CI Photocommunity

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

WE WANT Digital Back for the Nikon F5

I

innocent

Dear Forum members,
Isn't it about time Nikon offered her faithful followers a digi back for the F5 than tp tactically compel us to change flash guns, lenses, and camera bodies every other year with no significant improvement in image quality and handling resulting thereof. If Nikon actually had good intentions for us customers then why D2H when a digiback for the F100, F5 with 11mp would have done the job and served the needs of both film and digi enthusiats. I hope a Nikon rep reads this!
 
W

walter_rowe

Don't expect any digital back for the F5. It is not so simply to just put a digital back on a film camera. Just as the F5 was designed from the ground up to be what it is, digital cameras have to be done the same way. The engineering of the internals and the placement of components within the body have to be completely overhauled when going from a film technology body to a digital technology body.
 
T

tom0394

I've never been too concerned with the technicalities of camera manufacturing--I've used F3HP's for 20 years-but cameras with interchangeable digital and film backs are available. I have a Rollei 6008AF MF camera with both film and digital backs and digital backs are available for most newer MF cameras. Sooner or later, some 35MM manufacturer will make a camera with switchable media backs.
 

wd8cdh

Active Member
Hi,

It's not only possable but rather practical to do this. Kodak did it for their first few DSLRs on the 8008 and the N90 (of which I have several and still use them).

It would add about 1.5" to the height of the camera and slightly more thickness than a data back but is definatly possable with up to about a 1.3x or even possably a 1.2x imager with current technology. The user interface would be somewhat more difficult than a "from the ground up" DSLR but still quite usable. Most of the interface could be thru the databack contacts.

Ron Schroeder Brookhaven National Lab Building 911A Upton NY 11973 631 344-4561
 

f8lee

Active Member
Sorry, it just ain't gonna happen. Not that I wouldn't like to see it, too - but the technical hurdles are just too great.

For instance - the back would require the CPU and storage circuitry, so it could not be as slim as the relatively simple pressure plate that you have for film - even if clever use were made of the unused cavities in the film body.

More critical, though, is that the imaging chip itself (CCD, CMOS, whatever) is a delicate beast - and you probably wouldn't want to scratch it or the anti-aliasing filter on top of it. And that doesnt' consider the liklihood of dust gathering on the surface of the ship - already a problem in DSLRs when the lens is removed - here you'd be dealing with, essentially, a naked chip.

So give it up - Contax claims they'll have something but that's a year out, at best. In the medium format world (where, by the way, the CCDs are often 24x36mm in size), the camera bodies are already designed with the notion of interchangeable backs - so a dark slide is incorporated in the design. How would you put a similar dark slide mechanism on something that needs to fit on the back of an F5 or F100?

BobF
 
I

innocent

> Hi Bob' thanks for your contribution which sounds compelling but not convincing. I use MF-28 for my F5, therefore a provision for an interchangeable back already exist in both F5 and F100. As far as the technology goes, I wonder if Nikon or anyone else can sustain the argument of impracticability of a digiback for the F100 and F5 Nikon series. For an instance no additional CPU is required nor any ground breaking science needed to put a digiback on an F5 or F100. I will address this technical question in more detail when a response is received from Nikon.

Regards Inno' Okorji
 

gjames52

Well-Known Member
Innocent:

I think Nikon should listen to you.

As I am sure you know, Kodak and Leica are working on a digital back for Leica now.

Perhaps Kodak could apply the technology learned in there venture with Leica to other cameras that have the potential (existing electrical contacts) for digital backs. I also wish they would make one for OM SLR's too.

I do believe that is more of a marketing issue than a technical one.

I also like your style.

Regards

Gilbert
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
Gilbert

I agree that it is probably a marketing issue. It would be much easier and cheaper to design a whole package like the Kodak 14n or the upcoming D2X than to make the back as an add-on.

Consider too, that the Kodak is built on a fairly low cost platform, making about 93% of the cost, the digital electronics and software - based upon retail prices. Its reviews have been somewhat less than glowing.

