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chronology of medium format digital backs


  • many digital backs for medium format cameras can be used on a number of medium format cameras either as dedicated camera backs or via adapters - usually based on the Hasselblad V 6x6 manual focus medium format camera system
  • Note that ONLY the H1D and H2D of the Hasselblad H series can be used with 3rd party backs as Hasselblad has now created a closed system with its later digital only models which can only used the Hasselblad back.
  • the main manufacturers of current digital backs are:
  • note: depending on the sensor size, they usually have a crop factor for 6×4.5 camera lenses which have a film area of 56mm x 41.5mm:
    • 37x37mm sensor = 1.5x crop thus a 40mm wide angle becomes 60mm effective medium format lens
    • 43x32mm sensor = 1.3x crop
    • 48x36mm sensor = 1.17x crop (ie. twice the area of 35mm full frame)




  • Kodak announces it will exit the digital image capture business after having filed for Chapter 10 bankruptcy protection which presumably means the end of Kodak sensor development
  • Leaf Credo series:
    • touch screen LCD with limited Live View
    • bidirectional electronic levels
    • CF card and Firewire/USB3.0 interfaces


  • private equity firm Ventizz announced it had acquired a 100% stake in Hasselblad
  • Phase One IQ series
    • multi-touch screen LCD (similar to iPhone display) with limited Live View
    • CF card plus FireWire800 or USB 3.0 tethered shooting
    • 12.5 stop dynamic range
    • user updatable firmware
    • up to 80mp 40.4 x 53.9mm sensors with ISO 35-800 and 0.7fps
  • Leaf Aptus-II series:
    • touch screen LCD with limited Live View
    • 12 stop dynamic range
    • bidirectional electronic levels
    • CF card and Firewire interfaces but no USB
  • Hasselblad H4D-200MS:
    • H4D camera with 200mp digital back (6-shot by moving sensor by 1/2 pixel)


  • Pentax enters medium format digital SLR market with their Pentax 645D
  • Hasselblad CFV-50 V-mount:
    • 50mp almost double 35mm full frame sensor size
    • cable-free operation and optimized integration between back, body and lens
    • Hasselblad's DAC lens correction technology for most of the V-System Carl Zeiss lenses - DAC completely corrects for distortion, lateral chromatic aberration and vignetting in exactly the same way as it does for the H-System lenses
    • Hasselblad Natural Color Solution
    • square and horizontal format options
    • CF card or tethered
    • 11,990 Euro (+tax)


  • Phase One acquires Mamiya and buys parts of the Leaf business (formerly owned by Canadian company Creo which is an independent subsidiary of Kodak) to form Leaf Imaging which will continue to manufacture products in Israel.
  • Mamiya / Phase One 645DF digital medium format camera introduced with interchangeable backs (digital only)
  • Franke & Heidecke (manufacturer of Rollei cameras and a supplier for Jenoptik) becomes insolvent and Jenoptik decides to exit the medium format digital market by splitting off Sinar AG which will continue to provide warranty services
  • Sinar Hy6 camera system appears terminated given the loss of Leaf, Jenoptik and Franke & Heidecke from it's production
  • Hasselblad H4D introduced:
    • True Focus with Absolute Position Lock
    • 50mp and 60mp backs
  • Hasselblad H3DII introduced:
    • various backs
    • new red pigment in Bayer layer to improve colour accuracy
  • Hasselblad CFV-39 V-mount:
    • 16bit 6.8um sensor - select aspect mode - either 39 mpixel 37x49mm or 29mpixel 37x37mm
    • ISO 50-800; 2.5“ LCD with histogram; 1.4 sec per capture (0.7fps);
    • cable-free operation with V-system cameras, PC-sync cable trigger with other cameras or exposures > 1 sec (max. 32 sec);
    • CF card or tethered via firewire 800; 530g excl. battery and card;
    • set the V-system lens used , aperture and focus distance and the back will apply digital corrections
  • Phase One P40+:
    • 40mp 32.9 x 43.9mm 16bit sensor
    • 2.2” 230K pixel LCD no live view, no touch screen


  • Phase One P65+:
    • 60mp 40.4 x 53.9mm 16bit sensor
    • 2.2“ 230K pixel LCD no live view, no touch screen
  • Leica announces their Leica S medium format system
  • Mamiya DL28 digital medium format camera introduced with integrated 28mp Leaf Aptus-II 6 digital back


  • Global Financial Crisis hits
  • Hasselblad H3D introduced:
    • no longer supports third party backs
    • 1st double-35mm sensor camera ie. 48mmx36mm in either 22mpixel or 39mpixel sensors.
  • Phase One P+ series introduced:
    • 16bit sensor
    • 2.2” 230K pixel LCD, CF card, FireWire, no live view, no touch screen
    • P20+: 36.9 x 36.9mm 16mp
    • P21+: 44.2 x 33.1mm 18mp
    • P25+: 48.9 x 36.7mm 22mp
    • P30+: 44.2 x 33.1mm 31.6mp
    • P45+: 49.1 x 36.8mm 39mp
  • Jenoptik buys the remaining 49% of Sinar AG making Sinar AG a wholly owned subsidiary of Jenoptik's Laser & Optics division. The 49% stake was previously held by the Koch founder family
  • Jenoptik/Rolleiflex/Sinar Hy6/Leaf AFi open camera system introduced
    • used backs such as:
      • 33mp Sinar eMotion 75 digital back with Dalsa sensor with CF card and battery with LCD screen similar to Phase One P series
      • Leaf Aptus AFi-5/6/7


