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converting a 35mm cam to digital

#1 User is offline   crazy4laptops 

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 08:43 AM

I have the pentax sp500. (circa 1960) The shutter mechanism is not working properly, neither is the film advance assembly. (keeps slipping) The lenses are great and best of all, it was free.

I'm probably going to be bored sometime in the near future and I'd like to convert the pentax to digital. Nothing fancy, just something to mess around with on a saturday.

Any suggestions on a sacrifical digital camera?
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#2 User is offline   mcbarker 

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 08:49 AM

I don't think it can be done, and if it were possible, it would be an expensive conversion. It would probably cost less to buy a top of the line digital SLR and a couple of pro grade lenses. Some projects just aren't worth the trouble or expense.
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#3 User is offline   crazy4laptops 

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 09:11 AM

i think so, and i'm sticking with it. (Just something to mess around with on saturdays- read that carefully) I'm not looking to make pro grade photos from this.

I'm not spending $2000 on this project, only about $100 max. and that will go toward a digital camera that will be modified.
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#4 User is offline   rgreen4 

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 11:06 AM

If I read your post correctly, what you have is a basic dead camera body with very good lenses. I infer from you post that you are thinking about grafting these good lenses onto a digital camera.

Is that the general idea?

If that is essentially correct, you would be better off to sell the lenses, and lenses of that era to the right person may be worth some money. From that era, they would be totally manual lenses, so would not properly connect to any camera, film or digital, produced in the last decade.

You could search the internet for digital SLR's that may take pentax lenses, but putting those lenses on a modern camera would disable all the automatic setting functions. Trying to graft them onto a digital rangefinder camera I'm afraid would just wind up destroying both.
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#5 User is offline   mjd420nova 

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 01:27 PM

Back around 2002 I saw a digital film insert in Popular Science that was a device that took the place of a 35mm film cannister with a CCD surface that fit into the window of a 35 mm camera. The stated price was around $600. It looked like what I was looking for and just what you're interested in. I have never seen the device on the market nor has any camera store ever heard of it. I too have a Minolta X-370 body with a large cross section of lenses(50mm, 28 to 70mmzoom, 70 to 210 zoom and fixed 500mm). The body has become non-functional with a shutter slide that is hanging up and only gives a half frame image. I actually have two of them with the same malfunction. It would cost me $90. to fix it and I can buy a used one for the same price. Looking into a trade, two busted ones for a working one but have no takers yet. A home brew unit is what I'm interested in and have played around with a disposable digital unit but with the malfuntioning shutter slide, I'd have to remove the curtain and jury rig a shutter release to time the mirror flipping up with the length of time needed to image the CCD. With no camera skills but loads of electronics experience, I'm still playing around with the hardware and can't get past the near one second imaging time. I prefer 35mm to any digital out there as I like to have full control over the focus point, depth of field and aperature settings. I can take photos with a 35mm that you could never get with any digital on the market. Fast action shots are impossible unless you can have fast shutter speeds and very fast films(ASA1000). Good luck
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#6 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 03:21 PM

mjd420nova said:

I can take photos with a 35mm that you could never get with any digital on the market. Fast action shots are impossible unless you can have fast shutter speeds and very fast films(ASA1000). Good luck

As a side note, you would be suprise with what you can do with digital cameras these days. You can easily mimic the effects of different speed films and you can have fast shutter speeds (and can operate a digital camera with in full manual mode where you pick aperature/Fstop and shutter speeds). The main issue to be careful with digital cameras when trying to do action shots is shutter lag, but shutter lag is generally NOT an issue for digital SLR cameras...but can be a BIG issue with point and shoot cameras.



Point is my Dad's Nikon D200 can do everything his various Nikon 35mm cameras could do (to my knowledge at least) and a WHOLE lot more.
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#7 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 03:25 PM

crazy4laptops said:

I have the pentax sp500. (circa 1960) The shutter mechanism is not working properly, neither is the film advance assembly. (keeps slipping) The lenses are great and best of all, it was free.

I'm probably going to be bored sometime in the near future and I'd like to convert the pentax to digital. Nothing fancy, just something to mess around with on a saturday.


Any suggestions on a sacrifical digital camera?


Most likely you are outta luck. There are some reasonable modern 35 mm cameras that had lenses that could then be used on digital camera bodies by the same manufacturer, but I am guess that a camera that old would not be one of them.



You best bet is to just go buy a digital camera (with its own lenses) or if you want to make use of the lenses, see if you can find a used old Pentax 35mm body that will work with the lenses...maybe through eBay or its like.
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#8 User is offline   rgreen4 

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 07:47 PM

$600 will buy you a whole lot of Digital SLR without the hassle of a "conversion". That is probably why you don't find that product on the market. It may have been a prototype that never really was produced in any quanity.
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#9 User is offline   GoneFishing 

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 02:13 AM

if you got 600 dollars to spend you can buy a new Nikon D60 and 18 pieces, including a 8G sd mem card, 1 year warranty, and as for a film camera's better than a digital, it's obvious that you havent been in a camera store and checked them out in a few years
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#10 User is offline   mjd420nova 

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 07:58 AM

Yes, I have been a camera store in the last week, actually. To find a unit that would replace the optical abilities I have now would be so far out of my budget that I can't afford it right now, or in the future. I am not a professional, I have sold a few shots in the past years but only by luck and the shots in most caases were a mistake and not the type of photo I go looking for. If you're interested in playing with a digital CCD device, there a some pretty cheap disposable units out there that are fun to play with and it won't hurt the pocketbook. That's where I started and have worked up to some used ones that I was able to get for under $40. each with 4 MP and used the SD cards and offered USB ports. The cost of most digital units are primarily based on the size of the displays as the higher MP CCD devices have come down as the capacity has gone up. Shutter speeds are the biggest limiting factors in making a retrofit work and stop well short of being able to go beyond a one , one hundred twenty fifth of a second. Not fast enough for any sports to be of any use to me.
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#11 User is offline   smax013 

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 07:02 PM

mjd420nova said:

Yes, I have been a camera store in the last week, actually. To find a unit that would replace the optical abilities I have now would be so far out of my budget that I can't afford it right now, or in the future.


I am assuming it would mainly be lenses that would be the issue. "Consumer" level DSLRs (such as the Nikon D60) can do an AWFUL lot that older film cameras cannot do. The bank buster would be replacing lenses. While Nikons can use older lenses, there is a limit, especially if all your lenses are older, manual focus lenses. This would be especially true for more "telephoto" lenses, especially if you want "fast" lenses (i.e. lower available aperature settings).
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#12 User is offline   rosserver 

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 09:58 AM

Just search for the term "digital back" they have been available for years
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