Decoding the Phase One IQ4 Announcement

 In Dave Gallagher, News, Phase One, XF IQ4 Blog Series

This morning Phase One DK announced their new IQ4 product line.  While the new Sony Backside Illuminated 151 megapixel sensor has been one of the world’s worst kept secrets, It was only a fraction of the important newly released information today.  We at Capture Integration have always tried to disseminate the marketing “speak” from the real world relevance that product announcements offer.   Hopefully the following detailed descriptions will help our customers understand the important aspects of today’s press release and help with how it relates to their photographic needs.

3 New Digital Systems

Of course the big news is that there are 3 new digital backs announced this morning.  And importantly Phase One is the first manufacturer to utilize and ship the new Sony 151MP Sensor.   The new backs added to the line up are as follows :  XF IQ4 150mp, XF IQ4 150mp Achromatic, XF IQ4 100 Trichromatic.  Looking at the titles of these backs brings up many questions, so let me work through them one at a time. Yes, the XF is added to these systems because they are truly meant to be full digital systems integrated for the strongest feature set and technology.  Phase One has created an unmatched level of quality starting with Schneider-Kreuznach Lenses, flowing through the XF camera system, and ending with the highest capture device ever produced in the photographic market.

Consequently, these 3 digital backs will not be offered in any other mount than the Phase One XF body. There will not be a Hasselblad H or V mount in any new Phase One system from this point forward.  But this does not mean that you need to buy a new XF with these backs.  There isn’t any new feature in the body itself this time around.  So your existing XF will work seamlessly with these new systems and any back can be upgraded to these new backs as a stand alone upgrade path.

A happy surprise was the announcement of the Achromatic in the new sensor. The Achromatic was released at a significantly later date after the original IQ3 100mp was released, however, this time there will be no waiting for the amazing black and white abilities in the resolving power of the 151mp capture. As for the Trichromatic, no, Phase One has not released that filter pattern on this new sensor.  The new features the IQ4 will be shipped in the 100mp Trichromatic DB and the IQ3 Trichromatic is now discontinued.  Will they produce it in a 151mp sensor?  It is to be determined at a later date and we have no information on this likelihood.

Backside Illuminated 150mp Sensor

If you have not read about the BSI or Back Illuminated Sensor then I suggest that you do.  There are many references online.  To put it simply, the electrical circuit architecture of the BSI Sensor is no longer situated between the pixel wells and the lens design. Instead, it is below both, which allows light to come directly through to the photo-diode layer without having to first pass through the electrical circuit architecture. The advantages of these sensors is that the angular response, readout times, and the ISO sensitivity is improved.  How much improved?  We really don’t know yet.  And by “we” I mean Capture Integration.  Importantly, we will begin testing LCC/ wide angle lens response, dark noise, ISO, etc: as soon as we can get our hands on one.   As for now here are the specs of the new IQ4 150MP sensor:

ISO    50 – 25,600

15 stop Dynamic Range

Extremely faster frame rate  (yeah, they won’t tell us….)

Lower Noise Ratios – ( Longer exposure times?)

Expanded Electronic Shutter Operation

We will publish tests as soon as we can get our hands on one…..

The IQ4 Platform

While this is the third Item down on my list today, I think that it is the strongest aspect of today’s press release.  Since Phase One released the XF camera, there have been 4 major firmware releases that improved the functionality and feature set of that camera system. I have been thoroughly impressed to see it grow and mature as a medium format body.  With what I have read and from the answers to the myriad number of questions posed to Phase One, I foresee the new IQ4 system maturing in the same manner.  So yes, there is a new design of digital back from the inside out.  Most of the strong improvements look minor, but trust me they are not.  I will go into detail in the following paragraphs about the new features. However, importantly, the IQ3 series will now be Phase One’s entry level system with the IQ4 at its helm.  The IQ1 and IQ2 series have been discontinued, but still can be purchased as Certified Pre-Owned units at a great price.  The IQ4 will come standard with Phase One’s 5 year Value Added warranty and now the IQ3 will come with the 1 year Classic warranty.  I suggest that you talk to your respective sales person for any specific questions as some of this can get confusing.

Capture One Inside

Phase One has taken the power of Capture One and unleashed it inside the new IQ4 platform. What does this mean?  This means that rendering, processing, styles, sharpening, previews, color proofing, time lapse, bracketing, and many other Capture One features can now be a part of your untethered workflow. And this is just the beginning.  The speed and performance have all been improved with the future capabilities an exciting part of what’s to come.

