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Thread: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

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    Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Sorry my first post is such a JONGish question, but I have done quite a bit of searching the forum and soaked up as much as I can. Here goes:

    What would be a good starter digital back based on the below:

    - Have a budget of $3K or less.

    - Planning to use used MF and digital LF lenses to get enough resolution (Mamiya 50mm ULD or 65mm LA RZ67, LF Digitars, etc), and use the DB on my 4x5 view camera to stitch landscape panoramas. So I'll be using movements, which I understand can create issues with some backs (microlens color casts).

    - LCD LiveView capability would be great for focusing, but I do have a lightweight laptop PC if my budget forces me to shoot a no-LCD tethered DB. (I assume there are older backs that have tethered Liveview?) To save batteries and see the whole image before stitching, I plan to use the ground glass to get the movements dialed, then swap to the DB, focus, and shoot.

    - I'm a hobby machinist, so I'll be making my own stitching back, adapters, etc.


    I currently have a Cambo Ultima 45 with sliding-back 4x5-to-EOS adapter and an Ultima 35 DSLR view camera rig. Using these with Canon 40D (LiveView) and 1Ds2 (full-frame but hard to focus), and want to eliminate the darn mirror box shadowing issues by going to a DB.

    Thanks in advance!

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Not to throw any water on your dream, but it's a lot easier just to put your camera on a pan/tilt head and just make your exposures at overlapping intervals and stitch them with any of a number of programs out there. Some are so good now that you can make your pans hand held. AutoPano Pro comes to mind. I only mention this because the method you describe will be inherently slow.
    Last edited by Greg Lockrey; 18th November 2008 at 22:36.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    I don't think any back offers live view at twice the price you are looking for, and even those that do, at least some don't have screens good enough to allow you to check focus...

    At that price, you can almost, but not quite, stretch to a Kodak Pro 645 back, apparently a nice back, but with a small sensor, forcing you to stitch more to get the same.

    I don't know if any cheap backs offer adapters to allow you to use it on more than one camera, so you'll probably have to choose a fixed-mount which can be put on the Cambo.

    But I am also a newb. Maybe the real experts can chime in here.
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    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    What you need is out of your specified budget, sorry. Your options start at about $5K.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    You'll need to at least double your budget just to get a foot in the door. Barely. And even then, you'll be forever wanting....

    Note the quote from Dante at the top of this forum for Medium Format Digital Systems!

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    One thing you might consider, and just might get into at your price, is a few generation old scanning back. With it's larger capture area, you can use wide lenses on a view camera and maybe get you pano without stitching or shifting. Just a thought...
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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    I'm afraid that at $3000 you'll wind up very disappointed and in the long run it'll cost you much more.

    My suggestion is to think of getting a pano kit from Really Right Stuff. I've used one on both my 35mm as well as MF without any problems.

    By the way, curious about why you say you have problems with the focus on the 1DsII as that was my primary landscape camera before going to MF.

    Good luck in your quest!

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoTurbo View Post
    Sorry my first post is such a JONGish question, but I have done quite a bit of searching the forum and soaked up as much as I can. Here goes:

    What would be a good starter digital back based on the below:

    - Have a budget of $3K or less.

    - Planning to use used MF and digital LF lenses to get enough resolution (Mamiya 50mm ULD or 65mm LA RZ67, LF Digitars, etc), and use the DB on my 4x5 view camera to stitch landscape panoramas. So I'll be using movements, which I understand can create issues with some backs (microlens color casts).

    - LCD LiveView capability would be great for focusing, but I do have a lightweight laptop PC if my budget forces me to shoot a no-LCD tethered DB. (I assume there are older backs that have tethered Liveview?) To save batteries and see the whole image before stitching, I plan to use the ground glass to get the movements dialed, then swap to the DB, focus, and shoot.

    - I'm a hobby machinist, so I'll be making my own stitching back, adapters, etc.


