Polaroid Digital Palette film recorder

In July 2012, I picked up a Polaroid HR-6000 “Digital Palette” film recorder, complete with a copy of the RasterPlus 95 software (version 1.0), the 35mm standard camera back and a Polaroid pack-film camera back. Unfortunately RP95 doesn't work very well on current versions of Windows (it can print image files on XP 32-bit, but the RIP driver won't work). In any case, most of my network is Linux based, and I don't have enough space to dedicate a PC to run a film recorder.

Something clearly had to be done about this – so I started collecting documentation and reimplementing the driver on Linux.

I've also been working on reverse-engineering the film-table file format so I can create my own tables for newer films.

Please email me at philpem@gmail.com if you have any of the items below, or can put me in touch with anyone who does!

  • The “Gentest” (DPGENTST) alignment utility – this was part of the service toolkit, and also included on the disks with the Polaroid ID-3000 and ID-4000 ID card management systems.
  • The Digital Palette Interface Toolkit SDK. This was a development kit which allowed developers to write software which could drive the Digital Palette. I'm aware of two versions of the driver - 4.8 and 6.0. Others may also exist.
  • The Digital Palette Product Specification, Parallel Port Interface Specification Manual and SCSI Parallel Interface Specification Manual. These cover the commands which can be sent over the Centronics and SCSI interfaces, and how they work.
  • Any information on the film table file format (ideally enough information to produce my own LUTs for new film types, e.g. Fuji FP-100C).

I'm also interested in talking to anyone who has worked with (or developed software for) any of the Digital Palette or ProPalette series.

Based on patent searches and names in the service manual, I believe at least some of the following people were involved in the development of the Digital Palette and ProPalette series film recorders. Their names are listed here in the hope they may stumble across this website – or someone might link them to it!

  • David J. Hemingway (email formerly hemingd@polaroid.com / dheming@erols.com)
  • Robert F. Hartmann
  • Timothy R. Crawford
    • Named on the ProPalette scanning system patent (US6232904) and colour correction patent (US5978008).
  • Joseph V. (Joe) Demarinis – Winchester, MA?
  • Dean Gross
    • Named in the service manual as the designer of the R6000 film back logic board, CI/HR exposure control
    • Named on the US4742397 exposure system patent
  • Guillermo S. Ferla
    • Named on the US4742397 exposure system patent
  • Patrick J. “Pat” Hegarty
    • R6000 film back logic board
    • Scanning system patent (US6232904)
  • Thomas H. Campbell

As far as I can tell, all the above people were based at Polaroid's offices in Waltham, Massachusetts or the surrounding area.

From what I can gather, the following Digital Palette models were produced:

  • CI-3000 and CI-3000S
    • The S suffix indicates the presence of a SCSI port in addition to the Centronics port)
  • CI-5000 and CI-5000S
  • HR-6000 and HR-6000SE
    • I am unsure how these differ
    • HR-6000 series resolution is increased to 4K (from 2K on the CI series).
  • ProPalette 7000
    • 35mm-only, but higher resolution than the HR-6000.
  • ProPalette 8000
    • 35mm, 4×5 and 8×10
    • Each unit calibrated and aligned in the factory with its own specific camera back.

The majority of the Palette line (with the exception of the ProPalette) uses the same type of camera back, with an 8-pin DIN connector.

The following camera backs were available:

  • Early Palette 35mm
    • Black plastic, labelled “Palette 35mm Adapter”.
    • Originally shipped with the original Polaroid Palette (e.g. Model 72-10, 72-19, 72-20).
    • This originally mounted on a Minolta XG/A (SR mount) with a modified autowinder (called the Autowinder GP).
      • The Autowinder GP is a variant of the Autowinder G:
        • Includes a pin to power the X-series body from the autowinder's battery pack. This allows the body to expose film for much longer than it would be able to with a coin-cell (up to 2 hours on an X-700 body).
        • Some variants also included a cable to power the body and winder from the Palette (ref: Justin Bailey's post to ManualMinoltaFree on Yahoogroups).
        • A Remote Cord SP remote control cable completes the package: this allows the Palette to control the XG/A's shutter electronically.
      • The mount adapter is a T2-mount adapter with three setscrews. The inner part has been removed.
        • This makes it very easy to mount other camera bodies (e.g. Canon EOS) on the Palette adapter by replacing the outer ring and adding a suitable shim (if needed).
    • The lens is unlabelled. Focus may be adjusted using a pin spanner (but this requires an alignment jig).
  • 35mm V1
    • Black or white plastic.
    • No LCD display – just a basic camera back.
    • First appeared on the Palette Plus and CI series.
  • 35mm V2
    • Black plastic, labelled “Polaroid 35mm Camera”.
    • Has an LCD display which displays status messages, e.g. “OUT OF FILM”, and a rolling exposure count.
    • Built-in Polaroid 6-element glass lens, 36.6mm, f/4.9.
  • Packfilm
    • Accepts Polaroid 3¼ x 4¼ “pack film” (peel-apart type).
    • Fuji FP-100C can be used instead of pack-film.
    • Completely passive – no electrical connection to the HR-6000.
  • Auto film (“Integral”)
    • Another Polaroid film back. Would have had the DIN plug to indicate camera back type.
  • 4×5
    • I'm not entirely certain what this is for.

