Phase One XT System: What you need to know

 In Dave Gallagher, News, Phase One, Phase One XT, Tech, Tech, Tech Camera, XF IQ4 Blog Series

By now, you should have read about the new Phase One XT camera system but in case you have not, here are the basics that are covered by every other website today:

The Phase One XT is the first fully electronic integrated field camera that marries the highest quality optics with the world’s highest quality digital capture device, the Phase One IQ4 150mp.

It is shipping today with Rodenstock HR 23mmm, 32mm, and 70mm lenses mounted with the all-new Phase One X Shutter System.

The system is a wireless fully internal electronic integrated system with no extra cables or batteries needed. The new lenses and shutter share the battery power of the IQ4 digital back, thus making it even more compact and light.

Now that the basics are covered, lets get through the marketing repetition and get to the brass tacks.  Here is the no BS take that you expect from Capture Integration

1) Phase One’s new X shutter

The XT shutter is a redesigned electromagnetic industrial shutter to create the smallest possible weight and footprint but retains the incredible reliability from Phase One’s current RS design. The shutter’s range is from 1 second to 1/1000th exposure times with full strobe sync throughout the range. When you extend exposures longer than 1 second, the system will switch to the current IQ4 ES built into the digital back.

Phase One has tested the shutters up to 970,000+ exposures without a single failure. While they will only have a 1 year warranty when purchased as a stand-alone product, we do not anticipate any failures with our current customer’s demands. Furthermore, the industrial build of the shutter creates a much stronger coupling to the optical elements than we have ever seen in mechanical copal mounts.  These were literally designed to handle the tongue weight of the hefty 32HR.

This shutter will be available Q2 of 2020 for third party vendors and lenses. While this is also exciting, please be aware that there are two important details of why this product is for IQ4 backs only. First, the new 12-pin output of the IQ4 allows power to be shared from the Phase One digital back. The IQ4 is the only system that can share this power to the lens and thus drive the shutter without the need of any external system. Secondly, the new extended Unix based operating system, The Infinity Platform of the IQ4 allows Phase One to quickly write new code to control all the features of the shutter today and expand upon it in the future.

Hopefully, in the future, the relationship between Phase One and ALPA will allow these shutters to be integrated into ALPA’s existing Silex system. If so, this would open the door for all the IQ1-3 users to stay in a technical camera, but have kept the ability to use electronic shutters in their current workflow.

2) Compact design for portability and travel

The decision to make this the smallest but most integrated system was intentional.  There are current cameras that have up to 35mm of movement and are large systems that I struggle to fit in my carry on case. For certain professionals, this is the system they require. But if rear-plane stitching is not something you do, then why use a system that is twice as heavy as it needs to be?

I travel all the time. And honestly, I don’t want to carry the XF body and large BR lenses on all of my trips. With this said, there are many many times when I come back from a trip with my small cameras from other manufacturers and look at my images in Capture One and am disappointed. Frankly, it’s almost always due to poor dynamic range. And that is when I kick myself for not lugging around my Phase One. The new XT was designed with this in mind. It keeps all the features of ultimate dynamic range, superior sharpness, and highest resolution all in the most compact and easy to use package.

XF = 3.1 lbs                                    XT = 1.35 lbs

XF width = 3”                                  XT width = 1”

XF with Prism = 6”                          XT with Prism = 2”

28mm LS = 2.43 lbs                       23mm XT = 1.5 lbs

35mm LS = 3.02 lbs                       32mm XT = 2.2 lbs

3) Image Circle Coverage

Since we anticipate hearing that 12mm is not enough, let us just show you what 12mm looks like with the 32mm HR. The following image is a vertical stitch with the IQ4 at full movements. When you apply the LCC you can clearly see that we actually only had 10mm of shift available.  So there is no sacrifice in movements or quality in 2 of the 3 released lenses.   And for customers who primarily shoot wide angle, the XT is the exact size camera that they have been looking for.   Full coverage and resolution in a unparalleled system.

Tech Support Note: While not designed to be a stitching monster, you can still manage a 348 megapixel file on the 32HR with a little retouching in the corners.  The 70HR will cover the entire frame. – Brad

5) 3 lenses available today

Available today are the 23mm, 32mm, and 70mm HR lenses. However, the body was designed in conjunction with Cambo, Netherlands. All lenses have the traditional Cambo RS mounts, thus, any Cambo mounted lenses can be used on the XT and used with the mechanical shutter or the built-in ES shutter of the IQ4. Or, the XT lenses can be used with any Cambo technical camera in the future when the cable interface has been released. Want more movements? Place the 70mm HR on a WRS 1600 for full 20mm shift in all directions.

