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Leica's digital back

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Anonymous
August 11, 2005 5:53:26 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital.slr-systems (More info?)

This thing is apparently a "stand-alone" device that
allows you to jump back and forth between film or digital.
But what if you wanted to use the basic "ingredients" to convert
other SLRs into digital cameras, utilizing the standard film
shutter/mirror arrangements? There must be more to it than
simply bolting on the back? Or, is the sensor literally always
"on" and is exposed when the camera's normal shutter/mirror is
tripped? There must be some kind of connection between the shutter
release and the electronics of the digital back.
-Rich

More about : leica digital back

Anonymous
August 11, 2005 1:08:32 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital.slr-systems (More info?)

RichA <none@none.com> writes:
> This thing is apparently a "stand-alone" device that allows you to
> jump back and forth between film or digital. But what if you wanted
> to use the basic "ingredients" to convert other SLRs into digital
> cameras, utilizing the standard film shutter/mirror arrangements?
> There must be more to it than simply bolting on the back? Or, is
> the sensor literally always "on" and is exposed when the camera's
> normal shutter/mirror is tripped? There must be some kind of
> connection between the shutter release and the electronics of the
> digital back.

Don't know about the Leica, but I still use a Nikon N90s (originally
a film camera) with a detachable 6 Mpx digital back made by Kodak.

If you look at the photo on this page:
http://folk.uio.no/gisle/photo/dcs460.html
you'll see a thick cord running from the digital back to the 10-pin
terminal that is on the right hand side of the body. This was
originally designed ny Nikon to allow the camera to be remotely
controlled (for instance by a computer), but it also let Kodak's
engineers design a digital back that integrated seamlessly with the
camera's electronics, so that the back "knew" about the shutter being
fired, etc.

I would imagine that Leica has engineered a similar interface
between its body and the digital back.
--
- gisle hannemyr [ gisle{at}hannemyr.no - http://folk.uio.no/gisle/ ]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kodak DCS460, Canon Powershot G5, Olympus 2020Z
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Anonymous
August 11, 2005 6:40:32 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital.slr-systems (More info?)

In article <q5r7d1vtlb.fsf@kuusi.ifi.uio.no>,
Gisle Hannemyr <gisle+news@ifi.uio.no> wrote:
>RichA <none@none.com> writes:

[ ... ]

>> normal shutter/mirror is tripped? There must be some kind of
>> connection between the shutter release and the electronics of the
>> digital back.
>
>Don't know about the Leica, but I still use a Nikon N90s (originally
>a film camera) with a detachable 6 Mpx digital back made by Kodak.
>
>If you look at the photo on this page:
> http://folk.uio.no/gisle/photo/dcs460.html
>you'll see a thick cord running from the digital back to the 10-pin
>terminal that is on the right hand side of the body. This was
>originally designed ny Nikon to allow the camera to be remotely
>controlled (for instance by a computer), but it also let Kodak's
>engineers design a digital back that integrated seamlessly with the
>camera's electronics, so that the back "knew" about the shutter being
>fired, etc.

This is the same with the NC2000e/c Made by Kodak for the AP
back around 1996 or so).

If you care, the latest version of dcraw now works properly with
the images from this camera. (Before, he had been working from a
corrupted image, and I gave him a proper copy of a shot of the MacBeth
color checker chart.

Now, the colors come out looking reasonable, instead of wildly
skewed.

Enjoy,
DoN.

--
Email: <dnichols@d-and-d.com> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
(too) near Washington D.C. | http://www.d-and-d.com/dnichols/DoN.html
--- Black Holes are where God is dividing by zero ---
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Anonymous
August 11, 2005 7:41:01 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital.slr-systems (More info?)

