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Make Your Own Digital Back from Film SLR

Has anybody made their own homebrew Digital SLR back from a P&S camera and film SLR?

I would like to, I have some camera's that I can tear apart to do so.

Does anyone have any expertise, experience, knowledge, websites, etc... that could help?


Wed, 15 Feb 2006 15:23:13 -0800

I posted a similar question abut 6 months ago. There are a couple folks intereted in doing this, but as far as I know, no one has posted whether they tried or succeeded.

I would guess that the easiest way to do this would be to remove the lens components and position the sensor at the film plane. You would need to trigger both cameras at the same time or leave the non-digital camera in "Bulb" mode when shooting. Just my thoughts.

Mark Delman
Mon, 20 Feb 2006 07:12:40 -0800

If you are very serious high quality than its very simple.
1) Take a webcam that can be detached from system, can take pictures and attach back to system and download pictures. Now open the screws and replace lens with your 35mm lens to take pictures. Use your mind to attach it. It will become telephoto 35mm digi cam. You can experiment with an old webcam and 35mm lens for this. Your 35mm lens with increase quality of picture hugely.

2) If not after moving object photography, not after portraits. You are an art reproducer or landscape photographer use it. You will forget the 6 mega pixel craze. This method will produce 20 mega pixel or more result.
Take an old flatbed scanner. Remove glass. paste black tape over its lamp and than use an old Fieldview camera...scan the ground glass directly

Emad ud din
Sun, 11 Jun 2006 23:56:48 -0700

I am seeking the same, building a digital back for a Kiev 88.
Do you know if anyone got some results ?

Tue, 17 Oct 2006 05:45:05 -0700

I also am interesting in making a digital back, I have a Nikon FE and I love it, I wish I could buy a high res. back for it, but no one makes one. I was thinking of buying a bricked or older DSLR, I don't have the money at the moment though. I'm thinking gutting one and adding the parts to the film camera will, but yes me crude and maybe not too stable. I'm sure this would work though, granted a light meter and alot of exposure testing would be needed.

Wed, 25 Apr 2007 13:27:43 -0700

I contemplated this a while ago, but then purchased a DSLR so the project idea went on the backburner. The easiest way I thought of would be to take an old film SLR, replace the focussing screen with a plain focussing screen with no lines (I think Nikon's is called type "f" screen, and for Canon it's an "EE-a" type). Then, aim your point and shoot throught the viewfinder so that the pentaprism. If you type in "35mm dof adapter", you'll find similar projects that people use for video cameras with small sensors, because these adapters will give them limited depth-of-field similar to film video cameras. Most people will say to stack a bunch of lens adapters and clamp a focussing screen in the middle, but the image will then become inverted. My idea to shoot through the viewfinder will re-invert the image so it's easier to frame. Good luck, and let us know if it works for you!

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 15:18:18 +0000


"Then, aim your point and shoot throught the viewfinder so that the pentaprism"

should be

"Then, aim your point and shoot throught the viewfinder so that the pentaprism will flip the image upright"

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 15:19:38 +0000

I forgot to mention another caveat-- I've handheld a point and shoot in front of a slr viewfinder in this manner and the image is quite dark. I'm not sure how many stops you loose doing it this way but it's obviously not as bright as directly going from lens to sensor. You'll also see the the grain in the focussing screen, so it's not a perfect way of doing it.

If you want to bypass the focussing screen/pentaprism, then you'll have to figure out some optical element which will reduce the size of the image at the film plane before it hits the point and shoot sensor, but it's not practical to do so and the camera companies gave up a long time ago on doing it that way. The reason you need it is because the size of point and shoot sensors is so minescule you'll end up with a 5x multiplication factor or something like that. Offhand I remember Nikon and Minolta had these huge bodies which attempted to use optical elements to compensate for sensor size differences, but the bodies were huge and the quality wasn't very good. You could also try to stack a few wide-angle adapters in front of your lens to compensate for the multiplication factor, but then you lose on the lens resolution and the end result would be low quality image.

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 15:49:09 +0000

Hey guys
I think its as simple as exposing the image sensor of your digital camera. Then place it where the film receives the light image that come trough the lens. provide some stability on your image board so that it will always be on the exact location no matter how you move your slr housing. set the slr to slow shutter like 4 seconds. you can still watch on the lcd screen of your digicam for proper focus and when your ready click the digicam shutter button.

