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Thread: All about Better Light scanning back

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  1. #1
    MunichPrag's Avatar
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    All about Better Light scanning back

    Hallo,


    I would like to start here new Thread which would be related to Better Light scanning backs only.

    Please post here all usefull information which might be helpfull for those who do reconsider using Better Light for their work .

    Thank you for you help in advance.

    Daniel

  2. #2
    MunichPrag's Avatar
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    Re: All about Better Light scanning back

    These are the latest posts* about Better Light which were posted in another*Thread:


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M Hostetter View Post
    I just can't see using a scanning back for landscape ... Even when using film I still wait for the lull in the wind to make an exposure..

    I may still only have a 1/2 sec. of calm conditions and sometimes that isn't perfectly calm

    Does one just have to limit their subjects to not include: streams, trains, people, grass lands, animals, macro, not to mention the problems with using long lenses?
    steve

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Mounier View Post
    The Betterlight scan back works like a flatbed scanner, in that it scans lines across the film plane. Depending on the model, it has to scan about 8,000 lines to make one (slightly smaller) 4x5 image. Those 8,000 lines can be exposed for up to 1/8th sec. each, making for very long exposures overall, but only 1/8th sec. per line. Not only that, but each line gets exposed by a trilinear sensor, meaning that each of 3 colors gets scanned separately with each line. The scanback software stitches the 3 colors together and also the 8,000 lines in the controller box. If something is moving, the colors can become out of register, and the separate lines also won't align. Thus the need for stillness. Here is a crop from a shot I intentionally took with some motion. Each line got 1/30th sec. for an overall exposure time (1/30th x 8,000) of approx 2.5 minutes.
    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...8&d=1323271592
    Peter

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim collum View Post
    you can end up with images like that, or images like http://betterlight.com/gallery/MC_gallery/MC_lobby.html or pretty much anything at Stephen Johnson's site http://www.sjphoto.com/


    90% of my shooting is in the morning.. wind at that time is rarely an issue.... and if it is, I shoot film. I find it particularly useful when shooting old glass.. no shutter is needed, and you can see the effect when you are shooting. For the most part, my exposure time ranges from 35-60 seconds. Have been a happy user since 2001.
    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I'd second a look at Stephen Johnson's work. He should be applauded for being a pioneer in the practical outdoor use of a scanning back and coming up with actual
    display prints that way, but it's definitely not the kind of look I would want for
    my own work. Sheet film is way more practical, and to me at least, more "authentic"
    in potential results, especially when one considers how difficult it is for outdoor subject
    matter to stay stationary even a full second, plus all the other factors of reliability
    and potential tech repair, expense amortization, and rapid obsolescene. I just don't
    see any substitute on the horizon for real film, unless you're talking about relatively
    small-scale garden-variety reproduction like stock photography for publication.

    *
    Film vs. Digital? Continued ..
    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ad.php?t=57910

  3. #3

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    Re: All about Better Light scanning back

    Random Question: Is there anywhere that rents these backs in NYC? I tried a bunch of places with no luck.

    Thx!

  4. #4

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    Re: All about Better Light scanning back

    send an email to Mike Collette at Betterlight (owner) @ mike@betterlight.com ...he'll know who rents them

    jim

  5. #5

    Re: All about Better Light scanning back

    I've been using the betterlight for outdoor landscape photography for about two years. In that time I've been very impressed with the quality of the scan and think it exceeds what I can do with my 8x10 camera--when it works. It's also the best digital capture and looks more like a Sigma Foveon capture (red, green, blue measured AT EACH PIXEL rather than conventional digital that interpolates ALL colors--therefore there is no Bayer filter for antialiasing and high frequency blur applied to the image).

    There are three main subject areas where I still use film since the betterlight has problems:

    1) when anything is moving. since the capture of red/green/blue is not simulateous but sequential [there are 3 linear arrays] there is a funny kind of fringing when there is movement. I can post examples if this is unclear. They can be retouched (desaturated and cloned out) but this can be a lot of work. Usually I will take 2-3 scans and layer them, taking unblurred sections out of the three into a single exposure. sometimes though the wind blows the subject the same place in each one . You also sometimes have to anticipate when the wind will stop and start the exposure--or cancel it if you guess wrong.

    2) in low light. when light levels are low, the scan is slow. Even at the slowest scanning speed (where the line dwell time is reduced to maximum), there may be a buildup of noise if the ISO (gain on the linear arrays) is increased to maximum. The noise is also strange with strips where the capture of one of the lines changes in gain with respect to the next... again, I can post an example.

