Phase One Brings 100-Megapixel Resolution to the XF, DF+, and Hasselblad with the CMOS-Based IQ3 100MP

Phase One Brings 100-Megapixel Resolution to the XF, DF+, and Hasselblad with the CMOS-Based IQ3 100MP

Sony's 50-megapixel sensor found in the latest 645 medium format digital CMOS bodies brought such cameras down in price considerably for the first time while extending ISO usability to the more DSLR-normal ISO 6,400. Today's announcement brings a new iteration of that technology in the form of the IQ3 100MP, also in a CMOS flavor. Although the resolution is doubled (and file size is quadrupled), Phase One also managed to pull out an extra stop of ISO performance on both ends of the spectrum, which now goes from ISO 50–12,800. Dynamic range also increases a stop over other models to 15 stops.

Phase One took special care to introduce vibration reducing features throughout the body, as the tiny pixels of the 100-megapixel sensor are more susceptible to all kinds of movement. Meanwhile, the sensor is Phase One's full-frame 645 size, meaning it stretches the full 40.4 mm x 53.7 mm compared to the IQ250's sensor size of 33 mm x 44 mm. That means you'll get the most out of Phase One's lenses, the newer ones of which are already optimized for 100-plus megapixel resolutions. Sixty-minute exposures and 16-bit files alongside all of the other standard IQ3 features (and those of the XF should you choose to go that route over the DF+ or Hasselblad bodies) should help take full advantage of this new back.

How Phase One managed to get such ISO range out of the sensor, even with its increased sensor size, is quite questionable. The true usability of some of those ISO 6,400 and 12,800 files will undoubtedly be well tested when the camera arrives in more people's hands. But this is a company that doesn't mess around certainly knows what they're talking about. So I wouldn't be too surprised to see excellent performance compared to any camera. Moreover, who said you have to print at full resolution for those files (few rarely do)? ISO 12,800 could be fantastic to have for even a slightly downsized image.

The new back ships today for $43,990, but users wanting a closer look first can sign up for a demo at Digital Transitions' New York or newer Los Angeles offices between January 11 and 15. Head over to Digital Transitions for more information on the new IQ3 100MP.

Our own Ryan Mense has been testing the back for a bit now, so expect a review from us soon!

Log in or register to post comments
35 Comments
Sean Shimmel's picture

While I acknowledge and even admire the technological prowess, the lust for more is highly dulled the Law of Diminishing Returns.

I've seen read all the bullet-pointed advantages and seen all the perfunctory proof, but... other than the ecstatic photographer on a quest for more, who would bother care? Clients yawn.

Ash Murrell's picture

I find the jump from 5Dmk3 to medium format scary as hell! I'd love to jump over but the cost definitely puts a damper on it for me.

Kim Munday's picture

Just wondering what do you find scarey if anything its going to be a discoverey and a new way to shoot. A camera shouldnt be scarey it should be something that inspires fun :)

Ash Murrell's picture

The scarey part is the sheer jump in pricing, the camera would daunt me a little but over all I'd happily play with it before being on set!

Jozef Povazan's picture

A camera is a tool and if that tool does not help you to earn more then you were able to do with a previous one then with this kind of price tag it is serious suicidal step IMO. If you know you have skills, market and clients who will appreciate the step up, then go for it. To play with a new tool is different from to purchase it. For my work it is out of question but for high end fashion, advertisement, portrait, architecture, landscape shooters this could be tempting for trying :)

Kim Munday's picture

And some people spend 40k on a car id rather spend 3500 on a car a 40k on a camera it will pay its way in time if you have a phase one and are working full time over 5 years you could easilly pay one of and more to the point produce a hihgh quality, and you could always rent it out as well. Which would help pay for it.

Sean Shimmel's picture

I'm certainly pleased and open to viewing anything that would intrigue, but so far... flatline

Adam Ottke's picture

It's a jump from a DSLR standpoint. But in the MF world, CMOS technology at that level is bringing down pricing quite a bit relatively speaking. Every year this all becomes cheaper. And used and/or still-produced older-generation backs continuously become more affordable from every brand for every photographer.

