And Now… A Digital Back For ‘Pure B&W Images’…?!!

The steady march of technology in the photo biz often makes my head spin, especially with the price of admission factored in, but this mornings email from PhaseONE even made me take a deep breath. For the mind-bending sum of $41,990.00, photographers can now enjoy a ‘pure’ digital Black & White experience with the release of the new 39 Megapixel PhaseONE Achromatic+ Back. That’s right…42 Grand and you can only shoot B&W! Now I don’t wanna seem too Old Skool here, but if ‘regular’ digital backs are having such a hard time capturing Black and White images, couldn’t we just load in a roll of Tri-X like the old days and be happy? Was there really that big of an outcry from the photo community for a piece of equipment that essentially moves the medium backwards?!! I’m not saying I don’t love Black & White imagery…far from it…but spending 42 Large on a digital back is sort of like inventing a High Definition Video Camera that only shoots silent movies! And yes…Phase is touting the scientific applications of such a back as one of the main reasons for going forward with such a project, but you just know there are gonna be a lotta kids with messed up priorities who will have the Achromatic+ on their wish list this Christmas!

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8 thoughts on “And Now… A Digital Back For ‘Pure B&W Images’…?!!

  1. LOL! Isn’t conversion to Ansel Adams just a few mouse clicks in
    CS-5 with a little Lucis 6.0 thrown in for effect?…………..Dumb Product of the Year. BTW Plus-X was my fave. Be herassing yerass pretty soon BT in NYC

  2. “Just because you can, Does Not mean you Should!”
    I wish more people understood this in my industry. Even today I was remarking to my GF about the complete and utter stupidity of why my phone will not stay turned off when I turn it off?! Even after I pulled and replaced the battery, something tells this phone to turn itself back on.

  3. To your comment/rant I recently purchased a Minolta 303b and 50mm 1.4 lens of off our favorite auction site. It was in mint condition and just looked like a lot of fun.

    I’ve run several rolls of b/w film through it and for less than $100.00 bucks (yes, American) I am quite happy.

  4. PhaseONE Achromatic+ Back ? Hit it with a baseball bat out of a ball park and make a You Tube of that.

    PhaseONE Achromatic+ Back ? Don’t buy it and use the money to fly 12 times around the world taking pictures.

    PhaseONE Achromatic+ Back ? Donate it to color blind people … they will not know the difference.

  5. It’s not just about losing the color. Making it B+W only allows you to get rid of the Bayer matrix and the associated interpolation, resulting in much higher levels of detail.

    Kodak has made B+W only DSLRs in the past (Kodak DCS 760m). No idea if it sold at all. Though I think if Leica made a B+W M9 they would sell quite a few.

    I’m not saying the thing doesn’t do what Phase One claims, and more…I’m sure it will take a kick-ass picture…but it’s just stupid! Really, really stupid!!! It’s 42 Grand, for God’s sake! If a B&W-only M9 cost 42 Grand, do you think anyone would buy the damned thing?!! And aside from some perceived scientific necessity, just what part of the photographic community was crying out for a gold-plated paper weight such as this? All the ‘artists’ I know who shoot predominantly B&W shoot film, not digital and would rather die than switch! ‘Artistic’ B&W prints are still made in a real darkroom, not spit out of an Epson! And like I said, shooting B&W is a technological throwback…inventing a digital back that costs as much as a college education, while possible, is just plain silly. BT

  6. Saying that it moves the medium backwards isn’t accurate. It really depends on what you want the camera to do. If you think every image should be replete with color, then the achromatic+ is clearly the wrong back. If you are a steadfast black and white photographer who would either like the freedom to fine-tune photos outside the darkroom or needs to travel light, this could be justified. If you make your living photographing near or in the infrared spectrum, this could be justified, especially if the prices for scientific film continue to rise. The basic premise is pretty simple: Color photography (both film and digital) is less sensitive and covers a narrower spectrum than black and white film. That’s why the sales materials for black and white versions of sensors almost always have a chart demonstrating their superior quantum efficiency alongside the color variant. The level of detail is also somewhat better. It’s different, not backwards. Unfortunately, $40,000 is absurdly high for the product, especially with the market flooding with dark room equipment.

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