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View Full Version : Jim, build a medium format digital back!



Lee Saxon
01-09-2009, 12:25 AM
Seriously.

The Epic 645 has a 56x42mm 65mp sensor and the uber-high-bandwidth ADCs to move all that around at 50fps, all for $43,000.

The 53.4x40.4 61mp 1fps Phase One P65+ costs $39,990. I don't know what the 56x36mm 55mp 1fps Leaf Aptus-II 10 costs, but if tradition holds it'll be ~$5k more than the P65+.

It's not Phase One's or Leaf's fault that the entire digital back market (which they also share with Hasselblad, Sinar, and to a very limited extend Mamiya) is less than, for instance, Nikon's MONTHLY D300 sales. But the fact is, they have zero R&D budget and their backs have slower data throughput and lower-rez LCDs than Nikon & Canon DSLRs from five years ago!

Anyway, my point is, I bet Red could take the 56x42mm 65mp (and maybe also develop a ~25-30mp version for poor folk like myself), throw just enough ADC for ~3fps at it, throw in an integrated battery CF slot and ~4" high-rez LCD (Sorry, the modular wires going every which way thing, acceptable to cinema users, makes us still photographers feel like we've time warped to 1997), sell it for a fifth the cost of the inferior Leaf, Phase One, Sinar, & Hasselblad competition, OWN that market in short order, and still make more money than any of those guys because you're spreading around sensor R&D costs between many products.

C'mon Jim. Do it. Even if just as a one-off for me :) I need a digital back I can afford!

PS - You could even have a version shooting 50fps video just like Epic 645. Most 645 SLRs have mirror lock-up of some kind :)

Just throwing that out there

Fredrik Callinggard
01-09-2009, 12:56 AM
I'd buy it as I do with all RED products, because unfortunately I've become a RED fanatic hahahaa

Taylor Mason
02-27-2009, 10:02 AM
Do we really need a 65 MP digital back? The Phase one P65 is bad enough, even though they did a good job getting the capture time down to one second per frame. Thats the only reason I would upgrade from P45's and P25's. 49 megapixels is just overkill. To your defense though, RED could definitely drive down the price of these ridiculously overpriced backs, and deliver a better product.

Still, if the scarlet cameras have the lens mount capabilites that they are claiming, I would LOVE to ditch the RZ's, 503s, 645's and ESPECIALLY the Hassleblad H series cameras for a "one brain fits all," upgradable body. Its all about the glass anyways, as I'm sure most motion people will attest to. I think the brain concept is great....can't wait to see it hit the market.

P Andersson
02-27-2009, 11:03 AM
yes, we need a less expensive back

Lee Saxon
02-27-2009, 03:37 PM
Taylor I totally agree with you about the excessive extremes the megapixel war has gotten to. Hell, I'm pretty satisfied with my 12mp D2x! I was just thinking these things would be even cheaper if they used pre-existing sensors instead of developing new ones.

I also agree with you that I'd much rather be working with the modern DSMC system than an old Mamiya RZ or Hasselblad 501cm or something. The problem I was getting at in original post is that with the Scarlet/Epic brains you pay a steep premium for the uber-high-bandwidth ADCs that can throughput 120/250 fps and since I'm never gonna need more than ~ 8 fps I'm not willing to pay that premium, as much as I love Red's sensors / DSMC modular concept / quick R&D pace / rugged design / etc.

I guess the solution you're hinting at is a line of DSMC brains for still photographers that top out at say ~ 7-9 fps. That'd be a much better solution than my clumsy "medium format back" solution! Can't believe I didn't think of it!

Thomas Dobbie
02-27-2009, 04:46 PM
Do we really need a 65 MP digital back? The Phase one P65 is bad enough, even though they did a good job getting the capture time down to one second per frame. Thats the only reason I would upgrade from P45's and P25's. 49 megapixels is just overkill. To your defense though, RED could definitely drive down the price of these ridiculously overpriced backs, and deliver a better product.

Still, if the scarlet cameras have the lens mount capabilites that they are claiming, I would LOVE to ditch the RZ's, 503s, 645's and ESPECIALLY the Hassleblad H series cameras for a "one brain fits all," upgradable body. Its all about the glass anyways, as I'm sure most motion people will attest to. I think the brain concept is great....can't wait to see it hit the market.

Agree,I've got a P45+,I love my R1 but can't wait for the whole 'Brain' concept to be introduced.
Tom

J. Bernard Vallon
02-27-2009, 07:25 PM
judging by the design of the 645 brain, it looks like with a few pieces of 3rd party kit you could put it on your Mamiya or hassy as a back pretty easy.

Jeff Kilgroe
02-27-2009, 07:54 PM
Yeah, 645 will work awesome for this I think. But what Lee and others are looking for is something that costs less than the current offerings for medium format still cameras.

There is definitely a market for such a thing, albeit a small one. An application like this almost speaks to a Scarlet 645 or something along that line where maybe it tops out at 25 or 30 fps and has a physical design more like a camera back or like the Epic 617.

Von Thomas
02-28-2009, 01:24 PM
I'm just wondering, what are people shooting (still that is) that they need more than a 22mp? I've been working all the digital still cameras for over 10 years, I've done side by side tests, made 30 x 40 prints on an Epson 9800, and to be honest, the old Canon 1D (4.2mp) did a wonderful job.

I recently parted with my P30's, now those are wonderful backs, 31mp, fast, reliable, the pixels look great, the images from them look great, did I say fast.

