Last Thursday, I received an invite from Phase One to check out their latest and greatest offering - the XF 100MP camera system. Truth be told, I haven't had much experience with medium format cameras other than an impulse purchase a decade ago of a Mamiya 645AFD, just because it was a deal that I couldn't pass up. I no longer have that Mamiya and have since gotten the urge to get my fingers on a medium format system, so I was thrilled about the invite so I could share my experience.
Before I get into it, I want to apologize for the poor photo quality below of the behind-the-scenes. Those shots were taken with my iPhone 6, boasting an awesome (insert sarcasm here) 8-megapixel camera and the dynamic range of a goat.
The venue for the demo was at one of my fav places in Toronto for all things pro photography and lighting systems - B3K Digital. Their location is discretely located on Carlaw Avenue in downtown Toronto amongst many well known photo studios. B3K specializes in providing the pro photo (and video) community with sales, rentals, and support for brands such as Phase One, Mamiya, Broncolor, Profoto, Manfrotto, Chimera, and many others. A big shout-out to my main contact there Jim Anderson who not only has a vast knowledge base, but is also a true gentleman!
Once inside, my focus was on learning all that I could about this new 100-megapixel camera. Yes, you read correctly - 100MP! To put that into perspective, my trusted Canon 1Dx packs an 18.1MP CMOS (full frame) sensor. As if that isn't enough spec-talk to excite you, the new Phase One packs 16-bit of colour, 15-stop dynamic range, and a maximum ISO of 12,800.
The first part of the demo consisted of a quick promo video featuring Lau Norgaard (Vice President of R&D at Phase One) discussing the philosophy behind the new camera system. Shortly after, a brief Q&A session was held with a technical rep from the company and an introduction from the B3K staff about the MSRP, availability, and rental rates.
The new 100-megapixel CMOS sensor was co-developed with Sony and is massive, sized at 53.7mm x 40.4mm! The camera system fitted with a Schneider Kreuznach 80mm f.2.8 LS lens runs for approximately $68,000 (CAD). It's worth mentioning that a bunch of other lenses are also suited to the XF and each one is truly something spectacular.
After patiently waiting for my go with the new Phase One camera, it was my turn. I introduced myself to the model named Masseni and popped in my CF card. The lighting and set was already setup and consisted of a Broncolor Scoro pack and some heads. With the settings dialed in, I began to shoot the beautiful talent. I must admit, shooting with the XF was a combination of excitement and fear as it was definitely the most expensive piece of gear I've ever had in my hands.
I was able to try out two beautiful pieces of glass, the Schneider Kreuznach LS 35mm f/3.5 and 150mm f/3.5. Each lens provided a level of sharpness and quality that was evident once I uploaded the photos into Capture One 9 (Phase One's editing software). It's worth noting that the mere 23 frames (photos) that I took of the model took up nearly 2.4GB of space, resulting in the average file size of around 100MB each!
The results speak for themselves. By far the new Phase One XF 100MP creates a picture quality unlike anything I've ever seen before. I won't get into the technicalities, but to put it simply - the colour accuracy, level of sharpness, and that wide dynamic range makes it a true champion. Other than some minor editing for the usual skin blemish, not much was done to the image. What you see is truly what you get with this beast of a camera. Feel free to click the picture and see it in full scale - mind you, I had to resize it so it wouldn't break the internet.
The detail sharpness from the camera is truly unreal and has to be blown up to truly appreciate it. All 100-megapixels worth of the CMOS sensor make sense when you zoom into the frame at 100% and the clarity is still incredible! Every blemish, blood vessel, and even the powder flakes of the eye shadow are visible. Double-click the image for a high-resolution version and gawk at the awesomeness.
Having spent a few hours with fellow photographers talking shop and comparing notes on the XF, it is without a doubt the camera system we all want in our bag. Whether or not any of us will get proper use of it is another question. Currently my workflow doesn't require such a massive sensor or its capabilities, but that's not to say that I won't pitch it to clients for my big commercial shoots. As per the latest update from B3K Digital, the XF 100MP and an 80mm LS lens will run a rental rate of $700.00/day which isn't bad, consider the average production cost of a shoot.
A big thanks must go out to Phase One for the invite and the entire staff at B3K Digital for hosting a great demo. Cheers to the future of photographic technology and to always pushing the boundaries of creativity!