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SL66/SLX-6008 digital back

The previous announced study to see f a digital back for the Rolleiflex SL66 would be possible has ended. Unfortunately there was not enough interest to even consider a prototype. Other options to use at least the Rolleiflex SL66 lenses are still in research. If any development arise I will post it here. Thanks to all those of you who responded so enthusiast , I am sorry it did not lead the hopeful results. THANKS !

SL66/SLX-6008 digital back

Postby manda » Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:05 pm

This sound as avery exciting news. Provided that the square format will be mantained.
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Digital Square

Postby rolleiclubleader » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:24 pm

Currently there is NO affordable square Digital imaging device available. The cost to produce even a 46x35 mm CCD or similar is already sky high. Reason for this is the immensely complicated manufacturing process, the complications of this process increase more than exponentially by the increase of size. But we are seriously looking in the best balance between size , price and performance. Being a professional photographer myself I have a pretty good idea what will be needed and what not. My idea of a good digital back is pretty much in line with the original Rollei digital backs. No frills , no complicated menu, just the basics like ISO setting, contrast setting, bracketing, image count, memory control. Basically a direct replacement of film with a few nice not over-kill extras. We will gladly include all Rolleiflex models in our study. So who knows a Digital Rolleicord perhaps ?
Stay in touch ! Jaap
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Postby manda » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:28 pm

Thanks for claryifing, Jaap.

by "maintaining the square format" i referered to the aspect ratio of the sensor being 1:1, not really to designing a 5,56x5.56 cm suare sensor. i know this has enormous costs.
the square ratio format i believe is the souls of cameras like Rolleis
:)
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Postby sienkin » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:20 am

This sounds like a great idea, similar to what Hasselblad has done for its V-series cameras, bringing them into the digital age.

However, I doubt that costs can be cut down significantly in the mdeium format. Looking at the digital backs currently available on the market, some of which can be used with the 6000-series Rollei's, prices should be upwards of $10,000-$12,000.

The idea is nevertheless worth looking into seriously, and I would be among the first to consider buying one, if it ever becomes available, for my SL66E, which is a great camera!!!
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Postby fuwen » Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:31 pm

I am still very much into film. And not being a professional who earns a living by photography, I very much doubt I will be into digital medium format unless the price will be very attractive. But judging from the price of a full frame DSLR I very much doubt the price will ever be appealing to me.
Contax RTS III / Aria - Rolleiflex 3003 / SL66 - Rollei 35 RF / Voigtlander R4M // Zeiss T* / HFT / ZM
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Postby Siraldenn » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:28 am

I am with Manda, a square format should be kept. Having an affordable digital back for the SL66 would be great. I got a 6003 with the idea of being able to add the digital back, but the cost was too high for the small gain.
Shooting film and scanning it with a Kikon 900ED was less expensive, allowed me to scan several formats up to 6x9 (I still use 6x9 cameras too), and get a higher res. image than the 12,000 back for the 6000 series cameras.
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Postby rolleiclubleader » Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:18 pm

Main issue with sensors suitable for medium format ( 6x6 in our situation ) is the excessive cost per sensor , this limits the choice very much. There is no option for a full frame 60x60 mm sensor possible anytime at all for existing cameras. If it ever comes available an entire new camera needs to be built around that sensor. The only square sensor available is about 40x40 mm , but in the 60x60 mm frame we can also fit a 40x55 mm sensor ( dimensions are approximate ) for the same cost. So if anyone wants to shoot square it is a matter of masking the finder when we are indeed going for a 40x55 mm sensor. If we go for a rectangular sensor we will build the unit so that it can be fitted in landscape or portrait position, so it will not be restricted to a fixed position as with some other brands. Currently we are awaiting an evaluation sensor to look at the mechanics ( fitting camera and sensor ) if we have overcome that the road is wide open to a serious digital back for Rolleiflex SL66 and the 6000 series. The electronics engineers involved have an outstanding record in digital imaging, it is just the novelty of fitting it in a SL66 for them. It will not be cheap, but we will seriously try to keep the cost well and truly under the $10000 mark. As soon we are convinced that the mechanical barrier can be taken ( and I know we already have on paper ) I will start a dedicated blog on this project and hope all interested will join the discussion in order to develop a digital back that has no equal.
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Postby sienkin » Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:19 am

What are you considering in terms of:
- number of megapixels;
- size of pixels (a major factor of quality);
- software?

