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Reflex is the first update on a manual 35mm SLR camera system in over 25 years
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464 backers pledged £131,964 to help bring this project to life.

Trouble in paradise

Posted by REFLEX (Creator)
10 likes

Dear backers,

This is certainly the announcement we had been hoping we didn't have to make.

After numerous proposals and a dead-end search for alternatives, we did not succeed in securing a suitable shutter unit, a key part of the camera. Or at least not at a unit price we can afford (not even by a margin, due to a relatively small first production run of 2000 units).

The issue lies in the fact that, unlike not very long ago when the industry standard was 35mm over digital and full frame shutter units were common and mass-produced, today these units are reserved for mostly high-end models. So with production at only a fraction of what it once was, this means that demand and supply also dropped, leaving only one or two manufacturers worldwide. Our main mistake was made at the pre-Kickstarter stage; To get a realistic idea for off-the-shelf component costing, we went down the route of requesting quotes from sellers that supply parts for repair and service centers, as they can be bought in bulk and often come straight from the manufacturer. While in this case we don’t suspect bad intentions on the seller's part (since we had used once of their samples in the prototype), the shutter units became unavailable to us in large quantity once we were ready to order after DFM was finished. While at first sight many other sellers seemed to have access to service parts, and we felt reassured by our quotes, it turned out the supply chain has become so extremely limited, that no-one was able to help us with a substantial order.

What now?

On paper it’s quite simple; Or we throw the towel, or we ramp up the production run -but this needs extra investment- or we make our own shutter. 

The first is of course not an option, and while we are in talks with investors about the second, we have decided to take fate into our own hands and will be designing a shutter in-house. In fact, we have already started work on a prototype unit. We are testing some of the casing materials this week and are designing the electronics. However, no mad heroics here, just a calculated effort combined with hard work and step by step progress. We know that it will not be an easy task to design and manufacture our own unit.

Expectations

We need to be careful here to not promise before we know we can deliver. Even though over these past few months we have been able to surround ourselves with capable engineers and have found support from a compatible R&D facility, this is nevertheless a difficult undertaking. Since A; the unit needs to be able to reach shutter speeds up to 1/4000th of a second and B; we need to be able to produce and reproduce at a relatively low cost.

So what does this mean for my camera?

Because of this, the production on the camera is delayed and as such, a release date is the hardest part for us to estimate at this point in time. With the Christmas and New Year period coming up, manufacturing and prototyping facilities are slower than average. Besides this we need to lab-and field-test the units once we have a working design. So in order to allow ourselves the flexibility to do this the correct way, we need to be realistic and expect that this will be no sooner than late spring or even summer of 2019.

We realize this is setting us back by a lot, and we understand if this causes disappointment, but this is the road we have to take.

A positive coming from this is that we will not be dependent on 3rd party suppliers for a key component anymore, and yes, if we succeed, we will be taking orders. Likely with a reasonably low MOQ, if there is any interest. 

Additionally, the extra time has allowed us to further fine-tune the design, something that is definitely not a luxury with a first generation product. So there is definitely good that will come from this if we can pull it off.

Other Reflex news

We realize most of you are here in direct relation to the camera (and might even consider anything else a distraction) but we do want to keep you informed about the whole picture, as events are sometimes directly or indirectly related. 

Furthermore, this update -due to its nature- exceptionally counts as a press release making it important to communicate about the brand as a whole and be as complete and transparent as possible about our roadmap, the challenges we are facing, as well as the efforts we are making to succeed.

So, in other news; we have found a strong strategic partner in our optics manufacturer and they stand beside us to fully support the Reflex line-up of 3 primes starting with the 40mm we introduced at Photokina. We will be production ready by mid March. 

Meanwhile we will also continue the development of other Reflex products that tie in with the Reflex I camera. This of course in parallel to the effort that goes into producing the shutter unit.

Seed investment round

As a promising startup, we have been invited to represent Reflex as part of a select few -this year apparently had over 8000 applications- at the prestigious Startup Grind in Silicon Valley in February, where we will be presenting the Reflex roadmap to investors as part of a seed investment round that will close in March. We welcome all investors and strategic partners. To request the Reflex pitch deck, please contact Craig ( seed@reflex-s.com ) adding an investors reference and LinkedIn (or alternative business) profile.

For those of you who are interested in reading more about the event itself, please click the image below.

Reflex Startup Grind 2019 Invitation
Reflex Startup Grind 2019 Invitation

So these are the facts as they have presented themselves. We know we have kept you waiting (we couldn't really say much before knowing the final verdict on the shutter situation + having looked into the likeliness of making our own) and this news will surely disappoint many who are eagerly waiting. Be assured that this sentiment is shared by everyone working hard on this project. And while this is of course a setback, it is not a dead-end and we will continue our work to the best of our abilities and learn from our mistakes. Or in the words of someone wise and ancient; “Our greatest strength lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

As always, thank you for your continued trust and support,

Team Reflex

Elliot Powell, Hanny Poot, and 8 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Mistral75 5 days ago

      @Reflex

      Thank you for your recent comments.

    2. REFLEX Creator 6 days ago

      @Brett Wilson - We agree with you and our goal is 1/2000th (still hoping for the initial 1/4000, but might also have to settle for 1/1000th for this first gen if we really have no other choice)

      In regards to your question about the Reflex lens, the answer is no, that is a separate investment and business arrangement.

