Better Light

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Better Light, Inc. is a company in San Carlos, California, U.S.A. that manufactures high-end digital scanning backs for view cameras,[1][2] which are used in many photographic applications including; landscape, commercial advertising, fine art reproduction[3] and architecture.[4]

Better Light scan backs replace the common 4x5 film cassettes used in all 4x5 view cameras of both the studio and field types and also works in copy stands and microscopes that have 4x5 film stages on them as well. The form factor is close to the same one found in the Polaroid 545 Land Film Holder. As a scanning system (opposed to the instant capture systems) you might imagine taking a flatbed copier out of your office and redesigning it to fit into a Polaroid 545 back and that would provide a close approximation of the size and workings of all of Better Lights scan backs.

Better Light scan backs start at the low end using 54 MP to record images of 106 MB of data and then progressively go up through systems of: 144 MP at 274 MB, 216 MP at 618 MB, 384 MP at 488 MB, 416 MP at 794 MB, and finally (in panorama mode) up to approximately 2 GP at 3.8 GB. Unlike most instant capture systems, which only capture one third of the true RGB values for every point in the scene and thus interpolate every pixel up 300% to compensate for this, Better Light systems in their normal mode capture the full RGB values for every point in the scene and use no spatial interpolation. Instant capture systems (besides using interpolation algorithms on every image) also commonly use sharpening, anti-aliasing, anti-moire and compression algorithms on every image as well. Better Light systems, when used in their normal mode, use no post capture processing algorithms at all and always provide files with extremely high color accuracy and information densities. Diamonds provide a great example of the necessity of needing to record critical color accurately without interpolation since interpolation creates spurious color artifacts in an otherwise perfectly clear "white" diamond.

Since Better Light systems are not instant capture and take some time to scan the image, they are mostly suitable only for shooting static scenes unless the resulting geometric distortion of the moving parts of the scene is the desired artistic effect. And while they are not recommended for portraiture some photographers successfully take portraits with them anyway. Many landscape and even oceanscape photographers also successfully use these scanning systems for their work as well.

The company's president, Mike Collette, worked as an instrumentation engineer before starting the company in 1992.[5][6][7]


  1. ^ "Resource guide to high-end digital cameras.". Electronic Publishing. 1 Sep 2004. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  2. ^ "Digital camera backs. (New Products)". Graphic Arts Monthly. 1 Feb 2002. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  3. ^ "Virtual canvas. Crocker prepares collections for viewing on the Web". Sacramento Bee. July 5, 2004. pp. Page E1. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  4. ^ Kanjanapangka, Isabella (April 6, 2005). "Picture Perfect\ Digital Images Provide Detail For Arachitects.(Technology)". The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY). Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  5. ^ Fiore, Kristina (19 Oct 2007). "Mike Collette: merging film and digital tech for superior pictures". Electronic Design. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  6. ^ "Michael Collette. (Perspective).(Better Light )(Interview)". Electronic Publishing. December 1, 2000. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  7. ^ "Excellence In Innovation.(includes brief articles)(Statistical Data Included)". Electronic Publishing. September 1, 2001. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 

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