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Analog to Digital Hack ?

Hi folks:

I have a really interesting analog camera made by Rollei. This is one of those classicly overdesigned German cameras with tons of features and accessories.

One of the neat things about the Rollei 3003 is that is has interchangable film magazines that allows users to have multiple film backs which could be exchanged mid-roll. This gave you the flexibility to shoot a scene in color, black & white, slide film, print film, whatever. See the attached link to view Photos of the SL 2000 and SL 3003 cameras at the attached rollei collector web site to see the camera

Anyway, it occured to me that one of these backs might be modified to accept a digital sensor. I have no idea how to do this, but would love to get advice from anyone who might know how. Please post if you have any ideas.


Sat, 6 Aug 2005 07:31:57 -0700

Theoretically there would be no real problems.
However, a chip would have to be found that covered 24 x 36 mm which might be difficult, is there one this size on the market?
If the chip were smaller then not all of what you see in the viewfinder would end up being in the photo.
This could be corrected by a magnifying lens in front of the chip. This of course would be difficult, as there is very little space in there, and would certainly add considerably to the cost.
Or a blanking mask of the correct size could be laid on the lens of the viewfinder....
The other effect of using a chip smaller than the film format would be a telephoto effect. If, for example, the chip covered only 12 x 18 mm, a shot through a 50 mm lens would look like it had been taken through a 100 mm lens.
This might be fine if you are trying to avoid buying a telephoto lens, but one of the major reasons why I love my 2000's is a very large and heavy lump of glass that cost an arm and a leg, that has got Zeiss Distagon written on the front, with a focal length of 15 mm. It would be a real shame to have this turn into a 30 mm jobbie!
Then the film transport would have to be put out of action, but as the camera already allows you to do this for multiple exposures, it should not be a problem.
And then what would be the story with the automatic exposure ? Without the relevant information, retro engineering could solve the problem.
Even a battery pack could easily be adapted to hold the power supply.
My winter projekt might very well be the construction of a digital back, the way to start might be to use the guts of a digital camera.......
Funnily enough, a few months ago, I contacted Rollei in Germany asking whether they had anything in the pipeline: the idea, they seemed to think, was good, but stressed the fact that the 2000/3003 has been out of production for more than a decade and was thus no longer 'supported', no plans, therefore, to produce a digital back, AT THE MOMENT !
Rollei have brought out a fair number of retro, special edition products in the past and do not forget that the original idea for the 2000/3003 came from an individual outside of the company.
And, in the meantime, Rollei have turned themselves into the world leaders in digital photo technology with the digital back that they make for the 6008: I think that the chip that they use is 56 x 56 mm. So the know how is definitely there.
Perhaps if we could gather together 500 people who were each prepared to put $1000 on the table up front, the Rollei could conceivably be motivated into producing 1000 units..........
Stay in touch, Power to the Net!!!!!
Aidan Piers,
[email protected]

Wed, 28 Sep 2005 18:08:35 -0700

as a long time fan of the 3003 camera id be really intersted to participate in the above mentioned project. so you could register me as no. 2 in your list.

harald wilms
Tue, 18 Oct 2005 00:54:30 -0700

I would also participate in this !!! Maybe we can gather more intersted people?

Ricardo Farago
Thu, 31 Aug 2006 20:46:30 -0700

Yes..... Im no 4.....and I know anout 7 others wh will be the next one will be No..12. Best of luck

Rajesh Jain
Tue, 03 Oct 2006 06:06:03 -0700

Yes , I'm definitly decided to participate it this event so please inform me if the digital back to Rollei 3003 is available.

Jacek Pura
Tue, 07 Nov 2006 08:21:46 -0800

i have olso an 3003 and i want to participate

valeriu stanciu
Mon, 07 May 2007 01:54:52 -0700

I just acquired a 3003 and also am interested in making it digital. I have 4 backs.

Tom Barker
Tue, 29 May 2007 11:53:50 -0700

Well we are adding up very slowly - how is everyone going witht their 3003s ???

Ricardo Farago
Fri, 23 Jan 2009 23:26:02 +0000

i would love to have a digiback for my 3003 aswell!!! please inform me!!!

Tue, 01 Dec 2009 19:25:38 +0000

I dream of such a digiback for the 3003 since years...!
But it seams, nothing happened a long time...

Thomas Frey
Fri, 30 Dec 2011 18:01:34 +0300

Hi, any news onthe issue? I definitly like the idea to reuse my fantastic 3003 after all this time - hope this will come true! Please inform if anything moves on.

Fri, 31 Aug 2012 10:40:58 +0400

I have a 3003 with the Zeiss 1.4 85mm. That was a bunch of money and I would love to bring that back in action. For years I couldn't photograph, and then went all digital, no more slide films. Yes, now there are some, but very expensive.
I have neither tools nor money for such acmera modification to digital, but I can tell you what you must consider.
Have a full frame camera to donate the 24x36 chip.
That chip must get out and be mounted in front of the magazine plate (spring loaded) which presses the film on the housing. That is a work for precision milling and lathe machines and could be engineered quite easily, for sure if you can use 3D CAD.
But the other issue is the electronics. Because that donate electronic has for sure all of the functions in one chip or on one platine, which does not only control the reading and storage of the chip, but also shutter speeds (if there is still one), and more disturbing lens control.
At least that last part is not existing in the Rollei, that had no electronics for the lens, just mechanical, and can't manage your donate lens system either.
So you would have at least to manipulate the existing electronics, if that is possible at all, or develop your own electronics. Not impossible, but ...
I see the mechanical side feasible quite easy, but the electronic side not.
That may be the reason why nobody got that running yet.
Last point is, that camera is not very reliable. Every time I came home from beach holidays the electronic had given up, and I needed to send it to Rollei for repair, it did not like the salty beach air I guess. Plus mechanical issues turning up over time, it has plenty opportunities for such faults. Plus the rubbish battery problems.
In the end of the day you may just be able to re-use the Zeiss lenses, there are digital full frame bodies with short enough base to allow mounting them with an adapter, but mechanical lens mode only.
Finally, the purpose of changeable magazines got obsolete in digital cameras. You can do all in Photoshop or the camera, black and white, any ISO, let it look infrared etc.
That leaves the 3003 as an oddity you could still use, as much as I know there is still film available, even slides. But tbh, Photoshop can even simulate slide film look if you take your time, and use a beamer...
This camera died by digital photography. It is a great pity.

Tue, 13 Feb 2024 05:23:36 -0800

Analog to digital hacks often involve creative manipulation of signals or systems to convert information from High Speed Internet Providers one form to another. These ingenious solutions bridge the gap between old and new technologies, showcasing the adaptability and resourcefulness of problem solvers in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

Fri, 21 Jun 2024 23:57:46 -0700

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Title: Make Your Own Digital Back from Film SLR
Weblog: Camera Hacker
Excerpt: 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?
Tracked: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 14:01:30 -0800

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