Digital back for an old SLR

This is an easy tutorial showing you how to make an old film SLR digital again by adding a digitalback, however this is also a tutorial making an old SLR into a DOF adapter for small pocket camera's like the Kodak Playsport. Watch the video for most of the basic info needed to build one.

What are the material needed to make it possible. Actually the picture above already shows you the 3 main element, however this is the faster easiest and cheapest way. I have a pack of designer rubberband for a lunch box but you could also achieve this by using 2 rubberbands. And the result is here below the Kodak Playsport as my Digitalback for my Pentax Super ME or the other way around the Pentax Super ME is the DOF adapter for my Kodak Playsport.
This is probably the easier setup to make a DOF adapter. I came across this idea fairly easy as I had played around with my Kodak Playsport and found it could film in the viewfinder of my Canon EOS 550D however cause it is a crop sensor you have to zoom in quite allot to get the full view, then I tried an old SLR which is a full frame and what you know it works there too. Actualy would work on larger frames too, like Pentax 645, Bronica and Hasselblad.

So how does it works?
Basically you are filming what is projected on the focusing screen or mat glass. This is how a normal DOF adapter works too, however it is more compact and what you are filming is not upside down. Its compact cause of the Prism mirror, cause the projected images is mirrored and added a virtual distance. However due to the use of this it loses few stops in lights, however this is in most cases while using a DOF adapter and you would not be able to film in very low light conditions. Also depending on which camera you have there might be more things in the viewfinder you rather not see like focusing point or shutter speeds. However the much much older SLR do not have those and should be easy to change the focus screen. I would not advice using a crop DSLR cause it would not work good cause of the small focus screen.

Here is a test footage directly uploaded from the Kodak Playsport showing DOF.
You might have noticed the circle in the middle of the screen which is actually an aid for focusing if you are using manual lenses, this screen have a prism and split screen. However if you want to film or photograph with this setup its advised to change the focus screen with one without it.

Also could make one with using some adapters or specially build a rig so you can align the viewfinder of the SLR and the lens of the pocket camera better. However I like this DIY cause you are not destroying anything to build a new product. You can still use the old SLR to take pictures with film and you can easily remove the pocket camera if you don't need to achieve nice DOF.

I was thinking of taking apart a new camera but then I though way too much work hehe. But I have to say I could actually build a working digital back by using parts of a new small pocket camera. However this would be cool to make a digital back for old SLR camera's but its just much too late, cause everyone will rather buy a new DSLR. However my research is that there were no real digital backs for SLRs, there was a concept which was called E-film but mostly hoax prototype that would had never worked back then. Cause back them a digital camera would been very bulky and the electronics would not had fitted inside just a roll of film, also you did not had any things to activate it or to view your result with. How I now made it would be much better plus everything is on the outside of the camera making easy to have a screen plus able to press a button to record of to take a picture.

I will be making weekly videos and giving tips about design, photography or cinematography. You can subscribe to my Youtube channel here to get updated each time.


Anonymous said…
Good article, good use of a SLR - Grammar comment - the word is 'because' not 'cause'.

'Cause' has a different meaning "giving rise to an action", perhaps you mean 'coz', the slang version.