Convert a Leica M3 to Digital with Sony A7 Sensor! Kickstarter

Convert a Leica M3 to Digital with Sony A7 Sensor! Kickstarter


How cool would it be if you could take a Leica M3 and plop in a Sony A7 full frame sensor, and use that M3 as a full digital camera with the possibility to swap sensors in the future? I remember talking about this 8-9 years ago with a few people and today, it could be a reality if this kickstarter takes off! Well, for the guy making it anyway.

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There is not much for ME to say so I will link you to the Kickstarter itself which you can see HERE. All that is needed to fund this one is 3,000 british pounds. That is it. He is up to 640 now, so should not be a problem getting it going.

He also has a website HERE with more explanation on his FIRST project, the Frankencamera I which was a Konica S3 turned into a digital. Check it out as this could be uber cool if it actually happens.

A Leica M3 rangefinder converted to digital with a full frame Sony sensor could be something to behold!

 

56 Comments

  1. M3 Vs Digital Kudos for the 18 YR Old Mad Scientist-Sure for 3 G an Updated M3 but this will NOT be a True Leica-Red Dot Leica Lens-Any Better.
    Oil Painting (Film) VS Water Color (Digital) Depends on what You prefer.
    Perhaps this may convince Leica GmBH to offer an Actual M3 Digital conversion?
    The $hare Holders are shivering?
    Happy Shooting!
    P.S. Film is STILL viable OK.

  2. Vivek makes a very valid point. My 1955 double-stroke M3 is a digital camera as I have my C41 chemistry Ilford XP2 Chromogenic films developed and scanned onto a disc. I can send my pix and articles etc to most countries in the world. If you want a digital camera? Buy one. Unlike certain of my acquaintances, I do not have to put my camera on charge each night. Its there, in my coat pocket, 50 Elmar retracted until its needed. Then it comes out, lens yanked out and twisted, up to the
    eye and click. No nonsense about switching it on or setting the custom
    white balance or taking a shot then’show it to the person on the left, then the person on the right, then admire it yourself! No, I don’t have any of those ‘pleasurable experiences’.

  3. I have installed a 1.5 crop 14mp Nex sensor at the correct film plane in a 1980 Nikon FE. The rest of the Nex is mounted on a spare film back. The Nikon converts easily back to film by just changing the back and removing the internal IR filter. It is taking quality photos and is in perfect focus to infinity. I don’t believe that it will be possible to fit a sensor any bigger than this without physically cutting out the film area and replacing the camera shutter assembly so ruining the film camera. View details at https://digitalfilmcams.wordpress.com
    It is a fun camera to use and it can shoot in normal RBG colour or in Infra Red just by swapping the internal filter.
    There is a lot of mention of converting a M3 here. I have one and it would be one of the easiest to apply the same concept to as a metal shop could make a replacement back for it to which the Nex is attached. But the 1.5 crop is the biggest sensor any 35mm camera can take.
    Hope the information on my sites encourages other classic film camera owners to do the same. It’s not that difficult and I’m no technician, just a House Builder. I’ll be tackling my Canon A1 next. Enjoy.

  4. I have installed a 1.5 crop 14mp Nex sensor at the correct film plane in a 1980 Nikon FE. The rest of the Nex is mounted on a spare film back. The Nikon converts easily back to film by just changing the back and removing the internal IR filter. It is taking quality photos and is in perfect focus to infinity. I don’t believe that it will be possible to fit a sensor any bigger than this without physically cutting out the film area and replacing the camera shutter assembly so ruining the film camera. View details at https://digitalfilmcams.wordpress.org
    It is a fun camera to use and it can shoot in normal RBG colour or in Infra Red just by swapping the internal filter.
    There is a lot of mention of converting a M3 here. I have one and it would be one of the easiest to apply the same concept to as a metal shop could make a replacement back for it to which the Nex is attached. But the 1.5 crop is the biggest sensor any 35mm camera can take.
    Hope the information on my sites encourages other classic film camera owners to do the same. It’s not that difficult and I’m no technician, just a House Builder. I’ll be tackling my Canon A1 next. Enjoy.

  5. Excellent project. I have waited a long time for someone to come up with a non-destructive digital back for old great film cameras. The idea is spot on. Have mechanicals and optics that were designed for life paired with an upgradable modular digital back.

  6. This is not a viable project. He should just find an appropriate adapter for the NEX or the A7 and use it for photography.

    It is a shame a M3 is going to defiled to attempt to make a Franken camera. ๐Ÿ™

  7. I am all for the idea of providing drop-in digital backs for classic cameras to keep these masterpieces relevant in the future. The only issue here is I would assume this modification would have to be installed by a technician with some specialized equipment to ensure the sensor face is square to the image plane. Hope this works out… would like to breathe new life into my Dad’s Nikon F Photomic!

