Studio Digital Cameras and Backs

Used only by professional photographers, studio digital cameras and backs are devices designed to yield the absolutely best possible image quality. Many are digital backs that attach to a conventional professional studio camera as the front end, either a medium-format camera like a Hasselblad or Fujifilm, or a 4"x5" view camera like a Sinar or Rollei.

A high-quality studio digital camera or back can deliver higher resolution than film, with a more extended dynamic range to boot. For example, Kodachrome, the film of choice of most pros still shooting film, has the ability to capture approximately 2.5 stops (the latitude between the brightest highlight and darkest shadow detail). Many studio digital cameras and backs can capture up to 11 stops. And while a 4 megapixel consumer digital cameras can produce a 12 megapixel image file—large enough for an 8.5"x11" photo-quality print—some studio scanbacks generate files as large as 250MB, or larger, which is enough data to generate billboard-sized prints.

Besides being expensive ($10,000 to $40,000), studio cameras and backs require considerable photographic expertise to operate properly. They also need lots of expensive supporting equipment: top-quality lenses, a sturdy tripod or camera stand, special HMI (high intensity daylight) lights or studio strobelights, a light meter and colorimeter, backdrops, reflectors, light stands, and so on. Also required is a high-powered computer equipped with lots of memory, a calibrated color monitor, a fast graphics card, and a desktop printer capable of producing professional-quality proofs and prints. All together, the cost of a well-equipped professional digital studio can easily top $100,000.

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