Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Started Feb 24, 2017 | Discussions
ruxj New Member • Posts: 12
Digital Back for Rollei SL66
8

I am a new member of dpreview forum.    I am a retired engineer, I have a nice set of Rolleiflex SL66 system.     I like the SL66 very much, I bought my first SL66 in 1970s and have since bought many lenses and attachments.    Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to shoot films anymore, especially in Thailand, because it is difficult to buy 120 roll film and more difficult to process them.

I have been trying to find some digital solution for my SL66 for many years.     Finally my efforts pay off, I was able to make some progress last year and I have refined my set up until I am finally able to make it practical enough to use.     I hope the information is helpful for our members.

Recently, I made an adapter that allows me to attach my Phase One P25 Digital back (that was made for the Hasselblad V camera) onto my Rollei SL66 camera body. With some small modification to my Phase One P25 back and almost no modification to my SL66 body, I can hold the digital back in place. The sensor of the Phase One P25 back can be placed just inside the film opening of the SL66 body, thus allowing a full use of the sensor (37mm x 49mm), although the sensor had to be located slightly off center of the lens axis. I suspect that the amount of the offset might create some degradation of the picture, but it seems small price to pay for the ability to use all lenses and virtually all attachments in my Rollei SL66 collection.

I will post a few pictures to demonstrate the set up I described above. I am happy to share all the information about the adapter with any member who is interested. I hope the idea would allow us SL66 fans to enjoy our camera system and perhaps we can use it more and make more pictures...

IainD Senior Member • Posts: 2,348
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

I can hardly wait to see the results. I would also like to see pictures of the setup if you would share!

Iain

OP ruxj New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Dear Lain, Continue from last part... hope my post and picture went out OK.    If not I will try again, please bear with me...

2. I have to make an adapter that will allow the digital back to be mounted in the right place at the back of the SL66.    This is just a simple mechanical design problem, and I am sure many people can do a much better job, but I tried to make one and it seems to work OK, not the prettiest, but seems to work fine.    In my design, I made an aluminum frame that fits behind the SL66 body.    The SL66 body does not make this easy, because the focusing mechanism is big and in the way, so my frame has to be very very thin in this area, in order to allow me to mount the digital so that the sensor stays within the film opening of the SL66 body.    The thin section is only about 1 mm thick, but my 6064 T3 aluminum alloy is strong enough to do the job.

3. The digital back must be able to operate by itself and the software to drive it must be readily available.    For this, the Phase One back is perfect, because it can be used with any kind of body, all it needs is for us to "wake it up" and fire off the shot within 4-5 seconds.    PLUS the Capture One DB software is available for download free of charge and the software is very stable and nice to use.    Therefore, I just stay with the Phase One digital back.

The SL66 with Phase One H25 Digital Back attached, a view from the back side.

Another view from the left side showing the sync cable and the "wake up" push button

To verify the infinity focusing issue, I took this picture in Bangkok with the set up to show infinity focusing.

OP ruxj New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66
2

Dear Lain, Thanks for your reply and comment.    I am new and am still learning to post things onto the forum.    I will try my best to show what I did, please bear with me...     I started last year by trying to find a digital back that was readily available in the market that I can easily adapt to my SL66.    There are three things I had to figure out, of course, they are the same things that have been pointed out many times by SL66 users.

1. Find a back that has the sensor plane located as close to the SL66 as possible, so that we can focus at infinity and thus ALL front lens attachments as well as the finders can be used.    By luck, I had a Hasselblad 503CX that I used with a Phase One H25 digital back to shoot in the studio.    Perhaps during the time Rollei developed the SL66 in the 1960s, they were following the Hasselblad design from the optics to the placement of the magazine back etc.    I experimented with the H25 (made for Hasselblad V) by simply sticking it onto the back of the SL66 and found to my surprise that I can focus with the SL66 WITHOUT ANY modification.     I will try to insert a picture of this set up so you are clear.

