Digital Back to Film Camera

Mount a Sony Nex to the SLR Film Camera

All the photos in this pictorial were taken with a 1980 Nikon FE with a Sony Nex as the electric film. I will show you how I have assembled the internals of the Nex and mounted the Nex to the camera back. You will see that most of the internal mounting brackets are removed so the Motherboard can be close to the Sensor which is now on the other side of the Shutter. It would have been great to do away with the Shutter assembly, but the Nex software looks for it and the camera won’t work without it. In this configuration it is doing nothing but taking up space.

The Nex 5 I am using here was my first prototype. It has the shutter button forward over the battery compartment. I tried to scallop the Nex over the camera door to get a neat fit. The battery was going to be located in the Nikon MD11 motor drive and the Nex shutter button was new on the Nikon rear door. But my electronic skills are not this good and I was unable to get this working probably due to having shorted out the motherboard earlier.

I then purchased a white Sony Nex 3 and this had the shutter button as part of the On-Off switch on top of the camera. This was a lot easier as I did not scallop the Nex body, but just mounted the complete unit onto the camera door at a bit of an angle. Not as good looking but it works and no soldering involved. So in these pictures I have showed the rest of the Nex face plate with blue tape where I had removed it previously just to show that you should leave that part of the Nex body intact if mounting it as a complete unit.

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Locate the Nex over the sensor so you have enough room to look into the viewfinder but also that the sensor ribbon cables can reach the motherboard without being stressed.

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NEX face plate showing the cut away area where the shutter will sit. The blue tape is just to represent the rest of the Nex body as this mockup was my first failure

With the Nex disassembled, place the face plate in position and fix it at the points shown. I used the small screws out of an old computer housing. Just force screw them into the drilled aluminium and they cut their own thread on the way in. The area where the Shutter sits needs to be cut out, at the top end especially. You need to get this sloping down as close to the Sensor as possible.

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Place the Shutter in position with the small cable to the SD card already attached to it. The green tape is to represent the sensor connections.

Stick the Shutter down to the camera door with some double sided tape. Before you place the Motherboard over the Shutter, lay some insulation tape over both the Shutter motors each side so they don’t short out the Motherboard.

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Motherboard + Switch Panel + Battery compartment + SD Card all located. Now reconnect all the ribbon cables carefully. Ignore my cables which were going to a new shutter button.

This Nex 5 has a different Battery & SD Card layout to a Nex 3 which has them laying flat. I prefer to use two finger nails to snap down the long Zif connectors after a couple of failures where I sprung the black bar out. You can get them back in but need a strong magnifier to locate them back in the hinge slots on the connector (and a steady hand)! The cable that connects the Nex Lens is now not required so just leave it out. Same goes for the sensor cleaning frame that also connected to the Motherboard. There is a gold screw on the Motherboard that connects it to the Switch Panel. There is another one on the end of the SD Card. These need to go back in to bridge an earth connection between all these. If you do a setup like I originally tried to do, you will need to run a connecting wire between these gold screws to connect the SD Card cover to the Motherboard and Switch Panel. There is some sort of current flow required as my prototype would only turn on if I had that wire connected.

You could do a test run now. Connect the Button Panel and the LCD screen (layed off to the side). The unit should now fire up when the battery is inserted and turned on.

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Lay the insulation matt over the Motherboard. Connect the LCD to the Motherboard before recovering the cable on the back of the LCD. Then fit the Backing plate which will still have the LCD screen attached. Flip the Button Panel back over into position.

You will be able to find a few locations where some screws will go back in to hold some of this stuff in position. You might have to cut the cover plates off the internal framework for the external connection points so you can put them back in. I just tapped them all up except for the connection to the computer for downloading photos from the SD Card.

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Place the cover over the LCD and then snap into position.

The rear cover plate can now go on. Follow the same procedure as when you dismantled it. There will be some areas where you can no longer screw the pieces together as the framework has been removed. As the Nex needs to weatherproofed as well, I resorted to using black Tarzan tape to hold it together and to seal it to the camera door.

Well if it has all gone according to plan you should be good to go. Check the sensor under a bright light and magnifier and I bet it has lots of dust that needs careful cleaning. The Sensor is just held in place with Tarzan tape and allowed to float a bit so it drops nicely into the film box. I put some small foam light seal strips under mine so that I am sure it is sitting hard against the film rails and so has perfect focus.

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Sensor held in place with Tarzan Tape and foam strips at sides to push it agains the film rails.

A good way to test the Sensor for dust spots is to photograph the blue sky, replay and then zoom in and move the zoom across the picture. They really show up when on this bare sensor. Don’t be in a hurry to show everybody how you mounted the Sensor. Every time you open the camera door dust will jump onto your Sensor like a magnet. Give the camera a good blow out too, especially around it’s shutter. Once the Sensor is against the camera shutter and the filter against the shutter on the other side then the dust issue is a lot less trouble.

I will post another page soon on ways that I use the SLR with “electric film”. I trust you have learned a lot here and is of some use to you. Good luck with your project.

Robin

 

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