Retrofitting the digital electronics to an existing camera to the level of integration of a purpose-built digital, could well push the cost of the back way beyond the Canon 1Ds unless grave compromises were made. I would expect buyers to be reluctant to put out that kind of cash for a functional - but jury-rigged - compromise. An owner of a $2,000 camera body is unlikely to settle for generic 6MP consumer-level quality.

The market for Nikons and Leicas are very different. The F5 is the province of pros and high-end enthusiasts. On the other hand, a large portion of Leica buyers never take a picture. This is more true certainly of collectors of the rangefinder models than the SLRs.

Furthermore, Leica may well have thought ahead and built the integrating contacts into the recent camera bodies, to make the integration more seamless. Even so, those who shoot or collect Leica seem a lot less concerned with cost/benefit ratio.

So the question becomes, "How many F5 owners would pop for a $10,000US conversion, rather than going with the D2X, Kodak or next Fujifilm?"

Of course the number of projected sales would have a huge impact on the initial price of the part, perhaps as much as a +/-$2,000US spread for this level of camera.

It might be possible for Nikon to make factory conversions of F5s to digital, and in so doing make a fully integrated design. Trying to build an acceptable interchangeable back for a platform of this type without making fatal compromises, could push the cost into the stratosphere.

Certainly it could be done as a retrofit, but would the cost outweigh the benefits?

larry!
 

f8lee

Active Member
> Hi Bob' thanks for your contribution which sounds compelling but not convincing. I use MF-28 for my F5, therefore a provision for an interchangeable back already exist in both F5 and F100. As far as the technology goes, I wonder if Nikon or anyone else can sustain the argument of impracticability of a digiback for the F100 and F5 Nikon series. For an instance no additional CPU is required nor any ground breaking science needed to put a digiback on an F5 or F100. I will address this technical question in more detail when a response is received from Nikon.

Innocent, let me convince you, then.

The interchangeable back on your F5 (and my F100 and F2), for that matter forms a light-tight seal when you attach it. However, an *interchangeable* back, as on a medium format camera, has a removable slide just in front of the film. So, when you load that Hassy back with 220 film, the metal slide prevents light from hitting it. After you attach the back to the body, you remove the slide and the film is exposed to the light coming through the lens.

Now, look at your F5 and show me where you would place a similar slide, without doing a bunch of machining to cut a slot in the base of the F5 just in front of the film plane. To reiterate, the need for a similar slide on a CCD might not be for light exposure, but rather to prevent exposure to the elements when this illusory back is removed from the camera body.

As for your assessment that the body already has a CPU - you are right, there's a CPU in there. It's the wrong one for a digital camera, however. The CPU in the F5 controls the auto-focus and exposure mechanisms, and can be programmed with the various custom functions. It does not have capacity or programming to deal with an imaging chip. That's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

So, let's see...first you need to cut a slot in the F5 body, then remove the electronic guts or else put the additional electronics in the base portion of the back. SOunds like a lotta work, eh?

BobF
 

grnskl

New Member
> There already is a Panasonic digital back for the Leica M3. Saw it on Fred Miranda. Be out in the spring. All manual.
 
I

innocent

Hi Bob, No, you certainly don't need to cut a slot in the F5 to effect a digiback. Additional electronics yes, and that's what I refer to as a digiback anyway. The CPU in the Nikon F5 cannot be wrong for a digiback all that is required is a new firmware version that would enable a seamless integration of the existing circuitry with the enabled CCD back pronto. No great science eh!

Now, Larry in his message agrees that the whole question is a marketing issue, I aver to his agreement. Indeed the development of a digiback for the F5 and F100 is purely for the economic gain of Nikon and Nikon only. Of course a digiback will terminate the coolscan market, dx lenses will be kissed goodbye, oh, the new flash gun with an 800, I've actually lost count on how many manipulations of the market The Nikon has made in total.

Larry also mentioned that the cost of a digiback could be beyond the price of the Canon 1DS and that "an owner of a $2000 camera body is unlikely to settle for generic 6MP consumer-level quality". Bravo, it seems Nikon has spoken but not convincingly. First, there seems to be no iota of justification in terms of production and marketing costs for the currently marked-up, predetermined, preset prices that are tagged on ALL THE NIKON CAMERAS or indeed any other. Except Nikon will prove otherwise by publishing their accounts in more detail form. Secondly, Nikon already has an advance technology for their CCD sensors and may well apply the CMOS technology if they are not already considering it, therefore the question about a compromise in quality is non existent (Fair comment).

