Phase One XT IQ4 150MP Achromatic Hands-on Review: Black and white landscape photography has rarely been this fun
posted Monday, April 18, 2022 at 3:30 PM EST
Click here to read our
Phase One XT IQ4 150MP Achromatic Hands-on Review
The Phase One XT medium-format camera is purpose-built to deliver a streamlined, intuitive photographic experience. It doesn't come equipped with many frills or even autofocus, but the field camera-inspired design is significantly more portable than the more traditional SLR-style Phase One XF camera. The XT is ideal for landscape photography, my favorite photographic genre. Like the XF camera, the XT works with Phase One's IQ-series digital backs. For my new Phase One XT Hands-on Review, I paired the XT with the IQ4 150MP Achromatic digital back. The unique digital back delivers 151.3 megapixels of pure black and white photo bliss.
Spending time shooting exclusively in black and white was a very different, albeit distinctly rewarding, experience. I've long been a fan of black and white landscape and nature photography. However, I've always shot in color and then converted my photos to black and white using photo editing software and plugins. There's nothing wrong with converting color images to black and white, but there is something inherently different about using a camera that eschews a color filter altogether. Every one of the 151,301,008 active pixels on the IQ4 150MP Achromatic's large 54 x 40.5mm image sensor receives pure, unadulterated light information. The resulting detail and tonality are stunning.
The Phase One XT also accepts different lenses than the XF camera, specially-built Rodenstock HR lenses, complete with their own rugged integrated X-shutter technology. These Rodenstock lenses – I used XT Rodenstock HR Digaron-W 50mm F4 and XT Rodenstock HR 90mm F5.6 primes – deliver impeccable image quality and a pleasant, precise manual focusing experience. The lenses do the fantastic image sensor justice. I mention this in my review, too, but to truly appreciate the Phase One IQ4 150MP Achromatic digital back and XT Rodenstock lenses, you're best served by downloading the original .IIQ files in our Gallery and opening them in Capture One 22.
Using the Phase One XT and IQ4 150MP Achromatic camera kit was some of the most fun I've ever had with photography. Using the camera is not without issues, including an occasionally frustrating experience using the IQ4's built-in fixed display – the XT is essentially a metal frame with electronic contacts and therefore doesn't offer a viewfinder. The XT demands a careful, methodical approach to photography that isn't very adaptable to fast-paced situations. However, when the situation affords you the opportunity to be deliberate, the camera rewards you with achromatic images with rich tonality and out-of-this-world resolution. It's an expensive camera system, the entry cost eclipses $60,000, but it's also a unique one. Phase One is laser-focused on delivering an exceptional photographic experience, and that's precisely what the Phase One XT camera and IQ4 150MP Achromatic digital back deliver. There's much more to discuss, so please head over to my Phase One XT Hands-on Review to read all about the camera and its performance.