  • Leica tries to buy a controlling share of Sinar but Jenoptik decides against the sale
  • Mamiya ZD digital medium format camera introduced with integrated 22mp ZD back
  • Hasselblad H2D introduced
    • announced in Aug 2005
    • 22mp and 39mp Imacon Ixpress CF and CFH backs
    • increased level of integration with Imacon Ixpress CFH backs
    • 2.2“ color display
    • Digital APO Correction using highly detailed mapping of each lens to reduce moire
    • Hasselblad Natural Color Solution using a new 3F RAW (3FR) raw file format can convert to DNG
  • Leaf Aptus S series introduced with faster burst rates:
    • Aptus 54S - 22mp, 48x36mm 5356×4056, 25-400ISO; 75 frames/min unlimited;
    • Aptus 65S - as for 65 but unlimited burst at 63 frames/min instead of 39/min for 6 frames
    • Aptus 75S - as for 75 but unlimited burst at 53 frames/min instead of 33/min for 5 frames


  • Jenoptik buys controlling share in Sinar AG
  • Mamiya ZD back:
    • designed only for the Mamiya 645AFD & RZ67ProIID camera bodies
    • 22mpixel 14bit 48x36mm sensor; $11,800
  • Leaf Aptus series:
    • 6x7cm LCD touch screens (requiring a stylus) and 30Gb HDD magazine
    • battery mounting prevents access to Firewire port hence cannot use battery mode whilst tethered
    • noise is evident at ISO 400 and becomes unusable for MF image quality purposes at ISO 800
    • fan cooled
    • exposures limited to 30sec unlike the Phase One P series
    • Live Video Preview (B&W only) available when tethered to a Mac which may help manual focus confirmation in some situations
    • Bluetooth capable for use of HP iPaq as with Valeo wi but not functional?
    • 17mp: $A29370 for 645AFD
    • 22mp: $A41000
    • Aptus 65 - 28mp, 44x33mm; 6144×4622, 16bit, 160Mb HDR;
    • Aptus 75:
  • Leaf Valeo series
    • Wi version allows display via Bluetooth to a Leaf DP-67 PDA; opt. 20Gb magazine;
    • 2005 prices: 6mp: $A10050; 17mp Wi: $A24730; 22mp Wi: $A36325;
  • Hasselblad Ixpress CF and CFH backs:
    • designed to be better integrated with the new Hasselblad H2D but unable to be used on the H1 range
  • Phase One P series new models:
    • P21: 44.2 x 33.1mm 18mp 1fps
    • P30: 44.2 x 33.1mm 31.6mp 0.67fps
    • P45: 49.1 x 36.8mm 39mp 0.58fps


  • Hasselblad and Imacon merge
  • Phase One P series introduced:
    • 116,000px 2.2” screens
    • CF and Firewire400
    • able to do long 30 minute exposures
    • noise is evident at ISO 400 and becomes unusable for MF image quality purposes at ISO 800
    • no fan cooling - instead it just powers down the sensor when not in use to minimise heat build up HOWEVER when using a view camera, one needs to adopt a two-shot approach, taking two shots in quick succession – one to wake up the back and the second to expose the sensor, or, alternatively, use a special single shot cable from the Kapture Group that does the same trick as the sync circuits in a medium format camera.
    • no Live Video Preview in tethered shooting
    • P20: 36.9 x 36.9mm 16mp 0.7fps
    • P25: 48.9 x 36.7mm 22mp 0.58fps
  • Leaf Valeo Wi series introduced:
    • Wi version allows display via Bluetooth to a Leaf DP-67 and HP iPaq PDA; opt. 20Gb magazine;
    • 2005 prices: 6mp: $A10050; 17mp Wi: $A24730; 22mp Wi: $A36325;


