PhaseOne Digital Camera.

The two major high-end large format digital camera companies are Phase One and Better Light. Both make quality products for professional studio photography.

Sinar is also at the high end of 4x5 digital photography but for 2006 onwards uses Jenoptik medium format backs.

Digital photography in the realm of large format requires a sturdy 4x5 host camera. We recommend looking at Cambo and Arca-Swiss. Naturally a traditional Sinar is another option. To do 4x5 film you can use a variety of cameras, but to do professional photography with digital technology you need a precision camera. This is because you have less depth of field due to the physics and chemistry of the CCD sensor.

Cameras with an L-shaped support may sag from the weight of a digital back. Cameras whose tilts and swings work along a sliding mechanism may not be precise enough for use with a digital system. So far we have found that the sturdiest 4x5 cameras to hold a large format scan back insert are the Cambo Ultima, the Sinar X, Sinar P, and the Arca-Swiss.

PhaseOne digital scan back cameras

Phase One H20 Scan Back
Phase One h20 scan back at Photo Expo East 02.

Andrea David and I visited the Copenhagen headquarters of PhaseOne. Anders S. Anderson did a demo for us of their professional large format model. The camera is nicely made. Andrea especially liked the software interface. PhaseOne makes a very professional impression.

Phase One has their own Web site which you might wish to visit. In the meantime, you can reach them at: Phase One Denmark A/S, Roskildevej 39, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark. email of Anders S. Anderson, sales manager for that area, is

Since FLAAR has been provided two Better Light models to test (Better Light), and as PhaseOne has not yet provided an evaluation unit, we suggest you visit our Better Light area for more information on large format digital photography.

We are aware of the Leaf Creo(Scitex) high end systems but after we saw the Phase One and tried out the Better Light, we are so content with the Better Light and the Phase One that it would be unlikely that any other system could top this at the present state of technology.

But then there is always a new tomorrow, and its changes in technology, so we will keep visitors posted. Leaf started years ago in digital whereas Dicomed, Phase One, Jobo, and Color Crisp (ScanView now Imacon which then turned into Hasselblad) had the advantage of jumping straight into the latest developments. They had no need to discard constraints resulting from legacy hardware and software.

The advantage of the Better Light and the Phase One cameras in 4x5 inch format is that they cover a large format. We rate these two cameras as the high-end of digital photography. Of course the advent of the 39-megapixel medium format backs creates a new breed of options for pro photographers.

Portable solutions: At Seybold San Francisco '99 it was possible to inspect the Leica digital camera. It was nice to see that you can use lenses with a larger image circle than Leica lenses. What was difficult for me was the need to insert a PCI card into the host computer. This means tethering to a degree that makes on-location digital photography next to impossible. I was planning on testing and reviewing the Leica in Guatemala, but it does not work on any portable computer, neither PC nor Mac. Subsequently the Leica S1 system went belly up.

Thus it is refreshing to note the improvements in the portable solutions during 2005 and now in 2006 of Better Light, MegaVision, and Phase One. Phase One offers a medium format single shot portable solution in a digital camera.

We know several of the capable Phase One staff in the US, such as Lance Shad.


Most recently updated February 28, 2006.
Previously updated November 6, 1999, links added Jan 23, 2000; updated Feb. 26, 2000, last updated Aug. 5, 2001.