Phase One | IQ160 Product Review

Phase One | IQ160 Product Review



Phase One and Capture Integration @ Salvatore Cincotta Photography

What a day it was. We had the Phase One and Capture Integration team join us here in st louis for a trial run of their Phase One 645DF+, IQ160 digital back – a full frame 60megapixel camera with 12.5 stops of dynamic range and a 150mm lens @ F8.

I have to be honest, I have been shooting Canon for my entire career. the thought of a medium format camera for what I do just seemed unnecessary and impractical. I mean, if I needed it, Canon would have surely created it already, right? 😉

I met the Phase One team in las vegas during WPPI and we hit it off right out of the gate. Wow, I thought, I could actually have a relationship with a camera company where I am not just another shooter. They actually care about my business and want to customize the product for me? Good luck EVER meeting your Canon or Nikon rep.

We had one of our high school senior models, Heather, come in and model for us, she is now a sophomore in college. Obviously, you never want to play and test new gear with paying clients.

This is not a full review at all. I will post one in the future for sure. For now, I just wanted to post some initial thoughts and findings. My concerns going in were simple. Would a medium format camera work for my portrait and wedding business? Would there be a discernible difference in the image quality? One that my clients  would notice? Would it help me stand out even further from the crowd?

YES!!! Wow. There is no way to describe this in words. A picture is the only way to drive this point home.

I have photographed in my studio hundreds and hundreds of times. Same light set up, same backdrop, etc. All using my Canon 1dx. Never, has an image looked like this! NEVER!

Out of camera the first thing you will notice is the depth and clarity of the shot. I feel like I am looking at her in real life. The post production on this minimal. Color, contrast and minor enhancements. No HDR or magical sun flares to enhance this.

I am just blown away. 1) I can’t stop starring at it. and 2) I can’t stop thinking about how this will change my senior and glamor business. The quality of these images and the dynamic range is just ignorant. I have never seen anything like this. I know I keep saying that, but that’s because it’s true.

To see the detail, check out what her eyes look like at 600% zoom. Yes, 600% zoom! The image is still tack sharp. You can see pore detail. You can see the baby hairs on her face. Try that with any 35mm and the image will fall apart. This is a superior image all the way around.

I know what you are thinking, do a side by side comparison Sal. Show us more! I will. That will be next. I was just so excited to share this with you, I wanted to get it out on our blog.

Here is what I took away.

1- This camera must be mine!
2- The service and relationship from Phase One and Capture Integration is second to none.
3- The platform – camera, lenses, post production tools are second to none.
4- This will without a doubt help me differentiate my business from every other photographer out there with a camera. It will be impossible to reproduce an image like this with any 35mm camera.
5- I will be incorporating this into my high school seniors, glamor portraits and weddings ASAP!

more to come…

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Enrico Quaglia

    Hi. I’m also thinking of going medium format for both my wedding business, but most of all, for the pleasure of doing personal work with the best possible quality. I’m currently in the midst of deciding between the IQ140 or the P65+ and just can’t decide. Refurbished, price is almost the same but I can’t find a definite answer to whether the larger sensor of the P65 will give me visible advantages in image quality compred to the IQ which has a smaller sensor, but boasts other goodies instead. Anyone?

  2. Dan T.

    This falls right in your alley; making the clients say, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Looking forward to your review.

  3. Jason M

    Sal, great shots. WOW, the depth and clarity are amazing. I have no doubt that the phaseone would take your photos to the next level. Just curious, have you checked out Hasselblad?
    I shot medium format in the day’s of film, kinda miss it . This year I started to look back at medium format. I was leaning towards the big H. I will be waiting for the rest of your review.
    Thanks for posting.


    1. admin

      I have not tried the Hasselblad… realistically… i dont see myself making it towards the H. after playing with this thing… i am sold. part 2 will be coming out shortly, but i plan on doing a detailed review of the 1dx compared to the phase one unit.

  4. Tony Bze

    U need not say too much more on the model, she is one natural born beauty, plus the camera help bring that out. Good Job.

