totally never going to be able to afford this, but out of curiosity... (large format)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by seenew, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. seenew macrumors 68000


    Dec 1, 2005
    where could I find 4x5 digital backs online? I know they are more than pricey, but I'd like to see.

    I've begun working with a 4x5 view camera for class, and I'm in love.:p

    I'll post up some work (mostly just playing around) when I scan some negs.

  2. uberfoto macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2006
    A more common option is to use a MF back on 4x5 with an adapter.

    Phase One, Leaf, and Sinar all make digital backs. Check out their websites.

    I would much rather shoot with a Mamiya ZD with a bellows adapter on it that allows a tilt/shift. Even a Hassy H3D is more fun to work with in digital IMO. I'd rather stick with film in the 4x5 until I saw a really nice 4x5 option designed for digital.

    Good luck with those scans. Mine tend to be ~1.2GB each which make them difficult to work with. At least the Hassy 39MP files are manageable. Even after an adjustment layer or two in PS, the PSD's are ~3-400MB each. Huge difference in processing time and disk space.
  3. bgd macrumors regular

    Aug 30, 2005
  4. KidneyPi macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2007
    I once saw a web site where a photographer had a gallery and instructions for a view camera with a flat bed scanner attached. It was basically slit-scan digital photography. I can't find the page now. This would be great if you want to make landscapes, but it isn't so good for moving subjects (unless you want it to look weird.).
  5. Crawn2003 macrumors 6502

    Jul 8, 2005
    Santa Rosa, California
    I'm a commercial photographer based in Dayton, Ohio (but soon in Santa Rosa, California!!!!). I use a Sinar 4x5 with a Leaf Valeo. And it's pricey for my setup.

    1. A Sinar F2 is around $700 used. The problem with Toyo View and Horseman 4x5 is that the Kapture Group sliding back adapter WILL NOT work with these 4x5 cameras.

    2. A Leaf Valeo Digital Back is around $5000-$10,000 used; the Valeo 11, 17, or 22. And that's if it comes with the adapter ring (For Hasselblad, Bronica, Mamiya, etc.)

    3. Then there is the Adapter Plate from Kapture Group.
    That's another $2,000 dollars. Good luck finding one used that matches what you have in the large format area. I had to buy mine brand new.

    So it comes to almost $10,000 dollars (roughly) just for the camera setup, not including carrying cases/hard cases, large tripod, equipment toolbox with level-tape measure to calculate what exposure (due to light fall off inside the 4x5) you're going to have, etc.

    What are you going to capture to?? A desktop is fine if you're only going to shoot inside at a studio but what if you want to take a 4x5 shot at a location??

    I have to do it all the time for clients at any architectural shoot.

    That's where the laptop comes in. I think all digital backs are firewire (at least all the ones I've worked with) so no MacBook Air. The least to get would be a MacBook, but I suggest the MacBook Pro because it doesn't come with a glossy screen. A glossy screen will not give you accurate color correction. Also keep in mind that each shot from a digital back, in RAW format, is going to be anywhere from 70MB-150MB+ with 39Megapixel backs being far more! So each location is going to be a lot if you don't have a backup drive.

    So really, it comes down to this:
    Sinar F2 (used): $700 (from
    Leaf Valeo (used): $7000
    Kapture Group Digital Back Sliding Adapter: $2000
    MacBook: $1700
    Good Tripod: $300
    Light Meter, 4x5 essentials: $200

    Total Price (rough estimate, your total may be different but not by much):

    $11,900 if almost everything is used.

    Now this is based on my setup for what I do as a commercial photographer:

    Sinar F2 (used): $700
    Leaf Valeo 11: $5000
    Kapture Group Adapter: $2000
    MacBook Pro: $3400
    Good Tripod (Induro Tripods): $350
    4x5 essentials: $200
    Profoto Lights: $3600
    Mac Pro Octo w/ 2 monitors: $8000
    Mac Pro Quad w/ 1 monitor: $4000
    Misc: $2000

    Total: $29,250 worth of equipment. This isn't including insurance, other items, expenses, etc. Just some of the major equipment. I'm even leaving some of the stuff out!

    Now here's some examples of 4x5 stuff I've done with my digital backs:

    Attached Files:

  6. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    BetterLight sells some relatively reasonably priced scanning backs.
  7. Crawn2003 macrumors 6502

    Jul 8, 2005
    Santa Rosa, California
    BetterLight is good for stationary subjects, i.e. like my photo of the camera but when it comes to something moving or showing motion that's when they fail...

    I was looking into a BetterLight until I realized that just wouldn't do well with motion. I was also looking at a Sinar Scanning Back and that is what led me to BetterLight.

  8. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    That's true of all scanning backs, but it's also generally true of LF- unless you're using one of those monster 8x10 point and shoots, or you're good with a Speed|Crown Graphic it's really not a great moving subject tool (esp. compared to MF cameras with digital backs.) However, if you need movements, especially on the back-end the scanning backs are a good solution for most studio and landscape work and a fair amount of architecture too. Sensor-plane movement just doesn't normally happen outside LF, lens plane, sure.

    Scanning backs make it relatively cheap to do LF digital compared to the cost of a one-shot system- but if you're doing a lot of one-shot work, it's definitely not the right tool for the job- but your budget has to go up significantly. You *can* stretch a budget to do a scanning back.
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    My favorite low bucks "fine art" camera was an 8x10 view camera that someone duct taped to a standard flatbed scanner. It actually worked. Not only could he do "striaght photography" but the guy made some really great shots by either panning the camera while scanning or moving the subject while scanning.

    For my purposes, I'll simply use film and then scan the film.
  10. BigJohno macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2007
    San Francisco
    Were those G5 pics used by Apple?? All very nice pictures. :)
  11. Crawn2003 macrumors 6502

    Jul 8, 2005
    Santa Rosa, California
    lol, they were not actually. I just did it for fun one day! I have a whole series that were based on par with the photos Apple had on their website.


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