From the BlogSubscribe Now

11/10/15 Springtime at Haw Creek Falls–A great place to spend a day in Arkansas

Haw Creek Falls, waterfalls in Arkansas

Springtime View of Haw Creek Falls in the Arkansas Ozarks

Taken with a Phase One IQ260 and Arca rm3di tech camera/40mm Rodenstock lens

This is a typical day at Haw Creek falls, and I was again lucky to be there without anyone else to stand around and get in the way during the shoot.  Haw Creek is a lovely smallish creek that runs in the Big Piney Creek, not far from these falls.  The falls are impressive since there is a large ledge that runs all the way across the creek and in higher water conditions the water will start to consume the entire ledge.  I like to catch water about like this, just enough to keep most of the ledge in play but not too much to flood out the rocks below the falls.  To get this shot, I used my Arca rm3di camera which allows movements like a large format camera with my digital camera back.  The shot is actually a composite of 3 images, Left, Center and Right.  The Left and Right segments represent 16mm of shift in those respective directions.  This allows you to create a very high resolution panorama without any of the issues like parallax.  The lens I used was as 40mm Rodenstock HR-W which allows for an excellent field of view when shifted.

You have to be careful when working Haw Creek as there tends to be a lot of wind blowing down the creek.  In most cases, I prefer to take a 1 to 4 second exposure of the water which in most cases will have a lot of wind blur in the trees.  So you have make sure to cover the tree movement with a second series of exposures around 1/125 to 1/250 to stop the wind movement.  It’s a simple process to combine the files later since I am using a tech camera and the movements are very precise.  To allow the longer exposures I used both a Circular Polarizer and a Neutral Density filter.    The polarizer will help with glare on the water and rocks and adds about 1.5 stops of exposure to the shot.  As this was a bright day, I had to use a 1.2x ND filter.  When I was taking the faster exposures for the trees, I left the polarizer on, but took the ND filter off as I no longer needed the extra exposure compensation.

As I already mentioned, Haw Creek Falls, tends to be overrun with people during the peak times of the year.  The best day to go is a Monday as there will not be as many people at the campground and thus less traffic around the falls.  There are some great swimming spots above the falls in the large pool that is created by the ledge.  It’s a great place to head to when you know you have some water running in the creek.  Also the Ozark Highlands Trail runs right by Haw Creek falls, so if you are planning a hike on this part of the trail make sure to stop and take a look.

The falls run year round, but the best times to photograph them are in the early Spring and winter when water levels are more consistent.  In the summer and fall you can sometimes get lucky after a locally heavy rainstorm and catch the falls running.  The fall display here is wonderful if you can catch it at the right time.

09/18/14 Phase One Announcements from Photokina 2014

Phase One Silver Fleet

Phase One Corporation

As the big show starts to wind down, I though it would be good write about what Phase One considered to be significant announcements during the Photokina Photo Expo, current being held in Germany.

You can list out the major announcements here:

  1. The new IQ150
  2. Capture 1 version 8
  3. Enhanced trade in for P65+ backs (an additional 6K)
  4. Phase One & Alpa Strategic Alliance
  5. Major Change in the Value Add Warranty for IQ2 Digital Backs Value add only now, no classic 1 year.

What was not announced was a new medium format camera body, one to replace the aging Phase One DF+.  Many photographers felt that Phase One would at least talk about the progress on this.  The DF+ body is a good solid body, but at a list price of approximately 5K, it’s a bit overpriced for the feature set that it contains.  From reading between the lines, I feel that the new camera body is something that will made by Sony and when it does come out, will be revolutionary.  Many are looking for mirror-less, but I don’t see that, but possibly the first Medium Format  body with an EVF would be something to talk about.  But for now that’s all speculation.  Lets look at what was announced.

