Old Film SLR Converted into a Slit-Scan “Photo Finish” Camera

Slit-scan cameras are used to shoot finish line photos due to the fact that recording a moving subject along a strip of film makes it impossible to miss any frames. Engineer and photographer James Guerin was interested in the distinctive look, so he went about building his own slit-scan film camera using an old Pentax SLR.

He ended up with the heavily modified camera seen above: a Pentax ME Super SLR that’s equipped with a special winding system that automatically moves film across a narrow slit as the photos are being exposed.

The camera features a fancy electronic speed control system wired into the Pentax film winder. It has an LED readout of the power level — a setting Guerin sets based on focal length, speed of subject, and distance to subject.

Guerin tells us,

The resulting images are unique and surprising. I love the look of the subjects frozen in motion against the clean candy stripe background. I love the motion artifacts such as the elongation of a subject’s foot planted on the ground.

Here are some photographs shot using the camera:

You can find more of Guerin’s slit-scan photos in this Flickr set. He also has a longer writeup detailing this project on his blog.

  • Damean Ravichandra

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen photography as interesting as that in a long time. Thanks for this post! I’ve always been curious about line timings.

  • app attack

    iphone app arriving in 5.. 4… 3… 2…

  • Flik

    horrible! raped the beauty of film!

  • RĂ©mi Carreiro

    completely agree. this stuff is super interesting

  • Benjamin Franzmayr

    This is a very interesting and appealing way of capturing motion. It should be possible to do this with a digital camera by reading out one line or row of pixels repeatedly at high speed… I wonder if CHDK has this sort of low level control over how data is read out from a sensor of if it requires a hardware change to enable it.

  • Guest

    You got the camera name wrong – it’s an ME Super.

  • Michael Zhang

    Thank you for pointing that out :)

  • David Gagnon

    If you want to try slit-scan photography and you have an iPhone, download ScanCamera on the AppStore…

  • Pentaximus

    Oh loosen up! We don’t all live in a sterile world and the creative use of old+new together with interesting affects that have been lost to the spontaneity and faux style of digital is always appealing.

  • aaron vesiontwo

    I have just started getting into slitscan photography and this is very cool. There are cameras avaliable that do the same thing and iphone apps have been out for a while that do the same thing. The original being an app called Dscan.