On Thu, 11 Aug 2005 09:08:32 +0200, Gisle Hannemyr
<gisle+news@ifi.uio.no> wrote:

>RichA <none@none.com> writes:
>> This thing is apparently a "stand-alone" device that allows you to
>> jump back and forth between film or digital. But what if you wanted
>> to use the basic "ingredients" to convert other SLRs into digital
>> cameras, utilizing the standard film shutter/mirror arrangements?
>> There must be more to it than simply bolting on the back? Or, is
>> the sensor literally always "on" and is exposed when the camera's
>> normal shutter/mirror is tripped? There must be some kind of
>> connection between the shutter release and the electronics of the
>> digital back.
>
>Don't know about the Leica, but I still use a Nikon N90s (originally
>a film camera) with a detachable 6 Mpx digital back made by Kodak.
>
>If you look at the photo on this page:
> http://folk.uio.no/gisle/photo/dcs460.html
>you'll see a thick cord running from the digital back to the 10-pin
>terminal that is on the right hand side of the body. This was
>originally designed ny Nikon to allow the camera to be remotely
>controlled (for instance by a computer), but it also let Kodak's
>engineers design a digital back that integrated seamlessly with the
>camera's electronics, so that the back "knew" about the shutter being
>fired, etc.
>
>I would imagine that Leica has engineered a similar interface
>between its body and the digital back.

That was the key divergence in design. Later digitals are all "all
digital" except for a few exceptions. It must be cheaper to do.
I just can't help thinking that taking an old metal 35mm body and
having a digital back on it would be a kick. But then, there are
things like batteries and storage that need electronic integration
and that isn't for the "hobbyist."
-Rich
Anonymous
August 12, 2005 4:08:38 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital.slr-systems (More info?)

On Thu, 11 Aug 2005 15:41:01 -0400, RichA <none@none.com> wrote:

>I just can't help thinking that taking an old metal 35mm body and
>having a digital back on it would be a kick.

So its not made by Canon.

PLONK
---------------------
Remember Glencoe.
Visit:
http://members.aol.com/Skyelander/glencoe.html
---------------------
Anonymous
August 16, 2005 3:23:57 PM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital.slr-systems (More info?)

RichA <none@none.com> writes:

> On Thu, 11 Aug 2005 09:08:32 +0200, Gisle Hannemyr
> <gisle+news@ifi.uio.no> wrote:
>
>>RichA <none@none.com> writes:
>>> This thing is apparently a "stand-alone" device that allows you to
>>> jump back and forth between film or digital. But what if you wanted
>>> to use the basic "ingredients" to convert other SLRs into digital
>>> cameras, utilizing the standard film shutter/mirror arrangements?
>>> There must be more to it than simply bolting on the back? Or, is
>>> the sensor literally always "on" and is exposed when the camera's
>>> normal shutter/mirror is tripped? There must be some kind of
>>> connection between the shutter release and the electronics of the
>>> digital back.
>>
>>Don't know about the Leica, but I still use a Nikon N90s (originally
>>a film camera) with a detachable 6 Mpx digital back made by Kodak.
>>
>>If you look at the photo on this page:
>> http://folk.uio.no/gisle/photo/dcs460.html
>>you'll see a thick cord running from the digital back to the 10-pin
>>terminal that is on the right hand side of the body. This was
>>originally designed ny Nikon to allow the camera to be remotely
>>controlled (for instance by a computer), but it also let Kodak's
>>engineers design a digital back that integrated seamlessly with the
>>camera's electronics, so that the back "knew" about the shutter being
>>fired, etc.
>>
>>I would imagine that Leica has engineered a similar interface
>>between its body and the digital back.
>
> That was the key divergence in design. Later digitals are all "all
> digital" except for a few exceptions. It must be cheaper to do.

More that it's lighter and smaller. No film-wind mechanism needed, no
space allocated to a film casette.

> I just can't help thinking that taking an old metal 35mm body and
> having a digital back on it would be a kick. But then, there are
> things like batteries and storage that need electronic integration
> and that isn't for the "hobbyist."
> -Rich

--
-Stephen H. Westin
Any information or opinions in this message are mine: they do not
represent the position of Cornell University or any of its sponsors.
Anonymous
August 17, 2005 4:06:09 AM

Archived from groups: rec.photo.digital.slr-systems (More info?)