1. The New IQ150

Not too much to talk about here, expect it appears that Phase One is a bit concerned about the Pentax 645z and Hasselblad 50c.  Both of these solutions list for much less than the Phase One IQ250 (at around 34K US).  The new IQ150 is the same chip, same case as the IQ250, but no WiFi.  It appears to have all the other features like focus mask, built in level, high end LCD touch, etc.  However looking on the Phase One site, it’s really hard to tell.  The IQ150 ships with a 1 year warranty, that also appears to be non value add and the IQ150 lists for $29.990, lets say 30K.  So all Phase One did, is take off WiFi, lower the price by 4 K, but if you purchase the IQ150 and add the 4K value add, (which is what the cost has been in the past), you are right back to the base price of the IWQ250.   It’s also not clear if you can purchase a value add warranty for the IQ150.  You would have to talk to your dealer on that.  It will also be interesting to see how the new “lower” priced model has any effect of the Hasselblad 50c or Pentax 645z cameras, both of which are less expensive.

2. Capture One Vr 8.

Everything good here.  Phase One has taken an already excellent software to a new level.  They added a lot of new features and re-worked the processing engine.  If you are a current user of Capture One Vr7, the upgrade is still 99.00.  If you are new to Capture One, you can opt for a monthly subscription service or wait until Phase One sees the need to sell the base licenses for $150.00 as they recently did for Vr7.  Hope if you recently purchased Vr7 you are able to get a grace period to move to vr8 as it’s a much better software.  The advances that Phase One made to the Local Adjustment layers alone to me are worth the cost to upgrade.  You can still download the software for a 60 day trial.  I believe there is also a pro version if you want to just use the software with a Phase One Digital back, which in the past has been free.  Capture One Digital Back, not Pro.  Pro allows you work with other camera platforms like Nikon, Canon, and Sony.

3.  Enhanced trade in for P65+ upgrades to IQ280

If you are looking for a upgrade, this is great deal.  Currently it appears that the trade in is 21K for a used P65+, and now you can add an extra 6K to that, so 27K.  That is a great offer if you are looking to upgrade.  This would bring the cost of the IQ280 to about 25K or so.  You would still have to add in the cost of the Value Add Warranty.  Phase One is now claiming that the value add warranty is cheaper than before. so that is also a good thing.  In the past I have been quoted between 4.5K and 4K for various Value Add Warranties from Phase One, back dependent.

4. Phase One and Alpa Strategic Alliance

From 50 thousand feet, Phase One has decided to partner with Alpa Camera.  Alpa, based in Switzerland, is one of 3 major players in the technical camera (pancake) market.   It’s safe to assume that soon there will be a Phase One branded tech camera made by Alpa on the market.  Not sure yet what this means for the rest of the tech world, namely Cambo and Arca, but this move by Phase One may have  them looking to partner with Hasselblad.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.  I do hope that any improvements to the LCC processing that Phase One develops with Alpa can be passed down to users of non Alpa tech cameras, like myself.

5. Major Change in the Value Add Warranty for IQ2 back.

From what I have been able to pick up from the dealer community in the US, if you purchase a IQ2 back, (250,260 260 achromatic, 280), the value add warranty is now included in the purchase price.  THIS IS BIG DEAL, as before a value add warranty was always an additional purchase feature, in the range of 4 to 5K.  The value add warranty includes the use of a loaner back while your back in for repair.  The photographer is still responsible to pay for the shipping of their back to Phase One.

If you purchase a IQ140, 150, 160 or 180, the 1 year classic warranty is still included with the purchase price.  I assume that you can purchase a 5 year value add if you prefer.  However if you are looking at either an upgrade from an older back or purchase of a new IQ back, the purchase of the IQ2 should be a better alternative.  Kudo’s to Phase One for changing this policy.





09/17/14 Arca FP (Modular Focal Plane Shutter) and R cameras has full wide lens support

I just heard this morning from Rod Klukas, the U.S. Arca representative, that the new Arca FP  will work with the wider lenses, Rodenstock 23mm and 28mm, and possibly the 28XL Schneider.  This is very good new for me as I did not want to have to break my current system into two parts.  My widest lens is the 28mm HR Rodenstock and it’s a great lens on my IQ260 Phase back.

I will still need to purchase a new lens tube for the 28mm as with all of my other lenses, but I can have come to grips with that now.  My temper is sated as I now can use this wonderful lens, the Rodenstock 28mm HR.