  8. I have waited a long time for this kind of things to come from a manufacturer (Leica or another), and don’t tell me it’s impossible to achieve today ! ๐Ÿ™‚
    My M3 is ready for your job dude !… It just makes me think about neo-retro motorbike today, the best of two different generations, of course if it’s made with the 24×36 sensor with only the iso dial… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Did you mean contax T ? Because you can adapt contax g lens to nex with a simple adapter … There’s even some adapter that keep the AF ability.

      • I think he’s suggesting putting an A7s sensor inside a Canon T70 instead of a Leica…

        Not a bad idea, though I prefer Huss’ idea of putting it inside a Zeiss Ikon

    • M3 is for me the optimal UX and body format. M240 & M9 is simply too fat.. M3 measurements, advance / re-cock using the film advance lever would blow the new M60 out of the water. I would buy one in a heartbeat!

  9. The M3 is such a beauty! Finally we’ll get to use the shutter lever. One of the best rangefinders ever made, with a 1:1 finder. Ideally, it’ll end up like a Leica M60: no screen, just select ISO, and the advance lever to work the mechanical shutter. Perfect!

    • “The M3 is such a beauty! Finally weโ€™ll get to use the shutter lever. One of the best rangefinders ever made, with a 1:1 finder.”

      0.91 finder, not 1:1
      Still much better than anything else ever made by Leica for 50mm and up, even/especially today’s latest and greatest M digital cameras.

  10. Waste of a perfectly good M3 if you ask me. Why butcher a classic camera to make another?
    Leica won’t be happy if this takes of either and might pressure them into taking of the Leica name. You might as well buy a retro looking new body and do this, like a Bessa R3A.

    • “I’m creating a reversible digital conversion kit for Leica M3 cameras.” Reversible !…………………………..

    • Leica M3 = $3000 for digital conversion gives you a camera with a pretty good sensor in a RF body for less than an M. You aren’t “butchering” it, it’s only getting repurposed to use a different photo capture medium. Who cares if it captures it using film or digital? It’s still an M3 and people don’t just use it because it shoots film, they can do that with a plethora of cameras. God forbid someone doesn’t want to waste money on film.

    • “Yes. Great Concept. Itโ€™s called the Leica M 60 Anniverary Edition.”

      No. Have you ever used an M3? It is much smaller and nicer in hand than any of the digital M cameras, especially the M 240 which is much bigger than the M9. Which is much bigger than the M3.
      And it has a better viewfinder.

      • The M3 does have a better viewfinder – but have you ever used an M4-P? It is much smaller and nicer in hand than any of the digital M cameras, and smaller and nicer in hand ..and considerably lighter.. than the very heavy (..battleship heavy..) M3. It’s svelte. It’s discreet (..though a little bit noisier than the almost silent M3..) and it’s very, very light!

  11. Not sure about this option.. Hope they didn’t butcher the beautiful M3 to make a Frankenstein digital. Can you flip out the back for film option?

  12. seems criminal to replace a format that produces superior colors and textures with something that has blown-out highlights, inferior colors, and requires photoshop to make the image presentable.

    • Instead they want to use a format that doesn’t cost money for every photo captured, captures much better shadow detail (shoot underexposed and you won’t blow out highlights), the same if not higher DR, and photos without gobs of grain. By the way, color is subjective. Lastly, you don’t necessarily need photoshop to make an image presentable. If you are counting dodging and burning, you do that with film to (hence the names dodging and burning). Get off the film high horse, they are just different and do different things better.

      • i’m strictly a film shooter by personal preference. i don’t think it is better than digital, it is just what i think looks best for my style of photography. many of my favorite photographers shoot digital. that said, i’m with jim here. destroying the greatest 35mm camera ever made is pretty disgusting. buy a digital camera for digital photography. don’t destroy an out-of-production legendary ikon that is still enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of film lovers.

        • Again, what he’s doing is completely reversible. He’s essentially just making a new digital back from the guts of a Sony camera, and using 3D printed parts to house them. The original Leica film back can be restored. It’s a clever, clever idea.

  13. I’ve never had to clean the sensor in my M3…

    p.s. this may be a better idea for the Zeiss Ikon. Faster, electronic shutter. Bigger body. I think Leica already makes a digital RF.

  14. I love the concept and I think there is an incredibly viable business model here that someone is bound to capitalize on someday. For example, I would pay big bucks to have a digital sensor in my old Mamiya C330 body (I have three of them and could sacrifice one away from film). Or perhaps in the body of a Nikon F3, etc. etc.

  15. Impressive, simple and working ! Great. But I’m not sure he will have 3000, counterparts are not really amazing if you compare it to the project itself…

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