Diminishing returns...? Maybe from the standpoint of media storage vs. resolution increase. But prices are getting better for relative image quality -- and that's a great thing to see.

Omid Daghighi's picture

This is very exiting, to have full frame, 16 bit files and 15 stop dynamic range. Cant wait to test this back

Prefers Film's picture

More dynamic range? Yes! More resolution? Meh.

Spy Black's picture

Dude! Web pages need 100 megs...

Tom Lew's picture

Completely unrelated to really anything being discussed here but I'll be popping by early this week to pick your guy's brain about a potential Phase purchase. ;)

Drew Chan's picture

Cue all the "we don't need all this resolution" and "these files will be ridiculously large" and "this crap is impractical" unnecessary comments. A Honda Civic can you from point A to point B, but there is still Pagani, Lamborghini, Lotus, Ferrari, Porsche, and the list goes on. This is very exciting news and will lead to greater things. This is awesome.

Prefers Film's picture

Your comparison is quite weak. There is no "Track day" for extreme resolution cameras. They won't impress anyone parked out front at your local country club or expensive restaurant. And no one buys them thinking they'll go up in value.

It may be some great technology, but not something most of us will use. There are other features more important than file size. And for many photographers, it's just not something we want, need, or can afford. My entire studio was equipped for less than half the cost of this back.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

Most of my clients would look at it and go ... "You don't shoot Canon or Nikon?!?!?" LOL.

I guess if you do a lot of studio work for commercial clients it would be nice but does anyone shoot weddings or corporate events with a pair of Hasselblads Medium format cameras?

Prefers Film's picture

I worked for a guy that did catalog work for a company that had revenue of more than $27 billion in 2003. He shot a lot of 4x5 film at the time. Client called, needed a proof of a specific product for the catalog layout. He scanned a 4x5 Polaroid, and emailed it to them, advising that the transparencies were not back from the lab yet. This company ended up using that scanned Polaroid in the catalog.

Just sayin'.

Spy Black's picture

"... but there is still Pagani, Lamborghini, Lotus, Ferrari, Porsche..."

If you're looking to pick up chicks. Otherwise you go down to 7-11 in the Civic and pick yourself up a six-pack...

Henry Louey's picture

And once again useless for sports photography and selfies

Total Fail!

Eric Lefebvre's picture

You made me giggle.

Sean Molin's picture

The sensor is 53.7mm x 40.4mm... which is close enough to the 56mm x 41.5mm of 645...

But they really need to call it "full frame 645" since there are several "full frame" medium format sizes like 6x6 and 6x7.

Christopher Smoot's picture

I would be absolutely giddy with a 6x6 digital back for my Hasselblad.

Anyway as far as this system; I wish I had a need for it...I'm glad I don't.

Ross Floyd's picture

Chris! They made one many years ago is the Phaseone P20, square formate digital, you can probably pick one up on ebay for under $2k

Geoff Captain's picture

I'm glad they're making a full frame cmos, a crop back medium format is a real bait-and-switch if you're looking for the 'look' of those lenses as they perform at 645.

But Phase really needs to get these backs down to around $15k. That still keeps them in the premium photography sector while being (slightly) attainable to successful working photographers. Above that these are simply hobbyist cameras for the most part. The Leica's of medium format so to speak.

Tim Foster's picture

There's that bait and switch.

Tim Foster's picture

Sensor size, which was the first concern Geoff mentioned. The Credo 40 has a sensor roughly half the size of the back in question. You didn't exactly qualify your $15,000 promo with that information.

Ross Floyd's picture

The credo 40 sensor is half the resolution not half the size -- Tim, I would suggest trying these out, there is a small difference between "crop sensor" medium format sensors and full-frame medium format sensors - I would say even less noticeable than the full-frame 35mm vs APS-C cropped sensor jump.