  5. R. J. Kern

    Sal, you are 100% on in your observations. I only wish we had a chance to hang in Vegas. My experience with Capture One and PhaseOne exceeds even highest expectations I could ask for. You are making the right decisions, just be sure to ask yourself the right questions, too. Image quality, leaf shutter capabilities, low native iso, and 16-bit capture aside, there are some solid business considerations as well I share here >>

  6. Tom Miles

    Sal, I was able to shoot a few images with an IQ40, courtesy of Brian Muntz, last year. It didn’t take very long, maybe 5-10 minutes for me to shoot one of my all time favorite wedding images. Everything about that camera and what it gave me was spectacular. No one here has really talked about the interface. I really loved the simple placement of the buttons on the back, and the touch screen. Everything was very intuitive and simple. I’m hoping to figure out a way to get one. Very cool image by the way!

  7. Dave Gallagher


    I need to intervene and correct the wrong estimates on pricing here. The Phase One P65 is not 50k nor was it ever 50k. Often we hear that 50k rumor get started and once it is stated it becomes the truth just like the Geico French Model commercials. The 60 Megapixel full frame medium format P65+ can be purchased for $18,000 today. And you can buy a Phase One 40mp P40+ for $9,990. These are real prices not the exaggerated prices stated here. The unit that Sal tested was a prototype that is not shipping today but the actual output quality is very similar to the P65+ that sells for under 20k.

    Also, I don’t agree that many can not afford medium format backs. You will find that you can add a 40mp back to an existing MF system for under 10k or a 31mp back for under 8k. That is only a small fraction above the Canon 1Dx and would get that old Hasse 500 out of your closet and working again.

    Thanks for the great sneak peek Sal! I am very excited to see what you will be able to achieve with this technology.

    1. admin

      thanks for setting the record straight on pricing Dave… 🙂 I was in over my head… all i know is i liked what was coming off my camera. 🙂

  8. John

    These pics are stunning but I just wonder why you are surprised that using a much bigger sensor gives you higher quality images
    How many photographers can afford to buy this kind of gear, not a lot I suspect.

    1. admin

      i guess i am surprised because i have never shot one before. so i had nothing at all to compare it to. knowing it has a bigger sensor and seeing the results first hand are two very different things. i see a lot of people talking price… the face of the matter is… they have versions you can get into for less than 10k that are stunning and will last longer than the typical 2-3years of my 35mm. and considering i paid nearly 7 for my 1dx – this starts looking like a viable option… i agree not everyone can afford one… but thats the point… i want to stand out from the crowd. 🙂

  9. Jessica

    For 50k it should walk and talk too.

  10. dave ko

    this camera is out of my price range for sure. at least for now, but i have somewhat fond memories of capture one software. you can get incredible color from capture one and the raw conversion is great. only thing is the software is a bit buggy and quirky. the images look fantastic! but i’m not doing 10 foot prints of the photos i take so my d800’s 36mp will have to do. but i do like the phase backs more than the hasselblads.

  11. Brian

    Sal I have been following you for quite awhile and this is simply amazing. Only draw back is I know for my purposes I will never be able to afford this camera and as you said, kinda makes our OLD gear look like a toy. Stunning though, for sure. Keep us posted.

    1. admin

      thanks brian… and dont give up just yet. thats what i thought… turns out they have models that while more expensive than a 35mm are surprisingly within reach and with payment terms. i was surprised and happy to hear at the same time.

  12. Joseph Abenhaim

    Their previous model digital back (P65+) which was also 60mp was around 50k, lenses range from 3 to 5k for portrait needs and the body i believe is around 3.5-5k again those were quotes from the previous model they had at last years WPPI. Def not a small investment.

    1. admin

      not a small investment at all. but that is what it is… an investment for sure.

  13. Ed Lee

    Sal, I noticed you didn’t mention the price of such a camera or what lens (es) you used. I’m also interested in spoiling myself a bit more this year and the phase one seems like something to help me in the race to be different.

    1. admin

      price? not 100% sure. we used their 150mm lens. it was gorgeous! they have all sorts of options, financing, refurbished, etc. I would contact them directly for more info. trust me, you wont regret it.

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