Leica and Kodak as the forum is aware are working on a digiback for their products and the only difference in the "market for Nikon and Leicas" is that while Leica upholds its customers welfare the Nikon seems to grab and grab and grab whatever its customers can be stretched to cough out. It is not for me to say that many pros use Leica anyway and perhaps some of us will be considering a shift but not without a fight !!!

Finally, as far as the end user goes, the cost of a digiback on an F5 does not outweigh its benefit. Nikon should reconsider their extortionate bargain approach for their products. Before I kick Nikon hard I've sent an e-mail to their customer relations regarding the issue discussed herein, and who knows I might be wrong, and in that case my apologies.

For WE WANT A DIGIBACK FOR THE F5 AND WE WANT IT NOW!

Inno' G Okorji
 
J

jhricardo

> Hi Tony,

I'm curious about this back from panasonic. I look it on Fred Miranda =20=

and couldn't find anithing. I wonder if you could send us the link for the related article.

Thank You!
 

f8lee

Active Member
> There already is a Panasonic digital back for the Leica M3. Saw it on Fred Miranda. Be out in the spring. All manual.

Perhaps, but if this is even true, does not the M3 have a removable back/bottom section, rather than just a hinged back? In other words, when one reloads an M3, one removes a section of the back and bottom of the camera, puts it on the table, swaps film, and puts it back. So, mechanically speaking, one could design a replacement back incorporating a CCD where the pressure plate normally sits. When the back is not being used, the CCD could have a protective cover.

The cover isn't an engineering necessity, but the first person who screws up their CCD will howl "lawsuit!" when they find the replacement cost would make it cheaper to buy a new unit.

Anyone here remember the phantom company that was planning to introduce a digital unit that would replace the film in any camera? I think it was called e-film or something - they were claiming a few years ago that they were going to have a device that could be inserted where the film goes in any 35mm camera - it was going to look something like an old 126 film cassette but with a CCD on the film plane and the electronics stuffed into the film spool and take-up wells. After about a year, they disappeared.

BobF
 

f8lee

Active Member
Hi Bob, No, you certainly don't need to cut a slot in the F5 to effect a digiback. Additional electronics yes, and that's what I refer to as a digiback anyway. The CPU in the Nikon F5 cannot be wrong for a digiback all that is required is a new firmware version that would enable a seamless integration of the existing circuitry with the enabled CCD back pronto. No great science eh!

Now, Larry in his message agrees that the whole question is a marketing issue, I aver to his agreement. Indeed the development of a digiback for the F5 and F100 is purely for the economic gain of Nikon and Nikon only. Of course a digiback will terminate the coolscan market, dx lenses will be kissed goodbye, oh, the new flash gun with an 800, I've actually lost count on how many manipulations of the market The Nikon has made in total.

Okay, let's see. You're probably right about the F5's existing CPU being acceptable for use as far as the mechanical stuff goes (auto focus, etc) but you still need to add another CPU to handle the operations of the CCD itself. Oh, and memory - where do you propose the smartcard would go - or would you say a cable attachment to a belt-clipped digital image tank is the way to go? The point is, there are a bunch of things that would have to be stuffed in this miraculous digi-back, and they would take real space...in effect, think of the old Polaroid film holders that Nikon had for the old F's - huge clunky things that were as large as the main camera body to contain the mirrors and polaroid film. Well, with a digiback, it wouldn't have to be as big - but how excited are you over the notion of adding another inch or two (or more) to the height of your slim and svelte F5? Or would you add those cubic inches to the back of the camera, preventing your eye from getting near the viewfinder?

I giggle at the Leica reference someone made before - I also recall the SLR adaptor they made for their rangefinder cameras a couple of decades ago. A really clever engineering kluge, it was - mounted between the lens and the camera body with a viewfinder tube that allowed the user to see the reflected image. How often did you see those puppies used? But obviously the intent was to give the owners of the hugely expensive Leitz lenses the ability to use them on an "SLR", even if that device was manual stop down and even required manual mirror flip.

