Yashica teams up with I’m Back to resurrect its “digital film” dreams

Tips & Techniques

I'm Back teams up with Yashica

In an unexpected – but not illogical – announcement, Yashica and I’m Back have announced they’re entering a new partnership. Exactly what this partnership will offer has not yet really been revealed, but we can make some educated guesses.

Yashica is a pretty legendary name in the world of photography with a long history, especially when it comes to film. I’m Back, on the other hand, is a relatively new company creating digital backs for older 35mm film cameras.

Yashica & I’m Back join forces

It seems like a match made in heaven. The promise of easy and reversible digital conversion for film cameras has been around ever since DLSRs started to usurp 35mm SLRs. Several companies have announced products that never came to fruition, and the whole thing felt a bit like vaporware.

I'm Back Film digital conversion for 35mm film cameras
I’m Back Film digital conversion for 35mm film cameras

I’m Back, however, seems to have succeeded where those other companies failed. They’ve released several products over the last few years and are currently running a Kickstarter campaign for what was originally promised all those years ago: a drop-in 35mm film canister replacement with a digital sensor attached.

The I’m Back Film has already raised over $450,000 with 26 days still to go. If it lives up to expectations, it’ll make a lot of people very happy. It comes with some caveats, such as a 2x crop – which can be somewhat mitigated on some lenses with a screw-on adapter at a reduced image quality – but it’s still at least as useful as Micro Four Thirds cameras, which also have a 2x crop.

I'm Back Film digital conversion for 35mm film cameras

Yashica has also dabbled with bringing the old film SLR legacy to the digital world, announcing the Yashica Y35 in 2017. This was essentially a digital camera inspired by the company’s own Electro 35 released in 1996. The Y35 has an almost identical exterior and raised $1.28 million on Kickstarter. Its internals, though, massively failed to live up to expectations.

What can we expect?

The companies made a joint Instagram post announcing the partnership, but they’ve remained fairly quiet on the specifics of the products they will release, only hinting at general product types. In an interview with PetaPixel, I’m Back co-founder Filippo Nishino said that the two companies will be co-designing a new product.

They also said that there would be “several” other co-branded products coming in the future, including “lomo” type products, lifestyle products, some high-tech gadgets and, of course, photography products “such as cameras and films”.

I’m Back plans to tap into Yashica’s distribution network to “reach a wider and more diverse audience”, which is certainly going to help the company get its products into more hands. What’s Yashica going to get out of it?

The Yashica Y35 failed to live up to expectations
The Yashica Y35 failed to live up to expectations

I expect they’ll get access to I’m Back’s digital capture technology. This might finally allow Yashica to succeed where they’ve previously failed with the Yashica Y35. That being said, whether we’ll see a Yashica 35mm film camera with an I’m Back removable digital sensor or a co-branded dedicated digital camera is unknown.

What does Yashica have to say?

Yashica Chairman, Kent Lui, said “We are pleased to collaborate with I’m Back and bring not only our classic Yashica cameras, but all analogs into the digital era”, which suggests that Yashica may simply be co-branding and distributing I’m Back’s products.

But it would be nice to see Yashica – which isn’t the Yashica it once was – bringing back some of its classic film cameras. It would also be nice to finally see them release a new version of the Y35 worthy of the Yashica name.

There’s no word yet on when we can expect any co-branded product announcements, but I’m Back is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for I’m Back Film, where it’s already raised over $420,000 with 26 days left to go.

[via PetaPixel]

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