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!