Note: you have to take the lenses from your digital camera so to expose the sensor. I used a cheap web cam to experiment on this and i get a promising result. the only drawback is the image sensor of the webcam I used was 300kpixels so that it only takes a portion of the target object. I monitored in in my laptop screen so i can adjust the proper distance of the sensor to the zoom lens. most of the time the place where the film travels is the most accurate distance or point to place your sensor in the slr camera. just try it with your webcam so you can see a real time clarity when adjusting.

Another thing. 35mm films is aroung 19megapixel. to get a very accurate image you also need a 19megapixel digital image sensor. This is therefore stupidity because 19mp digital cameras are very expensive for experiment. infact its foolish to do it. You better buy a dslr rather than hacking both slr and digicam, youll be spending and wasting more $. just try with web cam and play around. enjoy. I can post picture if somebody find this interesting.

Mon, 25 Feb 2008 02:12:08 +0000

I've make a 8Mpix digital back for Kiev88 with a 1200x1200 dpi flatb scanner. 3 secs for shoot low-res image... 20 secs for shoot hi-res image.

Wed, 21 May 2008 00:34:42 +0000

Has anyone done this and took pics, made an tutorial? Could one just look up some other ccd projects and figure it out and take pics?

A company was making one to fit SLR's but the cost and earnings never meshed plus the ccd could dirty easily and it never was finished but they had a website ect. You could put the cassete thing into a old camera that took 35mm film. I guess it would be a fragile object and take some adjusting that may have been beyond the avg joe. *shrugs* oh well.

Why my name?
Wed, 09 Jul 2008 21:03:27 +0000

You all seem to forget one thing about most medium/high end SLR's. they have removable backs. Mainly so one could fit them with databacks or high capacity backs.
These could be fitted with simple digital backs that take action when the sutter is activated. tere is space for small memory card where the film casette goes.

Sat, 22 Nov 2008 17:51:32 +0000

All very interesting. I've given up waiting for any camera company to manufacture a DSLR that looks like, is as nice to hold as, and is as simple to operate as the old time manual SLRs such as Pentax MX or Nikon FE's etc. So it's time to make one somehow, pull out the film winding mechanism and film pressure plate, and insert a digital sensor exactly in its place. Don't need much of a digital screen, the common ldc mounted on the top plate a la Contax Slrs is enough to give limited digital settings. RAW shooting only, and non of the scene settings/or menu settings currently offered. Actually a plane manual SLR with a digital sensor in place of the film and winding. Anyone else interested?

Bill hales
Tue, 27 Jan 2009 07:38:07 +0000

While googling i came across a syclene film attached with a Nikon F4 camera and going through the comments, the rights of this film development were purchased by a major digital camera manufacturer the rest one can observe. How manufacturer will sell new model if such film is introduced. I am also among my photographers folk who have collected many gears with the hope that one day such film will come for photographers. Kodak was main inventor while introducing such backs for NIkon, EOS professional cameras few years back and was expensive too and later on dropped this idea and started producing digital cameras

Fri, 30 Jan 2009 11:02:54 +0000

Dear all,

In our home we have a Nikon FM10 camera & it is approximately 8years old. Now I am in the plane to purchase one DSLR, apart form that if I can get/make one digital back with SD memory then the old camera can be reuse. So please guide me to make the digital back for the old FM10, so that the recourses can be re use.

Thanking you

Pranab Jyoti Goswami
Thu, 21 May 2009 07:52:08 +0000

I dont know if anyone is still looking at this discussion? the last entry was some time ago!

I am frustrated by 3 things in particular with digital slrs : 1. they are soon obsolete 2. they fall apart after about 3 years 3. most importantly - they have pathetic viefinders in comparison eith film slrs - even the top of the range ones.

the ability to fit a digital sensor to the pressure plate, or in its place or to be able to buy a ready-made digital back that clipped on in place of the original back, would, I think, be welcomed by many photographers, allowing them to keep using their much loved film slr camera system without all the complications and compromises that are forced apon us by the digtal slr manufacturers!

really, the main thing for me is the viewfinder - I like to see what I am photographing, when I am photographing! no one has ever given me a satisfactory explanation of why this has to compromised because its a digital camera!?

anyone who has progressed with this or who has any good ideas please contact me!

good luck to us all!


neil wallace
Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:51:54 +0400

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