The Rollei SL66 that has been fitted with an adapter onto which we can mount the H25 digital back

I just have to make an adapter which is nothing more than an aluminum frame that can be attached to the back of the SL66 and onto which I can attach the H25 back.    It is the aluminum part you can see in the picture.

OP ruxj New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66
2

After the initial success, I went in and made a nice set up to use my SL66 with my H25 and H20 backs.     However, as you know, the H20 and H25 are made for studio work and therefore, they need to be tethered to a computer.    So I had to make a small cart to take my SL66, the computer and the IEEE 1394 Firewire repeater along during the shoot.    This set up was quite hard to move around and so I had to move to a more portable set up.    For this I chose the Phase One P25 digital back, which is exactly the same as the H25 but has all the necessary features to make it portable and very nice to move around.     The only sticky issue was the access to the CF card, which was solved with ES&S GMBH, CF Card Extender (www.esskabel.de).

The portable solution, SL66 with Phase One P25 back and the TTL meter finder.

view from the back

A view from the left side.

With the portable solution, I can go on location and focus on shooting and not have to worry too much about the computer, the firewire repeater etc.    It makes it much more fun to shoot.     The H25 was a nice start and gave me a lot of idea but the best way it the portable solution.

By the way, last weekend, I was in Khao Yai and ran into the local Lamborghini gathering, so I took a few shots just for fun...

Lamborghini Gallardo, Huracan, SL66E 40mm Distagon

Lamborghini Aventador, SL66E 40mm Distagon

Portable Solution is the way to go...

IainD Senior Member • Posts: 2,348
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Fantastic! Great work

I

OP ruxj New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Dear Iain,  Thanks for your comment, sorry but just realized that I have been spelling your name incorrectly, sorry...

rux

IainD Senior Member • Posts: 2,348
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

ruxj wrote:

Dear Iain, Thanks for your comment, sorry but just realized that I have been spelling your name incorrectly, sorry...

rux

Please don't worry about it! My spelling is the Scottish way. In England it is Ian, and the Welsh and Irish have their own versions.

Many people think it is Lain. I only correct it for legal documents!

Great wort on the Rollei. I have a Hasselblad 500CM

I

IainD Senior Member • Posts: 2,348
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Extremely impressive work

I

RalphMoesges New Member • Posts: 1
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Dear Ruxj,

great news, that we have been waiting for since the turn of the century!

I am a fanatic Rollei SL66 user, always keep some 120s in my fridge.

But the digi-back is what I have always dreamed of.

Will you be able to produce the adapters for hard-core SL66 users like me?

I shall be in Thailand on a lecture tour at the beginning of May, so I would love to pick up the equipment there. (I am currently in the USA (GMT-5) but returning to Europe (GMT+1) tomorrow.

Very best wishes

Ralph

Khun_K
Khun_K Senior Member • Posts: 1,499
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

ruxj wrote:

I am a new member of dpreview forum. I am a retired engineer, I have a nice set of Rolleiflex SL66 system. I like the SL66 very much, I bought my first SL66 in 1970s and have since bought many lenses and attachments. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to shoot films anymore, especially in Thailand, because it is difficult to buy 120 roll film and more difficult to process them.

I have been trying to find some digital solution for my SL66 for many years. Finally my efforts pay off, I was able to make some progress last year and I have refined my set up until I am finally able to make it practical enough to use. I hope the information is helpful for our members.

Recently, I made an adapter that allows me to attach my Phase One P25 Digital back (that was made for the Hasselblad V camera) onto my Rollei SL66 camera body. With some small modification to my Phase One P25 back and almost no modification to my SL66 body, I can hold the digital back in place. The sensor of the Phase One P25 back can be placed just inside the film opening of the SL66 body, thus allowing a full use of the sensor (37mm x 49mm), although the sensor had to be located slightly off center of the lens axis. I suspect that the amount of the offset might create some degradation of the picture, but it seems small price to pay for the ability to use all lenses and virtually all attachments in my Rollei SL66 collection.