By way of comparison, Hasselblad have developed the CVF 39 digital back for their V-system cameras. It includes a 39 Mpix, 36,7 x 49,0 mm sensor that can be used to shoot both square and rectangular images.

Square format: 36,7 x 36,7 mm (29 Mpix) - lens factor 1,5
Rectangular format: 36,7 x 49,0 mm (39 Mpix) - lens factor 1,1

ISO range: 50-800

The format is chosen at time of shooting through the digital back menus, and that information is saved in the file metadata. The square images are then cropped automatically by the software.

I've seen it advertised for about $15,000.
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Postby rolleiclubleader » Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:35 pm

Funny solution , perhaps a new way to save some Mb ? Resembles the amateur cameras with 'panoramic' setting , just crop the thing and you can sell it to dummys. Sorry me being cynical , but I am a kind of no frills type.

Besides of that I am convinced Hasselblad has put a terrific product on the market for its existing camera users. Based on the Imacon digital backs who also made the Flextight scanners of which I own one we only can expect it to be OK.

The Digital Back design for the Rolleiflex SL66 however will go a step further as the Hasselblad DB , we are focusing on a Sensor layout that can be fitted in Landscape or Portrait enabling us to maximize usability. In other words ' more usable pixels for your dollar ! ' . This week the first evaluation sensor will arrive from the factory, that will tell us IF we really can FIT the sensor in a SL66. Bear with me for hopefully great news to come early next week.
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Postby Siraldenn » Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:26 am

Using the 40x55 mm sensor gives the user several good choices, esp. when you can switch from horiz. (landscape) to vertical (portrait) or go with a square 40x40 format. Works for me. We live in exciting times, with a little effort anything is possible.
:)
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Postby rolleiclubleader » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:47 pm

Just a brief update now :
Extensive 'BrainStorming' has lead us to a basic design concept:
The SL66 DB will be as functional as the camera it self. No bells or whistles, as if you are shooting with film . The aesthetics of the camera will remain unchanged. The imaging output will blow the 'competition' away, our development team owns several digital imaging patents, until now only available to very specific scientific applications, they incorporate a range of image quality improvements unheard off in the normal photographic world, some of those will be incorporated in our design.
Please register your interest by replying to this forum post so we can keep you informed about the developments.
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SL66 digital back

Postby Siraldenn » Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:14 am

Sounds like a winner, keep up the great work.
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Postby sienkin » Sat Sep 05, 2009 8:56 am

:) This looks like a great start. I'm really looking forward to the coming developments, and will postpone my decision about upgrading my Blad, in case I can get comparable or even better quality and features for my SL66E, which is a superior camera.
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Postby droebbel » Sat Sep 05, 2009 8:01 pm

This sounds fantastic. I am perfectly fine with "no bells and whistles", as long as some kind of display doesn't count as such...
As for image quality: for me, the "normal" level of current DBs would suffice, at least in terms of resolution - I for myself would't want to pay more than necessary for DB that only shows its potential in certain situations with the s-planar.
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Postby manda » Sun Sep 13, 2009 6:02 am

well, well, definitely this is going to be interesting..i start paraying for the cost factor to be kept under control... and i do am interested!
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Postby john_s » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:51 pm

I'm interested. The landscape/portrait facility on a 40mm x 55mm sensor would be almost as good as 6x6 ends up being most of the time. Keep me posted.
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Postby Albert Barnes » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:47 am

Please add me to the list of the interested persons (have a SL66E and SE)

Regards
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Postby liac » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:11 am

I was looking at prices of digital backs and their price is not worth those advantages which digital give over films. And digital will never give so artistic image as film gives. You can use different developers for films which make the image look more artistic - for example large grain or small grain, high or small contrast and you cannot achieve it in image editor. Look what gorgeos pics can be made with film http://picsvintage.com/vintagepeoplegallerypic8.htm
It is not possible to obtain such image with digital back.
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Postby rolleiclubleader » Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:41 pm