    I currently have a Cambo Ultima 45 with sliding-back 4x5-to-EOS adapter and an Ultima 35 DSLR view camera rig. Using these with Canon 40D (LiveView) and 1Ds2 (full-frame but hard to focus), and want to eliminate the darn mirror box shadowing issues by going to a DB.

    Thanks in advance!
    You can get a Leaf Valeo 22Wi for under $4,000 (I can point you to one if you want) and then you have a few more steps:

    1. A Mac for shooting tethered (the Valeo doesn't work on a PC)
    2. A Portable solution consisting of a 20/30GB FireWire HD and an Ipaq, these can be had for near to nothing on eBay and again I can point you to some. This will allow you to shoot untethered.

    You will need an adapter for your RZ, again this can be found 2nd hand quite easily.

    This back will give you the best 22MP, 48X36 sensor which is exceptionally good for LF work as it is the most uniform of all sensors in terms of colour casts and it is definitely the sharpest one.

    So this still means a bit of a stretch but not that much of it

    Yair
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Perfect suggestion Yair. I myself used this very setup a few years back. The Valeo 22Wi is not a bad choice at all given the budget constraints! And you will be sacrificing very little in IQ, though at the expense of portability.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Creek View Post
    By the way, curious about why you say you have problems with the focus on the 1DsII as that was my primary landscape camera before going to MF.
    Thanks for the ideas guys! Keep 'em coming.

    With EOS lenses the 1Ds2 is flawless, but mounted on a 4x5-to-EOS adapter I lose focus confirmation and can only focus using the viewfinder. Focus confirmation isn't needed on the 40D, since I can use LiveView to focus.

    I may ship the adapter bayonet to HappyPageHK in Hong Kong to have him add an AF-confirm chip. I have a Leica-EOS one and it works great.

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    probably an original kodak proback, or proback plus would be the best bang for the buck. you can shoot untethered, but a power source needs to be either AC, or a two-pound quantum turbo battery. image quality wise, it is in my opinion better than phase one p20, which has the same sensor. the difference between proback and proback plus is that the former sports only iso100, whole later has iso range 100-400.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    probably an original kodak proback, or proback plus would be the best bang for the buck. you can shoot untethered, but a power source needs to be either AC, or a two-pound quantum turbo battery. image quality wise, it is in my opinion better than phase one p20, which has the same sensor. the difference between proback and proback plus is that the former sports only iso100, whole later has iso range 100-400.
    If you can stand the terribly tedious workflow and limitations of the scanning motion (no subject movement allowed, long exposure times) then you could go with an old scan back. There are some big pluses:
    - They are very cheap.
    - They can be very very high resolution.
    - They take up the full 4x5 area and therefore no need for stitching.
    - You can compose and focus on the full 4x5 ground glass (easy on the eyes)
    - since the back slides into the view camera just like a film holder the same setup can easily be used to grab a film setup

    One example is that we have perfectly good PowerPhaseFX+ scan backs sitting on the shelf that would fit your budget, use standard firewire, and give you 120* megapixels of uninterpolated color. I would never downplay what a pain in the butt they are to use versus a single shot back, but if you can stand the workflow then they are a phenomenal option. Plus they have zero native infrared filtration (but rely on post-lens IR filtration so IR-only or IR+color photography is really simple).

    If you can't stomach a scan back you'll find single shot backs in the $3k range are far and few between. Make sure you check the compatibility of software/raw files as many of the older backs in that price range are from manufacturers that no longer make DBs. A H20 or H25 is likely to be above that price range, but not by a lot, but they would provide the same workflow and support in Capture One 4.5 as a brand new P45+.

    Anyway, as many here have advised that price range is very limiting, but that doesn't mean you could have fun and get some great shots. Every new generation of technology makes the previous one seem overly cumbersome and tedious, but beautiful images were made back when you had to carry your darkroom with you and process the image while the plate was still wet, so don't let us talk you out of one of the options at this price as long as you're aware of the drawbacks.

