PHASE ONE XF IQ3 TRICHROMATIC

A cam­era de­signed to cap­ture the high­est colour fi­delity pos­si­ble for pho­tog­ra­phers who need the very best

Digital Photograper - - Contents -

The 100MP medium-for­mat cam­era gets put to the test

The IQ3 Trichromatic is Phase One’s most re­cent 100MP medium-for­mat dig­i­tal back com­pat­i­ble with the XF body. It uses a 53.4 x 40.1mm sen­sor that was de­signed in part­ner­ship with Sony with the aim of cap­tur­ing nat­u­ral colours with very high fi­delity. Cru­cially, the sen­sor is al­most 1.5x big­ger than the 50MP sen­sors in the Fu­ji­film GFX 50S and Pen­tax 645 Z. That’s also about 2.5x the size of a 35mm full-frame sen­sor. As a re­sult, the pho­tore­cep­tors are com­par­a­tively large (4.6 x 4.6 mi­crons), which is good news for noise con­trol. Con­se­quently, the sen­si­tiv­ity can be set in the range of ISO 35-12,800.

While hav­ing a sin­gle AF point seems a bit old-school, the XF has some nice mod­ern flour­ishes and clever tech­nol­ogy. There are two touch­screens for ex­am­ple, and both can be used for ad­just­ing set­tings. There’s also a seis­mo­graph built in to de­tect vi­bra­tion. In a stroke of ge­nius, it can work as a type of self-timer to trig­ger the shut­ter to fire once the vi­bra­tion caused by press­ing the shut­ter re­lease has died down.

In ad­di­tion, there’s a Fo­cus Stack­ing op­tion that makes it eas­ier to cap­ture a se­ries of im­ages with dif­fer­ent fo­cus points and a Hyper­fo­cal fo­cus­ing op­tion that max­imises depth of field. Both are use­ful with the more re­stricted depth of field that’s cap­tured with a medium-for­mat sen­sor at any given aper­ture.

As it has a large sen­sor and a suit­ably sized re­flex mir­ror, the XF IQ3 Trichromatic is a sub­stan­tial cam­era. In fact, it weighs over 2.5kg with the prism viewfinder and an 80mm stan­dard lens. For­tu­nately there’s a hefty grip so it can be used hand­held, but it’s more likely to be used on a tri­pod.

The im­ages from the XF IQ3 Trichromatic are noth­ing short of stun­ning, and they leap from your com­puter screen. Thanks to the 100MP sen­sor, there’s an in­cred­i­ble amount of de­tail vis­i­ble and it feels like you can zoom into im­ages for­ever. One of Phase One’s aims with the Trichromatic sen­sor de­sign is for the RAW files to re­quire less post-cap­ture pro­cess­ing. In most in­stances, they look great

“The im­ages from the XF IQ3 are noth­ing short of stun­ning, and they leap from your com­puter screen”

with rich colours and won­der­fully smooth gra­da­tions, and they have an in­cred­i­bly re­al­is­tic ap­pear­ance. Reds, which chal­lenge many cam­eras, are han­dled par­tic­u­larly well.

There are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent dis­play op­tions when re­view­ing im­ages on the XF. One called ‘ex­po­sure Zone’ shows the im­age with colours that in­di­cate the bright­ness. Ma­genta ar­eas are burned out while red ar­eas are very bright but re­cov­er­able. You don’t have to use this fea­ture for long to re­alise that the Trichromatic has a very wide dy­namic range – Phase One claims it’s 15eV. It means the RAW files are very for­giv­ing and you can make pretty dra­matic ex­po­sure or con­trast ad­just­ments if you need to. That’s help­ful with very high-con­trast sit­u­a­tions but it can also be a life-saver with the odd ex­po­sure ac­ci­dent – the Ma­trix me­ter­ing sys­tem isn’t the most re­li­able around so a test shot or two is ad­vis­able.

As men­tioned ear­lier, Phase One has given the Trichromatic a wide sen­si­tiv­ity range so you can use it in low light. How­ever, in most in­stances it would seem an odd de­ci­sion to spend so much money on a cam­era and use a very high sen­si­tiv­ity set­ting when a few lights would prob­a­bly solve the prob­lem. On the whole, im­ages look good up to around ISO 1600. You can push higher, but it seems to rather de­feat the point of the cam­era. You’d cer­tainly want to avoid the up­per­most val­ues.

Al­though the XF has a ded­i­cated AF sen­sor and it usu­ally gets the sub­ject sharp, the speed of fo­cus­ing lags be­hind the likes of

the Fu­ji­film GFX 50S and the Has­sel­blad X1D. That sin­gle AF point is also a bit fussy about what it will and won’t fo­cus on, so it’s of­ten eas­ier to fo­cus man­u­ally. This is fairly easy to do through the viewfinder but the mag­ni­fied live View im­age makes it even clearer when you’ve got the right fo­cus. It’s es­sen­tial to get the fo­cus spot-on be­cause the depth of field is ex­tremely shal­low when shoot­ing wide open.

On the sub­ject of shal­low depth of field, you can re­ally sep­a­rate your sub­ject from its sur­round­ings. The bokeh cre­ated by the XF-mount Sch­nei­der kreuz­nach lenses is also lovely. Small dis­tant high­lights are nicely rounded and smooth, with­out harsh edges.

Right DY­NAMIC RANGE With 15 stops of dy­namic range to playwith, you can re­veal plenty of de­tail in the shad­ows while re­tain­ing high­lights1234

13STOR­AGEThere’s a sin­gle Type 1 Com­pactFlash port. UDMA 7 cards are rec­om­mended.LIVE VIEWThe Live View and Fo­cus Nudge fea­tures are use­ful for very pre­cise fo­cus­ing.24DUAL BAT­TER­IESBoth the cam­era body and the dig­i­tal back both re­quire a bat­tery.M MOUNTThe back has the M mount for use with XF or Mamiya DF+ bod­ies.

Inset GLO­RI­OUS COLOURThe colours are ideal for prod­uct and com­mer­cial pho­tog­ra­phy as im­ages look won­der­fully vi­brant yet nat­u­ral and life­like100%

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