Monday, April 13, 2009

Inexpensive 4x5 Digital Solutions??

From David, an accomplished artist, whose subject matter includes architectural details:

I do optical C prints [from color negatives] to 40x50 but because of publications I am scanning now as well. I am reaching the "digital divide", was wondering if you have any thoughts on (affordable) digital capture at low light levels that would reach 4x5 quality?

An oxymoron at best, inexpensive 4x5 digital solutions? Basically the backs and the cameras are very expensive so lets look at how to utilize your existing 4x5 view camera and lenses. A couple of options come to mind. "Affordable digital capture of 4x5 quality" is a tall order. From what I know of David's work the subject matter is rather static. That makes both stitching and scan backs an alternative. I would look at refurbished or used Betterlight scan backs (which is slightly smaller in capture area than 4x5 film) used in a normal VC. I have played with one and have a friend who owns one and the files are impressive even with non-didgital lenses. The more expensive ones far exceed anything you can get from scanned 4x5. According to an email from the sales manager:

Kirk, All of our systems out shoot 4x5… provide higher information densities and
greater accuracy than could ever be expected from 4x5 Ektachrome films.
Our most popular and versatile model is our Super 6K-HS which sells for
$14,995.00 but right now I have two other models that may serve your needs.
We have one 4000-HS and a number of 6000E-HS’s available, all for $9,995.00.
The differences between these two systems is:
- the resolution, 3750 x 5000 vs. 6000 x 8000
- the sensitivity, ISO 200 vs. ISO 100
So the trade off for the same price is greater resolution vs greater
sensitivity. If your shooting mostly in standard daylight situations the
lower ISO shouldn't be a bother, but for a successful commercial photography
the right choice would be a Super 6K-HS.

Then there is the Quad Stitch Back for use with some very solid view cameras. I have no personal experience with these. With four stitches even from a refurbished 22MP back you can get 4x5 quality (requires true digital lenses for optimum performance).

See also: From 4x5 to DSLR
and Medium Format Digital

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