    *not a typo. Resolution is 10500 x 12600 and each pixel sees all three colors

    Doug Peterson, Head of Technical Services
    Capture Integration, Phase One & Canon Dealer | Personal Portfolio

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Are there 645 scan backs, also in that price range? What is the workflow and equipment needed, if one wants to shoot outside?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Doug does offer a good solution with the scan back, but since you shoot landscapes it might be a bit of an issue. Scan backs like having the continuous even lighting and no movement. That could be difficult with sunsets, clouds or trees moving with a breeze.

    A single capture back might be a good solution. You could go with a Phase One H20 or H25. Take a look at an auction of ours on E-Bay:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Phase-One-H20-16...3A1%7C294%3A50

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Movement could definitely be an issue, I considered a scanning back but figured if I stitch I only have to worry about movement at the image seams.

    Almost-new ZD back looking to go cheap here ($3,500 with four hours to go): http://cgi.ebay.com/Mamiya-ZD-Digita...mZ160303177969

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoTurbo View Post
    Movement could definitely be an issue, I considered a scanning back but figured if I stitch I only have to worry about movement at the image seams.

    Almost-new ZD back looking to go cheap here ($3,500 with four hours to go): http://cgi.ebay.com/Mamiya-ZD-Digita...mZ160303177969
    We will have some more backs going up on E-Bay sometime in this week. I'll try to post and give you the links so you can take a look and see if they might work for you.

    Chris Lawery
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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Thanks guys, does the Valeo 22wi with iPaq offer liveview for focusing?

    And if not, what are the least expensive used backs that do offer liveview?

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Thanks for the advice guys. If we do away with the $3K budget and but make Liveview ability (so I can focus without ground glass) a requirement, which used digital backs should I be looking for?

    (Maybe i misunderstood, I know the Valeo 22wi can shoot untethered, but does it have Liveview?)

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Lockrey View Post
    Not to throw any water on your dream, but it's a lot easier just to put your camera on a pan/tilt head and just make your exposures at overlapping intervals and stitch them with any of a number of programs out there. Some are so good now that you can make your pans hand held. AutoPano Pro comes to mind. I only mention this because the method you describe will be inherently slow.
    Stitching with movements is better than using a pano head. The focal plane remains flat with movements. WIth a pano head the focal plane becomes polyhedral (and approximates a sphere). This could make a difference depending on the aperture used, and the subject.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    If you can stand the terribly tedious workflow and limitations of the scanning motion (no subject movement allowed, long exposure times) then you could go with an old scan back. There are some big pluses:
    - They are very cheap.
    - They can be very very high resolution.
    - They take up the full 4x5 area and therefore no need for stitching.
    - You can compose and focus on the full 4x5 ground glass (easy on the eyes)
    - since the back slides into the view camera just like a film holder the same setup can easily be used to grab a film setup

    One example is that we have perfectly good PowerPhaseFX+ scan backs sitting on the shelf that would fit your budget, use standard firewire, and give you 120* megapixels of uninterpolated color. I would never downplay what a pain in the butt they are to use versus a single shot back, but if you can stand the workflow then they are a phenomenal option. Plus they have zero native infrared filtration (but rely on post-lens IR filtration so IR-only or IR+color photography is really simple).

    If you can't stomach a scan back you'll find single shot backs in the $3k range are far and few between. Make sure you check the compatibility of software/raw files as many of the older backs in that price range are from manufacturers that no longer make DBs. A H20 or H25 is likely to be above that price range, but not by a lot, but they would provide the same workflow and support in Capture One 4.5 as a brand new P45+.

    Anyway, as many here have advised that price range is very limiting, but that doesn't mean you could have fun and get some great shots. Every new generation of technology makes the previous one seem overly cumbersome and tedious, but beautiful images were made back when you had to carry your darkroom with you and process the image while the plate was still wet, so don't let us talk you out of one of the options at this price as long as you're aware of the drawbacks.

    *not a typo. Resolution is 10500 x 12600 and each pixel sees all three colors

    Doug Peterson, Head of Technical Services
    Capture Integration, Phase One & Canon Dealer | Personal Portfolio
    About how much would a used PowerPhaseFX+ go for, Doug?

