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SL66 Digital

We all know, digital photography has become a realistic alternative to film based photography. On this page we want to give advice about the use of digital techniques with a Rolleiflex SL66.

Rollei Fototechnik never offered a digital back for SL66 cameras. The constuction of the camera simply makes this impossible. For the electronic Rollei 6000 series however, several vendors offer high resolution backs. None of these will fit an SL66. Reason for this impossibility is the focal plane shutter, as the name says :almost in the focalplane. A digital back however has in front of it's focal plane CCd imaging chip a fairly thick protective glass. The thickness of this glass would touch and damage the shutter curtains. This problem does not exist with the leaf-shutter operated 6000 series.

A medium format transparency, when professionally scanned and printed, still outperforms any more or less similar sized digital camera in existence. A full size medium format CCd imaging chip is still too expensive to produce for realistic commercial production. And a new technology needed to overcome that technical problem is not yet known. Besides, as scanning techniques advance, scanning of a negative can always be redone with equal or even better results.

How can we go digital with an SL66 for under $ 300? Easily. All you need is a PC or PowerMac with suitable Film scanner.

To be able to enhance your pictures and print them on your own printer at home in stunning quality, we found the following procedure to deliver consistent and very professional results.

  1. Shoot your pictures as usual, preferably on transparency film.
  2. Scan the transparencies with Film Scanner at a resolution of 300-600 DPI and 200-300%  magnification. This will result in an uncompressed file (Tiff or PSD) sized between 20 and 70 MB.
  3. Edit the file in Adobe PhotoShop or similar program.
  4. Print using a good quality Photo Printer


That digital SL66 essay was written around 2002
by dr. Mark Meijers the former webmaster of

I abridged it a liitle and realize that digital technology advanced rapidly beyond expectations, but still: the above method works fine. Besides of that : my personal opinion is that storage of digital files ( images ) is still not 100% secure. With one digital error one can loose 1000's of images in a split second. A transparancy archive of that size needs at least some sort of destructive force of a decent size.

An other very disturbing issue is that the raw digital images made say , 8 years ago often can not even be read anymore with today's software. Imagine that in the 1970's one could only enlarge certain negatives of a certain film-brand with only an enlarger of that certain brand. The company would have vanished before the end of the PhotoKina !

But true is true , digital photography is superior in many fields especially where speed and time are prevailing and we can only hope that the amount of use of film will justify a viable production line for the reamaining film manufacturers for many, many years to come.

A recent discussion with some professional photographers gave me the confidence that it will be. Some have switched back to film, despite owning a top of the range pro digital. Reason: all above and the lack in performace in the top quality levels. They found it after all easier to perform at top quality levels with film as that they ever managed to do with digital.

An example of an other reason: they often come home with for instance a 1000 wedding photos, spending hours behind a computer selecting, cropping , adjusting etc. whereas they could drop off the film and have the prints ready the very next day , they now have to perform behind the computer and printer with all their digi-quirks !
A personal experience, I travelled far and away from civilisation. My digital camera battery was already flat, the car-based-battery-charger had burnt out, yet photo opportunities galore and still days to go. Happy oh man so happy as I was with my old back-up Rolleiflex camera .... !!! That Rolleiflex is no longer a backup anymore... the digital is OUT !

Another sign of hope for us die hards: while writing this is that Fuji re-released it's Velvia 50 film ( March 2007 ). And last but not least: there are many new, small scale medium format camera makers, quite a few emerging in China with often marvelous products like the FotoMan series.

Film sizes related to Digital file size

35mm 2000 dpi 18.0 Mb
35mm 5000 dpi 109.0 Mb
2-1/4 x 2-1/4 2000 dpi 60.8 Mb
2-1/4 x 2-1/4 5000 dpi 379.7 Mb
4" x 5" 2000 dpi 240.0 Mb
4" x 5" 5000 dpi 1500.0 Mb

Professional Scan service

Do you want to have your transparencies scanned on a professional film scanner?
Contact me with a description of sizes and the amount of transparencies to scan and I will give you a quote for the job done on my Professional Imacon Flextight Scanner - Model Flextight Precision 3. I charge a very reasonable tariff and being a Professional photographer I know how to handle your material.