The Ambidextrous Camera: (e)Film Is Finally Here

by Nate Heasley for Digital Living Today

Are you an avid photographer who wants to make the jump to digital, but can’t bear to part with your trusted 35mm? Don’t nix the Nikon just yet. A company called Silicon Film Technologies (www.siliconfilm.com) has the ideal solution: A digital camera insert that replaces 35mm film.

While digital cameras offer several advantages over film cameras, most digitals these days do not have interchangeable lenses or the customized settings of quality analog cameras. That’s a big drawback for those who’ve already invested thousands of dollars in high-end camera equipment. These analog cameras can now enjoy some of the digital advantages with Silicon Film’s (e)film EFS-1 electronic film replacement system.

The EFS-1 (approx. $699) consists of three components: (e)film, (e)port and (e)box. (E)film looks like a partially threaded roll of standard film. The “roll” part houses the memory and battery, while the “unrolled” part has a Complimentary-Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) sensor that acts as the film. The CMOS sensor can capture images at a resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels (a.k.a. 1x megapixel). While this is not the highest resolution for digital cameras these days (the better cameras now offer 3x megapixels), the analog-to-digital flexibility of (e)film makes it a unique solution over other digital cameras.

The (e)film unit holds about 24 high-resolution images in its memory, which is what you get on a small roll of regular film. Because the (e)film is not an actual roll of film, it can be removed at any time, to transfer pictures or switch to analog film. Once the pictures are stored on the (e)film unit, they can be transferred to a computer via the (e)port adapter. The (e)port plugs directly into a Type-2 PC-card slot or it can be plugged into a USB port.

The third component of the system, the (e)box, acts as an archive for your shots until you get back to your computer. The (e)box allows you to take several dozen pictures, transfer them to the (e)box, then continue shooting on the (e)film.

The biggest disadvantage of (e)film over other digital camera technology is the lack of an LCD viewer. Many digital camera users like the point and shoot simplicity and the ability to view and delete pictures in the field. But for those who have a serious investment in analog cameras, adding a digital option is worth dealing with any shortcomings of this ingenious new technology.

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