  • The Shriro Group - a long-standing Hasselblad distributor for the Asian Pacific region – acquired the majority shareholding of Victor Hasselblad AB
  • untethered shooting becomes a reality but how much better is the image quality than the 11mp Canon 1Ds dSLR released at that time?
    • the Canon 1Ds had much less noise at ISO 200-800!
  • Kodak DCS Pro Back 645 back:
    • the 1st truly untethered digital back
    • dedicated specific versions for three cameras: the Mamiya 645AF and AFD, the Contax 645, and the Hasselblad H1; $12,000
    • 16mp 36.9 X 36.9mm 12bit/color sensor (lenses have similar FOV as 35mm full frame except 1:1 aspect ratio)
    • rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, AC-adapter for studio use
    • CF card, color LCD screen for menus and playback but not for Live View
  • Leaf Valeo 22:
    • 1st 22mp untethered shooting digital back
    • 36 X 48 mm Kodak chip
    • 16bit; Firewire; 500Mg buffer; 1fps;
    • Leaf's DP 67 software, which is designed to run an an HP iPAQ handheld PC
    • $30,000
  • Imacon Ixpress 96:
    • a unique untethered option - portable battery operated dedicated hard disk drive (“ImageBank”) connected via Ethernet
    • 16mp 37x37mm true 16bit sensor
    • monochrome LCD only displays histogram not the play back image itself
  • Imacon Ixpress C series:
    • Ixpress 96C: 16mpixels; 16bit; 37x37mm sensor; 96Mbyte 16 bit images; ISO 50-400; shutter to 1/800th to 32secs; ext. 40Gb HDD; 2secs write;
    • Ixpress 132C: 22mpixels; 16bit; 37x49mm sensor;
    • Ixpress 384C: 16mpixels; 16bit; 37x37mm sensor; multi-shot (ie. can take RGB separately & thus 3x higher resolution);
    • Ixpress 528C: 22mpixels; 16bit; 37x49mm; multi-shot;
    • Ixpress V96C: 16mpixels; 16bit; 37x37mm sensor; V-system cameras;
  • Phase One H25:
    • 48.9 x 36.7mm 22mp 16bit Kodak chip, 12 f stops dynamic range
    • ISO 50-400; 0.5fps; no storage, no display; FireWire tethered shooting on Macs but with a cludge for Windows XP laptops:
      • “Windows laptops (assuming they have a Firewire connection (which most do)), all have 4 wire unpowered connectors and therefore you must use Phase One's “Mobile Solution”, which consists of a small Firewire junction box coupled to a Panasonic Lead Acid battery. (More stuff to schlep). But, the good news is that Windows XP laptops can be configured through their Power Option settings in Control Panel to operate with the screen closed. This means that if you're willing to forego looking at a histogram you can shoot on location with the closed laptop, junction box and battery in a small shoulder bag, and just the Firewire cable running from the bag to the H25 back.”



  • Imacon Flexframe 4040:
    • 1st 16mp 3-in-1 digital camera back
    • 16bit; ISO 50-100;
    • easily mounted using adapters available for most medium format cameras including Hasselblad, Mamiya, Rollei and Fuji
    • SCSI-Firewire;
  • Imacon Flexframe 3020:
    • 3 different modes: Single-shot, Multi-shot and a unique Micro-step mode
    • 6mp Phillips Bayer matrix sensor
    • SCSI-Firewire; $15,500
  • Sinarback 23 / 23HR
    • 6mp 14bit; scanning back; ISO 100
  • Phase One medium format H20 introduced:
    • required tethered shooting via Firewire as no memory card or internal HDD, and no display
    • 16mp 16bit, 36.9 x 36.9mm sensor 12 stops dynamic range; ISO 50-100; 0.33fps


  • Phase One PowerPhase FX:
    • scanning back 12,600 steps x 10,500 pixels = 132mp, 14bit, ISO 100-1600, FireWire tethered only


  • Leaf Cantare 35mm full frame single shot digital backs introduced:
    • 6mp 2048 x 3072 pixel 24 x 36 mm FTF3020 single-shot CCD from Philips Semiconductors with Active Cooling


  • Phase One Lightphase 35mm full frame back:
    • 6mp, 16bit, ISO 50-100, Firewire tethered only;
  • Leaf Volare 35mm full frame 3-shot digital backs introduced:
    • 6mp 2048 x 3072 pixel 24 x 36 mm FTF3020 3-shot CCD from Philips Semiconductors with Active Cooling


  • Phase One PowerPhase:
    • scanning back 7,000 steps x 7,000 pixels = 36mp, 12bit, SCSI tethered only


  • Leaf DCB-II single shot introduced:
    • 4mp single shot 35mm full frame, active cooling which maintains the CCD at 0°C
  • Phase One PhotoPhase FC70:
    • scanning back 7,200 steps x 5,000 pixels = 36mp, 10bit, SCSI tethered only - NuBUS
  • Phase One StudioKit CB6x:
    • scanning back 3,600 steps x 2,500 pixels = 9mp, 10bit, SCSI tethered only - NuBUS


  • Phase One company founded in Denmark by Samir Léhaff


  • Leaf is acquired by Scitex
  • Leaf Digital Camera Back (DCB) introduced:
    • 4mp 3-shot square 14bit sensor approx 1/4 the area of 6×6 film (ie. 2x crop factor)
    • ISO 400 for monochrome but ~15 for 3-shot color using the tri-colour (RGB) front-of-lens motorised filter wheel
    • requires tethering to a Mac via NuBUS interface
    • £25,000


  • Jenoptik splits from Carl Zeiss AG
photo/digitalbacks_history.txt · Last modified: 2014/07/26 09:22 by gary1

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