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Thread: Top Ten Digital Back Innovations

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    Senior Member ondebanks's Avatar
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    Top Ten Digital Back Innovations

    Steve at Capture Integration posted this recently:

    Top Ten Digital Back Innovations

    As with any "top ten" list, it demands some discussion.

    Now I'd basically agree with all but one of Steve's choices making the list. The choice of number 7, "2004 Phase One P Series Portable Digital back with CF Card Slot", is just weird.
    "While not the first digital back to offer a CF Card Slot (Kodak DCS ProBack holds that distinction), ..."
    It's like saying "Kodak won the gold medal, but forget them: let's hear it for the silver medal winner, Phase One!" Perhaps the later footnote tries to justify this - "Capture Integration has never sold Megavision or Kodak digital backs". An admission that being a seller of Phase One products means you're going to underplay or only grudgingly mention the achievements of rivals that you don't sell?

    My other related point is that it also understates what Kodak really innovated in the DCS Proback line, 2 to 3 years before Phase One: not just a card slot [2001] but also
    * An onboard, self-contained operating system [2001]
    * An integrated display screen [2001]
    * A truly portable power source in the form of a small attached Li-Ion battery [2002]

    In short, Kodak ended "the tyranny of the tether". You no longer had to bring and attach a whole other large item (computer/laptop) just to make medium format digital photos. (Of course, if you wanted to tether the Kodaks, you could too). All of the things that the tethered computer did (control, display, storage, and power) could now be handled by and within the digital back itself.

    I don't believe that any other digital medium format manufacturer achieved so many major breakthroughs in a single step, before or since.

    Kodak were at their peak back then and it's a shame how they blew it all in the following decade. But we mustn't airbrush their massive contribution to digital medium format legacy.

    This is not to knock Phase One BTW. They earn their place at numbers 9, 4, 3 and 1 (it's a chronological list BTW, not a ranking) and I am totally wowed by the P/P+ long exposure comparison in number 6. I'd love to know the exposure details for those images?

    I also think there should at least be an "honorable mention" to Mamiya for the first fully integrated medium format camera/DSLR, the ZD.

    Any other views on the list?

    Ray

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    Re: Top Ten Digital Back Innovations

    Now I'd basically agree with all but one of Steve's choices making the list. The choice of number 7, "2004 – Phase One P Series – Portable Digital back with CF Card Slot", is just weird.
    "While not the first digital back to offer a CF Card Slot (Kodak DCS ProBack holds that distinction), ..."
    It's like saying "Kodak won the gold medal, but forget them: let's hear it for the silver medal winner, Phase One!" Perhaps the later footnote tries to justify this - "Capture Integration has never sold Megavision or Kodak digital backs". An admission that being a seller of Phase One products means you're going to underplay or only grudgingly mention the achievements of rivals that you don't sell?
    Well, you could also say that for point #1 Phase didn't really make the first CMOS sensor as they say, but they also didn't fully develop the IQ250 sensor either, they just happened to get it out the door the first before Hasselblad and Pentax. And while there certainly is a sizable list of things that go on in image capture beyond just the sensor chip, as different companies can have different variants on the sensor and it's supporting electronics, I don't think Phase's flavor is necessarily any more ground-breaking than the other options. The Pentax is certainly more unique in it's the first MF camera that captures video for instance, neither the IQ or H5D do that.

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