The Reflex modular 35mm SLR system was announced way back in 2017. It was the first newly-designed manual 35mm SLR system to be announced in more than 25 years. The modular camera promised personalization and customization through its ability to use different film backs and lens mounts. However, per PetaPixel, the Reflex SLR project is experiencing major issues in developing a prototype.
The project raised more than £131,000 on Kickstarter in 2017. Since then, issues developing a prototype have resulted in the Reflex team burning through the money it raised from backers, with no prototype to show for it. During the Kickstarter campaign, a pledge of £350 (over $450 at the time) would get one of the first Reflex cameras, which were expected to deliver by August 2018.
Kosmo Foto reports that the Reflex SLR project is now officially on hold. The Reflex SLR’s founder, Laurence Von Thomas, held a public meeting on Zoom last week. During the meeting, he stated that the camera was about 80% complete, but it can’t be completed without additional funds. The meeting was called by backers demanding an update on the project.
In the meeting, Thomas revealed that development had stalled last November, although some work had continued. He moved to Shenzen in China to oversee development back in 2018, although it’s been challenging to find a suitable shutter unit. He had hoped to use a Sony shutter unit, but the camera it was used in was discontinued, reducing available stock. The team lacked the engineering experience to make their own shutter.
Since the project is incomplete, Kickstarter won’t allow Reflex to launch another campaign to raise additional funds. It’s unclear if Reflex will secure outside investment or if existing backers will want to continue to support the project. Thomas will not be asking for additional money from existing backers.
If the Reflex project is truly—and it seems like it’s headed that way—it won’t be the first Kickstarter project to come up short, and it won’t be the last. Building a camera (and lens, which has proven too expensive and challenging to make) is no small feat. The latest news is an unfortunate, although perhaps not shocking, twist in the Reflex SLR saga.