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    What is the workflow like with one of these scanning backs?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoang View Post
    About how much would a used PowerPhaseFX+ go for, Doug?
    I try to isolate myself from sales (I have too many numbers in my head as it is!), but I think $4000-$5000. Though as Head of Technical Services I do know that the unit we have in stock has a warranty of 6 months remaining against mechanical failures.

    The capture workflow is a bit of a Pain in the Butt. At least on par with shooting 4x5 film or 8x10 film and more than the difficulty of shooting with a tech camera and single shot digital back. It's not for the feint of heart. However, if you can stand it, the rewards are phenomenal; as Michael Reichman said "A well shot 16 bit 60 Megapixel frame is quite something to work with. The level of detail is astonishing beyond anything most people have seen, except maybe from a large format scanning back. Prints that are 22" X 30" are easily made, and even larger ones are quite possible." (emphasis added). Not bad for $4k-$5k

    So in summary for image quality when the subject is not moving [FXplus + TonsOfWork + Patience = P65plus - $35,000] :-). Well, obviously a rough equivelancy, but you get the idea.

    As an added bonus, every FX+ can be used either visible-only, infrared-only, or infracolor.

    Off to the bars.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    We have 3 FX+ units in stock and they are $4,990.00 each. They are great backs, but as Doug explained they require a heavy work-flow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    I try to isolate myself from sales (I have too many numbers in my head as it is!), but I think $4000-$5000. Though as Head of Technical Services I do know that the unit we have in stock has a warranty of 6 months remaining against mechanical failures.

    The capture workflow is a bit of a Pain in the Butt. At least on par with shooting 4x5 film or 8x10 film and more than the difficulty of shooting with a tech camera and single shot digital back. It's not for the feint of heart. However, if you can stand it, the rewards are phenomenal; as Michael Reichman said "A well shot 16 bit 60 Megapixel frame is quite something to work with. The level of detail is astonishing – beyond anything most people have seen, except maybe from a large format scanning back. Prints that are 22" X 30" are easily made, and even larger ones are quite possible." (emphasis added). Not bad for $4k-$5k

    So in summary for image quality when the subject is not moving [FXplus + TonsOfWork + Patience = P65plus - $35,000] :-). Well, obviously a rough equivelancy, but you get the idea.

    As an added bonus, every FX+ can be used either visible-only, infrared-only, or infracolor.

    Off to the bars.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Phase One, Canon, Apple, Profoto, Eizo & More
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    Last edited by Clawery; 13th March 2009 at 17:00.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    I presume that they only work tethered with Firewire? Do they work with modern Macs? What software do they require?
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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    I presume that they only work tethered with Firewire? Do they work with modern Macs? What software do they require?
    It does required being tethered and can work on modern Macs. The software is called PowerPhase FX Image Capture. Currently I only see a OS 9 download on Phase One's web site, but will have Doug Peterson verify that you can get a OS 10 version.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Carsten in the Fun with Large Format images thread there is a pretty good discussion of what it's like to work with a LF scan back. It is specifically about the Betterlight back, but from what I've seen of the PowerPhase it has an incredibly similar workflow (think difference between Canon and Nikon)--I use a Betterlight back for work.

  27. #27
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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Is there any way to use such a system with a PC laptop?

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    The FX+ is compatible with OSX 10.4. It is compatible with both PowerPC and Intel chips. You do need to tether by firewire. IMO your best bet for tethering is a (two generations ago) Mac Powerbook G4 12". It would be portable, cheap, compact, and offer a pretty good screen on which to view your images in the field.

    I'll have to check on a PC version. I have no idea.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Interesting, how long does a capture take?

