Magazine Article


SP&D's Guide to the Latest Medium-Format Camera Digital Backs

Medium Format Goes Fully Digital

Photographers specializing in commercial, portrait, and wedding coverage who use medium-format cameras, do so to optimize the larger negative/chrome or digital imaging sensor. For years, they've had to wait for digital backs to be designed for their camera system, make the transition to a different camera system, or even move to 35mm digital.

Well, the waiting is finally over. A plethora of digital backs are now available, or scheduled for delivery in 2005, to accommodate most everyone's shooting preferences. With all of the new digital backs on the market, there's more reason than ever to stay with medium-format.

Most of the new breed of digital backs can be used untethered when on location or tethered in the studio, for more versatility. This past year, both Hasselblad and Mamiya introduced digital backs and fully integrated digital imaging systems in medium-format. The Hasselblad H1D and the Mamiya ZD, respectively, are complete medium-format digital systems. A number of digital backs also have been developed to accommodate medium-format systems already in use. Hasselblad's new Ixpress V96C, for example, is designed for use with Hasselblad's V system cameras. The company also introduced an adapter for the H1 to accept the older Carl Zeiss C-Type lenses, which are compatible with the V system.

Jenoptik added compatibility for the H1 to its Eyelike precision M22 digital back this past year. In other news, Jenoptik and Sinar have partnered, to develop future digital imaging products. Phase One has expanded the range of medium-format cameras compatible with its P series digital backs—the P20 and P25. And Leaf America has introduced a new generation of digital backs for use with Hasselblad, Mamiya, Contax, Fuji, and Bronica medium-format systems.

In addition to its ZD and ZD Back, Mamiya also introduced a new medium-format camera—the RZ67 Pro II D, for use with the ZD Back. The RZ67 Pro II D offers the best of both the film and digital capture worlds. Read on for the latest medium-format digital systems and backs…


Hasselblad and Imacon merged in 2004, so Imacon's Ixpress line of digital backs will now be found under the Hasselblad name. Hasselblad shooters who have patiently waited for a fully integrated medium-format, AF, digital camera need wait no longer. In the fall of 2004, Hasselblad introduced the H1D, adding digital capture to the benefits of the H1 AF camera.

The H1D's 22-megapixel digital back can be used tethered or untethered. The camera back's LCD displays color previews, as well as histogram data. ISO range is 50-400; file size is 132MB (single shot, 16-bit RGB). When shooting on location, images are downloaded to the H1D's Image Bank. In the studio, the H1D can be connected to either Macintosh or Windows-based computers via FireWire for direct downloading of images.

The H1D system's 40GB Image Bank can store up to 850 images. Shoot untethered for up to eight hours on a single charge. The Image Bank has been specially sectored and formatted to protect it from fragmentation throughout its lifetime of use. The Image Bank is connected via FireWire for downloading of images to computer.

Hasselblad's H1D camera system

Hasselblad 503 camera with Ixpress back

Jenoptik's eMotion22 on a Hasselblad H1

Leaf Aptus digital back

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