I look forward to taking delivery of an Arca FP sooner than later and will report back once I get one and the other equipment needed to operate it.

rm3di focal plane shutter

New Arca Swiss Focal Plane Shutter for R series Cameras

Here is another picture of the Arca FP, showing where the back will mount and the various connection ports to the side.




09/16/14 Arca FPS (Focal Plane Shutter) lens issues clarified

Yesterday, I was very excited by Arca’s announcement of the new FP (Focal Plane Shutter).  I knew that this device was in the works well over 10 months but had been asked to keep all mention of it off the web.  Arca  is a small company based in France, with basically no website, so getting information about current and future products can be very difficult.  The FP shutter was the one single item that Arca was working on that really had my excitement and interest.  The main reason being:

  1. It was going to “fit” into the current r cameras rm3di or rm3dl in a modular fashion
  2. All existing lenses with R mounts would work
  3. Price point was going to be around $1,800.00 for the shutter and all electronics needed to run it.
  4. Focal plane shutter would allow shutter settings of 1/3, 1/2 and 1/10 of a stop.

With the actual announcement, unfortunately, a few of these previous statements did not come true.

The FP is a real item, and it will be a modular attachment to the current R series cameras, see my previous post for more information.  Here is a picture of the FP

rm3di focal plane shutter

New Arca Swiss Focal Plane Shutter for R series Cameras

Knowing the Arca does excellent design and that they make very good products in regards to quality, I have no doubt that this FP will work as designed.  There are just a few issues to be concerned with that I see.

I. The lenses that can be used will need a new modified lens tube installed.  The lens tube is the first ring of the R mount, and you can clearly see it in this photo.

Arcs R mount 28mm Rodenstock

Rodenstock 28mm HR in Arca R mount

The first ring, closest to the lens, with the name Sironar Digital HR on it, is the lens tube that will have to be modified.  Modified is not a good word as basically you will replace it with a new one.  The lens will have to be measured, the measurements sent to Arca, and they will make a new ring.  I guess in the future with Arca, if you were to purchase a new lens, they might ship both rings.  OK, now lets add up the cost.  The rings are $350.00 each.  So if you are going to work with say 5 lenses, you will need to spend an additional $1,750.00 just to be able to use the new shutter.  I find this the most unappealing part of the deal, as Arca should consider giving a credit for the current ring as it will not be in use any more and might as well just be a fishing weight.   Plus you need to either drive your lens to an Arca representative or ship them and to ship and insure 10K of glass, I figure that will add about $250.00 to the cost.

II. The shutter is going to be controlled via a wifi attached controller.

The dEx controller.  I have to assume that this is not “part” of the shutter so it’s safe to say add another $1,200.00 to the total cost.  Plus it’s wifi controlled.  This is a new technology to implement, so I hope it’s well thought out.  If the wifi connection fails or disconnects in the field,  it appears you will not be able to fire the shutter.  This means you would have to removed the shutter from the R camera and the new modified lens tube, then reinstall the original lens tube.

Looks like the cost of the FP will also be a bit more than I had anticipated.  Here is an estimated breakout of the cost for using the shutter with 5 lenses.  This is based on pricing that was released late on the 18th of September 2014.  Pricing is much higher than I expected.  This easily approaches the cost of the Alpa FPS.  So competitive advantage based on pricing appears to have possibly gone out the window.  I was also hoping that the lens tube replacement would stay at $350.00, not $490.00.  More information needs to be out on that soon.

  • Cost of Shutter……………………………………………..$2,940.00
  • Cost of 5 lens tubes……………………………………….$2,500.00
  • Cost of mpu for shutter…………………………………..$1,400.00
  • Cost of wireless controller for shutter…………………$1,200.00
  • Total cost for FP shutter………………………………….$8,040.00

One other thought, as it appears that the dEx controller will be making a wifi connection, but to what?  I can’t see the controller depending on a digital back’s wifi (mainly because right now so few of them have it).  So what is the wifi all about.  Do you wifi to the controller with say a iPhone, to make the settings i.e. change shutter speed (that would be about all you could change on a shutter)?  If so, again, I have to wonder about that, as it makes you very dependent on the battery life of your phone and the battery life of the dEx.  To me it would be so much more efficient to have a hard connection to a device that can set the shutter.  It would become serendipitous to carry both lens tubes on any trip so if the shutter fails or can’t make a connection, you could re-install the old lens tube, pull out the shutter and shoot with the copol shutter already in the lens. This would of course only apply to lenses that already had the copol shutter installed.  I wonder if Arca will still sell new lenses with copols.

