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10-19-2015, 01:45 AM   #1
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Digital Back For Pentax ME Super

This is a project that I've been thinking about for a long time... a digital back for Pentax ME Super! I will start this project soon, maybe around Chrismas time. What I'm thinking of is taking apart a cheap 20.1MP point-and-shoot, then getting another back and modify it, or just jam all the stuff in the camera. Once I make a website for this project, I will put a countdown to when I will do it, than start progress updates. This is a big project for me... I need to do some research, then when I think I'm educated enough, I will try. I need to draw plans, and look at the camera and see what I need to do, where I am going to put all the stuff, things like that. Of course, it'll probably never hit the market, but it's worth a shot. I will try to put the link up... if it lets me. Hope me good luck, and also keep on shooting
UPDATE OF 10/26/2015: Well, I started. Sorry for not telling you. But, I took apart the P&S (got shocked by the darn flash capacitor), and the ME Super was sitting on my work table. I left the strap hanging off the side, then my cat came in. I tried to get him out, but I tripped over the strap, and the poor ME Super took a hard fall on the ground 4 feet below. The lens is useless, it's cracked. The ME Super, well... that poor thing is now a display item, the mirror broken off it's hinges (or whatever you call them), the film advancer stuck, and the shutter looks bent. I took off the bottom, and I saw little gears and just parts everywhere.


Last edited by camerakid; 10-26-2015 at 10:04 AM. Reason: Update
10-19-2015, 03:14 AM   #2
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Good luck with your project. I imagine you know that similar projects have been successfully undertaken on other film bodies.

Have you considered doing this with something better than a P&S sensor? I'm sure, for example, that the sensor from an older Pentax APS-C would produce a far better result than something as small as a 1/2.3 sensor, as good as the results from a Q might be. I wouldn't have thought that you'd get a good view of the image in the viewfinder, if you used a sensor that small.
10-19-2015, 03:45 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
Have you considered doing this with something better than a P&S sensor?
I think the driving force here is starting with a camera whose innards are already small enough in volume that they will fit inside an ME Super shell. I can't blame anyone for using that as their starting point.
10-19-2015, 04:03 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
I think the driving force here is starting with a camera whose innards are already small enough in volume that they will fit inside an ME Super shell. I can't blame anyone for using that as their starting point.
Yes, I can see that. However, the reason for using an SLR is surely that you'll be able to easily see what you've framed for the final image. Just as a reminder, the sensor size comparison chart below shows just what portion of the available viewfinder frame will be filled by a small sensor:


10-19-2015, 06:19 AM   #5
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I was thinking of trying a similar project myself...
Great minds think alike!
10-19-2015, 07:06 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by camerakid Quote
This is a project that I've been thinking about for a long time... a digital back for Pentax ME Super! I will start this project soon, maybe around Chrismas time. What I'm thinking of is taking apart a cheap 20.1MP point-and-shoot, then getting another back and modify it, or just jam all the stuff in the camera. Once I make a website for this project, I will put a countdown to when I will do it, than start progress updates. This is a big project for me... I need to do some research, then when I think I'm educated enough, I will try. I need to draw plans, and look at the camera and see what I need to do, where I am going to put all the stuff, things like that. Of course, it'll probably never hit the market, but it's worth a shot. I will try to put the link up... if it lets me. Hope me good luck, and also keep on shooting
I don't mean to throw a damper on your enthusiasm, but this might be a daunting task. In addition to a good knowledge of semiconductors, including the workings of various, often proprietary integrated circuits, you will need to be an accomplished surface mount technician capable of mounting and de-soldering tiny components without damaging them. You may need to have custom printed circuit boards made. You will need to be capable of very precise mechanical alignment of the sensor components in order to achieve something close to correct focus. And the list goes on.

But what the hey - if you have the time and patience - go for it!
10-19-2015, 07:41 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
However, the reason for using an SLR is surely that you'll be able to easily see what you've framed for the final image.
Depending on the sensor size he uses, the answer to that could well be "whatever's in the microprism zone"!
10-19-2015, 09:39 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by camerakid Quote
cheap 20.1MP point-and-shoot
Have you thought of using a lower price Sony A3000? I think you can get it used for < $150, or less, Good sensor, terrible screen and EVF. You take the good part of the camera and build an excellent one.

