I’m Back – A Hybrid Holga?

This is an Opinion Piece!

And we are a Film Photography site. While I will be promoting ‘I’m Back’ and their Kickstarter program, what I say is my personal view. If yours differs,…that’s fine. Second, as part of full disclosure, I’ll tell you I am mostly a film shooter. I have employed digital,… a Nikon D800 and D2Hs for kids and club pics that will be uploaded to Facebook. However, most of my work is done on film. (but I will rent the latest and greatest dig cam if the compensation warrants) So, I’m not a total luddite, and I have nothing “against” digital. In fact, there are purely digital photographers featured on this site. (Frederike Helwig) I just prefer film. And I love my analog cameras and processes and all the magic that goes along with them. (Nikon F4s, Contax G1, Rollei 6006) So there, I said it.


film photography
Nikon F with ‘I’m Back’


Recently we have the new Chinese Yashica coming out with a digital camera, the Y35, with “pretend film”. With a Kickstarter design. Why does a Chinese company need to do Kickstarter? They already have all our money. But, whatever. Kinda looks like a GSN 35 Electro. If you squint. The Y35 features a 1/3.2-inch CMOS sensor that shoots 14-megapixel. Like my iPhone. OK. I think I’ll pass.


film photography
Yashica Y35


A Different Approach

You know, I get the impression that people who don’t shoot film think that people who do are somehow married to their cameras. Well, I’m here to say, “We’re not”. We’re married to film. Not the box that holds it. If not married, at least a steamy, hot affair. So, while I admire all these engineers attacking a problem where none exists, I truly believe that they can’t see the forest for the trees. I learned about ‘I’m Back’ from the ‘Traditional Film Photography’ Facebook group. And then ‘I’m Back’ owner/engineer/CEO,…or whatever,…commented on @AnatomyFilms Instagram. So I thought I’d check it out, and pass along my thoughts.


Film Photography
Viewfinder Access?


With it attached to your camera, you can get UHD quality video, 2,880 x 2,160 px at 24fps. Cool. However, not all analog cameras are compatible with ‘I’m Back’. The compatible cameras are the Nikon F series, Minolta Maxxum 7000, Olympus OM10, Pentax cameras, and oddly, a Praktica B200. What about Canon? For your camera to work, it must have a tripod mount, bulb setting, sync flash compatibility and the ability to function with the back open. Okey dokey.


I'm Back
Early ‘I’m Back’


From Legos to Fine Italian Design

This isn’t the first iteration. A lot of work went into this. The original version kind of looked like a Legos set. Plasticy, and bright colors. How well did it work? No clue. But I guess well enough to go to phase 2. And phase 2 does look a lot nicer. Very professional. The working prototype uses an 8MP sensor, but if the product’s Kickstarter campaign meets its funding goal, a 16MP sensor will come as standard. That said, I wouldn’t expect Portra like images. In fact, think Lomography/Holga/Diana. I know I’m being lean on details,…but so is everyone else. We know it is JPEG only, but details on the sensor’s size are not included. The Panasonic sensor branding could suggest a Micro Four Thirds. But that’s a guess. Also, they suggest shooting using apertures of f/3.5 or smaller to prevent vignetting.


Kodak DCS 420
1.5MP Kodak DCS 420


Film Photography Vs. Digital?

Are we really still having that discussion? On with ‘I’m Back’. From looking at the design, (I’ve never held one), one thing struck me immediately. Do I really have to squish my cheekbone on a solid surface to get my eye up to the viewfinder? Or does everyone else have spring loaded eyeballs like Wiley Coyote, and the good Lord just forgot mine during assembly? Maybe I can’t see it right, and it’s not an issue. When new stuff is introduced to the market, I’m kind of reminded of a Kodak rep trying to sell me on the Kodak DCS 420, (or was it 410), back in the late nineties. The thing was the size of an 8×10 camera, had 1.5MP, and was $20K+!!! Holy crap!


© ‘I’m Back’


The Kickstarter Train

The weird thing is I don’t think film photography users are actually looking for a solution. Otherwise we wouldn’t be analog shooters. However, what do I know. Every couple of years someone releases the “solution to this problem.” So,  if you’re interested, head over to their Kickstarter page and hop on the digi-train. All aboard! But remember,…even if they meet their goal,…and I hope they do,…it won’t be deliverable until May 2018. At $207 or so, I’m sure there are cutting edge people out there who are in love already. Me? Well, digital is digital and film is film. And never the twain shall meet. At least in my teeny mind.

Addendum: They have not met their Kickstarter goal.







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