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Friday, 28 January 2011

The Awesome Phase One IQ Series Digital Backs

Review: Imagine being able to capture a picture with the amazing new Phase One IQ Series Digital Backs?

  • Could this be the camera of your dreams?
  • Imagine being able to use one of these?
  • What would you shoot?
Scroll down to the bottom to embeded youtube video. You'll see professional photographers giving their opinion of the camera.

I've always been impressed with these cameras, but they are sooooo expensive, would I ever be justified in parting with so much precious cash for one of these?

Image Size
What size would you be able to print out with such a high resolution? I know that I can already print really BIG pictures with my Nikon D700's 12meg res, but just imagine how big they'd be from 80megs. Why do we need all that resolution in a camera. They tell us it's for the amazing detail, but if you look closely you can get great detail already from relatively fewer megapixel cameras. However, I've never tried one yet, so I'll reserve my judgement and perhaps I'll have a go at the next Photography Exhibition.

Here's the specs and latest video links. I'd love to have a go just to see what it's like, however, unless a miracle happens I don't think I'd be able to justify spending so much on a new camera outfit. I'd need new lenses and they're not cheap for these beauties. I've heard people say that it's a bit like internet access, once you've tried broadband / cable speeds you'd never want to go back to dial-up internet again. It may be the same with medium format cameras like the Phase One and the megga IQ Series Digital Backs.

How long would it take to process these huge images? And how big will we need our hard-drives to be? I've already got two terrabites that are half full of images from my D700, but I can see one of these cameras with 80MB backs filling it up in no time at all. Now that would be even more money I'd have to spend to accommodate such large files.

What about Photoshop? will it become sluggish, slow and tardy? I'm sure the processing will take ages with these mega huge images. Would that mean I'd also need to purchase a new super-processing computer too? I'm sure it would.

Let's see what the manufacturers of the Phase One tell us of the benefits though.

They Key benefits of The Awesome Phase One IQ Series Digital Backs (they say) include; Ultimate image quality with 80, 60.5 or 40 megapixel resolution (man, that's really big).
  • 3.2'' high resolution display with 1.15 megapixel (That would be great to see).
  • Touch screen display to zoom, pan and browse images (My Nikon is already great at doing this, and fast too, but I'd like to have a go).
  • Sensor+ technology for faster workflow and higher ISO sensitivity. (I wonder just how fast they will be at going through such huge files?).
Check out the introductory videos on Youtube.

The Phase One IQ Series Digital Backs in Action.
Stefan Kapfer puts it through it's paces in this great video.

More Specifications of the Phase One IQ Series Digital Backs

Fastest validation of correct focus with Focus Mask

No need to zoom anymore to validate your focus. The IQ series backs are designed to display a colored semi-transparent mask on top of the preview to show which parts of the image are in focus. It's extremely useful to validate depth-of-field and get instant feedback about whether a shot is perfectly focused or not.

Fastest untethered capture

The IQ180 digital back has memory card interface capable of moving data faster than any current memory cards can deliver. In practice this means that with the fastest CompactFlash cards you can continue to capture images until your card is full without experiencing any slowdown in performance.

12.5 f-stops dynamic range

Reproduce scenes with extreme tonal differences and details in one shot from the 12.5 f-stops dynamic range

Optimized image quality with Capture One 6

Capture One 6 is a professional RAW converter and image editing software. It contains all the essential tools and high-end performance in one package to enable you to capture, organize, edit, share and print images in a fast, flexible and efficient workflow. Capture One 6 has been optimized for shooting with The Phase One IQ digital backs.

Vertical and horizontal capture guidance

The IQ180 digital back has vertical and horizontal capture guidance available to help you align your shots perfectly from the start, so the need for postproduction is minimized.

Better compatibility with 645DF camera

Compatibility with the Phase One 645DF camera has been improved over previous digital backs. For instance the power state of the back can now be controlled directly from the camera.

Integrated battery charger

The integrated battery charger ensures that the battery is charged when you're shooting tethered, offering you more versatility in your shooting. The IQ series of backs are always ready to be used untethered.


Entirely built of 100% machined aircraft grade aluminum for highest quality black chrome finish. Stronger than any other digital back. Black chrome metal surface and LCD cover glass are extremely scratch resistant. All electronic connectors and ports are protected with automatic retracting hatches or rubber covers.


With the IQ series of backs you can now personalize your camera with your own background image, splash screen, or logo.

Service & support

You can choose various service levels for the IQ series digital backs, e.g. a value-added option which includes a life-time (5 year) warranty, a free loaner unit during repair and other options. Phase One offers 365 days round the clock support delivered on-line and backed up by dedicated partners and a global support team.

Conclusion: The all new Phase One IQ Series Digital Backs really do sound and look terrific. However, will I ever get one? That's a great question, because I never thought I'd own anything like the magnificent Nikon D700, which is an awesome camera. I started out with a Fuji 5m Finepix, but where will I end up? The new generations of Nikon Cameras are getting better all the time. Take a look at the specs of the Nikon D7000 by Ken Rockwell, the Nikon King. He is over the moon with it.

What could I do with one of these awesome digital backs?... mmmmmm I'll have to think long, long and hard... I'm sure my wife would want to have a say too:-) After all, buying a camera that could cost quarter of a house here in London is a really big investment. One really important question: Will owning one of these improve my photography?
Somehow, I don't think it will, but the quality might just jump up a notch or two:-) LOL

I'll let you know what I think and feel once I've had a play with one of these beauties.

What do you think folks?

Review: Phase One IQ Digital Backs.

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