Digital back

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A digital back carries at least the image sensor and some preprocessing and interface electronics for recording a still digital image. If no further elements are aboard such a camera back it is usually delivered with a separate electronic device containing power supply, image memory and further image processing electronics, maybe also all control elements including screen. Modern digibacks profit from electronics miniaturization in that way, that almost all necessary image processing, storage and control elements are put into the digital back itself, and maybe also a rechargeable battery. Especially for professional medium format such sophisticated digibacks have already become standard, with usually four buttons and color screen as user interface, making utilization as easy as that of other "few-button gadgets" like the iPod. The newest trend is wireless operation by means of apps on notebook computers or even small multimedia cell phones.

A problem is the size of deliverable image sensors. Medium format standard size 6×6cm will be available sooner or later, but larger conventional image sensors based on CCD or CMOS hardware technology are not imaginable at affordable prices! A solution for static scenes are scanbacks based on scanner technology. There already were products for the most common large format frame sizes 4×5" and 9×12cm available from Rencay, Anagramm and Betterlight.

In 2014 the availability of fine medium format sensors was at a peak with Dalsa, Kodak, and Sony as sensor makers.

Early digital backs even did not reach 35mm framesize 24×36mm as sensor format, i.e. the Kodak DCS100 and the R8 Digital Module-R, each specified for just one certain 35mm camera as replacement for the film chamber door.


product sensor or scan size more year
Sinar SinarBack Philips 2048 x 2048 pixels 24x24mm cooled CCD for studio shootings 1998
Sinar SinarBack 43 11 megapixel 4000x2672 pixels 24x36mm CCD 35mm format module adaptable to most medium format SLRs. Controlled by computer via FireWire interface cable. 2003
Kodak DCS Pro Back 645H Kodak 16 megapixel 4800x4800 pixels CCD for Hasselblad H1 camera system 2003
Jenoptik Eyelike Emotion 22 Dalsa 22 megapixel 5344x4008 pixels 36x48mm CCD FireWire and CF card 2003?
Anagramm Picture Gate 8000 David² Kodak tri-linear single-scan CCD bar
16000x26000 pixels 72x118mm scan size
scanback, well for repro cameras,
adaptable to 4x5" and 9x12cm large format cameras
MegaVision E7 Kodak 50 megapixel 8176x6132 pixels 49.1x36.8mm CCD adaptable to medium format SLRs & technical cameras 2010
Phase One IQ250 Sony 50 megapixel 8280x6208 pixels 43.9x32.9mm CMOS first high-res CMOS based back, with "Live-View" capabilities 2014