I shoot almost exclusively with medium format, save for jobs that require video, I used to use the "cropped" phase P30+ and now have upgraded toe a "cropped" phase IQ350, and the image quality and dynamic range are unparalleled.

Yes they are expensive, but I build that into my rate and the flexibility of the images is a boon for my self and my clients.

I would also add that they still support a ton of their camera systems with the software, may of which are over 10 years old and professional are still using them for commercial work. Instead of buying a new camera every 2 years, I intend to buy one every 5 and my glass will probably be good enough to keep using for a long time.

Kim Munday's picture

Ive used phase one camera systems there ACE. Really intutive heavy and create an amazing image theyve put a lot of work in to their system. I can honestly say if i could id buy one with out a seconds hesitation. Nothing to do with lust more so with a quality product that also has steller performance.

Karl Petersson's picture

Why does it say Hasselblad in the headline? Is this really fully compatible with the latest H camera. I know the spec list say Hasselblad but what does that mean, H (old systems) H (new systems) V. Please give me some better info. And to what level is it integrated, if it is fully integrated it is fantastic and if it also contains all the micro adjustments that the Hblad does depending on attached lenses.

Adam Ottke's picture

Many (or nearly all?) of Phase One's MF digital backs come in a Hasselblad H-mount flavor for those with bodies like the H5D. It's a pretty standard thing for Phase One that they (thankfully) haven't yet done away with since they started making their own full systems in-house. Hopefully this continues to give owners of as many systems as possible access to their backs.

Tom Watson's picture

With the $44K price I hope that means the lower MP backs will start coming down in price.

Adam Ottke's picture

They always do...eventually ;-) Realistically, though, it has more to do with generation than pixel count. When a new generation of a particular back comes out, you'll always see a price drop on the previous one as there is now.

David Guerra's picture

Resolution becomes superfluous in accordance with the degradation of pixel quality. Of course that the pixel quality of 100MP will always be lower than that of a lower resolution, if nothing else because a greater amount of pixels will be outside of optimal exposure and focus. But for a fair comparison I would like to see true pixel quality tests, done in the following manner: Compare for example a 20MP camera with a 50mm lens with a 80 or 100MP camera with a wide angle lens and digital zoom (or cropping the picture afterwards), resulting in two images with a similar resolution and a similar zoom factor. If a super high resolution camera can "survive" such test, with an image as good as the smaller resolution camera, then I'm all for super resolution, as it would effectively make having several lenses or zoom lenses quite useless. Otherwise, there won't be a balance between pixel quality and pixel quantity, and the usefulness or the application spectre for all those pixels becomes quite reduced.

Christopher Smoot's picture

"as it would effectively make having several lenses or zoom lenses quite useless"

Uh, what? That really isn't the way you're supposed to use ANY camera...much less a medium format camera.

Anyway, this sensor has a slightly tighter pitch than a D800 and slightly wider than a A7R-ii...and the sensor here is made by Sony as well (meaning similar processes). In other words, the pixel level performance is fine, its just pushed onto a larger sensor.

David Guerra's picture

Well, I meant that in theory. I'm not a professional, I don't even own an exchangeable lens camera. I just spoke from my experience with digital zooms, which degrade the images even without going beyond the native resolution. In principle, if the pixel quality was really high there wouldn't be any difference, for images with a similar resolution. But in this case yes, if the extra resolution comes from a larger sensor instead of a tighter pixel pitch than the performance should be similar.

Matt Armendariz's picture

Had to jump in here, as I'm the photographer that invests in medium format, the photographer these systems were made for, and the photographer who absolutely loves medium format digital. And since I am a studio shooter with commercial clients, I'll take ALL the dynamic range and file size I can get my hands on. I haven't looked back since investing in these systems but yes, they're not appropriate for every shoot nor every shooter. I'm excited to see this press release, but I'm happy with my current teensy-tiny IQ180 digital back :)