I will post a few pictures to demonstrate the set up I described above. I am happy to share all the information about the adapter with any member who is interested. I hope the idea would allow us SL66 fans to enjoy our camera system and perhaps we can use it more and make more pictures...

I used to do it many years ago using the P25 on my Twinlens Rolleiflex and Linhof 612PC II and the challenge is to do a accurate masking so you know what you are really capture.  There will not be any deviation because I assume it is still within the image circle - if the offset is not by much.

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OP ruxj New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

RalphMoesges wrote:

Dear Ruxj,

great news, that we have been waiting for since the turn of the century!

I am a fanatic Rollei SL66 user, always keep some 120s in my fridge.

But the digi-back is what I have always dreamed of.

Will you be able to produce the adapters for hard-core SL66 users like me?

I shall be in Thailand on a lecture tour at the beginning of May, so I would love to pick up the equipment there. (I am currently in the USA (GMT-5) but returning to Europe (GMT+1) tomorrow.

Very best wishes

Ralph

Dear Ralph,

Thanks for your comment, YES I will be very happy to provide the adapter for you when you come to Thailand in May.    It is very primitive, hope you do not mind...

Rux

OP ruxj New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Khun_K wrote:

ruxj wrote:

I am a new member of dpreview forum. I am a retired engineer, I have a nice set of Rolleiflex SL66 system. I like the SL66 very much, I bought my first SL66 in 1970s and have since bought many lenses and attachments. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to shoot films anymore, especially in Thailand, because it is difficult to buy 120 roll film and more difficult to process them.

I have been trying to find some digital solution for my SL66 for many years. Finally my efforts pay off, I was able to make some progress last year and I have refined my set up until I am finally able to make it practical enough to use. I hope the information is helpful for our members.

Recently, I made an adapter that allows me to attach my Phase One P25 Digital back (that was made for the Hasselblad V camera) onto my Rollei SL66 camera body. With some small modification to my Phase One P25 back and almost no modification to my SL66 body, I can hold the digital back in place. The sensor of the Phase One P25 back can be placed just inside the film opening of the SL66 body, thus allowing a full use of the sensor (37mm x 49mm), although the sensor had to be located slightly off center of the lens axis. I suspect that the amount of the offset might create some degradation of the picture, but it seems small price to pay for the ability to use all lenses and virtually all attachments in my Rollei SL66 collection.

I will post a few pictures to demonstrate the set up I described above. I am happy to share all the information about the adapter with any member who is interested. I hope the idea would allow us SL66 fans to enjoy our camera system and perhaps we can use it more and make more pictures...

I used to do it many years ago using the P25 on my Twinlens Rolleiflex and Linhof 612PC II and the challenge is to do a accurate masking so you know what you are really capture. There will not be any deviation because I assume it is still within the image circle - if the offset is not by much.

Dear K,   You are exactly right about framing the capture!   Your P25 on the twinlens Rolleiflex sounds like a great idea, so creative!!!    Would like to hear more if you can share...

Regards, Rux

Khun_K
Khun_K Senior Member • Posts: 1,499
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

ruxj wrote:

Khun_K wrote:

ruxj wrote:

I am a new member of dpreview forum. I am a retired engineer, I have a nice set of Rolleiflex SL66 system. I like the SL66 very much, I bought my first SL66 in 1970s and have since bought many lenses and attachments. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to shoot films anymore, especially in Thailand, because it is difficult to buy 120 roll film and more difficult to process them.

I have been trying to find some digital solution for my SL66 for many years. Finally my efforts pay off, I was able to make some progress last year and I have refined my set up until I am finally able to make it practical enough to use. I hope the information is helpful for our members.

