Why are MF/LF scanning backs so expensive?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Paul Rubin, Oct 15, 2006.

  1. Paul Rubin

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Is there really more to them than the stuff that goes in a good flatbed scanner?
    Paul Rubin, Oct 15, 2006
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  2. I would suspect the reject rate for large camera CCDs is the culprit.

    Gary Eickmeier
    Gary Eickmeier, Oct 15, 2006
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  3. Paul Rubin

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Is there a difference between a scanning back CCD and a flatbed
    scanner CCD? They are both linear (one-dimensional) CCD's, and they
    might actually be several small ones. They're not like the large
    two-dimensional CCD's used in DSLR's.
    Paul Rubin, Oct 15, 2006
  4. Counter questions:

    1. Is there any such thing as an "MF scanning back"? (This is a serious
    question: I've only heard of non-scanning digital backs for MF. Which are
    expensive because chip cost goes up exponentially (well, polynomially with a
    large exponent) with area.)

    2. How many LF scanning backs do you think they've sold?

    3. How much do LF scanning backs cost? (I've never even thought about price
    of the things; the glacial speed of the things makes them less than

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Oct 15, 2006
  5. Paul Rubin

    Bob Salomon Guest

    Anagramm backs for one
    Bob Salomon, Oct 15, 2006
  6. Paul Rubin

    Paul Rubin Guest



    Dunno if you'd count 6x17 as MF or LF. I counted it as MF since it's a
    traditional rollfilm panorama format.
    If it's more than a handful, the prices I've seen are a bit steep.
    Here's an attempt at a home-made scanning camera, from before the days
    of good low cost consumer digicams:


    The results aren't that great but it was dirt cheap. What I'm
    wondering is whether a serious one is really that much more complex.
    I just found this too, which is also interesting:

    The 6x17 thing mentioned above is $36,000, though including the camera.
    Paul Rubin, Oct 15, 2006
  7. Paul Rubin

    Scott W Guest

    There is a lit more to them then a flatbed scanner in that you need to
    keep the scan plane really flat if you plan to use any of the lenses
    with low f/numbers.

    But overall if you were making a lot of them the cost should really be
    in the few hundreds of dollars.

    As it is you are most likely paying for NRE cost and not production

    Scott W, Oct 15, 2006
  8. Paul Rubin

    George Kerby Guest

    Not to mention keeping the damn things cool.
    George Kerby, Oct 15, 2006
  9. Paul Rubin

    Scott W Guest

    Are you talking about keeping the CCD cool, I have never had a problem
    that as they are very low power devices.

    Scott W, Oct 15, 2006
  10. Paul Rubin

    tomm42 Guest

    Betterlight backs run from approximently $10K to $25K depending on
    resolution and scanning speed (an oxymoron). Older ones appear on Ebay
    every once in a while for and go for $2K - $5K. Kodak once was selling
    a bunch of Betterlights for a grand apeice and I missed it. They were
    either looking at the technology or thinking of buying the company and
    did neither. When I had a studio I was really looking at them. Phase
    One also made a scanning back that was a little more cumbersome. Aus
    Jena had the EyeLike which was a combination scanning and 6mp (if I
    remember correctly) still. With the newer sensors available I doubt it
    is a big selling product.


    tomm42, Oct 15, 2006
  11. SNIP
    In the US$ 10,000 - 35,000 range for the popular PhaseOne series, MF
    backs only.
    The Betterlight scanning backs (for 4x5 inch) in the US$ 6,500 -
    20,000 range.
    Bart van der Wolf, Oct 15, 2006
  12. Paul Rubin

    George Kerby Guest

    Maybe the new ones. Traditionally a problem, though.


    Full frame (not in size but in readout method) CCD dual sensor readout (DSR)
    for double capture speed (patent pending)
    Bluetooth® wireless technology
    Cooling fan for efficient heat removal"
    George Kerby, Oct 15, 2006
  13. Paul Rubin

    Rich Guest

    It's not just the size but the grade of CCD. These are not "million
    off a production line Canon or Sony products" these are graded CCDs of
    much higher consistency and quality than the DSLR stuff out there. If
    you are fanatical about it, you can spec the grade you want and a
    medium format CCD 20 meg in grade "A" for lack of a better term would
    likely cost $100,000+. Of course, unlike consumer cams you'd know
    things like how many dead pixels, true pixel uniformity, etc.
    Rich, Oct 15, 2006
  14. Paul Rubin

    tomm42 Guest

    These are very precise backs, for stationary objects they are extremely
    sharp, better than any 35mm based DSLR, some say better than 4x5 film.
    The scanning part has more of a comparison to level of a Creo scanner
    than your average flatbed. Check out www.betterlight.com. Just an

    tomm42, Oct 15, 2006
  15. Paul Rubin

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Hmm, looks like they're less expensive than before (54MP model starts
    at $6.5K) but does anyone use Creo scanners any more? Are they really
    that much better than the $500 Epson?

    Here's an older 500 megapixel unit for a mere $9K:

    Paul Rubin, Oct 15, 2006
  16. Paul Rubin

    Paul Rubin Guest

    No wait, they're using the Sigma marketing trick of describing
    R,G,B as separate pixels. Resolution of that unit is 3750x5000
    or 18.75MP.
    Oops, 12000x15990, or 192 MP.
    Paul Rubin, Oct 15, 2006
  17. Paul Rubin

    mark Guest

    Paul Rubin schreef:
    is there a brand that doesn't?
    mark, Oct 16, 2006
  18. Paul Rubin

    Paul Rubin Guest

    I don't know of any other brands that do that. I realize most
    digicams use Bayer sensors and therefore can't available themselves of
    the trick, but there are many 3-ccd video cameras and scanners that
    don't use Bayer sensors, whose manufacturers don't use the trick. The
    Betterlight back is essentially a specialized type of scanner and
    should specify resolution the same way it's specified for other
    Paul Rubin, Oct 16, 2006
  19. Paul Rubin

    Scott W Guest

    If you are taking about the cooling fan there is a lot more then the
    CCD that will be producing heat, the the motor and image processor.
    The CCD is pretty minor.

    Scott W, Oct 16, 2006
  20. Paul Rubin

    George Kerby Guest

    I WAS referring to to the OP in reference to digital backs in general.
    You were the one that got into the CCD thing.
    George Kerby, Oct 16, 2006
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