Amateur camera hacker aims to put Sony A7 guts into Leica M3 body

by Felix Esser

posted Friday, September 26, 2014 at 9:54 AM EDT

The exchange of camera parts was frequently done back in the day when cameras were all-manual and mechanical. Especially in the Leica world, it's not uncommon to find cameras that contain parts of different models, such as the body from camera A and the viewfinder of camera B, for example. With digital cameras, things are a bit more complicated, but apparently not impossible.

After turning an old Konica fixed-lens rangefinder into a fully functioning digital camera, a young amateur hacker from Brighton, UK now aims to do the same with a Leica M3 -- and the guts of a Sony A7. While that may sound crazy at first, we believe that budding physics student Oliver Baker may be on to something here.

His first project involved a Konica Auto S3, an old fixed-lens rangefinder camera sporting a 38mm f/1.8 lens. Oliver managed to retrofit the Konica with the innards of a Sony NEX-5, including the sensors, circuit board, monitor and all the dials and buttons necessary to operate the camera. The result of his efforts was a fully functioning digital Konica Auto S3 that now had a 57mm-equivalent lens due to the APS-C-sized sensor of the NEX-5.

Screenshot from the Kickstarter video showing the hacked Konica Auto S3

Over on his blog, Oliver shares not only pictures of the assembly process of his Frankencamera, but also some pictures he took with it as proof that the thing is actually working. While his first classic digital was funded by the Arkwright scholarship fund, his new project needs the financial support of photography geeks who believe in its success.

Over at Kickstarter, Oliver is currently seeking funding for his Leica M3 conversion project, aptly titled Frankencamera II. Provided that both the campaign and the hacking project are successful, Oliver considers creating more Frankenleicas on demand. According to the campaign's description, there will be two versions: one with display, and one without, featuring only an ISO dial just like Leica's recently-announced M Edition 60.

If you think that Oliver's project is awesome enough to justify additional funding, head over to his Kickstarter page where you can pledge any sum from GBP 1 upward. For GBP 90 or more, you'll get a 3D print of the custom camera back that Oliver needs to create in order to be able to fit the A7 electronics into an M3. With that, you can set out to create your own Frankencamera -- provided you sport the same hacking skills as Oliver.

(via Leica Rumors)