1986 Sinar and the digital picture

Sinar, internationally renowned, large format chamber manufacturer, based in the Canton of Schaffhausen, was interested at a very early stage in the impact that digital technologies were bound to have on the development of photography. Already in 1978, Hans-Carl Koch, son of the founder, wrote an internal memo on this subject.

In 1986, Sinar invested in Minneapolis (USA) and created a company, Interscan, where two employees went to work, who built the first back scanner: this 4×5” laboratory prototype was fitted with a Kodak 3-RVB line bar (one line of sensors for red, one for green and one for blue) and produced a digital image of 2000 x 3000 pixels, so 6 million pixels towards 1987!

In 1998, Sinar became an important producer of digital backs for professional equipment and generated a series of innovations and performances with a definition of 6 million pixels in 2000, then 16 million in 2001, and over 22 million pixels one year later.

This success was significant. The year 2000 was the best year ever for the company, but while Hans-Carl Koch had the feeling that his objective was achieved and the future secured, he quickly realised that research and development costs were getting far too high, and he approached the German group Jenoptik, who bought him out. Today, Sinar is once again an independent Swiss company.


The Sinarcam 50 Diamonds: The Sinarcam digital camera was launched at Photokina 1996. It works both as a stand-alone camera and as part of an optical benchtop camera. The Sinarcam 50 Diamonds, of which five were produced for the Sinar anniversary, is decorated with various precious stones symbolising the three basic colours and polished Rhine pebbles.