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post

    I'll have to check on a PC version. I have no idea.
    Doug the first digital camera I owned was the Phase One Photo Phase some years ago and ran that for awhile on an old Windows NT box before I bought my first Mac. I still have the software disc (PC & Mac) laying around somewhere should someone want it after buying one of these FX units, which might work with the FX scan back. Although in those days everything was SCSI, so there might be a recognition issue due to the different connection.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoTurbo View Post
    Interesting, how long does a capture take?
    Can't say for sure with the FX, but my Betterlight in the field will run anywhere from around 30 seconds to 3-4 minutes usually. This at F16 and ISO 200 (the lowest on the Super 6K-HS) and line time around 1/60th to 1/240th of a second. On a few occasions I have used a line time at 1/30th of a second with ISO up to 800 give or take a fraction with no problems.... yet that is. However a line time of 1/8th second will yield a very long scan time of around 16 minutes... might get some interesting results this way but have not tried it myself.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    It would be fun to set it up with a fast scan time next to a busy street and see the very short car blurs
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    It would be fun to set it up with a fast scan time next to a busy street and see the very short car blurs
    There are a lot of fun images you can create with a scan back which are otherwise impossible, or at least un-thought-of. For instance a very fast scan time on a slowly moving car will not blur it but rather horizontally compress or expand it. So a Limo might look like a Pinto or vice versa.


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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    It would be fun to set it up with a fast scan time next to a busy street and see the very short car blurs
    Check out Shelley Lake's website, she has an image or two up in NYC doing just this with her BL scan back.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    How well might a Hasselblad V96C back work for my application?

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    One example is that we have perfectly good PowerPhaseFX+ scan backs sitting on the shelf that would fit your budget, use standard firewire, and give you 120* megapixels of uninterpolated color.

    *not a typo. Resolution is 10500 x 12600 and each pixel sees all three colors
    Doug/Chris,

    I've been contemplating a scanning back for ages, and never knew these existed... the Phase site lists PowerPhase as 48MP and scsi so I didn't consider them any more. Is there any info available to view?

    I presume they have to have a hefty battery carried along with them, like the BetterLights?

    Graham.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by shakeshuck View Post
    Doug/Chris,

    I've been contemplating a scanning back for ages, and never knew these existed... the Phase site lists PowerPhase as 48MP and scsi so I didn't consider them any more. Is there any info available to view?

    I presume they have to have a hefty battery carried along with them, like the BetterLights?

    Graham.
    The PowerPhase was a predecessor to the PowerPhaseFX+.

    http://www.phaseone.com/upload/fx+us.pdf

    No battery required; it runs off of the power from the firewire port. I ran this setup (tripod, view camera, scan back, computer, firewire cable) in my local park about a year ago with two different MacBookPros.

    My recommendation would be to to pick up a Powerbook G4 12". The firewire power during the PowerPC days was a bit more stable. Also the 12" will be smaller, cheaper, and will have no problem with OSX 10.4 (10.5 is not supported by the scan back software).

    It also slides directly into your ground glass spot, so you can use the large ground glass for all focusing/composition.

    There are several major compromises in this choice; no 10.5 support, tethered only, scan times of several minutes, good tripod required, slow workflow, and moving objects will be drawn strangely. However, if those compromises are okay with you the result is resolution higher than the P65+ at 10-15% of it's price.

    Also note that Phase One still sells, supports, and services these items. We sent our three used units in for a full mechanical servicing and cleaning and so each unit has a bit over 5 months of remaining repair warranty, which is very uncommon for a used scanning back.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Very interesting info. Please don't let this thread die.
    Any chance of P1 updating to Leopard?

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uaiomex View Post
    Very interesting info. Please don't let this thread die.
    Any chance of P1 updating to Leopard?
    No chance.

    Service and support for the backs will continue indefinitely, but the software will not be updated.

    A good condition used 12" PowerBook and spare battery should cost $400-$700.

    "Old threads never die; they just... fade away"

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpetersonci View Post
    The PowerPhase was a predecessor to the PowerPhaseFX+.

    http://www.phaseone.com/upload/fx+us.pdf

    No battery required; it runs off of the power from the firewire port. I ran this setup (tripod, view camera, scan back, computer, firewire cable) in my local park about a year ago with two different MacBookPros.

    My recommendation would be to to pick up a Powerbook G4 12". The firewire power during the PowerPC days was a bit more stable. Also the 12" will be smaller, cheaper, and will have no problem with OSX 10.4 (10.5 is not supported by the scan back software).

