Melting into air

Whatever happened to silicon film? The dream is that someone designs and manufactures a device that can be slotted into the back of a traditional 35mm film camera in order to use the optics and body to take digital photographs. This is a question that is asked every few years, kick-started by a notorious vaporware company called Silicon Film at the turn of the century. Despite many optimistic press releases for a ’24 shot, 1280 x 1024 insertable digital film cartridge solution for traditional 35mm cameras’, Silicon Film is now ‘best known for never really existing‘. Initial samples were dubious and the ‘working’ EFS-1 device was effectively outclassed by developments in conventional digital cameras.

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The dream of silicon film clung on for several years, cropping up on forums in 2004, for example. By 2010 it was deemed old enough for a nostalgic look back. Products like the unwieldy Leica Digital Modul R, which added digital capacity to the R9 foundered, although you can still buy (hugely expensive) digital backs for large format cameras. But the 35mm dream appeared to die. In April 2011, the idea surfaced yet again as the RE-35 cartridge. Sadly, as the slick RE-35 website notes prominently: ‘Re-35 does not really exist. We (the [German] design company Rogge & Pott) created Re-35 as an exercise in identity-design. We invented the “product” because it was something, that we had wished for for a long time (as many others).’ The header image comes from the Film Ads and Info – Vintage and Modern flickr pool.

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