Recently, I made an adapter that allows me to attach my Phase One P25 Digital back (that was made for the Hasselblad V camera) onto my Rollei SL66 camera body. With some small modification to my Phase One P25 back and almost no modification to my SL66 body, I can hold the digital back in place. The sensor of the Phase One P25 back can be placed just inside the film opening of the SL66 body, thus allowing a full use of the sensor (37mm x 49mm), although the sensor had to be located slightly off center of the lens axis. I suspect that the amount of the offset might create some degradation of the picture, but it seems small price to pay for the ability to use all lenses and virtually all attachments in my Rollei SL66 collection.

I will post a few pictures to demonstrate the set up I described above. I am happy to share all the information about the adapter with any member who is interested. I hope the idea would allow us SL66 fans to enjoy our camera system and perhaps we can use it more and make more pictures...

I used to do it many years ago using the P25 on my Twinlens Rolleiflex and Linhof 612PC II and the challenge is to do a accurate masking so you know what you are really capture. There will not be any deviation because I assume it is still within the image circle - if the offset is not by much.

Dear K, You are exactly right about framing the capture! Your P25 on the twinlens Rolleiflex sounds like a great idea, so creative!!! Would like to hear more if you can share...

Regards, Rux

It was an experiment and fun although not really practical because it changes the balance of the camera and became quite clumsy to use practically. I was actually thinking about using my old Rollei 3003 modify with a SONY A7 to use for fun.  I got only 2 lenses on Rollei 3003 and was so old that needing some cleaning.

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DogDogKing New Member • Posts: 2
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Wonderful Job, you builded a powerful tools! I want to diy a large format cable for my p30+, but there is 8 pins head. Do you know which pins is the wake up and sync connect to lens?

OP ruxj New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

DogDogKing wrote:

Wonderful Job, you builded a powerful tools! I want to diy a large format cable for my p30+, but there is 8 pins head. Do you know which pins is the wake up and sync connect to lens?

Thanks for your post, I did a very crude check on your question, hope you don't mind... I have a Phase One 50300143 long sync cable for use with my P30+ back (for Mamiya 645 AFD) and check the connection.    I took a picture of my result (attached), if you look directly at the female 8-pin connector using the notch as reference with the pins 1..8 clockwise from it, I found that pin 1 is connected to the center (A) of the male sync plug and pin 7 connected to the outer shell (B) of the sync plug.    I then conclude that by shorting pin 1 to pin 7 you can wake up the P30+ back.     I have not had a chance to check with my back yet though.   Hope it helps...

DogDogKing New Member • Posts: 2
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

^^ Thank you, you are so nice. This will be my weekend project~!

(unknown member) Regular Member • Posts: 165
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Woah! Cool setup and cool pictures! Thank you for posting this here.

philbekker New Member • Posts: 3
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

Just seeing this now and a Rollei SL66 owner. Interested in all details please.

Thank you.

Phil@bekker.com

OP ruxj New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Digital Back for Rollei SL66

philbekker wrote:

Just seeing this now and a Rollei SL66 owner. Interested in all details please.

Thank you.

Phil@bekker.com

Dear Phil, Thanks so much for your comment and interest.   I love my SL66 system, the setup I presented was my desperate attempt to keep enjoying my SL66 system.   I also have a Hasselblad 503CX system with Phase One H20, H25 and P25 digital backs.   I found that for some reason (a design coincidence?) the SL66 and 503CX backs have very close dimension from back interface to the film plane.   So I could place my Hasselblad Phase One P25 back on the back of my SL66 and the focus is very close.    The only drastic thing I need to do is to remove the bezel around the image sensor to allow the back to seat perfectly against the SL66 body (it's probably not a very good idea to remove the bezel, but I was desperate!).   Perhaps the Rollei SL66 and Hasselblad 500 systems were designed around the same era, they used the same Carl Zeiss optics and probably shared a lot of the similar features and proportions...    Please let me know if there is anything specifically you would like to know, I am very happy to share my trial and error experience...   I hope I could help you enjoy your beautiful SL66 system for many more years.   Rux

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