Affordable 4x5 digital backs in the future?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by fotografya, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. All of us know that digital age is riding at the highway speed. There are many options for any kind of camera ,but;
    when do you think the companies will produce an affordable 4x5 inch digital back, and how much will it be for our
    today's wallet?
  2. The aim of my question is, when the film era is closed, will be be logical to keep my large format equipment to reuse them with an affordable 4x5 digital back?
  3. That really depends on your definition of "affordable". BetterLight scanning backs for 4x5 start around the same price as high-end digital SLRs and are much less expensive than medium format digital backs. They may not be ideal for field work (need to be tethered to a computer) but when you choose LF you have to factor in some limitations anyway. Full-frame sensors may not be financially feasible from the manufacturers' point of view. Considering the cost of development and manufacturing, I doubt the demand will be sufficient to justify the investment.

  4. So let me change my question on your reply Guy Tal, do you know any way to built a scanning back from a flatbed scanner? Is this possible?
  5. I remember someone posting about it a while ago - they adapted an inexpensive desktop scanner to the back of an 8x10 view camera (I think that's what it was). Wish I had the link. Maybe someone else here remembers.

  6. I've found the guy, professor from an institute. But he says, that they solved the exposure problem (to gain DOF) by
    using grey filters in front of the lens. I'm not sure they'll work, but he has sample images too. Here is the PDF file he
    offers to web community:
  7. Master,

    who says the Film era is going to Close ? There are still people making glass plate photographs and making thier own emulsions ! It is all in what you like, I am a working professional that uses Digital for most of my PAID work..(not all some situations still call for 4 x 5) And film when I shoot for myself and to do Landscape,Car and Bike portraits.

    Just my 2 cents : )
  8. I hope the film never ends, in any format , in any way. I love to shoot film, especially medium and large format but, as the people shooting film melt down , the companies leave production. When Polaroid stopped production of instant film, I was shocked, and asked to myself; What if the others? I hope you're right Dennis, and we still have the chance of film 5 years later. Best wishes... MF
  9. "...when do you think the companies will produce an affordable 4x5 inch digital back..."

    I think it'd be neat, but possibly never. If 4x5 film quality is reached/surpassed with a much smaller sensor than 4"x5" why bother with the big camera body? Will there be enough demand for using new digital technology with old cameras designed for use with film to encourage the product developers? Right now we are still seeing a lot of digital camera designs based on camera building traditions established because of the requirements of film. The next generation of camera designers may have new ideas about what a camera is and needs to be.

    For those who still think 4x5 film quality will never be reached by digital I'll pass on some advice I got from my father in 1992 when I got my first PC. "You won't fill a 170mb hard drive in your lifetime." It seems hilarious now as I look over at my 1.25 terabytes of HD space, but at the time it seemed plausible.
  10. ...why bother with the big camera body?
    Swing, Tilt, Swing, Rise and fall and Back Tilt/Swing.
  11. Master two things: first why film may never die: the digital age has perhaps ridden on the computer, which has also facilitated greater communications. We now have global niche markets which can be supplied and catered to by mail order which would be unsustainable without such communications and 'digital communities' second don't be surprised to see adaptations in the existing polymer thin film transistor arrays which are powering the backlights of our laptops and holding out the promise for the 'next generation screens' to be readilly adapted to suitability for a capture medium. A photo sensitive diode is not a significant adaptation from a light emitting diode. These would easily give sensors of 600dpi on the sheet, more if there was any kind of reason to put some R&d into it ... Still its not bad for 8x10 really. Noone would really need anti alias filters or IR filters as this can easily be put in place by the user as my existing filters are used. I'd love a single "double dark" which afforded me colour / black and white / IR all in the one device :) Being an electronics engineer I once dreamed of there being a compact electronic solid state device for music that would be (relatively) immune to issues like "wow and flutter", and I was very happy to buy my first MP3 player which I bought nearly 7 years ago for $20 and is no bigger than a matchbox.
  12. The 39MP backs were closing in on 4x5 film quality, now we have 60MP full frame 645 backs. How much do we need before it starts to get irrellavent for most applications? 60MP gives pretty much an uninterpolated 30x20" print at 300dpi and this is from a 645 sensor.
  13. There are several problems with these medium format backs. Currently they aren't affordable. The small size requires greater precision in setting up movements. You lose the large ground glass view of a large format. Number of pixels isn't the only issue.
  14. Here I have a 35 and 50 megapixel Phase One scan backs; one is 11 years old. These backs have been around now for over a decade; ie Better Light and Phase One. The production volume is always low thus they will never be low in cost. Production volumes might be a few hundreds; or a few thousands; unlike a kids Hannah Montana bubble pack digital that has many millions to spread the tooling cost over.
  15. I think the future, as far as digital backs and view cameras go, is that the cameras will get smaller (2x3 rather than 4x5) and the medium
    format digital backs will only gain in megapixels. So, there will be no reason to manufacture a full frame 4x5 digital back. My two cents.
  16. as I see it, the major factors in limiting the scanning backs usefulness is that

