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Silicon Film gets real! Working samples of EFS-1 at PMA!
By Dave Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, February 14, 2001 - 12:47 EST)

A "digital film" device for your film-based SLR? - A device called the EFS-1 from Silicon Film Technologies has the unfortunate reputation of being one of the most infamous "vaporware" products in recent memory. That seems to be changing though, as working sample units were shown at PMA this year, and shipments are slated for June. Given that working units were being demonstrated live on the show floor, there may actually be some hope of production units actually appearing this time around...

Few products have generated the ongoing "buzz" on the internet that the "digital film" cartridge being developed by Silicon Film Technologies. This is now the third year that the product has been bandied about a PMA show, but it seems that it's actually nearing reality. The concept is simple: A device the size and shape of a 35mm film cannister with a "flag" sticking out the side that lays across the film plane of a 35mm camera. Jam-packed with microelectronics, the EFS-1 is intended to simply drop into a standard 35mm camera and instantly transform it into a digital model. There are some limitations to this first model though, including a very high focal-length multiplier ratio, due to the small sensor size, limited capacity (24 frames of storage), compatibility with only a short list of cameras, and rather modest resolution (1.3 megapixels). The concept is intriguing enough that it's generated a perpetual buzz on internet news groups and discussion forums.

The device was first talked about (pretty prematurely, as is now obvious) at the 1999 PMA, again at last year's show and this years as well. This long gestation has led to a reputation of the vaporware product of the century, but this may be changing. While sample images from the device have been shown in the past, they were generally of pretty low quality, and working models were nowhere in sight.

In a dramatic change this year though, Silicon Film had actual working units in their PMA booth, snapping pictures of anyone who'd sit still for a few moments in their booth. We're pleased to include a couple here (stay tuned, this article will go up a few minutes before the accompanying pictures appear in it) that we can personally certify came from a working model of the EFS-1.

We (along with a number of other industry types we spoke with) were pretty impressed with the image quality in these samples. Earlier images had less than stellar color rendition (to put it politely), but the current model's color seemed equal to what we're accustomed to seeing from good-quality dedicated still digicams. Resolution is obviously only 1.3 megapixels, but seemed solid for that pixel count.

The photos below (coming soon) show the quality of the images the EFS-1 can capture: Click on the small images to see the full-size samples.

Silicon Film EFS-1 sample copyright Imaging Resource 2001, all rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!


Silicon Film EFS-1 sample copyright Imaging Resource 2001, all rights reserved. Click for a bigger picture!

There's still obviously some ways to go with the product, as there's a good bit of software work to be done for the interface unit, and FCC approval is still needed. Likewise, the low resolution and small sensor size are both issues in the current market. Silicon Film is working on both issues, and we're told that we can expect a higher-spec unit not too long after the first EFS-1 production hits the market. When that will be is still anybody's guess, but the progress shown by the working samples is encouraging.

Original Source Press Release:

Silicon Film Technologies Demonstrates EFS-1(TM) at PMA; Electronic Film System Turns Conventional 35mm SLR Into a Digital Camera

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- PMA - Silicon Film Technologies,
Inc. today conducted the first public demonstration of its Electronic Film
System (EFS) technology to attendees at PMA 2001, the largest exhibition of
imaging products and services in North America.
The company's first product,
EFS-1, is designed to fit into the film compartment of select 35mm SLR cameras
and allow the user to capture digital images with no modification to the
camera.
The systems' three components, (e)film(TM) Cartridge, (e)port(TM)
Carrier and (e)box(TM) Storage module, are designed for the image capture,
image transfer to a PC or Mac®, and remote image storage respectively.
EFS-1 was demonstrated at Silicon Film's PMA booth #3411.

``The genesis of EFS-1 carries us to a new and exciting plateau,'' said Ken
Fay, President and Chief Executive Officer, Silicon Film.
``This demonstration
is a goal we have been seeking for some time, and we are very happy to be
conducting it at this prestigious show.
Silicon Film's EFS-1 is a limited
edition product targeted at prosumer photographers, which includes the serious
hobbyist up to semi-pro and professional levels,'' Fay continued.
``After we
conduct the required certification and 'beta' testing, we will announce a
confirmed shipping date.''

Silicon Film's patented technology is based on a high-resolution CMOS
image sensor and the extreme miniaturization of the required electronics to
achieve (e)film's unique adaptability.
The value of the EFS-1 design is that
prosumer photographers can extend the use of their sizeable investments in
35mm SLR cameras, lenses and other accessories to ``bridge'' the conventional
film and digital worlds, all with a single photography system that is both
completely familiar and comfortable.
Further, the user can easily switch
between conventional film and digital, depending on the shooting requirements.

``With the explosive growth of digital photography, we have certainly been
challenged to keep up with a rapidly advancing market,'' said J. Bruce Totty,
senior vice president, sales and marketing, Silicon Film Technologies.
``We
migrated from our original 800k pixel CMOS sensor to a 1.3 million pixel
sensor which we are demonstrating here at PMA.
Our next generation EFS
products will match our product features with other competitive market
offerings and have the unique advantage of the (e)film concept.''

``EFS-1 proves a concept that just made sense from the beginning,'' said
Doug Howe, Chief Marketing Officer, Silicon Film Technologies.
``The
combination of our advanced image science, use of leading-edge CMOS imager
technology and the functionality of an SLR camera provides us a strong market
opportunity.
Plans are in place to expand the compatibility of our product
with additional camera models in the future.''

About Silicon Film

Founded in 1998, Silicon Film Technologies, Inc. is the developer of the
Electronic Film System, a revolutionary system of hardware and software
components designed to permit a conventional 35mm film to camera capture,
store and transmit digital photos without camera modifications.
The company
has pioneered advanced research and development in CMOS sensor implementation
and micro-miniaturization of imager packaging, and holds patents on many
aspects of the technology.
Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Silicon Film
Technologies, Inc. is a majority-owned, independently operated subsidiary of
Irvine Sensors Corporation (Nasdaq: IRSN - news).
For more information, please visit
www.siliconfilm.com.

Except for historical information contained herein, the matters set forth
in this news release are forward-looking statements that are dependent on
risks and uncertainties including such factors, among others, as the market
risks associated with new products, the impact of competitive technologies and
the pace at which new markets develop.
Further information on Irvine Sensors
Corporation and its subsidiaries, including Silicon Film Technologies, Inc.,
is contained in publicly-filed disclosures available through the SEC's EDGAR
database (www.sec.gov) or from the Company's Investor Relations.

All other company and / or product names are trademarks and / or
registered trademarks of their respective manufacturers.

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