Even with the extra costs, I believe overall this is a good investment long term for a R camera user, and once a Phase One back comes out with Live View that is full frame and works with movements with minimal crosstalk effects (which create color saturation loss on shifts), the photographer in the field will have quite a system.





09/15/14 Big news from Arca Swiss–New FS (Focal Plane) shutter for R series cameras

rm3di focal plane shutter

New Arca Swiss Focal Plane Shutter for Arca Swiss Cameras

##################UPDATE LATE 09/15/14#######################

09/15/14 Final details from Rod Klukas–U.S. Arca Representative

I heard from Rod a while ago, he is out at Photokina.  Here are the missing details.

“The FPA is similar in depth to Rota slide ot mount.  But you will need a new lens tube to use the FPS.
You can send me the lens, for measuring and checking.  I take precision measurements and check out another thing.
Then I can return the lens to you or the customer for use without FPS shutter.  A new tube to be used with the lens and the FPS combo will be custom made
in France.
If using FPS, you use the new FPS tube, if not go back to the old tube to use lens with Rotamount or Centerl/Leaf shutter.
Cost for FPS tube is $350.00 each lens.  Still far cheaper than a whole set of lenses.  And quite compact.
32mm lens is widest useable lens.”
I am not sure, even though I own and use one, exactly what the lens tube is, but it sounds like it’s part of the various set of rings that come with each R mounted lens.  From Rod’s notes, it’s apparent that if you wan to use the FPS on your existing lenses, you need to send them to Rod, (if in the US) or your Arca dealer to be measured.  Then Arca/France will make a new tube for the lens.  Sounds a bit tedious, and is not what I had expected, but I guess it works.  The cost of 6 tubes @ $350.00 is $2,100.00, the estimated price of the shutter unit itself is $1,800.00, and I can safely assume the electronic module to control it another 1,200.00.  So I guess you would be close to 5K to move to the “shutter”
This is disturbing enough, but the lack of being able to use the 28mm Rodenstock HR is a real killer for me.  Sounds like if you want a wide lens and use the shutter, you will have to upgrade to the 7.5K Rodenstock 32 HR-W.  Not what I really wanted to do.



I opened my email this morning, and I found this link!!  Well all I can say is that it’s about time.  Arca Swiss has been working a new modular shutter for their R series cameras for over a year now.  I first heard rumors about this shutter back in January of 2014,  and was told that users should expect shipments of the Focal Plane version in the May 2014 time frame.  May rolled around, and nothing happened, and then June, July, etc.  Finally now in early September, Arca as taken the bull by the horns and announced what may be one of the most significant single additions to their R camera line since the original R cameras were first announced about 8 years ago.

What is this, well, it’s a Focal Plane shutter, that will fit as a module in a R camera, examples, rm3di, factum, rm3dl.  I also should work in the large scale Acra cameras for 4 x 5 setups.  This could not come at a better time, (well I sure would have liked to see Arca not wait till September) as the Copol manual leaf shutters are no longer being made.  You can read more about that in this article I wrote over a year ago.  If you use a tech camera, with Schneider or Rodenstock lenses with a Medium format back, then the stoppage of the Copols is a big deal.  There are some still left in inventory, but within 2 years, I expect those to dry up.  Which means that all the lenses need some form of a new shutter.

Arca answered this actually two ways:

  • The announcement of the Focal Plane module that fits into the existing cameras ( I would love to see just how the shutter fits in the camera)
  • The announcement of a new leaf shutter that is electronic and fits around the lens.  This is much larger situation and could have some fit problems as all these style shutters do.

Here is a picture of the new Leaf shutter that will fit on the actual lens.