    3) when there are specular highlights. Probably the least problem but when there is a specular highlight the entire CCD array is filled by the extra photoelectrons generated in a single pixel so that there is a white "stripe" that must be retouched. a work around is to add neutral density filters, drop the f/stop [starve the light to the sensor to prevent the overload], and drop the gain (ISO). this makes for VERY long exposures even though you are in bright light!

    also realize that the sensor area is not a full 4x5 so I purchased a shorter focal length lens (135mm) as my "normal"... and an Arca Swiss for the rigidity since my wooden folder had problems with the extra weight (and torque due to the SCSI cord that attaches to the back)

    but with the pain comes lots of gain. there probably is no sensor like it presently (other than the very low resolution Foveon, as I said). Even stitching a bunch of DSLR or medium format captures will not approach the inner detail and accutance of the Betterlight since they all employ antialias and other filters.

    Rarely (almost never) do I use the full resolution... I content myself with a 300 dpi 20"x30" capture... riduculous really unless I plan on printing a billboard meant to viewed at a few inches!

    as an example, I present the following captured at this resolution

    fireplace

    petroglyphs

    looking forward to questions!

    Bill

  6. #6

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    Re: All about Better Light scanning back

    Bill
    Thanks for shearing really useful as I feel totally isolated with my scanning back.
    I use Sinar P2 and KIGAMO 8000 same as Betterlight have some trouble with the noise "paragraph 2)" appear in shadows across scan direction even if loads of light (Use 3 HMI X 150W )
    I did ask Kigamo Germany about and this is answer

    "as for noise > if it is parallel with the ccd then it is probably because you are pushing the curve too much - open an f-stop or pick a slower line time and it should go away."

    But .. The F stop I need for DOF The lens I use will go down to F32 with no aberration visible on the samples I send F stop to 22.
    I base exposure on curve diagramm and in order not to blow specular Highlites adjust scan speed down until I see highlights reads 240 in the Tulip sample it is set to 1/4 sec/line with Studio and resolution down to 50% which give like 2f extra stops of sencivity. May be I'm doing something wrong.
    Can you please help, may be give idea on settings Ill try to figure out the rest.


    Also would be nice to see what noise you was mentioning in 2) looks like

    Regards

    Ilia

    P.S How you upload large Jpeg here ???

    2) in low light. when light levels are low, the scan is slow. Even at the slowest scanning speed (where the line dwell time is reduced to maximum), there may be a buildup of noise if the ISO (gain on the linear arrays) is increased to maximum. The noise is also strange with strips where the capture of one of the lines changes in gain with respect to the next... again, I can post an example.

  7. #7

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    Re: All about Better Light scanning back

    Here is the tulip sample I have to downsize it so not sure if the noise on black would be visible this have not been edited straight from scanning back Tiff file. setting on the back was 1/8 of max resolution 1/4sec F32 on Rodenstock Makro-Sironar 210mm f/5.6

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Yellow-Pear-Tulip_4.jpg 
Views:	52 
Size:	18.1 KB 
ID:	84994

    I also uploaded the original 60mb tiff to transferbigfiles the link below

    https://www.transferbigfiles.com/72f...YSb3TjJOXaHsQ2

    ( it would expire in 5 days if anyone interested after just ask )

    Appeciate any input on the matter.

  8. #8

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    Re: All about Better Light scanning back

    A question about Michael Collette's work; his "Coastal 2005-07" series has several images that show the ocean with very natural-looking wave action frozen as if by a quick exposure, (none of the distortion or color artifacts one would expect from a scanning back). Yet his writings on the site suggest all images are made with the Better Light back. Is there some way around the slow scan?
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  9. #9
    Peter
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    Re: All about Better Light scanning back

    Did you see those on the Betterlight site, or somewhere else. I briefly looked for them through Goggle but came up empty. He does have some photos taken at Pt. Lobos on the Betterlight site, but they are clearly affected by the motion of the waves.

    Peter

  10. #10

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    Re: All about Better Light scanning back

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Mounier View Post
    Did you see those on the Betterlight site, or somewhere else.
    On the Better Light site:

    http://betterlight.com/gallery/MC_ga...C_coastal.html

    See the large image the page opens with (it's also the fifth thumbnail from the left), the second thumbnail from the left, and the thumbnail all the way to the right.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

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