Digital Backs
Digital Options For Medium And Large Format Camera Owners

Digital back makers for medium and large format cameras happily search for the ultimate image-making machine. In my view, they may be cheerfully unaware that the devices they are busily producing may not have anything to attach them to in a few years because no company is making affordable, under $2000, backs. Sorry Charlie, but for $7000 I can almost buy an EOS-1Ds, which is Canon's suggested upgrade path for medium format owners looking to go digital.

But like lemmings tossing themselves off a cliff to sure destruction, these dudes don't seem to get it. "Nobody wants 6-megapixel backs," they tell me. "Who have you asked?" I respond, but the answer is (drum roll, please) nobody. Somebody is paying attention and when I unloaded this screed on a gentleman from a Japanese medium format camera company, he smiled knowingly. The well heeled can read on.

Imacon Ixpress 528C
Imacon's Ixpress 528C digital back can shoot raw, uninterpolated images of up to 528MB using their micro-step 4*Res capture process, and offers three capture modes (one, four, and 16 shot). The back incorporates Kodak's--what the heck, they aren't going to use it--22-megapixel sensor and Imacon's Double Duration Circuit sensor control to capture full 16-bit color 132MB images in single-shot mode and 132MB and 528MB images in four and 16-shot modes. It does this straight to disk, including preview, every 2 seconds in a sequence up to 850 images and with a maximum exposure time of 32 seconds.

Panoramic Digital
Better Light provides the electronics and software for the Panoscan MK2 digital panoramic camera that combines a Better Light digital scanning system, Mamiya lenses, and a motorized camera body designed by Panoscan into a single unit that fits on a tripod. The 18 foot wide mural of the Himalayas' Annapurna range on display at their booth was spectacular.

Phase One
Phase One's two new P-series backs, the 22-megapixel P 25 and the fast, 16-megapixel P 20 have a rate of up to 50 captures per minute. Untethered operation make them useful for portrait, fashion, and all-round commercial shooters. The P 20 will be available for autofocus medium format cameras such as the Hasselblad H1, Mamiya 645 AFD, and Contax 645 AF.

Sinarback 54M
The Sinarback 54M is so small (how small is it?) that it weighs 14 oz and measures 37/16x37/16x13/4". Together with a tiny computer called the Sinar Action Module, Sinar AG offers a mobile digital imaging solution that delivers 22 megapixels. A Mac OS X program called Sinar CaptureShop controls the Sinarback and a Windows version is currently being prepared. On location, the Sinarback 54M can be operated with OS X compatible notebooks or the Action Module. Sinar Bron will sell you adapters for the Hasselblad V System, Fuji GX 680, as well as their own p3 camera.