The new Arca electronic leaf shutter

The new Arca electronic leaf shutter

If you have any existing Copol shutter mounted lens, then you will have to send it back to Arca an maybe even Rodenstock or Schneider to have the shutter replaced.  As this will need recolimation and I am not sure if Acra can do that but it’s very critical.

Both of the shutters will be controlled by an controller that is a separate purchase.  I am assuming that it will connect to the back somehow maybe via the PC port or via USB.

If it’s only USB, this can possibly cause a big issue for users like myself who are using Surface Pro computers in the field to tether to.  You only get the one USB connection on the back, and if it’s taken up by the tethering connection, then you would not be able to use the shutter.  Not good.

You can see the controller unit here:

Arca Swiss dEx controller

The Acra Swiss dEx controller

From looking at these pictures the dEx controller has a mini USB port on the right side, which implies to me that it’s going to attached to the back via the USB port, which will eliminate the use of the port for tethered operation.  THIS IS A HUGE SHOW STOPPER FOR ME IF IT ONLY ATTACHES VIA USB, AS IT MEAN, NO MORE TETHERED OPERATION IN THE FIELD.  Being able to shoot tethered in the field with a Surface Pro 2 is major advantage for me.

Looking at this, I am imagining the following.  The control unit is attached to the FP shutter via USB.  But what does the shutter to connect to the back with?  When you look at the shutter, there are several ports with different labels.  Maybe it connects via the flash sync port or the one directly below??

From talking to various Arca reps, I know that this shutter has been in the works now for almost a year or longer.  I am glad to see Arca announce it, and hopefully they will be able to ship it in volume soon.  More pictures are needed maybe even a video!!,  MAYBE EVEN A WEBSITE WITH LINKS!!!!!!  I know that’s too much to ask.



08/28/13 Supply of Copal Shutters is drying up and no real replacement solution has been developed

Copal shutter 0 for use with Rodenstock and Schneider lenses

Copal Shutter 0 for use with Rodenstock and Schneider lenses

A while back I wrote a entry about the fact that Copal was no longer going to make the Copal 0 shutter.  For many photographers, the idea of a manual shutter is more than likely beyond comprehension as they are used to the modern electronic shutters that work in all DSLR cameras and Medium format cameras like the Phase One DF+ and Pentax 645 Digital cameras.  Here all you have to do is set the shutter from the camera controls, and take the shot.  The lens and camera communicate and the aperture is automatically stopped down a micro-second before the shutter opens.  Of course this is the way all modern cameras work unless you are working with a Large format camera or a tech camera.  Large format cameras can take either a film back or digital back, and most tech cameras are designed to work with a Medium format digital back.  In both situations, you are using a lens that has no communication electronically to the camera body, instead you have to manually set both the shutter and aperture.  The aperture is controlled by the aperture ring on the lens and this is controlled by the lens manufacturer i.e. Rodenstock or Schneider.   However neither of these companies manufacture a shutter.

Rodenstock and Schneider both have a very modern line-up of lenses that have been optimized for the higher end Medium Format Digital backs, like the Phase One P65+, IQ160 and IQ180.  However all of these lenses are still dependent on the Copal shutter 0.  (Both Schneider and Rodenstock make electronic shutters but as I explain below in most cases these shutters are not very practical).

The shutter in this case, is fitted between the lens elements during the creation of the lens.  By far the most common shutter in use today is the Copal shutter 0.  This shutter is used with every Rodenstock and Schneider lens that is being made currently and will also be installed in any of the older lenses made by both of these companies.  The Copal shutter is made in Japan and as far as I know has been the standard shutter for these lenses for years.  These shutters are also called leaf shutters by their design as they are placed inside the lens and thus the camera is not dependent on having a shutter installed.

About 4 months ago, Copal announced that they would no longer be making their manual shutters.  Apparently this part of their business model is not a large one and they are moving on with other products.  Copal is quite a large Japanese electronic company and they have many other products that are still being made.  So what does this mean?