    3. REFLEX Creator 6 days ago

      @Brian Gilman - Hi Brian, Thank you for the healthy and honest feedback :) After a short break we are back at it and will definitely share updates on our progress the minute we have news to share. Your does suggestion makes a lot of sense tho and while to us it does not always feel as if there is news (read progress) you are correct in your suggestions on how and why to better communicate. However, sharing failure as much as success is something we're still learning to do. Our first reaction is still; "ok lets get our heads down and try to work this out". But we do realize this silence can also lead to speculation (understandably so), and thus it is indeed good to find a balance.. which is something we are still working on.

    4. REFLEX Creator 6 days ago

      @branden frederick - Hi Branden, we will arrive a few days in advance so quite possibly so.

    5. REFLEX Creator 6 days ago

      @Thomas Riesenberg - Hi Thomas, after a short (and needed) break we are now back at work. New updates coming soon!

    6. REFLEX Creator 6 days ago

      @Matthew giant - These where planned to go out with the camera shipments, as logistically (service, packaging, shipping, etc) this is tied in with the camera production. However, in case the Reflex 40mm gets released before the camera, we will ship in tandem. We might also offer a discount if there is any request from backers who would prefer the new Reflex lens. Apologies for the delay tho :/ Hope this helps.

    7. REFLEX Creator 6 days ago

      @Matt Jones - Thank you Matt! And yes, we will continue to work until we have results.

    8. REFLEX Creator 6 days ago

      @nicola pizzuti - If this where a scam, we would not be having this conversation ;) However, and this goes for @Philip Laskey too, we are building a modern camera and it will have modern speeds. it’s not only about the ISO, but also, a lot of people would want to shoot wide aperture. Remember, when Cosina was "churning" these out we are talking hundreds of thousands of units. We are basing our shutter on a proven design, however the amount of customization in regards to available, affordable and lowish quantity production is the part that remains the biggest challenge. In terms of speed, we are cranking it up with the new tests and will document how this goes.

    9. REFLEX Creator 6 days ago

      @Rory Prior - We might indeed have to dial it back to 1/2000 (or 1/1000th as a bare minimum for this first gen shutters if no other choice). We are currently building up speed with the prototype design and things look promising, but as a lot depends on tension, spacing and surface treatment of the materials, we will continue testing throughout the next couple of weeks before we can conclude and publish.

    10. REFLEX Creator 6 days ago

      @Elliot Powell Thanks for your honesty, interest and support. At this point we would not want to take on individual investors, at least not before we secure a substantial seed investment. Once we have, we might open up the IPO to individual investors like yourself. If by then you are still interested, we’d be happy to have your support.

    11. Missing avatar

      nicola pizzuti on

      a shutter speed of 1/4000 is just a waste of time. never used over 1/1000. if you do not want to give the impression of replicating Yashica, give yourself a move.
      regards

    12. Missing avatar

      Brett Wilson on

      If you’re going to make a modern 35mm film SLR, then it should have a modern high speed shutter, at least that’s what I want, so please hang in there.

      One question I’ve put off asking, but seeing I’m commenting, I’ll ask. Did any funds from the Kickstarter go towards development of the new prime lens range?

    13. Missing avatar

      Brian Gilman on

      This is a good start and template for updates. As mentioned in my previous comment, your backers might be more than happy to help you get to the next stage of development as long as you’re transparent with the challenges you’re facing, ways you’re moving through them, and what you expect to have happen at the next update. Think of us as your board and financial interest as well as fans and you won’t go wrong.

      Finally, as the last commenter mentioned, there has to be a way for us to help you get through hurdles. Reach out and let us know. Sure, we’re a bit disappointed with progress but the shutter challenge seems a reasonable and surmountable hurdle. Thanks again for the clear and concise update. We’re behind you guys 100% as long as there’s this level of transparency and expectation as to the frequency you’ll be updating us. Onward!

      Your fellow startup entrepreneur who knows how hard this is both technically, financially and emotionally. Keep plugging. Happy holidays to you and yours!

    14. Missing avatar

      branden frederick on

      I'm not going to Startup Grind, but I do live in the area. Will the Reflex team be at any other venues in the area during the Grind event?

    15. Missing avatar

      Philip Laskey on

      I don't know much about these things, but what are the possibilities of taking a shutter from any old electronic film SLR and just copying it? Cosina used to churn these units out by the million. Plus, I don't think you need a shutter speed of 1/4000 considering most people won't be shooting anything over 400 ISO.

    16. Missing avatar

      Thomas Riesenberg on

      Well, I wish you will succeed with the shutter. Keep us posted, I already have started to enjoy these updates ...

    17. Missing avatar

      Matthew giant on

      Are we just out of luck on the Helios rewards? I haven’t heard mention of them in any update for I don’t even know how long.

    18. Matt Jones on

      I am happy you are persisting and am not overly concerned about the delay. Keep going it will be an amazing product if you can pull this off.

    19. Missing avatar

      nicola pizzuti on

      As for the other initiatives in which I participated: sell the bear's skin before killing it

    20. Missing avatar

      nicola pizzuti on

      I was waiting for a referral notice, as for all Kickstarter initiatives in which I participated.
      I still hope that at least it is not a scam like for Yashica.
      Regards

    21. Missing avatar

      Rory Prior on

      If it's simpler (it may not be), why not go for a slower maximum shutter speed? None of my old 35mm bodies go faster than 1/2000, which given how slow most films are seems perfectly adequate. Heck even 1/1000 is generally fine. Don't box yourselves into a corner trying to over-engineer something too high end.

    22. Elliot Powell on

      While I am disappointed in the delay I appriciate your candor as it pertains to the development of the camera. And I wish you guys the best as you raise more capital for further developments. On that note as I am not a VC or rich by any means is there a way for me to invest in you guys a small amount beyond my initial pledge to help you along?