Classic Canon AE-1 gets a digital upgrade

Shots of this Canon AE-1 camera-gone-digital have a lot of people scratching their heads. Originally there were a lot of “that’s been photoshopped” cries but the video after the break shows that it physically exists. This particular model of camera hasn’t been manufactured since 1984 so there’s little chance that the company’s bringing it back in a digital format. What we have here is a classic camera body with a modern point-and-shoot fit inside. This seems to be a PowerShot SD 870 IS and we’d guess the original lens has been replaced with a plate of glass so as not to affect the PowerShot’s focus, and the “AE-1 Program Digital” screen is probably just an image on the memory card.

We admire the clean mod work necessary to produce this hack.

[Thanks Juan]

Comments

  1. hpux735 says:

    Awww…. this makes me sad. I loved my AE-1 until it was stolen! It was the best film camera I ever had. Kicked the crap out of the EOS Rebel it replaced.

  2. Tim says:

    That Sir is a camera in a camera mind blowing !!!!???!???!?!?

  3. cmholm says:

    I appreciate the evident skill in the hack, and a couple of benefits: 1) the powershot sensor benefits from (IMO) better glass, and 2) manual focus. On the other hand, the main reason I’d go to the trouble of hauling around a DSLR rather than a point-n-shoot is the faster exposure. This set up leaves us with the “click… wait for it… exposure” issue.

  4. Hirudinea says:

    This would be a nice hack to be able to make use of changeable lense with a digital camera.

  5. The Steven says:

    Now if I could just get this for my Nikon FE2. That would be one hell of a camera.

  6. Life2Death says:

    If you idiots read the article the lens is a fake and its just a powershot in a shell.

  7. juancubillo says:

    Put this on craft-a-day.

    It used to be an honor to be featured on HAD.
    Now it seems I can take my NES, stuff inside an empty xbox case… and I’m frontpage. too bad.

  8. Sean says:

    I like how the video shows the caption ‘zoom’ and an arrow points to what is obviously a 50mm prime lens.

    Prime lens = fixed focal length = no ‘zoom’.

  9. smilr says:

    Damnit, I still have an AT 1 sitting around somewhere (manual focus, manual exposure cousin to the AE 1). Time to figure out how to do this one RIGHT.

    Arent there already digital backs out there for some of the older film cameras? Ones whose sensor is situated at the same focal plane as where the film would have been during use?

    Perhaps I could convert one of those to fit the back of my AT 1 and do this hack right. Keep the original optics, focus, exposure control, and ability to use exchangeable lenses.

  10. plokko says:

    this “mod” makes me wanna start my minolta 500si digital video conversion(a webcam placed on the film plane and modded electronics,it’s not impossible but i need to break my 500si and i don’t also want to spend any money on it so if i’ll find one webcam for free i’ll may try it).

  11. Whatnot says:

    Might have warned about the annoying crappy music.

  12. photocrazy says:

    It is truly sad to see a great SLR camera succumb to this type of hack. There’s an AE-1 Program sitting right here next to me.

  13. Jake says:

    I’m sorry, but this is not a hack. Notice in the video that it still has auto focus – The SD’s lens is still intact!!! I was wondering about this, since without the lens fully functional, the camera will not start up. I know this from experience with a very similar model SD.

    This guy gutted a real camera and put a point and shoot digital inside. The only “plate of glass” in this camera is in the “lens” up front.

    OK, so some guy gets +1 for good use of a razor blade and glue, but that’s it. There is absolutely no benefit to doing this.

    I realize you guys want to post new stuff on your site every day, but damnit, this is not a hack!!!

  14. bogdanfirst says:

    Poor Canon AE-1. I don’t like this “hack”.
    It should at least be made all the way. Disassemble the new digicam, attach just the display and move the controls to the cameras old controls and add extra ones that look similar if they are not enough.

  15. aj says:

    @smilr

    Indeed;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_camera_back

    Iirc some of the *very* early Digital cameras were developed in this way- use an establish camera for the workings and purely have the sensor and image handling stuff as digital. That could be wrong though.

    As for this, waste of a nice old canon SLR. A *proper* conversion, now that would be a hack (and probably beyond my abilities).

  16. Merrick says:
  17. Trav says:

    The main problem with trying a mod like this with a point and shoot is the sensor size. To take adavantage of the lenses for the slr there would be a severe crop factor for the small P&S sensor, unless you move the sensor toward the lens. Still don’t see the advantage of doing all the work for crappy image quality and lots of noise.