Regarding artistry with film versus digital I agree when you look at the input by the 'artist' , image quality is a great discussion point. The web is swamped with those discussions. Currently I am preparing a huge online gallery of images made on film only. After having looked at digital for a few years I must say I am blown away by my own photos taken around 1999. But at the same time I noticed a huge increase in the quality of creative contents since digital took over 'the world'. News photos are in their greater numbers in general definitely better as when film ruled. Of course the film photographers of any quality made and still make top images, but the average Joe photographer produces higher quality. Reason ? Freedom to shoot , call it happy shooters what ever, but the burden of knowing to shoot money away each exposure with film subconsciously restricts creativity. Digital took away that burden and we shoot happy. That we have to replace our digital gear more often , have to fork out more money per camera(back) and computer etc. as that we ever spend on film / developer / enlarger seems to be of no importance. We love to fool our selves.
In professional photography an other ingredient has to be added: speed, time , competition.
And that all will push film aside. No matter how much we ( including me ) love the medium. But at the same time I believe firmly film will remain a part of the photographic scene because it is such a great artistic satisfying tool , digital will never be able to replace the feeling of creating an image on film. But digital is there to stay and rule and therefore I think a digital back for our SL66 system will find its way , regardless of its cost.
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Postby liac » Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:21 pm

Of course you are absolutely right that digital back makes work much easier but the point is that it gives dead colors. Digital CMOS matrixes as any matrixes consts of pixels but its one pixel can absorb only one color - green, red, or blue. On pixel cannot absord all three colors - so the colors in final image are interpolated - they are obtained from neighbouring pixels. It causes the following: coz ditial cameras cannot shoot black and white, they can shoot only colorful images coz their matrix is not capable to absorb only lightness like black and white film, the resulting image produced from interpolation of neighbouring pixels is not sharp. Moreover in order to remove artifacats caused by interpolation the processor in the digital camera or back makes software blurring and after that coz sharpness is completely lost, it makes software sharpening. So actually if your digital matrix is 50 megapixels and you pay for it 50000 euro actually you get three times lower resolution of 16.5 megapixels. But with film scanner like nikon 8000\9000 or drum scanner you get 120 honest megapixels. Only three-layer CCD matrixes like in sigma sd14 there is honest resolution without any interpolation and such matrixes are not made for medium format.
It is sure that digital backs will find there buyers among stock photographers and graphic designers and wedding photographers who need obtaining images in fast way but this is not pure photography. These images are dead without much editing in editors.
I know about some very rich people and they shoot with top models of mobile phones. This is very ridiculous. So probably you should not look for easy ways to make art. Art is always with complex techniques, be it editor with digital or film. And i am sure that prices to digital backs for MF and rollei cameras would cost several times cheaper if people stopped buying mobile phone cameras and bad cheap digital cameras. And 50 years there was not so much difference between top and low-budget cameras in quality and price as now but now people are accustomed to low quality and are satisfied with it.
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Postby aypeyret » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:28 am

Sounds like a very interesting project. Certainly not something I can afford as a student, but I am very interested in a solution for my 6008 that I will be able to afford later.

One idea to keep costs low, if it has not been patented... I have a 14 year old digital camera (Agfa Actioncam, similar to Minolta RD-175) that is ~1.5MP, a lot for its time. However, they managed to keep the costs lower than it would have been by not using 1 sensor with 1.5MP, but 3 sensors with .5MP, each of them slightly shifted with respect to the others so that merging all three .5MP images could give a 1.5MP. I do not know if that could be applied to a digital back today, or if that idea is definitely a technology of the past...
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Postby edwinb » Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:32 am

not to be contentious but clarifying 8)
the multishot cameraback takes totally non interpolated pixels and is working fine on MF such as 6008 or hy6
I think the only current production model is the HY6 with evolution 75
and it does take amazing images in one or 4 shot mode
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digital back for 6008i

Postby Rollei user » Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:23 am

Count me in.
I'm keen to have a digital back for my 6008i. I love using it, as I love my Sony A900 and Leica M6 - each is great at its own job. But a digital back would make me use my Rollei more.
Please admin could we have a list of what is available at present from Phase One, Imacon or whatever.
Thanks for invaluable service.
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Postby rolleiclubleader » Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:25 am

Currently none of the big Digital manufacturers offer a solution for our beloved SL66. That is why I searched a specialized DB maker. Found one but as it looks now it is a dead end. To expensive and to little numbers to make it economical. I am now searching and perhaps found ... an option to use the lenses for digital anyway. This would keep the camera as it is and have an extra system with our lenses for digital. Stay tuned !!
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Postby awildhaber » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:22 am

Yes I am interested. Whether I can afford it, is another question.

Thanks and Regards,

Alexander
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