    1) they are indeed scanning, so movement during exposure gives effects not unlike what happens with focal plane shutters. The difference is that focal plane shutters often have 1/30th or less exposure times while the scanning backs are minutes. This is the main killer for them in the field I reckon (although some persistent folk try and succeed).

    2) the scanning backs really need a PC and substantial power supply to drive them. Some older ones even have controler boxes with them. The latest and most compact computing around at the moment (say an EEE mini laptop) makes this part less troublesome than it was (although they definately lack the storage space internally so a USB HDD would be required ... but still its better than it was

  17. The chance of anybody producing a 5/4 digital one shot back is nill ,all development for high end digital will be based around the MF format , and the demand for that is fairly limited . But that does not mean your 5x4 is redundant just buy a sliding back for your camera and with the aid of a good magnifier and a P45 you have a large format digital back ,though the matter of affordability is dependant on what your projected film spend is .
  18. No full size digi backs, I don't think so it's not going to earn enough money to the manufacturers.
    Don't worry if film is stops than I'm going to teach you in this very site how to do you own on glassplate.
    All you had to do now is to get those old holders which accept glassplates. Just in case because they gonna cost a lot's of money when their time come back again :)

    I have at list 30 years left so it should happen before that! :)
  19. Here I do scans in the field with an IBM T30 laptop with scsi adapter. Its got plenty of storage; the hda is 40 gigs; the scans are 105 or 165 megs each depending on the back used. I use an dinky invertor for the scan backs supply off a 12 volt gel cell. The cpu requirements are low; a 166 Mhz pentium works; the laptops here are 1.8 and 2.4 Ghz models; the cpu is at a few percent during an actual scan. The power requirements of the scan back are also low; one is only driving a dinky stepper motor that drives a leadscrew that moves the scan bar. Scan backs for 4x5 cameras have always scanned less than a full 4x5 negative; they did this 13 years ago too; even when they were 35 grand. The active area of my two scan backs here is 7x10 cm; thats alot smaller than a piece of 4x5 film. If an object moves during the minutes long scan one gets a weird color fringing; thus blades of grass; birds; tree limbs; dogs; cars; people that "wander into" a static shot of a building create issues.
  20. Hello Master,

    I read that paper by Wang and Heidrich, and yes….they DID get that rig to make pictures, but JEEZE they had to seriously modify the scanner. They chose to do multiple scans through an RBG filter wheel for color shots and still had to do software gymnastics to manage color balance and scanner artifacts. It is impressive from an academic viewpoint, but not really a DIY project. The paper is now four years old…an eon in Digi-Years. With the advances in both software and gear today, there has got to be a way to do this at home with stuff from Best Buy (or E-bay).
    Link to paper:

    I have seen a few hundred bucks worth of Wii remote, Blue-Tooth what-it and Radio-Shack parts made to emulate a $6000 Smart Screen on You Tube ( . Can’t some 14 yr-old hacker kluge together some scanner with, say, an I-Phone and a Giga-gig pocket drive to come up with a practical scanning back for a view camera?
  21. Kelly

    I know by modern standards that a PII 266 is not a powerful box, but by 'substantial' I was meaning more in
    physical size than my palm OS device (which btw has the horsepower to drive a scsi based scanner I would think
    although I bet there do not exist the drivers). I've currently got basic PIII machines here all running X servers
    to have the serious processor stuff on the bigger box in the corner

    For example an IBM thinkpad like my old 240 would be less weight than as much film as it could record :)

    but still, as even you mention, moving objects are much more troublesome in 6 minute plus scans
  22. Well the answer is finally here but as these people are new they need guidance
    please go to their website and give them feedback as to why 4x5 is a better choice as there are millions of camera of various qualities which we know how to use and we know work well for us and it would be unrealistic in 2016 to expect a novice manufacturer be able to surpass 200 years of camera design and manufacture and at a reasonable cost unless they are a huge manufacturing effort
    5x5 is just more than 4x5 but you would rely on what camera manufacturing experience?

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