CI Test Flashback: Phase One IQ360 vs Phase One IQ380 Long Exposure

 In News, Phase One, Phase One IQ3, Phase One Tip, Steve Hendrix, Tech

Phase One IQ1 Series Arrives, But No Long Exposure

Launched in 2011, the Phase One IQ1 series was a hit with Phase One users, discarding the tiny 2.2” low rez LCD screens and firewire 400 ports from the previous P/P+ generation for 3.2” 1.1 million dot touchscreens and USB 3 (along with an updated firewire 800 port). The IQ1 series also included an exclusive 80mp sensor (IQ180), along with the 40mp and 60mp models. Phase One was the only manufacturer to ever offer this 80mp sensor.

One legitimate gripe of the IQ1 series was the lack of long exposure capability for any of these digital back models, since many who wished to upgrade were coming from P+ models, including the P45+, which was capable of very long exposures with little, if any visible noise. In contrast, the IQ1 digital backs topped out around 1-2 minutes, and the results fell off a cliff from that point onward toward longer exposure times.

Image of a Phase One IQ360 Digital Back, from our CPO Inventory. Thoroughly inspected, certified, and comes with one year warranty.

Resurrecting Long Exposure With Phase One IQ2 and IQ3

Forward to 2013, the IQ260 and IQ280 models were announced, and while the IQ280 added wifi, some additional exposure review tools (2 Step Highlight Clip and the Zone Exposure Review Tool) and a smidgeon of additional dynamic range, those were the only significant differences from the IQ180. But the IQ260, in addition to those features, added a Long Exposure Mode. This mode began with a starting ISO value of 140, and in our testing we did see significant improvements to the long exposure capabilities. Not quite at the noise free level of a P45+, but close and very usable, even at 30 minutes or longer.

Beginning with the IQ380, this 80mp sensor also gained a Long Exposure Mode, similar to the IQ260. With the IQ380, the Long Exposure Mode was a dedicated ISO range that began at ISO 200. With the IQ380, we also saw significant improvement in long exposure quality. Again, it didn’t quite match a P45+, but did produce usable files at longer exposure in the 20-30 minutes range.

Choose ISO, then activate Long Exposure Mode. For best results, only use the ISO 140 setting.

Choosing Between Phase One IQ2 and IQ3

Sometimes we have a client who is choosing between an IQ260/IQ360 and an IQ380. There is of course a price advantage to the IQ260/IQ360. Both models share the Sensor Plus feature, which adds a 2 stop ISO advantage at 1/4 of the active pixels captured (but still with full frame 645 coverage, no crop). Being 60mp, the IQ260/IQ360 models produce a 15mp file with good results up to ISO 800. The IQ380 though produces a 20mp file at that same ISO. And for the full rez, has of course an additional 20mp vs the IQ260/IQ360.  

Below is a quick test we did comparing the IQ260 and the IQ380 at 15 minute exposures. You can see a smidgeon more noisy/grainy with the IQ380, but the 80mp sensor is slightly noisier than the 60mp sensor to begin with, so there is a slight advantage to the IQ360 with grain/noise results. Luminance noise reduction is set to zero. Anytime I test files, I always set NR to zero. I want to see the noise, see the grain, see what these sensors are recording, rather than have that detail and noise smudged before I know what I’ve got.

Someone’s Messy Desk Test Scene
200% Enlargement

If you’d like a raw file form this test, please contact us.

And as always, we carry both current and legacy Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) and Demo Phase One products, available here, or contact a salesperson below for more details and information. All Phase One CPO digital backs are thoroughly inspected and tested, include all new standard accessories, and come with a one year warranty and CI operational and technical support for as long as you own. the product.


Steve Hendrix – 404.543.8475 –

Chris Snipes – 813.335.2473 –

Dave Gallagher – 770.846.5223 –

Don’t already have a salesperson? Give us a call to meet our team & get matched to the camera expert for your needs. 877-217-9870

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