    It also slides directly into your ground glass spot, so you can use the large ground glass for all focusing/composition.

    There are several major compromises in this choice; no 10.5 support, tethered only, scan times of several minutes, good tripod required, slow workflow, and moving objects will be drawn strangely. However, if those compromises are okay with you the result is resolution higher than the P65+ at 10-15% of it's price.

    Also note that Phase One still sells, supports, and services these items. We sent our three used units in for a full mechanical servicing and cleaning and so each unit has a bit over 5 months of remaining repair warranty, which is very uncommon for a used scanning back.

    Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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    Doug, after a few quick googles, I have an extra couple of questions:

    There is mention of autofocus with these backs. Although that sounds strange, can you tell me more about it?

    The BL backs allow you to scan at lower-than-max resolutions, to speed a scan up. Can this also be done via the PowerPhase software, or do you have to scan at max and down-res it later if needed?

    Cheers,

    Graham.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Yes, just like the BL backs you can shoot at a large number of resolutions or ISOs to balance speed of scan with the quality and resolution of the scan. The preview scan works like this as it scans in (off the top of my head) 20 seconds but gives a pretty low resolution. You can also easily do partial frame scans at higher resolutions pretty quickly to preview sharpness, details in delicate highlights etc.

    I didn't know they called their focus-by-tone system "autofocus" but this is how it works:
    1) Take a preview scan
    2) Select a desired "in focus point"
    3) Turn on the focus detection mode
    4) You will hear a garbled set of pitches (there is also a visual readout)
    5) Rotate focus very slowly until you hear a clear solid tone (it's an F above middle C)
    6) Take a high resolution partial frame scan to confirm that you are now in focus
    7) Take the final high resolution full frame scan

    It took a few hours for me to get used to but it worked remarkably well for me at my day in the park. It actually makes you wonder why such a thing is not possible with the P+ series. The Live View is nice, but I would also be happy with a pair of headphones you plug into the back for this focus detection method.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by shakeshuck View Post
    Doug/Chris,

    I've been contemplating a scanning back for ages, and never knew these existed... the Phase site lists PowerPhase as 48MP and scsi so I didn't consider them any more. Is there any info available to view?

    I presume they have to have a hefty battery carried along with them, like the BetterLights?

    Graham.
    Graham,

    Take a look at this link from Phase One's web site. It will give you the technical information that you may be looking for.

    http://www.phaseone.com/Content/p1di...owerPhase.aspx


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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    When it comes to scan backs, I have about as much experience with them as anyone in the field today. In the mid to late 90's they were far superior to anything in the marketplace. At one point, 3 out of the 4 photographers in the Betterlight marketing material were my customers. I lived and breathed this technology due to its incredible rendering quality. Just for fun, when you look at the "price per mb" for the Powerphase FX it is only $13 compared that to the 39mp kodak chips at $180+. I know its skewed but its sure is interesting to compare........ : )

    When it comes to Phase One's "Focus Tool". It not only gives you an audible tone it also yeilds a numeric contrast value that lets you visually set the perfect focus. In some environments the audible tone is either hard to hear or incredibly annoying and this makes it a much stronger tool.

    If anyone has specific questions about this technology, please feel free to e-mail me directly or give me a call. The Powerphase FX is still an important product in our rental line and is great tool to play with if you get the chance.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Here is a link to the PowerPhase FX+: http://www.phaseone.com/upload/fx+us.pdf
    The image above is actually is the standard FX. Sorry for the confusion.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    I've been using an Ebony SW23 view camera for some years to do stitched panoramics, on film. The idea when I got it in 2002 was that eventually digital backs would come down in price. I'm still waiting...

    Anyways, I shoot two 6x9 frames on MF film, shift the back between frames (rather than rotate the camera) to create a 6x17 (actually 6x16) image. This works reasonably well in most cases, with the exception of dawn/dusk when exposure times are 30 secs or more - too much time between exposures so the light changes too much for a good stitch, so some retouching is required to make the stitch smooth.