Furthermore, Phase One has stated unequivocally that they will be expanding the line of lenses in the future…… “Just tell us what you want!” With the current line of industrial lenses available, there is no reason to believe that we will not see these focal lengths if the market drives it.

5) Vibration-free untouched camera workflow

One aspect of the XT that is important for many of our customers is not having to touch the camera while in production. There are many critical workflow situations where you want the camera to stay in a locked down state with zero physical interaction. Are you building layers of exposures that need to register in PS? Are you light painting? Are you pushed as far back into a shooting position where you can’t reach the body or back anymore? Having full control of exposure, aperture, live view, or the shutter release without the need to cock a shutter ever again is extremely important in many workflows. But now you have all this ability when shooting the highest quality HR lenses available, controlled remotely thru Capture One if desired. Yes – that’s correct, you can control your Rodenstock HR lenses via Capture One.

6) Firmware Upgrade and features

Current Phase One IQ4 system will need the latest firmware to interact with the new XT, to use the new improved live view interface, and to use features that were only present in the XF body before now. Firmware 4.00.40 can be loaded to your IQ4 soon. This will allow the IQ4 to automatically know whether it is attached to an XF or XT body. All feature sets will then correspond to the current body mounted to the back.

Also, please note that since this is a body upgrade, you will not need to update Capture One today. Although, with embedded metadata and movements, we hope to see great things in the future with Capture One…..

7) Handheld

With a quick half-press of the Phase One blue XT shutter, live view turns on and opens the lens. Live view is enabled, manual focus check, and with a full depress of the shutter full-res captures. We see this process with mirrorless users all the time. But now you can shoot 150mp of astounding quality in the same fashion. Furthermore, the new exposure controls in the IQ firmware listed above, give you all the controls you need for quick high quality shooting handheld in the field….. or even from a boat in a canal….

Hand holding the XT on a beautiful Copenhagen afternoon

The immersive capture of Rodenstock 23HR optics

SO 800, 1/1000th of a second shutter speed, TONS of detail at 100%

I’m not saying that this camera will be your go-to choice for solution that you’ll carry on your shoulder, pull, point and shoot, but it is nice to have a single solution in your bag that is functions as a hybrid the way the XT does, especially when traveling internationally and your carrying capacity is limited to not only size but weight of your carry-on. 

I liked the idea of the A-Series camera, but the reality of it was that with the old Copal-0 mechanical shutter, it was just too cumbersome to shoot as your left hand would continually have to be engaged with cocking the shutter, while not bumping the aperture, while not having the Live View histograms and/or simulated exposure display or focus peaking able to indicate to you what you were about to capture, while fumbling for focus.   

While shooting commercially, I’ve faced the situation of being prepped for only a certain style of shooting as all of the pre-production meetings and conversations would suggest I would need to be prepared for, only to have an art/creative director want to shoot more dynamically off the tripod where it was likely that only a 2nd, very different sort of camera could facilitate those shots, at least with the hit-rate that would give any chance of success, likely in a different digital format / perspective / color fidelity. 

The Phase One XT coupled with the IQ4 digital backs serve as an elegant single camera solution to Architectural Scenes that turn into Lifestyle Shots, for Landscape Scenes that turn into Wildlife opportunities, and for jet-weary, bourbon infused, Carlsberg beer soaked technical support heads to carry the only other camera he had access to other than an iPhone, and get to have a lazy day being a photographer in a foreign town.   -BK

8) Capture Pilot

OK, we are addressing the Elephant in the room. And the news is … Capture Pilot will not be improved from this point forward. Instead, we should expect a new mobile platform written from the ground up. Yes, the IQ4 will have wireless capabilities and networking. It just has taken longer to completely rethink and rewrite the wireless interface of a new Mobile integration which will be coming in the future. And while the engineers might not want us to address this today, I think that it is important for our customers to know that “mobile integration” is in the works and will be here soon.

2m00s, Automated Frame Average

9) Warranty

When an XT is purchased with a New IQ4 150, all parts will have a 5 year Value Added warranty. The body and lenses will be covered for 5 years, however, the body and lenses will not have a loaner available to them. The digital back will have loaners available as they have in the past. When the pieces are purchased separately or the IQ4 is upgraded, all bodies and lenses will have a 1 year warranty.

10) Price and availability

Social media will scream about the price of this system. But the new 32mm HR XT lens is $800 lower in cost than the currently unavailable 32mm e-Shutter 250 lenses. Yes, they are expensive. And If you don’t want the sharpest and highest quality capture system in the market, then don’t buy it. But if you do want a level of quality that is unequivocally the best in the market, then this system delivers it. These systems are available immediately for delivery with an order today!

Phase One XT Body = $5,990

Phase One XT 23mm = $11,990

Phase One XT 32mm = $11,990

Phase One XT 70mm = $8,990

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