How to Convert an Analog Camera to a Digital Camera

If you have an old film camera lying in your house, you may wonder how to convert an analog camera to a digital camera. Can a film camera become one of the best digital cameras around? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • An old analog or film camera can be converted to a digital camera with some patience, some money, and some tools.
  • Some companies, such as Italian electronics manufacturer I’m Back, make DIY conversion kits for this purpose.
  • Another option is to build it out yourself using a Raspberry Pi controller and an old analog film camera.

Why Convert an Analog Camera to a Digital Camera?

One would seek to convert an analog camera to a digital camera so they could access some of the nicer features of digicams. For example, there is no reason to wonder how to connect a digital camera to a phone or even how to delete pictures from a digital camera, as both of these processes are easy to do on a digicam. On an analog camera? Not so much.

Insider Tip

You may want to transfer photos to your phone so you can easily send them to friends and family, or share them on social media.

How to Convert an Analog Camera to a Digital Camera

This is actually possible to do in a number of ways, though they are all relatively expensive and labor-intensive. Here are some of your options.

DIY Conversion Kits

There are a couple of DIY conversion kits on the market that will convert nearly any SLR camera into a digital SLR camera. One such kit is made by an Italian company called I’m Back. These kits typically include a camera module, an image sensor, a brand new back, an optical viewfinder, and some other related components. Even though these are sold as kits, the installation will still require several hours and a suite of tools. We recommend reading some tutorials and watching some tutorial videos on YouTube before attempting this project.

Raspberry Pi Kits

If you really want to go the DIY route, you can eschew a full kit and go with a Raspberry Pi controller and build it out yourself. You will need some basic knowledge of how Raspberry Pi works, so be sure to buy a book or read some well-regarded tutorials. For this, we recommend going with an old camera with little to no electronics, so there is nothing for the controller to interfere with. Look for a simple manual camera with just a lens and aperture control.

Insider Tip

The fastest way to transfer photographic stills or HD video from your camera to your mobile device is to connect the two devices via a physical cable.

F.A.Q.

How are old movies converted to digital?

Generally speaking, this is done by connecting whatever medium plays the old movies to a computer using a digital converter. Then, use a film capturing software suite to capture a digital signal.


What can you do with old digital cameras?

As long as they still work, use them as backup cameras. If they do not work, donate them as you would mobile devices or sell them for parts, or use them as interesting items throughout your home.


How do you connect analog cameras?

It is unlikely there will be an obvious connection point, though a newer analog camera could feature a port of some kind. In other words, you may have to do some soldiering. Be sure not to damage the filter array, any custom film cartridge, or the film canister.



STAT: The first lasting photograph was made in 1826, captured on a pewter covered with bitumen. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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