In article <q7anf1pvmk9hh9jjekhis5r95h6oblma08@4ax.com>,
RichA <none@none.com> wrote:
>On Thu, 11 Aug 2005 09:08:32 +0200, Gisle Hannemyr
><gisle+news@ifi.uio.no> wrote:

[ ... ]

>>I would imagine that Leica has engineered a similar interface
>>between its body and the digital back.
>
>That was the key divergence in design. Later digitals are all "all
>digital" except for a few exceptions. It must be cheaper to do.
>I just can't help thinking that taking an old metal 35mm body and
>having a digital back on it would be a kick. But then, there are
>things like batteries and storage that need electronic integration
>and that isn't for the "hobbyist."

I have two such cameras. Started life as Nikon N90s (and N90)
camera bodies. Kodak added a digital back and sub-base to the camera
(originally for the AP).

Interface to the camera is through the fancy remote interface
(10 pins -- for more than just a remote shutter release button).

As for the battery problem -- the base contained the
electronics, the PCMCIA hard disk drive, the microphone, the SCSI
interface to the computer, and eight rechargeable AA sized cells in a
sealed pack. A pair of wires, run through a regulator, were soldered
into the battery holder for the N90s and that was plugged into the
bottom of the body as the camera and sensor were joined.

The only problems, from my point of view (other than the rather
limited 1.3 MP resolution, and the weird RAW format (the only choice)
which has only recently been handled *properly* by dcraw (thanks,
David), were that the camera felt that it had to advance the "film" with
every shot, wasting a bit of battery life and producing more noise

Also, when you changed PCMCIA disk drives, the camera started
counting image file names from the frame number stored in the camera,
which was never reset to zero, because there was no film to rewind and
reload. :-)

Image file names were the frame number multiplied by ten, and
thus incremented in steps of ten (to save the intermediate file names
for the voice annotation records via the built-in microphone. These
frame numbers would count up to 99 and then roll over, causing the file
names to sort out of image order. Once the camera took the full 99
exposures, it then would increment another digit so the names would jump
past the earlier exposures. So -- looking at a directory listing of the
results of a day's active shooting, you would get:

DSC00000.TIF <---------- Next shots -------------------------------+
. |
. |
DSC00440.TIF >------------Now we jump to ----------------------------+
| |
DSC00450.TIF <-- First shot on newly formatted PCMCIA hard disk | |
. | |
. | |
. | |
DSC00990.TIF >- Rollover point -- goes to -------------------------+ |
|
DSC01000.TIF <---- first shot past the initial 100 numbers -----------+
.
. and continue to
.
DSC02240.TIF >--- Final end exposure number.

Yes -- you could sort by date/time instead of alpha-numerically,
but the alpha-numeric sort order is the default.

I never did find a way to reset the frame number to zero when
changing a PCMICA disk drive -- even after telling the camera to
"rewind" the "film". (It made appropriate grunching noises, but I guess
that the frame number would not set to zero until you either opened the
back (not a reasonable option with a digital), or perhaps even until you
fed it some film to actually "load". (I'm not sure what the behavior of
the frame counter with real film was, as I don't have the backs to use
the camera with film.)

So -- you can see that there can be some problems with
integrating a digital back into a film camera not made for it. (FWIW,
the converted camera also did not have a LCD image display, so
"chimping" was not an option. The only thing the display on the small
LCD on the back told you was the number of exposures remaining on the
diskdrive (247 exposures on a 640 MB PCMCIA hard drive), and a
six-segment "pie chart" to show you graphically how much of the disk
drive you had used. Also, there was a battery charge indicator. (It
would also display the SCSI ID when you were changing that.)

Since the batteries were hard-wired into the back/sub-base, you
could not change them in the field, and you had several hours of
charging time before the camera became fully usable again.

But yes -- such things *do* exist -- and these would work well
with the older Nikon AI lenses. (But, it would *not* work with pre-AI
lenses, unless you replaced or modified the aperture ring to add the AI
tabs to the older lens.

Enjoy,
DoN.
--
Email: <dnichols@d-and-d.com> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
(too) near Washington D.C. | http://www.d-and-d.com/dnichols/DoN.html
--- Black Holes are where God is dividing by zero ---
!