If you're shooting digital, the largest image sensor you will find at your local camera store is the 53.4mm x 40.1mm medium format sensors inside something like the Phase One IQ3. But if that is just not enough for you... there is one, much larger option. Meet the $106,000 LargeSense LS911: a large format digital camera and purportedly the "world's first 8x10 digital single shot camera for sale."

The LS911 is the passion project of Bill Charbonnet, who left his desk job in 2014 to start LargeSense LLC and built these large-format digital cameras. Four years later, the LS911 is his first shipping product.

According to the press materials, LS911 features a 12-megapixel 9x11-inch monochrome CMOS sensor (that translates into massive 75 micron pixels), ISO that can be set at either 2100 or 6400, 900GB of internal storage, and the ability to output files to DNG, 16-bit TIFF, 32-bit TIFF, RAW and JPEG formats. There is no CFA, but the monochrome sensor can be used to produce color images (of non-moving subjects) using an in-built 3-shot system and color filters.

Oh, and the thing can also apparently shoot 4K, 3840 × 2160 video at 26fps using its electronic shutter.

Here is a video of the LS911 in action:

And here is how the size of the LargeSense LS911 sensor compares to some of the other image sensors out there:

Note: the LargeSense LS45 is a 4x5-inch digital back Charbonnet is working on, but has yet to release.

If the LS911 seems a bit bonkers, honestly, that's because it is. We've been discussing it in the office for the past couple of days, trying to figure out how to put this camera in context for our readers, and here's our take: it's cool, but having a sensor this large may not be as advantageous as you think.

Science Editor Rishi Sanyal explains:

One of the main benefits of going to a larger sensor is that you can get more resolution as the larger pixels place less of a burden on the resolving power of the lens, but this camera does not take advantage of that.

What it does offer is the tilting, shifting and swinging ability large format cameras are known for, and if you can give the sensor enough light, the entire image has the potential for greater 'tonality' because the lower relative shot noise will yield very high signal-to-noise ratio for most tones. That makes the image more amenable to extreme sharpening without accentuating noise. That said, beyond a certain signal-to-noise ratio, tones are already clean enough - particularly with modern full-frame or medium format cameras - that it likely doesn't matter.

So, are you guaranteed a noticeable improvement in overall quality of the photos just because of the 9x11-inch sensor? Not necessarily. This is probably more about the feel of large format where you can throw most of the image largely out-of-focus by tilting the focus plane, or keep a large amount in focus without stopping down if you align the focus plane with your subject(s).

If, after knowing all of this, you're still interested in dropping $106K on the LS991 (hey - it's guaranteed to be a conversation piece at parties if nothing else), head over to the LS911 product page on the LargeSense website or check out the full spec sheet at this link.

And do let us know: what would you use it for?

Press Release

LargeSense launches the LS911

It is the first full frame 8x10 digital single shot camera for sale!

Medium format has thus far been the limit as far as sensor size because large sensors are difficult and expensive to produce. With the LS911, photographers now have an option for high quality large format images other than film. Available now. The USA price is US$106,000 Check www.largesense.com for more information.

LS911 Specifications

  • Single shot 9x11 inch monochrome CMOS sensor
  • High base sensitivity of ISO 2100
  • Live view for focusing
  • Compatible with any large format lens with a sufficient image circle
  • Easy to use HTML-based WiFi control with any HTML5 browser
  • 4k Lossless video with audio up to 26fps
  • 900GB internal storage, CF cards and external USB 3.1 drives
  • User-generated curves to apply to the linear files
  • Integrated 3 shot tri-color images when using color filters
  • Designed for mounting on large tripods or custom camera stands

LS911 product page: http://largesense.com/products/8x10-large-format-digital-back-ls911/

LS911 spec and feature sheet: http://largesense.com/files/3415/2348/3451/LS911-Specs-And-Features-180411.pdf

Upcoming Products

A 4x5 inch digital back, the LS45, is expected at the end of 2018.

The color version of the LS911 is expected in 2020.

LargeSense was founded in 2014 by Bill Charbonnet to manufacture single shot, large format digital cameras. Inspiration was from Mitchell Feinberg’s 8x10 digital back. The issue for a business in this tiny market is keeping costs low while delivering a specialty product. After 3 years of development, we are proud to be the first to offer such camera, the LS911!