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High-End Capture: Digital Camera Backs

(May 2006) posted on Wed May 24, 2006

A sourcelist of companies offering 'high-firepower' capture solutions.

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Although digital SLRs are getting better every day, some photographers and shops still opt for a high-end digital camera back. Capable of producing extremely high-resolution photos and very large files, digital camera backs are attached to a medium- or large-format professional film camera. The backs allow the film camera to digitally capture the images, and then saves them onto a computer via a tethered cable or a portable memory card (or are connected wirelessly to the computer, depending on the back).

Some other points to factor in when considering an investment in a digital back:

They"?re not inexpensive, ranging from $15,000 to $30,000 on average (some shops are now choosing to rent or lease them versus buy);

Typically, the backs allow photographers to use their existing professional cameras and lenses;

Backs are particularly applicable to projects and applications demanding shot-to-shot consistency, such as catalog photography; and

Evaluate just how much "firepower"? you need; several companies offer a few different series of backs intended for different uses. Also keep in mind that several digital SLRs now offer10 to17 Mpxl (as well as the added benefit of the 35mm format).


German company Anagramm offers four scanback camera backs, all of which offer a trilinear array, a 72 x 88-mm scan area, and 1-pass scanning.

The picture gate 8000 daguerre features a 6000 x 7250-pxl maximum resolution, 48-bit color, and a 45-sec scan speed at maximum resolution. The picture gate 8000 production2 offers an 8000 x 9700-pxl resolution, 36-bit color, and a 35-sec scan speed for a full scan at maximum resolution. The picture gate 8000 salvadore is similar to the production2, but features 48-bit color and an 80-sec scan speed at maximum resolution. The picture gate 8000 david offers the highest resolution (14,400 x 17,400 pxl), 48-bit color, and a 4:20 min scan speed at maximum resolution.


BetterLight scan backs are designed for 4x5 view cameras with an image capture area of 72 x 96 mm. Adapters are available for Mamiya B67, RZ67, and Fuji GX680.