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Thread: "Digital 4x5"?

  1. #1

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    "Digital 4x5"?

    Well, if you're willing to drop $30K for a P45 (39 megapixel) digital back and another $10-20K for an MF camera system, you too can (maybe) have 4x5 resolution in an MF digital platform:

    www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/phase-one-0705.shtml

    This is still a Bayer-array design, pixel pitch is 6.8 microns (Canon 1Ds2 is 7.2 microns, Nikon D2X is 5.5 microns). Shipments reportedly start in November.

    Of course, you'd need to first confirm that your MF lenses have at least as much resolution as the sensor. Plus you'd still need to additionally invest in a geared digital view camera platform (with a separate set of lenses) if you want camera movements. Plus it would be nice to invest in an MF camera manufacturer that will still be around in a couple years (Contax and Bronica are already gone; Mamiya is betting the farm on its ZD; Rollei and Pentax are running on fumes; and Hasselblad is reportedly becoming uncooperative with third-party digital back suppliers). Plus 35mm digital lenses are approaching resolution limits, who knows if Canon and Nikon will forever abstain from invading a higher-end market?

    I presume a 39 megapixel product will further reduce what little 4x5 film utilization remains in high sales volume commercial applications. And of course the eventual DNG raw format support is a good thing for all digital photographers. But obviously they've got a long ways to go to address the fine art and upscale amateur market pricepoints.

    Guess I get to keep my 4x5 a little bit longer...... :-)

  2. #2

    "Digital 4x5"?

    Hmmm,

    39 MP Bayer, 88MP with 16 shot on a 22MP back, or a 140MP Betterlight. Decisions, decisions. Maybe my lotto #'s will come up this weekend.

  3. #3

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    "Digital 4x5"?

    I scan my 4 x 5 negatives at 3200 ppi and get digital images about 12,000 x 15,000 = 180 Mpx. I reduce this to about 8,000 x 10,000 = 80 Mpx. But if I had that amount of money to play with I would get an Imacon and scan at 4800 ppi.

    I agree that they have some ways to go.

  4. #4

    "Digital 4x5"?

    Gosh, is that all? For that kind of $$$ I'll take two (NOT) !

  5. #5
    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
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    "Digital 4x5"?

    Based on my experience with digital/film in 35mm, I'd say the new back should give results somewhat comparable to 4x5 (no grain but less absolute resolution) despite the difference in file size. However, comparing it to 8x10 like MR does seems a big stretch. 8x10 has four times the surface area of 4x5, whereas the new 39MP back has less than twice the pixel count of the old 22MP one. Few people agreed that the 22MP back matched 4x5.

  6. #6
    Doug Dolde
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    "Digital 4x5"?

    The better deal is the P30 with 31 megapixels for $16995. For the P45 you would be paying an extra $13,000 for only 8 more megapixels and a more full frame sensor. I will consider it for my Contax 645 if I can scrap up the bucks, then sell my Kodak 16 mp digital back.

    I really don't think movements is such a big issue on shorter focal length medium format lenses. At least as far as tilt is concerned. I am using 35mm or 45mm lenses for near-far shots. Shift could be another issue expecially for architectural photogs but not so much for landscapers.

    And my 45mm lens is a Hartblei Super Rotator 45mm T/S which is quite good and very sharp. It shifts 12mm which is great for shift stiched shots.

    Even 16mp digital is pretty amazing much less 31 or 39mp. Enough so for me to sell off my 4x5 and dispense with all the processing and scanning headaches, not to mention 300+ megabyte files to crunch through in Photoshop.

    As I see it film is dying a slow but accelerating death.

  7. #7
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    "Digital 4x5"?

    "As I see it film is dying a slow but accelerating death."

    How cheap would one of these digital backs have to be to seem to you guys like an economical alternative to film? That is, assuming comparable quality, etc., which will happen sooner or later.

    I'm just starting to get into color for personal work, and find the price of 4x5 film and processing a major drag. But $30,000 for a digital back? I think I'd have to wait for the price to be more like a twentieth of that before it would even be on my radar. It will happen one day, but I'm not holding my breath.

  8. #8
    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
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    "Digital 4x5"?

    How cheap would one of these digital backs have to be to seem to you guys like an economical alternative to film?

    (film_expenses_per_year - digital_depreciation_rate_per_year) * number_of_years_of_use

  9. #9

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    "Digital 4x5"?

    Whenever digital v film resolution comes up I'm always amazed at how print size is always ignored. My standard print size from a 6x6 cm neg is 40x40 and 20x20 inches inches. To do that I get a scan that gives me 24x24 @ 300dpi and then inerpolate either way - not ideal but OK. So I recently tested an H1 D against a 6x6 scan with the H1 interpolated to 24inches using photozoom and the mf a straight file. No contest - film won. The new cameras quoted above will - on those numbers - match mf film at my output sizes. 5x4 no way, 8x10 in your dreams. But at what cost? How much film can I buy for that money? Now , I'm not anti dig, I can't wait until I can get a camera with the dynamic range of colour neg, for the price of 2 years film and processing costs. Digital scanning and printing has opened up huge opportunities for 8x10 photogs. They are now able to utilise techniques that allow them to investigate the 'hyper real' (CJ springs to mind), and for the first time all the detail in an 8x10 neg is visible at whatever print size you can imagine.
    But if i was doing commercial work... no contest, digi wins.

  10. #10
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    "Digital 4x5"?

    "I would expect comaprison prints to show that digital capture has amazing smoothness and grain free at similar or even bigger sizes than the 5x4 film version just without the dynamic range of neg , and without the detail"

    As Julian pointed out, this has everything to do with print size. Images on film soften gracefully as they get enlarged more and more; digitally captured images look amazing up to a point and then go to pieces.

    If you're printing small enough for the pixel resolution of your capture, resolution is a complete non-issue. You will have nicely rendered detail that's as small as your eye can see. You're more likely to have issues with noise and other digital artifacts than with a sense that detail is missing.

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