10-19-2015, 11:06 AM   #9
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The key is getting the sensor to register when you fire the shutter; it seems to me that the important thing is for it to stay active longer than the shutter takes to fire; after this, whether it's active is irrelevant because the shutter is now closed and no light is getting to it. So an activation signal would have to be dependent on shutter firing, beginning just before shutter travel with the sensor becoming quiescent again just after the second curtain finally dropped. If you eschewed the screen and any sort of preview, the next problem would be how to select your ISO.

It's the sort of rig I think a dedicated camera engineer at Pentax could whip up in very short order, but I think the road ahead for you is a lot longer. Best of luck.
10-19-2015, 11:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
The key is getting the sensor to register when you fire the shutter; it seems to me that the important thing is for it to stay active longer than the shutter takes to fire; after this, whether it's active is irrelevant because the shutter is now closed and no light is getting to it. So an activation signal would have to be dependent on shutter firing, beginning just before shutter travel with the sensor becoming quiescent again just after the second curtain finally dropped. If you eschewed the screen and any sort of preview, the next problem would be how to select your ISO..
All of which were problems that Silicon Film couldn't over come. After 3 years as vapor ware they showed what they claimed was a working product in 2001. But by then there were affordable APS-C DSLRs and no one wanted to deal with the limitations EFS-1 would have had.
10-19-2015, 11:29 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
All of which were problems that Silicon Film couldn't over come.
Nevertheless, we keep seeing attempts to digitalise mechanical SLRs, and I think eventually we're going to get to the point where the necessary electronics can be fitted inside the film body in a functional manner by someone capable of doing the job right. It'll be a boon for those who love playing with old lenses and old cameras (and all their limitations) and who probably want nothing more than a modestly sized JPEG with enough MP and IQ to turn out good six-by-fours. If film ever does truly die, I think there will be a big market for this - especially among the crowd who own early-model Spotmatics, K-1000s, and other film cameras whose shutter actuation is not dependent upon electrical power and whose meter circuitry could if necessary be reverse-engineered without too much trouble.
10-19-2015, 12:33 PM   #12
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This guy managed to cram APS-C sensor to a tiny film rangefinder.
frankencamera.wordpress.com
Operation seems surprisingly simple: "digital" part is operated in Bulb mode, and switch connected to shutter button activates capture mode slightly earlier than mechanical shutter.
10-19-2015, 12:38 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Nevertheless, we keep seeing attempts to digitalise mechanical SLRs, and I think eventually we're going to get to the point where the necessary electronics can be fitted inside the film body in a functional manner by someone capable of doing the job right. It'll be a boon for those who love playing with old lenses and old cameras (and all their limitations) and who probably want nothing more than a modestly sized JPEG with enough MP and IQ to turn out good six-by-fours. If film ever does truly die, I think there will be a big market for this - especially among the crowd who own early-model Spotmatics, K-1000s, and other film cameras whose shutter actuation is not dependent upon electrical power and whose meter circuitry could if necessary be reverse-engineered without too much trouble.
I think the market is exceedingly small. Think Leica type prices.
10-26-2015, 12:18 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
Good luck with your project. I imagine you know that similar projects have been successfully undertaken on other film bodies.

Have you considered doing this with something better than a P&S sensor? I'm sure, for example, that the sensor from an older Pentax APS-C would produce a far better result than something as small as a 1/2.3 sensor, as good as the results from a Q might be. I wouldn't have thought that you'd get a good view of the image in the viewfinder, if you used a sensor that small.
I never thought of that, i'll try to get a used Pentax dslr, thanks!

---------- Post added 10-26-15 at 12:28 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by grahame Quote
Have you thought of using a lower price Sony A3000? I think you can get it used for < $150, or less, Good sensor, terrible screen and EVF. You take the good part of the camera and build an excellent one.
I'll try that, thanks!
10-28-2015, 03:04 PM   #15
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This is why I dislike cats lol

I think it's doable. You don't have to modify circuitboards. You just have to relocate buttons and switches, and pick up a few small electronic items to bridge the gap. But yes, using a bigger APS-C sensor based camera makes more sense.
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