Spectral Instruments, based in Arizona, just announced a new
toy digital back. Don’t get too excited- it’s just a prototype and only captures in B&W. Timely announcement, just days after Leica announced their monochrome digital camera. (Gives me a vision of Kristen Wiig talking about how her B&W camera is better…)
This mammoth back has a 112 MPX chip (95×95 mm) that is dedicated solely to B&W. To compare, my 39MPX chip (which is AWESOME) is like an old 110 film negative compared to this beast. (Remember those skinny cartridges your mom would drop off at the Fox-Foto?) Not only is their chip 3x the power, they also claim full dynamic range. That means sun and stars in the same shot, no problem. Their chip is super-cooled, so it can capture a single image for hours without noise. Think about that for a moment. Yowza. Man, that sure would be fun to play with. Check out their video, posted to Gizmodo, below…
Back in college, I never would have believed that this day would come. Back then, the biggest 1:1 ratio you could shoot was a 24″x24″ Polaroid. If you could even get on the list to rent the camera, it was too cost prohibitive for a starving artist. Heck, unless you were William Wegman or someone else that could easily sell the prints for a hefty profit, who could afford it?
Then the digital age began. In the beginning, digital cameras were bulky, finicky, ridiculously expensive and quite frankly, not very good. The technology had to come a looooong way before I thought it was worth my effort to look into it. Right around 2000-2001, the quality still wasn’t quite there for my detail-oriented tastes, but it was close. Real close. It still wasn’t anywhere near the resolution of an 8×10 piece of chrome film, but it held together fine for smaller printed pieces.
I haven’t shot a piece of film for a commercial job in probably 7 years. The year before that, I was only shooting film once or twice a month. It was clear that digital was where it was at. Oh, I still dabbled in “real” photography, making my own 8″x10″ glass negatives, but the 5 day process eventually lost it’s novelty and I now have another pile to move the rest of my life. For the most part, I say good riddance to those paper-wasting and chemical-producing days, but there was a magic in the darkroom that is very hard to recreate in the digital world.
I am constantly looking for the magic. No, not magician’s card tricks and rabbits in hats, but that reward for curiosity. The constant exploration and discovery that came with every roll of black and white film, or 4×5 polaroid/film holder. I’ve managed to find lots of fun in experimental processes with digital and other analog mediums over the years. But, I haven’t felt the excitement that I felt in college until I read about this new chip. I never would have thought that the technology would ever circle back to people wanting to shoot large format B&W. Too bad Richard Avedon isn’t here to shoot the first 35″x35″ portrait.
Read the full article on Gizmodo here: http://gizmodo.com/5911315/this-amazing-camera-can-capture-both-the-sun-and-the-stars-in-broad-daylight