I have reverse-engineered the pinout for the camera connector. This may be useful if you wish to connect a different camera back to the Palette.

Table file Table name ISO Format Notes
35mm ISO-100
NEOPAN Fuji Neopan 100 vH1 100 B&W
TMAX100 Kodak TMAX 100 vH1 100 B&W
FUJI100P FUJI Color SuperG vH1 100 C41 Neg
KG100P Kodak Gold Plus 100 vH1 100 C41 Neg
KON100P KonicaColor 100 vH1 100 C41 Neg Duplicate: HD100P (HD100 35mm Print vH1)
ELITEII Elite II 100 vH1 100 Slide
ISO100 Ekta Elite 100 vH1 100 Slide Duplicate: DYNA100 (Ektachrome Dyna 100 vH1)
ISO100F Fujichrome RDII 100 vH1 100 Slide
KONICA KonicaChrome 100 vH1 100 Slide Duplicate: HDEF100 (HiDefinition Chrome vH1)
PRCHROME Presentation Chrome vH2 100 Slide
35mm ISO-125
KBXPAN Kodak Plus-Xpan 125 vH1 125 B&W
35mm ISO-200
ISO200 Ekta Elite 200 vH1 200 Slide Duplicate: DYNA200 (Ektachrome Dyna 200 vH1)
35mm Instant (Polaroid)
FILMPGRF PolaGraph vH1
FILMPPAN PolaPan vH1
HCPOLA H/C PolaChrome vH1
POLABLUE PolaBlue vH1
POLACHRM PolaChrome vH1
Polaroid 4×5
64T4X5 Polacolor 64T 4×5 vH1 4×5
PCPRO4X5 PolacolorPro100 4×5 vH1 100? 4×5
PROP4X5 PolaPan Pro100 4×5 vH1 100? 4×5
TYPE55 Type 55 vH1 4×5
TYPE559 Type 559/59 vH1 4×5
VPS4X5 Vericolor III 4×5 vH1 4×5
Polaroid Auto/Integral
TYPE331 Type 331 vH1 Auto
TYPE339 Type 339 vH1 Auto
Polaroid Pack/Land
64TPACK Polacolor 64T Pack vH1 64? Pack
PCPROPAK PolacolorPro100Pack vH1 100? Pack
PROP100 PolaPan Pro100 Pack vH1 100? Pack
TYPE669 Type 669 vH1 Pack
TYPE691 Type 691 vH1 Pack

The following software is believed to have supported the Digital Palette series:

  • DOS: Polaroid ImagePrint
  • Windows 3.0 and 3.1: Zenographics SuperPrint (v2.0 series), Polaroid edition
  • Windows 95: GraphX RasterPlus95 and Polaroid Palette Export
  • Mac Classic: Polaroid Palette Export, RasterPlus and SiPrint Assistant
  • NeXT: eXTRASlide – more information here
  • Amiga: ASDG Art Department Professional
  • Atari ST: No software known, but this platform is listed in Polaroid's marketing literature.
  • SGI IRIX: Mogens Kjaer developed a driver for SGI IRIX workstations - see this USENET post.

Two software-based service tools are mentioned in the Service Manual:

  • GENTEST (DPGENTST)
  • DP2DIAG

These were supplied on the Digital Palette Test Software disk, which was distributed under Polaroid part number (Tool number) 13437.

These tools were also distributed with the Polaroid ID-4000 Photo ID system.

If you have a copy of this disk, the tools on it, or the ID-4000 system software – please email me: philpem@gmail.com

Thanks to the generosity of various people, I have managed to locate copies of some of the software and manuals for the Polaroid Palette series – and the updates from Polaroid's old FTP site.

I have made these files available to download for the benefit of other Digital Palette users.

I've read the contents of the firmware EPROM which was in my HR-6000:

  • Digital Palette Toolkit v3.0 with SGI SCSI changes by Mogens Kjaer
    • Based on reverse-engineered PFR.DLL but excludes ProPalette firmware upgrade commands.
    • Ideally this needs to be merged with Toolkit v3.0.
    • Shows how to calculate the X/Y offset and Zoom from the “tick marks” calibration chart
  • PFRUtils – Film table decryption and analysis tools
  • PolaSpikeAPI call monitor
    • Uses PyDbg on an unpatched (!) Windows XP system to monitor calls to the Palette DLL and ASPI layer.
  • Last modified: 2020/07/21 12:29
  • by philpem