The folks over at MiNT camera have been working on putting out a brand new 35mm film camera. And in their efforts, they’ve been making something pretty new while also being something that people are going to be familiar with. We previously reported on the fact that they’re making a camera that uses LiDAR to autofocus. But we wanted to know more. So we spoke to Gary Ho at MiNT camera and asked him to give us more information.
Transparently, we’re pretty hyped about this new camera. We’ve wanted a good entry into the premium point and shoot camera market for years. And this is the first time that we’ve seen anything start to show promise of bearing fruit. I always thought that maybe the Japanese manufacturers would come around. But they hardly have — with only Pentax really seeming interested. MiNT, however, does some pretty innovative things. And this camera we hope is one of the more innovative things they make.
More importantly, we truly hope that it isn’t the last film camera that they make.
From the interview, you can tell that MiNT is trying to recreate a camera, the same way they did with the SLR670. But this time around, they’re aiming at something that has a 35mm f2.8 lens. What could it be? There are tons on the market like that from Contax, Nikon, Canon and others.
What are some of the biggest design features that you’re keeping in mind for this camera? Besides the new LiDAR autofocus, that is.
Gary Ho at MiNT Camera: The main focus of this project is to establish a film camera supply chain. It’s like a proof-of-concept that we indeed have the capability to manufacture a premium film camera. And if this works out, who knows what the future holds.
The idea is to recreate an iconic camera with modern features, like the SLR670 that is immensely popular as an upgrade to the Polaroid SX-70.
How exactly does LiDAR work with film? We thought it always needed a digital sensor to work? And how does it work in low light?
Gary Ho at MiNT Camera: LiDAR is a ranging technology that involves using an invisible light source to target an object or surface and measuring the time it takes for the reflected light to return to the receiver. It is indeed known for its association with digital sensors, but we have adapted it to work effectively with film cameras. In terms of low-light performance, LiDAR proves to be advantageous, as it can accurately measure distances in various lighting conditions, including low light, sunlight, and even on dark surfaces. Old film cameras mainly used phase detection and infrared, which had their limitations, especially in low light and dark surfaces.
Can you tell us more about the lens being used?
Gary Ho at MiNT Camera: The lens is a 5-element 35mm f/2.8 lens, which I’m sure everybody will love.
What sort of features are coming to the camera? Multiple exposure mode? Silent shutter? Flash sync?
Gary Ho at MiNT Camera: Feature-wise, I don’t think it would be possible to build a camera that beats the old ones, at least for right now. Billions of dollars were poured into R&D back in the days. What we can offer is a brand new camera that would make you think: “Wow, why didn’t I think of that earlier…”
Right now, if you want to get hold of a premium compact camera, choices are very limited. All of them are second-hand, and worse, they are very difficult to repair. So anyone who wants to buy one bears the risk of breakdown with no warranty available.