With the advent of digital sensors, photography gained hugely in immediacy, flexibility, zero running costs and an end to hazardous chemical disposal – but it also lost those classic analog film ‘looks’ and especially the unique visual quality of large format images.
5x4-inch large-format cameras were once the norm for high-end commercial photographers, even 10x8-inch cameras for landscapes. That was easy enough for film, where it was just made in bigger sheet film for bigger cameras, but completely impractical for digital sensors.
So Charbonnet gave up his desk job to launch LargeSense and its unique digital backs. The latest is the LS45, a monochromatic sensor (a color version is in development) which actually covers a larger 5.5x4.7-inch area.
This will be supplied in two versions: as a Graflok mounting back for Graflok compatible cameras, or as a custom mount.
As Charbonnet’s YouTube video shows, however, this is not a simple point-and-shoot solution. The LS45 back needs to be hooked up to a base unit with power supply and connectors, and images are composed via live view on a mobile app over Wi-Fi.
The LS45 shoots both still images and – amazingly – video. This is not Charbonnet’s first large format sensor. It follows on from an amazing 9x11-inch LS911 sensor, and you can see a sample video from that earlier sensor below. (We understand the LS911 has been discontinued to make way for a new version.)
The other factor to take into account is resolution. Big as it is, the LS45 sensor has a resolution of just 6.7 megapixels – though software is available to boost this to 21MP using AI interpolation techniques.
Like traditional large format cameras, this hardware requires a much more considered, systematic approach to image capture. With large format photography, it’s not about how many pictures you take, but how good they are.
The price is expected to be around $26,000 for the monochrome version, the price of the color version will "be decided after we find the yield". You can find a lot more information on the LargeSense website.