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Imacon to develop world's first digital back for 35mm SLR cameras

Imacon to develop world's first digital back for 35mm SLR cameras - Imacon partner with Leica Camera and Kodak's Division for Imaging Sensor Solutions to create digital back for R8 and R9

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Digital Backs

Danish scanner and digital camera back manufacturer, Imacon have partnered with leading German camera manufacturer, Leica Camera AG, and Kodak's Division for Imaging Sensor Solutions, and will develop a revolutionary new digital camera back for Leica's single lens reflex R8 and R9 camera series. The Leica Digital Module R is to be introduced to the industry at Photokina 2004, and will be the world's first hybrid 35mm SLR camera with the option for either digital or analogue photography.

Leica Modul-R

The Leica Digital Modul R was introduced at Photokina 2004.

Says Christian Poulsen, founder and joint managing director, Imacon, "We were approached by Leica at photokina 2002, following the launch of our new Ixpress high-end digital camera back. They were impressed with the digital technology in the Ixpress and expressed an interest in Imacon developing a digital solution for their 35mm SLR products in the photo professional and photo enthusiast market. Imacon is the first company to develop a digital back for this market and I believe it will revolutionise the future of 35mm SLR cameras, as we have done with the Ixpress' digital back technology in the high-end professional photographic market.

"We are extremely pleased to be working with Leica Cameras AG and Kodak I.S.S, as they both share our vision of developing solutions to provide the photographer with high quality and flexible products. What is particularly exciting about this new partnership is it will enable Imacon to introduce our digital back technology to completely new market sectors."

The new Leica Digital Module R is being designed by Imacon to fit easily and quickly onto the back of regular production Leica R8 and R9 cameras, enabling photographers to change from analogue to digital and back again immediately, thus providing real flexibility on location or in the studio. As the two R series cameras are already designed to function with digital solutions, the new digital back module will communicate directly with the camera's controls.

Imacon's FlexColor software, which incorporates a common ICC platform across its range of digital camera backs and scanners, will also be built into the Leica Module R, enabling a seamless transition of digital and analogue images and a fully integrated colour and image management facility for those photographers currently using Imacon's Flextight range of scanners.

The image sensor will consist of a 10 million pixel CCD sensor, developed and manufactured by Kodak I.S.S. especially for the Leica Digital Module R. As the integration of the sensor into an existing camera concept requires that the sensor and its housing be positioned at the film gate of the Leica R8 or R9 camera, the active surface of the sensor is smaller than the area of the film gate, with the focal length extension factor limited to 1.37x.

The pixels on the surface of the sensor, which measure 6.8 m, are optimised to meet the stringent requirements of a digital stills camera. The effective imaging area of the sensors measures 26.4 x 17.6 mm and encompasses 10 million picture points. The range of sensitivity can also be extended from ISO 100 to ISO 800.

With the new Digital Module R, the photographer will be able to control sensitivity settings, resolution, compression, white balance, self-timer, and exposure corrections (over-ride). A colour monitor on the digital back can be used for evaluating the images stored after each exposure with a histogram providing detailed information on each shot for analysis.

The dimensions of the camera with an attached Leica Digital Module R and its power unit are similar to those of a Leica R8 / R9 with an attached Motor-Drive R. This is approximately equivalent to (width x height x depth) 158 x 140 x 89 millimetres (6 x 5 x 3 inches). Power will be supplied by a lithium-ion battery currently being developed especially for the Leica Digital Module R. Interface will be via a Firewire and image storage on SD cards.

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