (Dec 21, 2012)

Folks, rent a F6 and then comment!
I own a F, a FM3A, two F2AS, a FE2, two F4s, a F100 and a F6. The F6 is head and shoulders above, by a country mile! It is simply the best ever. The best metering - yeahyeahsure, you can always meter in your mind (nonsense!) - the best mechanism and shutter, reliable to a T and even writes the exif info in both a file I can download and in the margins of the frame. Use one and then comment. Until then just shut up because you got no clue what you are losing.

By Gnaeus48 (Dec 20, 2012)

A waste of time

By marcio_napoli (Dec 20, 2012)

Oh yeah, I forgot the most iconic example of them all:

Leica M8, M9, MM, and M240 are no more than film Ms, with digital backs already installed.

And even though you have to pay with your house, kidney and soul, take a look at M9's sales... Leica sells those more than they can produce.

There's a large part of the market that desires the retro style so badly, but we also have no other options than Leica's insane prices, and Fuji's pseudo "rangefinders".

1 upvote
By jeffharris (Dec 20, 2012)

Agreed, but there's more to this than "style", it's about regaining the simplicity of film cameras: Lens, Aperture, Shutter Speed and film type. That was it. In many respects, shooting film was a far more direct experience than shooting digital.

Shooting was mostly about your vision and not your Photoshop or Lightroom chops.

Now when we buy a camera, it's about learning to runa a new computer, a new operating system and all the myriad complexities that entails. Then there are the fixations on ISO performance, noise, AF speed and all those graphs that supposedly prove the "perfection" of this or that camera or lens.

I would LOVE a camera as simple to control (and the same size) as my Nikon FM2, but also gave me the immediacy of digital! Clearly, I'm not alone!

By marcio_napoli (Dec 20, 2012)

Look, you gotta have this in mind while judging this thing.

This thing is a dream, and like any dream out there, it doesn't have to make any sense at all.

Do you think a Ferrari's price is justified on performance alone? No, that's the price of a dream.

Back to photography world: Fuji was going downhill pretty fast. In fact, they did quit the DSLR business, and were already bad jokes with low-performing superzoom P&S.

Then they made a real come back in the form of a retro camera: X100. Tremendous WIN.

Then X-Pro1, and then X-E1, both tremendous WIN, and both based on the retro concept.

You see, there's a large market of people that DO want this retro style back.

Call it nostalgia, a sense of elegance or tradition, whatever.

But the important thing is Nikon would sell these backs really, really well. There're a lot of people that want these.

Maybe this would generate a low profit margin per back sale, but on the other hand, would enable to sell tons of extra lenses.

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Dec 20, 2012)

Perhaps Nikon would sell more if they just kept the old F casing, even "artfully worn down" like in a picture above. Put the modern digital innards in it, complete with contacts for new lenses, and they've got themselves an usable camera and a conversation piece.
Then again... it would still be a zombie of sorts, even worse than the redesigned VW beetle... or like replacing the wooden mechanism of a traditional cuckoo clock with an electric drive. There is no soul in that.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
By valentin_neda (Dec 20, 2012)

I certainly think it would be cool, and miniaturization makes it more viable by the day. Published a similar concept back in October on dpreview.
This is pretty much how I think it could look and function on a FM/FMa series:

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 44 seconds after posting
1 upvote
By Shamael (Dec 20, 2012)

Leica broke it's legs with such a crippled project that became reality and nobody ever wanted. Leica R with Kodak back, impossible to use and to pay for, but the later is anyway Leica's disease.

Total comments: 147