The first digital film roll is here, but do analogue cameras need saving?

OPINION: This week, start-up company I’m Back surpassed its Kickstarter target, raising £22,835 in just 17 minutes. The money will go toward making the company’s dream – the world’s first digital film roll – a widespread reality, but is there a need for digital film in the current landscape? 

I’m Back Film is the latest stage in I’m Back’s venture to bring digital capabilities to analogue cameras. 

“After years of meticulous planning and the collective desire to preserve the magic of vintage cameras, we proudly present the I’m Back Film”, writes I’m Back in its Kickstarter campaign, calling its film “the ultimate bridge between analog nostalgia and digital innovation”.

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I’m Back Film is a film roll-shaped holder equipped with a 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor from Sony. You can simply slot the “film” into place and mount the device onto the bottom of your camera to transform any analogue camera into a digital one in seconds. 

It’s an interesting prospect that promises to bring new life to old, forgotten cameras and reduce electronic waste by modernising outdated kits. However, it begs the question, do analogue cameras even need modernising? 

I'm Back Film photo taken with Leica M2
I’m Back Film photo taken with Leica M2

It’s safe to say that film isn’t dead. According to data shared by Kodak Digitizing in 2021, Kodak sold twice the amount of film in 2019 compared to 2014. Meanwhile, film manufacturer Harman Technology has seen 5% more growth annually since 2014 and Fujifilm sold 3.9 million more instant film cameras in 2016 compared to 2014. 

In fact, a study conducted by PetaPixel found that over 75% of respondents wished to see new analogue cameras on the market. 

Even I’m Back itself admits that this product isn’t for current analogue users, explaining that the company does “not wish to discourage the use of film but rather bring millions of analog cameras stored in damp boxes, trunks, or cellars back into use”. 

There’s no doubt that there is a market for digital film rolls, with I’m Back’s kickstarter (now at a whopping £216,146) alone being clear proof of this. The real question is whether I’m Back Film will take off in the mainstream, or if analogue fans will continue to use analogue film, whilst others ignore the old analogue cameras in their homes in favour of the latest feature-packed digital models.

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