I've seen just about everything, and IMO, any beyond 30mp, is a waste. You are buying way more camera than you will ever use. It's nice to say you own one, but let's be realistic, are you really using all that data? Also factor in the problems that the manufacturer encounters when they reduce the pixel size to squeeze more pixel onto the sensor, you get increased noise, and lots of it, that you have to fix with internal algorithms.

Most buyers never to comparisons before they buy, which is a shame, because what if you found that your 65mp file, does not look as great (when you go in very close (pixel peep), compared to say a 22mp, or 30mp file.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

Taylor Mason
02-28-2009, 07:17 PM
profoto, I totally agree with you. I've been on shoots where we've had 1ds mark II files (16 mp) being blown up to the size of buildings. Its more about the printing than it is the image resolution at that point. i recently did some images tests with p30, p45, and p65, and I have to say I liked the p30 best. I felt like everything looked too sharp in the p65 files, even when shooting wide open. Plus I really wasn't impressed by the dynamic range on that sensor. I wish advertising agencies would read forums like this, because I can't tell you how many requests I've gotten for the P65 from those people. Consumerism at its best....

Bringing it back to the reason we're on this forum in the first place....couldn't you make the same argument for 5k?

Von Thomas
02-28-2009, 07:42 PM
I can't tell you how many times a client would suggest to the photographer what camera or digital back to use. They (the ad agencies) are lead by the marketing, not the facts.

Chad Lancaster
02-28-2009, 08:47 PM
I've done side by side tests, made 30 x 40 prints on an Epson 9800, and to be honest, the old Canon 1D (4.2mp) did a wonderful job.

make a 30x40 print from a drum scanned piece of 8x10 film and then compare it to your 30x40 4.2mp print, I guarantee you will notice the difference!

Von Thomas
02-28-2009, 09:01 PM
i did not say it was the best compared to the 11, 22, and 30mp camera, but it truly looked good. That said, 8X10 scanned vs a 22mp digital now you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

I found this, but it is he Phase P45, which I am not a fan of, but here is the results of one photographers test. http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/Cramer.shtml

Shane Betts
02-28-2009, 11:09 PM
make a 30x40 print from a drum scanned piece of 8x10 film and then compare it to your 30x40 4.2mp print, I guarantee you will notice the difference!

Absolutely. And that's why this thread makes so much sense. It's the size of the frame that matters more than the number of pixels. A 6x4.5 (or, preferably, a 6x7) sensor with 20-odd MP would be just right for me.

M Hsu
02-28-2009, 11:24 PM
I'd happily take a 12mp medium format back if it has clean ASA6400. Can you imagine the size of the pixels on that?

Yannick Hagman
03-01-2009, 02:03 AM
I really hate the 6x7 aspect ratio.

Build a 6x9 medium format camera after a Fuji GX680 (which is 6x8). There would be a marketgap if you can do that for a low price...

Von Thomas
03-01-2009, 03:49 AM
I'd happily take a 12mp medium format back if it has clean ASA6400. Can you imagine the size of the pixels on that?

Can you imagine how beautiful that large sensor, large pixel image would be? I'm starting to drool. Make mine a 18mp please.

Antoine Baumann
03-01-2009, 09:37 AM
But the fact is, they have zero R&D budget


Are you talking about sensor dev? Because if so, I am really not sure they have R&D team for that, because they all have either Kodak or Dalsa sensor in their digital back.

cheers,
antoine.

Lee Saxon
03-01-2009, 12:45 PM
Are you talking about sensor dev? Because if so, I am really not sure they have R&D team for that, because they all have either Kodak or Dalsa sensor in their digital back.

I wasn't really talking about the sensors which are generally good so much as low bandwidth ADCs with lame software (they're hard pressed to give us useable ISO400 while the 35mm DSLRs can give us useable ISO800+ with pixels several times smaller for example), lower-resolution-than-the-ones-on-$300-point-and-shoots LCDs, etc.

Although much of that is probably OEMed from somebody else just like the sensor, so I guess I wasn't being totally accurate...but my point is that stuff sucks, whoever's fault it is.

Antoine Baumann
03-01-2009, 04:16 PM
yeah sure big format digital photography should be shaked as well!!

cheers,
antoine.

Roberto B
03-01-2009, 09:47 PM
why not a space shuttle for $1,000,000.00?.. it would rock :)

Roberto B
03-01-2009, 09:49 PM
:) I need a digital back I can afford!
that one me liked

Yannick Hagman
03-02-2009, 03:42 AM
that one me liked

I second that.

But so far Red seems a premium company.

Jez Lawrence
03-10-2009, 06:23 AM
i did not say it was the best compared to the 11, 22, and 30mp camera, but it truly looked good. That said, 8X10 scanned vs a 22mp digital now you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

I found this, but it is he Phase P45, which I am not a fan of, but here is the results of one photographers test. http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/Cramer.shtmlThat's a three year old test! And that back was on a par with 4x5" film then.
Also on the LL website they did an Antartcic trip recently and 10 were Phase back owners and they had a P65+ back to try out. 6 of them ordered the new back as it was apparently quite a bit better. It's not always about MP but the quality/look of the image that's important and ISO ability - the latter has improved in MFDBs of late.

Matthew Blight
03-13-2009, 06:30 PM
I think a medium format still brain from RED would be a fantastic idea. I'd be happy with RED 645 at 3 fps - one designed specifically for still photography and not a hybrid DSMC. I think Phase One would have some catching up to do, or at least lower their prices.