    The tricky thing with the SW23 is that it only has front shift, so I had to invent a way to shift the back. I have an RRS rail that I slide in the clamp to shift the camera sideways, then shift the front in the opposite direction.

    Here are a few samples:
    Last edited by Lars; 24th March 2009 at 16:17.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Absolutely great work Lars!

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Gallagher View Post
    When it comes to scan backs, I have about as much experience with them as anyone in the field today. In the mid to late 90's they were far superior to anything in the marketplace. At one point, 3 out of the 4 photographers in the Betterlight marketing material were my customers.
    Hi Dave,

    I am just wondering how the powerphase fx+ compares with the current Betterlight scanning backs.
    Also, would it be possible to scan slides and negative by placing the film directly on the scanning area, instead of using a macro lens with a view camera ?

    Thanks,

    Francois

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Francois,

    The big difference between the two is the interface. The FX+ is a real FW400 connection directly from the scanning head to the computer. Nothing else is necessary. Betterlight has always needed a controller box/hard drive that the camera writes to. The BL gets its power from this and uses it as a secondary Hard Drive. In the field, this is much more cumbersome than a single FW cable.

    Another advantage of the FX+ is the RGB probe. This probe detects the flicker/phase of certain lights in all three channels. It then compensates for this in the final image, thus eliminating scan lines from the lighting scenario. No other scan back has this technology.

    Alas, there is no good way to use this as a scanner of negs. We have tried multiple ways do this in the past with disappointing results.

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Funny, people have experimented with doing the opposite - sticking a flatbed scanner into an 8x10 view camera. That didn't work so well either.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Gallagher View Post
    Francois,

    The big difference between the two is the interface. The FX+ is a real FW400 connection directly from the scanning head to the computer. Nothing else is necessary. Betterlight has always needed a controller box/hard drive that the camera writes to. The BL gets its power from this and uses it as a secondary Hard Drive. In the field, this is much more cumbersome than a single FW cable.

    Another advantage of the FX+ is the RGB probe. This probe detects the flicker/phase of certain lights in all three channels. It then compensates for this in the final image, thus eliminating scan lines from the lighting scenario. No other scan back has this technology.

    Alas, there is no good way to use this as a scanner of negs. We have tried multiple ways do this in the past with disappointing results.
    Thanks Dave for this valuable information.

    Regarding scanning slides and negs, all I want is to be able to digitalize medium and 4x5 film with better quality than my Epson V700, especially in terms of dynamic range, without buying an Imacon.

    With my Canon 5D and the 65mm 1-5x macro lens, I get results that are slightly sharper with a very close Dmax. Using a 250 watts Lowel Pro light and diffuser to light a 35mm slide, yields an exposure of 1/100 sec @ f/11 ISO 200, which would be perfect for the scanning back. At 2X magnification, 1/50 would be needed.

    Since the scanning back has better dynamic range than the Canon 5D and that it does not use an AA filter and demosaicing, and the fact that Schneider or Rodenstock macro lenses are as good (probably better!) than the Canon 65, I should get better results; unless there is something missing in my reasoning...

    Thanks,

    Francois

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    Re: Best older digital back for stitched landscapes on view camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Francois_A View Post
    Thanks Dave for this valuable information.

    Since the scanning back has better dynamic range than the Canon 5D and that it does not use an AA filter and demosaicing, and the fact that Schneider or Rodenstock macro lenses are as good (probably better!) than the Canon 65, I should get better results; unless there is something missing in my reasoning...

    Francois
    Francois

    A number of the Betterlight users have apparently had very good success at scanning slides and negs with the scan back. Most have used enlarging lenses from what I understand, though the digital macro lenses from Rody and Schneider no doubt would work very well also. From what I understand a few people have used an enlarger setup to project the slide or tranny onto the scan back which lays with its imager facing up in place of the paper.

    I have not tried this myself but at some time in the future plan on it. In other words its very doable and your logic makes sense.

    Hope this helps

    Rob

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