Comparisons of trilinear scanning (digital) backs for large format cameras.

BetterLight and PhaseOne are definitely the leaders in high-end large format photography. Indeed the BetterLight is selling so well that it is hard to actually get your hands on one. If you are thinking of moving to large format CCD scanning systems, you better order one now. At first BetterLight was sold exclusively by Calumet Digital Solutions (Calumet Photographic) for two years but now you can also purchase them directly from BetterLight.

Michael Collette is the capable engineer who has developed the BetterLight. The advantage of the BetterLight over other systems is that these scan backs are built in the United States. I have a prototype model and it has never needed repair but when you drop your scan back it is good to know that spare parts are available without having to send to Europe or Japan for them. offers all the necessary information on professional digital photography.

Any large format trilinear scanning back which used Sony chips is now obsolete because Sony no longer makes them. This will require the software and everything else to be changed. PhaseOne uses the Sony chip, so the question is whether they will switch to Kodak, or drop out of the market for large format and stick with their strength, namely medium format backs for Hasselblad, Contax, and Mamiya 645 cameras. I do not know whether Anagramm uses Sony or Kodak chips. JOBO already dropped out of the digital camera market all together. Kigamo just came out with new Kodak-chipped scanning backs, so it appears they intend to stay in the European market. However it is interesting that even European museums and universities are buying the BetterLight. FLAAR was hired as consultant for seven weeks in Malta. The Malta Centre for Restoration selected Balcar fluorescent lights, Desisti HMI lighting, BetterLight, and Sinar P2 4x5 camera.

While on the subject of 4x5 scan backs, what is the best camera to hold them? Sinar Bron, Arca-Swiss, Cambo or Toyo are all recommended.

If you might be using the BetterLight scanning back to photograph art for eventual fine art giclee printing, then consider asking about the BetterLight camera directly at

Calumet sends Cambo Ultima 4x5 camera to the FLAAR. Photo Archive for evaluation.

Last updated January 28, 2004.
Previously updated July 3, 2003; updated Aug. 12, 2001 Design updated April 9, 2001.