The Digi Swap is an iPhone-film-camera adapter

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The Digi Swap is a new gadget that will be launched at the upcoming Camera and Photo Imaging Show 2022 (CP+), in Japan. It’s an adapter and app that lets you use your iPhone as a sort of digital back for an old 35mm film camera. It’s clunky gear and one that got us thinking about how there are better, cheaper and simpler options for taking advantage of older analog gear.

Let’s talk about it.

What the Digi Swap does

The Digi Swap is a machined aluminum adapter that can connect an iPhone (including iPhone X, XS, 11, 11 Pro, 12, 12 Pro, 13 and 13 Pro) to almost any 35mm camera. (Other film format adapters are in the works, apparently.)

Once connected, using the official Digi Swap app, users can take digital photos using their suitable film camera. You set the ISO sensitivity with the app, but use your camera to set the aperture and shutter speed. When you press the shutter button, your phone takes a digital photo. You can even record a video.

Seriously, and I can’t stress this enough, Digi Swap is a very smart way to do things. And it’s especially cool that most controls are transferred to the camera itself. But the whole rig, with the camera and iPhone attached, is just, well… awkward.

It’s not that Digi Swap doesn’t solve a real problem, but we think there are better ways to take digital photos with your old lenses.

Lens adapters are better

The set looks rather clunky to use. digital exchange

One of the best options is to use a lens adapter and a mirrorless camera. Most mirrorless cameras, even crop sensor models, will provide significantly better image quality than the Digi Swap method, even if you have the latest iPhone.

No matter what combination of vintage lens and mirrorless camera you have, you’re almost certain to find an adapter that works (and probably isn’t expensive). Even better, you’ll most likely (depending on the camera) have access to features like Peaking Focus (where image focus areas are highlighted in live view or EVF ) so that you are better able to get sharp photos with manual focus lenses.

Things are a bit trickier with DSLRs, but there are still adapters available, like the Canon FD to Canon EF or the Nikon F to Canon EF, so depending on what lens you’re trying to use, you might be lucky.

Of course, adapters aren’t perfect either. You rarely get autofocus or electronic aperture control, but they’re much more convenient than strapping an iPhone to the back of an old film camera.

Just film

The new Digi Swap adapter
If you love your film camera enough to attach and use this thing, maybe it’s time to just shoot? digital exchange

Another great way to take high-quality photos with classic film-era lenses is – and I can’t believe I have to say this – to just film. It’s fun, can be affordable, and doesn’t involve silly adapters. And again, you’ll get much better image quality with 35mm film than with an iPhone and the Digi Swap platform/app.

And it’s easier than you think to convert film photos to digital files. You can easily scan negatives with a relatively user-friendly flatbed scanner or scan them using a macro lens and film holder. Or, if you’re having your film developed in a lab, you can usually have the negatives scanned as part of the processing.

Who is the Digi Swap for?

As Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, says in jurassic park“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think whether they should.”

Yes, the Digi Swap allows you to get digital photos from a film camera or old lenses, but the same goes for adapters and/or shooting and scanning the results. If it was a little less clunky and/or easier to use, I could potentially see the appeal. Still, we like the idea behind it: giving old gear new life.

When will Digi Swap be available?

Digi Swap should be properly revealed at CP+ next month. Details such as pricing and availability will likely be announced soon after.

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