This page is about what I did to adapt the Rollei Panshot for use with the Arca Swiss Monolith.
Please click on any of the small images to see larger versions.
When I was considering which large format camera I would want to use, that I could use for both film
and digital photography, the one that seemed the best to me (and still does) is the Arca Swiss Monolith.
There's one argument against using the same camera for both which is that the digitally optimized lenses
do a better job, but have much smaller image circles, so if both different backs and different lenses are
in play, one might as well get a camera optimized for digital use as well. One argument against that, I
think, is that with a camera adaptable to both uses, the digital back can be used sort of like a polaroid
back, to test exposure before using up a piece of film
The digital back I have was originally purchased for use with my Rollei 6008 camera, and when I looked
at ways to mount a 6008 compatible back onto a view camera, the only possibility I found was the Rollei
Panshot, which was designed for use with the Rollei X-Act II camera. The Panshot makes it possible
to mount a digital back set up for a Rollei 6000 series camera directly onto the X-Act II without the
intermediate step of removing tiny screws and swapping the Rollei adaptater for a Hasselblad adapter.
For owners of Rollei adapted backs, this is really quite convenient. The Panshot can also be used with
the rotatable 645 film back that has its own motor. In theory you could use it with a 6x6 back, but
you'd have to take the back off the Panshot and put it on a 6000 series camera and fire a dark frame
with the camera in order to advance the film each time. This would be a hassle and also give you the
variable spaces between frames that come with mid-roll dismounting of the 6x6 film backs. I considered
purchasing an X-Act II, but that camera is designed for digital only, and can't be used with large pieces
So, I decided to try and adapt the Panshot for use with an Arca Swiss Monolith. When I started, the
only pictures of a Panshot I had seen were in the PDF product literature about the X-Act II from Rollei.
I took a gamble and bought one anyways. The stock Panshot mates with the X-Act II by means of a ring
having a V-groove that protrudes from the 100mm x 100mm square plate on the front of the Panshot.
Here's a couple of photos:
My first thought was to make a split ring with a ridge on the inside that would grip the groove and
have threads on the outside, for attaching the Panshot. I sent the Panshot and a blank Arca Swiss
lensboard to SK Grimes, and they made the appropriate hole in the board and fabricated the split
ring, but they found that trying to thread a ring onto the outside of the split ring while that ring
was passing through the hole in the lens board didn't work very well, so they made a ring with female
threads on one end and male threads on the other and fastened this ring to the Panshot, and then
fastened the Panshot to the lens board in a separate operation.
Here's some photos of the Panshot with the first ring attached:
And here's some of it with the lensboard attached. Notice the half centimeter gap between the Panshot board
and the lens board:
I have elected to use the 4x5 front format frame, as I'll need that one to use with the larger rear format
frames for film. However I want to use the smaller 6x9 lensboards wherever possible, but the adapter to hold
the 6x9 boards in the 4x5 frame hadn't come in yet as I took these, so the only lens I had to use at first was
a 200mm Rodenstock Imagon in a Copal #3 shutter that fit the recessed #3 lens board that came with the camera.
Here it is bare and mounted to the camera:
Here I am installing a view screen for Rollei 6000 series SLR:
Here it is fully assembled with the Ixpress 384 and a Rollei Chimney finder. Owing to the continuity of the
Rollei 6000 series, any finder made for the SLX on up can be used with the Panshot and a digital back. I took
pictures of the operation of the Panshot in changing from the finder being behind the lens to the Ixpress being
behind the lens. Unlike the sliding adapters, with the Panshot one unlatches the finder mount from the front plate,
swings it across on the hinges and latches on the mount for the digital back.
Here's a rear view and a top view of the Panshot when mounted to the back. One thing worth noticing is that when the
digital back is mounted to the camera, the view finder part of the Panshot extends towards the front of the camera
farther than any of the rest of it. This provides a limiting factor as to the width of a rear lensboard onto which the
Panshot can be mounted without a whole lot of shimming. Unfortunately, I have a whole lot of shimming right now.
I have removed the 100cm x 100 cm front plate from the hinges and sent it back to SK Grimes for them to machine
threads directly onto the protruding lip with the V-Groove so that the lens board can be mounted almost directly
onto the Panshot's front plate. I've also requested that the other end of the ring that holds it to the lensboard
be made with threads to be able to accept a standard 86mm filter, so that if desired, a filter can be mounted inside
the camera in between the digital back and the lens. My hope is that the filter can be used even with the wide
angle digitally optimized lenses that have the challengingly short flange focal distances. I said "almost directly"
above because a half milimeter or so of shmming is necessary to compensate for that small amount that the lensboard
is recessed into the format frame when it has been mounted. Otherwise the metal holding the foam sensor cover would
make contact with the edge of the frame and prevent the lensboard from mounting properly. In removeing the front plate,
I had to apply heat to disable the threadlocker used on the tiny screws connecting the hing bars to the hinge pins.
I found that the torch attachment for the small butane soldering iron currently (2005) sold in the USA by Radio Shack
allowed me to put an appropriate amount of heat in the appropriate places (on the hinge pin opposite the head of each
screw) without doing any damage (other than a minimal amount of discoloration to the anodized finish). I heard a tiny
popping-hissing sound at each screw as the threadlocker released.
Finally, here's the camera with one of the older style prism finders, which, when pointing up, leaves the image upside
down, but not backwards.
On to Part Two.
Here's a link back.