• Matt Daughtrey
  • Description: I have modified a mirrorless digital SLR camera for use in an 8mm-film to video conversion process. I have modified an 8mm projector to project one frame at a time under computer control, and then I trigger the camera's shutter to photograph that image. A typical 8mm film contains roughly 4800 frames.

    Camera mod #1:
    If Necessity is the mother of Invention, then her goofy sister is Stupidity. My mistake when I bought the camera was forgetting to make sure the shutter could be triggered remotely. Doh. I bought the service manual, disassembled my very expensive and new DLSR and soldered wires across the shutter switch so it could be triggered via relay.

    Camera mod #2:
    For this mod I blame the manufacturer who shall remain nameless but fittingly rhymes with HAMSTRUNG. An external power supply is listed among the accessories but they never actually made it, so I did.

    Camera mod#3:
    This is the biggie. For some reason I thought 'mirrorless' meant shutterless. One 8mm film is roughly 4800 shutter actuations and I had scanned about 40 films for a grand total of 192,000 images. I don't know what the shutter is rated for but after a while it started sticking and the camera would hang waiting for the shutter to finish actuating.

    So I took it out! This involved removing the springs and solenoids that actuate the shutter and installing an Atmel ATTiny45 to convince the rest of the camera that the shutter was just fine thank you. I love Atmel.

    Camera mod #4:
    I started out projecting onto a screen and photographing but you end up with off-axis problems where the image is skewed. I finally got the spine to mount the camera directly facing the project but the lens couldn't focus close enough.

    So I took it out! Now the projector projects directly onto the image sensor. The camera was complaining that it didn't have a lens but it turns out that a simple microswitch so that was easily shorted out.
  • Detailed Instructions: 1. Carefully research available camera options, paying attention to sensor size, low-light performance, maximum SD card capacity and manual control options.

    2. Purchase and receive camera.

    3. Slap forehead upon realization that it doesn't have remote shutter control.

    4. Buy the service manual, take a deep breath and bust out the soldering iron.

    4a. Pause for brief moment of pride.

    5. Slap forehead upon realization that the external power supply accessory is a FICTION, build external power supply.

    6. Repeat step 4a.

    7. Modify 8mm projector, write code and connect relay to camera, build software workflow.

    8. Take 192,000 pictures.

    9. Slap forehead upon realization that your mirrorless camera still has a mechanical shutter and it's wearing out.

    10. Take several deep breaths, dig out your oscilloscope and logic analyzer, hack up your expensive and delicate camera, program an ATTiny45 and shove it back in there.

    11. Repeat step 4a twice.

    12. Get an enlarger off of and use it to make a bracket for mounting the camera.

    13. Remove the lens, put a solder blob across the switch that says whether there's a lens or not.

    14. Take lots more pictures.

    15. Repeat step 4a as necessary.