posted Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at 7:00 AM EDT


Phase One has announced the new XF IQ4 camera system, which introduces new digital backs, improved workflow flexibility and a new expandable platform, dubbed the Infinity Platform. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the IQ4 announcement is that Phase One has unveiled a pair of 151-megapixel digital backs. There's a lot of ground to cover, so let's get into it, starting with the digital backs.

There are three new digital backs: the XF IQ4 150MP, IQ4 100MP Trichromatic and IQ4 150MP Achromatic. The two 150MP digital backs include a brand-new 151-megapixel backside illuminated sensor. These sensors utilize a new "ultra-efficient" pixel design which Phase One promises will deliver unprecedented image quality and sharpness. Further, the sensors are world firsts for medium-format photography. Backside illuminated sensors have increased light sensitivity compared to traditional frontside illuminated sensors, all else equal, but can have difficulties with color response. To deal with this latter issue, Phase One is incorporating Capture One Inside in the IQ4 system, which introduces the strength of Capture One software into the camera itself. Capture One Inside is handling color response processing and interpolation inside the camera, allowing for improved image quality and color response.

The third new digital back, the IQ4 100MP Trichromatic, follows in the footsteps of the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic. In fact, it utilizes the same sensor, which offers more accurate color reproduction than other sensors due to its unique design. However, it is said to offer improved color response due to the introduction of the Infinity Platform and Capture One Inside.

There is more to the IQ4 system than the new digital backs. You may recall that for the IQ3, there were numerous Feature Updates. These ranged from small updates to the usability of the IQ3 backs and XF camera to larger updates which introduced significant improvements to the camera system. The new Infinity Platform has moved the core of Capture One's image processing, including the color response mentioned above, into the digital back itself in the form of Capture One Inside, which allows for image editing and processing in camera. This includes improved image preview quality, in-camera JPEG processing, IIQ Style integration and improved performance. The lattermost improvement includes better live view, faster frame and new imaging tools.

Image on back of the IQ4, copyright Paul Reiffer

In addition to improvements to the usability of the IQ4 system, the IQ4 system also includes three new tethering options, dual storage and an open platform. The three new tethering options comprise new ethernet and USB-C ports and wireless tethering. The IQ4's new storage includes support for XQD and SD cards, versus the CF card slot found in IQ3 backs. Further, the IQ4 is an open platform, meaning that features such as time-lapse and bracketing tools can be interfaced across multiple camera systems, including non-Phase One systems. Phase One wants to continue the tradition of being a modular and open platform.

As is par for the course with Phase One's system, the equipment is highly specialized and the pricing follows suit. The Phase One XF IQ4 150MP camera system will retail for $51,990 USD and include the XF camera body, prism, a Blue Ring prime lens of your choice, a 5-year warranty and a 5-year uptime guarantee. The XF IQ4 100MP Trichromatic will offer the same for $47,990 USD and finally, the XF IQ4 150MP Achromatic Camera System will retail for $54,990 USD. Regarding the Blue Ring lenses, I reached out to Phase One to ask about the effect the new 151-megapixel sensors might have on image quality when using older lenses. They assure me that all of the company's Blue Ring lenses are able to resolve for the 151-megapixel sensor with no issues or image quality concerns. However, not all lenses are Blue Ring lenses, including the 28mm Schneider Kreuznach LS lens. The company has performed testing on these lenses and they work, but are not up to the company's exacting standards and will be investigated for replacement.

"Our customers drive us to break down barriers and keep pushing forward," said Henrik O. Håkonsson, CEO & President, Phase One, A/S. “With the Infinity Platform we are completely dedicated to grow the IQ4, adapting and expanding incrementally to match the pace of technology – making it unique in the photographic world – a camera investment that pays back with years of cutting-edge operation. We dedicate the new XF IQ4 Camera System to these individuals whose passion for perfection is unlimited."


If you'd like to learn more about the new Infinity Platform, click here. You can learn more about the IQ4 camera system as a whole by clicking here.