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Upgradeable digital camera

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A friend of mine has a Leica M8 digital camera. This is a lovely thing, but also a little pricey (about £3200 for the camera body, then £1500-£5000 for lenses). I worry though that it will rapidly become obsolete because of the rapid rate of change in digital cameras - e.g. most 10-year-old digital cameras are fairly poor by today's standards. For a Leica, this matters: A 20-year-old Leica M6 (film) camera is still a great camera and has held its value well. A Leica M8 of a similar age may be of interest to Leica collectors, but I can't see anyone wanting to use it as a real camera in say, 2025.

So, to resolve this, I would like to see digital cameras with an upgradeable module containing the sensor chip and image processor (the bits which are changing most rapidly at the moment), so you can keep your expensive camera up-to-date with current technology without you having to buy a whole new camera.

Of course this will never happen as a mass-market thing as it's not in the interests of camera manufacturers, but for a maker of expensive cameras, such as Leica, knowing that you'll be able to future-proof your purchase a bit might tempt more people to buy one.
hippo, Jun 29 2009

(?) Sinar Hy6 http://www.sinarbro...nar/digital/Hy6.php
[Ian Tindale, Jun 29 2009]

(or Rollei Hy6) http://luminous-lan...php?showtopic=13135
[Ian Tindale, Jun 29 2009]

Leica S2 http://www.dpreview...092301_leica_s2.asp
if the above is too big, try this - its also expensive, and unupgradeable (another prime example of this ideas target problem) [Ian Tindale, Jun 29 2009]

Digital film http://www.imaging-...EWS/1000760900.html
It was Irvine, not McGregor. [coprocephalous, Jun 29 2009]

[link]






       Going a mote further, assuming that one day (if it's not possible already) it will be possible to create a sensor the same size and shape as the area on-film that would have been exposed in a film camera - I'd like to see a slew of conversions to existing 35mm film cameras that would convert them to digital - yes digital backs exist, and have existed for a while - but not yet in kit form. There's two spool areas for electronics and memory cards - someone could clean up if they made proper conversion kits like that - the additional bonus being that one kit should be affixable to any 35mm camera.
zen_tom, Jun 29 2009
  

       //the additional bonus being that one kit should be affixable to any 35mm camera.//
But without the benefit of the instant review LCD. McGregor I think tried this, but failed to get it to market. [EDIT] No, it was Irvine [linky]
coprocephalous, Jun 29 2009
  

       In the medium format world there's a lot of interchangeability of backs, particularly the Phase One range. Then there's the new modular Hy6.
Ian Tindale, Jun 29 2009
  

       There was a company which tried to develop a digital module for 35mm film cameras - i.e. a module the size of a 35mm film cannister and a bit of unspooled film which could record digital images. They ran into all sorts of pain with having to produce a very slightly different product for every model of camera and then went bust. I think they were called "Digital Film" or something.
hippo, Jun 29 2009
  

       And it was vapourware for pretty much a decade before committing to not appearing.   

       To be honest, lack of LCD is really not an issue except for the chimping amateur, and those all have been compelled to upgrade every 18 months to the latest and most feature-laden (Can/Nik)on anyway. I'd be perfectly happy with an alternate back for my F4 that stuck out a bit and had no image display. But that bridge has sailed. There's really no market, and if anything, there's a tiny tip of what might be felt as a swing back to film right now and in the immediate future, so people would probably want the opposite - a way to cram a 135 canister into their 12- megapixel full-frame ridiculously expensive yet short-lived semipro item.
Ian Tindale, Jun 29 2009
  

       [hippo] I think that's the system I mentioned.

//lack of LCD is really not an issue except for the chimping amateur//
And all those pros I see checking their shots every few takes.
coprocephalous, Jun 29 2009
  

       Quite - I agree that retrofiting digital gubbins to film cameras is a dead end, hence the idea, which is sort of suggesting allowing the same level of upgradeability for a digital camera as you used to be able to get with a film camera by 'upgrading' to a new kind of film.
hippo, Jun 29 2009
  

       Upgrading the image processing and compression codec algorithms on an existing camera via firmware updates is possible however...
prufrax, Jun 29 2009
  

       as is making an industry-wide standard for a snap-in module containing the computery parts. Now tell me that's gonna happen :/
FlyingToaster, Jun 29 2009
  

       Ooh, no, it'd never be industry-wide - you'd only hope for interoperability of modules within a single manufacturer's product line.
hippo, Jun 29 2009
  

       This would actually be easier to do with the Instamatic cameras, replacing the 110 and 126 cartridges with digital modules, but there were few premium cameras marketed in those formats.
whlanteigne, Apr 08 2013
  

       What this idea seems to miss is that the a very significant portion of the cost of a digital camera back is the chip. If the back costs ~3500, probably at least 1500-2000 is the chip. Much of the rest is the circuitry and mounting hardware that would have to change assuming the chip had any significant physical differences. Given, ideally, the need for a clean room and some degree of placement accuracy, there won't be much savings in swapping the chip relative to just buying a new back.
MechE, Apr 08 2013
  
      
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