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Would you use your smartphone as a digital back?

Could a smartphone serve as digital back for your medium format camera?

Badass Cameras will launch a Kickstarter campaign to gather support for a new adapter that attaches a smartphone to a medium format camera and acts as a digital back. Before you go off on the idea of using a smartphone as a digital back for medium format film cameras, consider this scenario: 

You want to shoot medium format but can't afford a digital medium format camera or a digital back, so you pick up a used medium format film camera (KEH has some for a little more than $1,000). Sure, you can use Fuji instant film with a Polaroid back, but that can get expensive, too, so a smartphone is a quick, convenient method of getting a quick look at exposure, etc.

A lot of photographers shoot tethered and push images automatically to clients' smart devices, so your client may be accustomed to seeing images as they're shot. The idea here is that the smartphone will simply capture what is seen in the viewfinder, so there are many potential issues. But, while this type of smartphone capture is not the same as a Polaroid/Fuji instant print — and certainly nothing like tethering — it's a low-end solution that may be helpful to you or your clients.

We are, however, skeptical about a few things, including image quality (of course), the cost of the adapter and whether or not it will even get off the ground. The company's Kickstarter has been postponed and there's no website for Badass Cameras, so keep an eye on its Facebook page for updates.

Via The Phoblographer

A concept view of how a smartphone could function as a digital back.


Total comments: 17

Very interesting idea, I have looked at the sample images, they are too grainy, soft, and too vignetted for me. Different strokes for different folks.

I guess my thinking is why would I want to use or buy a very expensive Hasselblad Lens, they are not cheap, and downgrade the image quality with a pretty heavy grain look. It seems it defeats the purpose and the original intent of the lens design.

Now if you could have a device that would be a digital back that produced say, 24 MPs or higher with very little grain and vignette, then I think you would really open up a new market, then one could apply the grain effect in post. If your Hasselnut is pretty inexpensive. then maybe existing Hasselblad camera and lens owners might like it for the grain effect.


i've tried a similar thing. building an iphone back for large format camera (sinar). no fun at all. got a picture, but the main problem is that only the center is bright. the outer areas of the ground glass have a severe light falloff. the viewfinder has a fresnell lens. any device of this kind will need an ornate lens system to compensate this.


Why waste time with this kind of crap, really. Now is to put smartphones at the level of medium format, I think the world of mobile photography walks very frustrated in these times.


more useless crap nobody wants


1. You can get a useable medium format film setup for much less than $1,000.

2. This gadget is a waste, unless you can set the exposure on the phone manually (and you can't) it will not show you what the MF camera is going to capture.

3. I saw an iPhone with a Canon 55-200 cobbled onto the body for a lens last weekend.


I don't even understand how it is supposed to work.
At the film plane the image is projected on a 56x56mm area.
The phone sensor is a small area in the middle of it.
I don't immediately understand how it is supposed to grab the total image?

1 upvote

It says in the article :
" The idea here is that the smartphone will simply capture what is seen in the viewfinder,..."
Therefore I said before in my other comment, that this is not a digital back, it's just a digital viewfinder...


Thanks babalu.
So the "viewfinder back" will likely have a ground glass on which the image would be appear (this would be on the place of the normal film plane), and a bit further a smartphone will capture that image. I can see it now.
It might be an ok solution to, like with a polaroid back, quickly check exposure before taking the final picture on a film back. Not on a digital back because then you'd not need the phone back anyway.
It may need a phone app that allows a kind of calibrated use without automatic compensation. I am not sure how possible that is with for example an iphone .

1 upvote

Yes, looks like that is the general idea here.


Not really that cool. For me what would be cool is a FF dSLR with no rear display (meaning all important exposure controls would be implemented in hardware; Fuji are very close with their xSeries), which would make the camera much smaller and less bulky. I would gladly then use my mobile phone display to chimp / review (Samsung and others are half way there already) when necessary.

1 upvote

let me get this straight: are you shooting, like, in "bulb mode" and let the dumbphone manage the exposure?


This is a terrible idea.


This wouldn't be a digital back, it would be a digital viewfinder
with recording ability.



I will use my phone for calls and texts that's it.

1 upvote

Given the dumbness of the idea (and the precision of the writer in spotting a non-existent news), it will surely get funded on Kickstarter.


Or I could just buy a medium camera.



Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
Total comments: 17
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