As for Nikon only considering its own "economic gain" - yeah, that's what that darn capitalistic philosophy will do to a company - make it feel the need to not produce money-losing items. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Not to rain on your parade of silliness - have you any idea of how many pros have sold or shelved their F5's and have gone to digital? So the F5 market is ever-shrinking - and that, of course, is naturally the kind of market any company wants to produce new products for. What with engineering and tooling costs being nothing, it's obviously an issue of management shortsightedness at Nippon Kogaku that they haven't realized the potential tin mine of opportunity in creating digital backs for the F5.

Really, kids - for all this whining, have you noticed that when the D2H comes out there's not an option to have new back for the D1's? And for gosh sake - they are cut from far more similar cloth than the Dx and the F series. Or go cry to Kodak - after all, it's really in their interest to keep the film industry going - why not ask them to make a film back for their 14n? Oh, yeah, 'cause you can't remove the back of the 14n...can you guess why? But then again, why take heed of the realities as seen by the pro market and another captain of the photographic industry?

Well, everyone is entitled to their hopes and dreams, and I certainly don't want to be accused of crushing them, Innocent - no matter how completely unfeasible they are. I'm just trying to apply some simple logic to the issue. Remember, there's engineering and there's Product Management - the former asks "can it be done?" while the latter asks "should it be done?" Any product manager at Nikon (or Kodak) knows the answer to that question.

BobF
 

f8lee

Active Member
> Helen, apparently you are not following the instructions in these > e-mails (admittedly pretty stupid instructions, but what are ya gonna > do?).

Note that you are supposed to hit your reply button, THEN scroll down to the lower half of the message where you'll see the markings -V-V etc. You must type your remarks in between the two lines of V's.

Otherwise, when you send it all that comes through is "type your text here!"
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
A point of curiosity. How many who read this forum would actually buy such a device, and what would be the uppoer limit of what you would be willing to pay for it - say in $US (in order to make it easier to convert to our local currency)?

To lead off, I would not. I want a camera to be totally integrated - not digital as an after thought.

larry!
 

lnbolch

Well-Known Member
There is a term in the computer world - "vaporware". It is something that a company announces while it is still non-existent.The LEICA DIGITAL-MODUL-R is vaporware.

At PMA, Photokina, etc. many companies show "prototypes" in sealed glass display cases where no one can handle them. Often, they are solid pieces of industrial modeling with no mechanicals at all.

Why do companies do this? For the same reasons that car companies build concept cars that they show at car shows.

It provides a way to see if potential customers would actually be interested in the product. It gives them a chance to get reactions on what details impress a customer and what puts a customer off.

If the response to the announcement of the Leica back is positive, it will probably sell a substantial number of R8 and R9 Leicas - even if the back remains vaporware, freezing out competitors.

The press release says it will be "shown" at Photokina 2004 - not released. As we saw with the Contax Digital SLR, years went by between the time it was announced and the supposed shipping date. To tell the truth, I have never seen any evidence that it was actually on store shelves.

However during those years Contax owners continued to buy nice Zeiss glass and patiently wait.

So far, no one has successfully brought a digital back for 35mm to market even though it seems like it would be a most obvious winner. No other camera manufacturer has indicated any interest in a similar project.

One independed company tried, changed ownership a couple of times and finally went under, realizing that they had a terrible product that would have to sell for more than a top line pro-sumer camera. It had a low resolution sensor with a horrendous multiplication factor.

Bottom line - don't hold your breath waiting for such a device. An announcment does not equal a product on the shelves.

larry!
 

nele

Member
> Thanks, Bob, I'm new to this. Here's my 2cents for improvements in Nikon's digital SLR bodies that's probably much simpler than a digital back for non-digital bodies:

Why doesn't Nikon put a DUST-blocking dark slide for changing lenses (at the front of the camera, like the Mamiya 7II) on DSLRs??? It would keep the dust out while changing lenses and save the hassle of getting them cleaned, hours of retouching dust marks, and resolve the to-change-or-not-to-change dilema in less than optimum situations (such as during desert wars, for ex&le -- where Nikons are, after all, very popular and very far from maintenance shops). Wouldn't it be marvellous? Nikon should definitely consider it!
 
Top