Phase One and the IQ260 France photo shoot // Mont Saint-Michel

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Having recently acquired the IQ260 from Phase One, I took it on a trip to London and Paris for a workshop I was teaching. I had some free time when I was in Paris and I wanted to put it to the test. See, I am one of those 35mm snobs that believe I work way too fast for a medium format camera to keep up. I am a wedding and portrait photographer. Medium format is for the landscape and commercial guys.

If you have not read my recent posts about the initial testing I did with the Phase One IQ160 check it out here

After that, I was sold. This was the future for my business and a way for me to stand out from the crowd. The quality and dynamic range was just too big to ignore. However, I was still very skeptical. Scared really. Like a little kid who lost their blanket. This could be seen by the fact that I left the United States with two camera bags, one holding my Canon 1dx and accessories and the other containing my new Phase One IQ260 and its accessories. My 1dx was my security blanket.

Any one who has ever shot with me in a workshop or at a wedding knows I move at a blistering pace. I am constantly pushing the equipment to the limit. In France, we had two locations scouted out both about 4 hours away from the city of Paris. We went to Mont Saint-Michel and then headed to a beach about 40 minutes further away after that. My goal was first and foremost to build my portfolio in these amazing locations and secondly, to push this camera, the IQ260, to its limit. It had to be able to keep up with me. The models were my wife, my friends and staff and business partner. Granted, these were non-paying clients, but they had a lot of time invested in wardrobe and travel. So, we had to get them something amazing. And you know my motto, the gear cannot get in the way of the shot. Your equipment should enhance your work, never hinder it.

Here I am strolling along Mont Saint-Michel toting two roller bags. We find our spot and I instinctively pull out my Canon 1dx. Get dialed in with a few test shots. Then pull out the IQ260 and fire a few test shots…. AND… DAMN. I never used the 1dx again the rest of the day. From the first test shot, the Phase One IQ260 blew me away at the dynamic range and depth of the shot. It’s just incredible!

Here are some of the shots right out of camera with no editing at all.

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As you can see, even zoomed in, the quality is impeccable. There is no way this detail can be captured on a 35mm sensor. It’s just too small. Bigger sensor, more detail. It’s that simple.

Now, I will tell you, it was not all roses. We pushed the camera hard. I shoot fast and at certain points the camera could not keep up. The images are huge. So, you will have to throttle back your shooting to ensure the memory card can keep up. I was using a 1000x Lexar Memory card, so we were solid there, but no matter what, shooting an event is going to push the limits. Also, the battery life is completely different than that of the Canon and Nikon cameras. I was eating up batteries like candy. Be ready for that. You will go through batteries, not necessarily a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

Once I got settled in and slowed down, things actually become more clear. I started measuring my shots better. Creatively becoming more focused. I can’t explain it. I don’t want to sound like I had a near death experience or anything like that, but the camera definitely forced me to really think about the shot I was looking for vs hoping for the best. I was thinking more about the final image than I had ever before. The results are just breath taking.

Best of all, the camera has built in WiFi capabilities. You read that right. Built right into the camera the Phase One IQ260 includes a WiFi hotspot allowing the people around you to view the pictures in real time while you are shooting. I was traveling with a group of 6 people and for them to stand by watching on their iPads and iPhones and seeing what I was capturing really made it feel like a team event. Imagine that feature with your portrait sessions. Best of all, you can Star your favorite images right from the iPad.

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Here is what I love about the camera.

1) Pixels. 60mb. Its incredible. The quality is superior to 35mm.
2) WiFi capabilities built in.
3) Dynamic Range – 13 stops
4) Quality of the optics – Schneider glass is unreal.
5) The final image.

Here is where I had challenges.

1) Battery life. If you are working weddings or in the field portrait work, expect to go through batteries even if you turn the camera off. Obviously, turning off the WiFi will save some life, but its still going to eat it up.
2) Speed. It’s going to slow you down. Not necessarily a bad thing.
3) Understanding of the differences between 35mm and Medium Format when it comes to Depth of Field and Focal length. All tied to the sensor, which is 60% larger. Once you understand the difference, its simple. Allow for about 2 stops difference when it comes to Depth of Field. Meaning, when shooting 8.0 on a Medium Format its going to look like 4.0 on a 35mm. So, 2.8 on a MF is going to be like shooting 1.4 or 1.2 – very very shallow. Special thanks to Capture Integration for breaking it down into English for me. I appreciate all your help and support in this transition.
4) Change. It’s the toughest thing for us to all accept. We get comfortable with what we know. Change is hard. It’s uncomfortable. This was new for me and it will be a transition.

All in all, I love this new camera. The challenges I had in the field are not nearly enough to dissuade me from using the camera for shooting weddings and portraits. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. The results speak for themself.

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When I looked at what I have spent on various 35mm equipment – a 1dx costs about $7k without glass – and realized I can get into a medium format camera for roughly the same price point and get twice the pixels or more quality – the switch was a no brainer. If you are interested in a medium format option for your business PLEASE contact the people over at Capture Integration – ask for Dave – he is Scottish and shares a passion for Scotch like I do. ☺ I cannot say enough good things about them and their team. They have been a true partner helping me understand the equipment, how to integrate it into my current workflow, and just guiding me through the process. You don’t want to work with someone who is going to sell you a camera and then disappear.

Until next time.

Sal

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Phase One and the IQ260 France photo shoot // Mont Saint-Michel

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