  18. stunmonkey says:

    All this guy did was make a heavy and unwieldy case for a stock point and shoot by cutting a hole in a bigger camera. Thats it.

    What I think you guys are missing is that the AE-1 was simply gutted. The lens had the glass busted out.

    This isn’t anything other than a waste of a very, very good camera. Kind of like the asshole who took a hammer and busted the lenses out of a pre-war Voigtlander to house a stock webcam, it is just trashing things with a hammer and glue gun.

    Function please? Skill? Anyone can vandalize for no apparent reason.

  19. stunmonkey says:

    There is no taking advantage of the larger lenses. The lens is a hollow tube with the glass busted out.

    there is a stock point and shoot with stock lens in there. All he did was cut a hole in the bigger camera to stuff it in.

  20. vmspionage says:

    Of course there’s no functionality, it’s just a new case with an untouched camera inside. Still a pretty cool start IMO, and a real conversion that could use the old glass would be nothing short of epic.

    Being a camera lover I sort of understand the argument against destroying it, but on the other hand as long as it doesn’t hold sentimental value and you got it for cheap (for a few bucks at a yard sale or trift store, for example) I wouldn’t feel too bad about it. AE-1’s were nice in their day but it’s not a super rare or expensive camera. That said I have many older cameras (including a similar AV-1) that I would never even think of doing this to.

  21. gordon says:

    The ae-1 is a great camera. Would love to see a digital camera that has that sort of staying power.

  22. stunmonkey says:

    1. use hole saw to bore hole in valued vintage item

    2. hot glue disposable crap commodity item inside

    3. garner worship from idiots

    4. profit?

  23. j9 says:

    Maybe this is a stupid question — if the digital camera has auto focus, can’t it auto focus through the AE-1’s stock lens (thereby rendering the need for a plate-glass replacement unnecessary)?

  24. spiny norman says:

    The AE-1 is of historic interest as an early automatic SLR for the masses, but it’s NOT a “very very good” camera (at the time, for SLRs, that more or less meant Nikon) nor even a particularly good one. It’s sort of collectible but I can’t fathom why anyone would buy one now to actually use it, unless it’s digital Canon brandwhores who don’t know anything about film cameras. I used one in school and was more than happy to ditch it for a Nikon FE as soon as I graduated and got a job (the FE’s not ideal, I wish it was an FM3A).

    I agree it’s silly to hollow out a working camera just to stick another one inside it, but if you’re going to trash an old SLR better an AE-1 (they’re common as dirt) than a true classic like an FM2 or an OM-1 or K1000. And far better to smash our Canon optics of that era than Nikkor.

  25. Josh says:

    “yo dog i put a camera in your camera…”

    I miss my AE1, sturdiest camera I’ve ever owned.

  26. TheCitySpiders says:

    I would rather stuff a decent make of digital point and shoot into a film camera as long as the original lenses could be used … with that said a mild firmware change could likely be made to add the ability to either disable auto focus and use only the film camera body’s optics or just both camera’s stock optics and settle for an auto adjust/calibrate menu option. either is a good idea if the “said hacker has skills or balls” to gut both said camera’s to do said deed.
    an all time low would be say add a canon or Sony point and shoot to a “Nikon” film body with absolutely full function in both { no demand to have the process reversed …say rescue a point and shoot that has a busted lens and a Nikon film body with a busted film door. Challenge !!!

  27. Devin Briggs says:

    That’s rad! Good idea, but I don’t think I would want it I’d rather stick to 35mm.

  28. Rob in Belfast says:

    I have an old Zenit SLR… I wonder if I can stuff the insides of a Kodak DC220 into it and upload the result here…?

    Maybe not.

    I’ll get me coat.

  29. george says:

    shell that opend a great big can of conversational worms,cant wait for the follow up hacks,digital zenit please gubbins from a fuji fine pix?…..wait dont practika make adigital camera??

  30. kam says:

    is there somewhere i could send my canon ae-1 program to change it from film to digital like this?

  31. For the novice, the first thing you need to understand is what the term “Digital Single Lens Reflex” means.
    Whereas some cameras will auto-focus while doing video, others do not which is something else to consider.
    The Fujifilm Fine – Pix x100 is generally considered a
    professional compact rangefinder camera.

  32. I have a canon Ae-1 program camera & i want to convert into digital can anybody tell me that from where i can purchase digital body of that camera…

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