So you now have Phase One hardware infused with the strongest raw workflow software available. The IQ4 150 potentially becomes a development platform, and not just a piece of static hardware. In the same way that the XF Camera has gained feature upon feature through firmware updates, the IQ4 150 could also benefit from software updates that bring great new features and increase the value throughout the period of ownership. 

New Tethering Options

Have you noticed the absence of the firewire port?  Yes, it’s gone.  And so are the days of problematic tethering.  Now we have 3 huge options in the IQ4 platform for tethering.

  • Ethernet Tethering:  Inexpensive cables so you can have as many back ups as you would like. The ability to tether at 100′ or more.  Locking RJ45 connections that don’t pull out easily when the wind blows. PoE (Power Over Ethernet) capabilities.   Networkable solutions for future feature sets.  Do I need to say more?
  • USB-C:  Direct connections on your Apple laptops that took away all of our other options. Fast direct connections.  Direct connection to hard drives. Yes, that means you could shoot to a computer via USB-C or shoot to an external hard drive connected to the IQ4 via USB-C.
  • Wifi:  Yes, wifi raw tethering.  You heard it right.  No cables at all.  Forgot your cables, no problem.  How fast and how reliable? I can’t wait to find out. Can you imagine shooting 151mp in a studio with no wires? In a field with no wires? And have your images pop up on your computer screen?

Very importantly, this will be one of the first tests we conduct.  Reliability, speed, and pros and cons of each choice is something to expect from us very soon.

Advanced Storage Options

So did you catch that option from above?  CF cards are a thing of the past.  And here are your 3 new Storage options:

  • XQD: 400mb/sec write speeds and up to 256GB in size. The fastest speeds available today but will soon be replaced. Importantly, the slot has the ability to adapt to CFexpress in the future gives us flexibility for growth.
  • Direct to USB-C Hard Drive:  This is what we have been waiting for forever.   Direct to Hard Drive capture.
  • SD: Today’s standard.  Nothing exciting on its own.  But 2 card slots gives options and…..

And finally what many have been asking for, we now have the ability to write to a card as back up while we are tethering.  There has been a lot of discussion about writing to both cards at the same time but this will not be available when it is released.

Improved Existing Technology

Easily over looked, the improvements of their existing feature set are actually quite exciting.  The first and foremost for me is the ability to have the focus mask work with live view.  Now think about it.  Focus mask and live view = Focus peaking while focusing.  Yeah, they don’t come out and say it that way, but this is huge for our tech camera users.  Focus peaking has always been a feature that I have used in smaller systems and I am now happy it will be available on the IQ4.  When it comes to live view, the overlay feature can also be used untethered now as well.  Secondly, the Electronic Shutter (previously only available in IQ3) has been improved with a faster strobe synch.  Having the ability to synch without ambient light contamination should help many of our customers in their current workflow.     Pinch and zoom has now been added back to the system.  These are just the few of enhanced tools that you will see in the new platform.

New Packaging

It seems small but it shouldn’t be.  The Phase One packaging has always been stellar.  First impressions are important, but even more important are well thought out design and products that add to your workflow in the future.   And this is what we have with the new systems shown above.   Phase One has teamed up with NYA Evo to craft a strong system that makes sense to a photographer.  The new RCI or Removable Camera Inserts are expandable and work seamlessly with their line of camera back packs.  So whether you want to use the RCI in your existing pelican cases or switch them to your back pack for location shooting, Phase has thought it out and prepared you for your adventure.

“Full Frame Medium Format Company”

The days of cropped sensors are over. Phase one has officially discontinued all cropped sensors and made the above statement.  So not only does this mean that all  50mp sensors are discontinued, but also there will not be any cropped sensors in the future for Phase one.  This statement is a significant one for today and the future.


And finally, what most people want to know from the start, the pricing.  Please note that prices have adjusted up and down the product offering with Certified Pre-Owned at a very affordable level.

* New Pricing:

Phase One IQ4 100MP Trichromatic = $42,990

Phase One IQ4 150MP = $46,990

Phase One IQ4 150MP Achromatic = $49,990

Phase One IQ3 100MP = $24,990

* CPO Pricing (Certified Pre-Owned):

Phase One IQ1 50mp =$9,990

Phase One IQ3 50mp =$12,990

Phase One IQ1 80mp  = $13,990

Phase One IQ3 80mp =$16,990

Phase One IQ1 100mp = $19,990

Phase One IQ3 100mp =$21,990

For upgrade pricing, trade in pricing, or any other questions, please contact you CI representative.

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