For most photographers, nothing.  They are using cameras with focal plane shutters, ones that are built into the camera body, not the lens.  However for a small group of photographers, this is a huge deal.  These are the photographers using either large format cameras or tech cameras.  There are three tech camera companies, Alpa, Cambo and Arca and all of these companies design pancake cameras that are designed to use a medium format digital back and a Rodenstock or Schneider lens.  In this case the tech camera is basically just a platform that holds the digital back and lens for the photographer.  All tech cameras are totally dependent on the Copal shutter 0 since they are using lenses that require this shutter.

Eventually Rodenstock and Schneider will have to come up with a replacement shutter solution as they can no longer manufacture their lenses without a shutter solution.  I am curious as to just how many Copal shutters that each of these companies have in stock as it’s impossible to find a Copal shutter to purchase.  Companies like B&H photo have been back ordered for months and I am pretty sure that they will not be getting anymore stock.  When the original announcement came out on Copal discontinuing the Copal shutter 0, it was implied that there would be one last batch made.  As far as I can tell, no new shipments of these shutters has occurred.

If you have a tech camera or large format camera, this might not seem like a big deal.  But it will turn into one eventually for these reasons:

[Read more…]

06/15/13 Phase One failures using Silver vs Black batteries

Silver vs Black Phase One 7.2 volt Lithium Ion Batteries

Silver vs Black Phase One 7.2 volt Lithium Ion Batteries

As many Phase One users may know the main battery used in most modern Phase One Digital backs, is based on a Canon Video camera battery.  In fact in the older Phase One cameras which had the battery external to the back, like the P45+, P65+ etc. you could use Canon’s AC adapter/battery setup on Phase One cameras which gave you a much longer life in the field.  This all ended however when Phase One decided to place the batteries inside the case as in the newer IQ series of backs.

One issue I have had with all Phase One batteries, is that they don’t’ tend to last very long in the field.  The older batteries were 2600 millamp hours and in most cases with a IQ160 I would get about 2 hours or less in the field.  When Phase One announced the IQ backs, they also increased the millamp rating on their batteries to 2900.  In a nutshell millamps tells you how long a battery will last at charge i.e. 2600 will last a shorter period of time than 2900.  However as I also moved to a tech camera setup with my IQ 160, I found that my battery use increased considerably.  Since the IQ backs don’t really have a very good live view I tend to do a considerable amount of checking after a series of shots.  In the past 6 months, I have found that some of this review is no longer necessary as I have gotten much more confident with my tech camera and focus.  The ultimate solution is still a better live view but as long as Phase uses CCD technology, I have been told this will not happen.

So what do you do when you know you will be in the field all day or maybe two or three days?  You carry a bunch of batteries.  About the time I was introduced to the Phase One IQ series of digital backs, I also discovered that there was a much cheaper battery alternative.  Ebay and some U.S. Phase One dealers sell a silver battery which looks and feels just like the black Phase One branded cells.  They are all 2600 millamp but at 1/2 the price.  My thoughts were  to just purchase more of the silver cells and then carry them on trips.  They don’t weight that much and charged up with the same Phase One charger.  In fact I designed a battery sleeve that I could carry over my shoulder, based on a hunters belt.  The Phase One batteries will fit into the same size as a 12 gauge shotgun shell!

At first, I really noticed no differences and pretty much stopped using my older Phase One LI batteries.  Lithium cells in theory should not have a “battery life” issue but I noticed that my batteries that dated back to 2008 and 2009 where definitely getting shorter run times.  There is no way to “re-condition” a lithium cell like you can with Ni-Mh cells.  However in early 2013 I started to notice some strange issues with the Silver batteries, on my IQ160.

I had been shooting with the Arca rm3di, with various lenses, for about 1 hour.  The battery installed was starting to get low, not blinking yet.  In the past I have seen an error where the camera will tell me “no storage available” when I have plenty of room on the card left, and that has que’d me into looking at the battery level.
 On this day, I got that same error, looked and the battery indicator was on the last indicator.  So I powered off the back, and replaced the battery.  Here is where the strange behavior starts.
  1. The first silver battery I installed, did not power the back up.  I double checked that it had locked and it did.  This battery had come straight from the Phase charger, and showed 100%, one of the silver batteries.    I went back and pulled the 2nd silver battery from the charger, which also showed 100%
  2. The 2nd fully charged silver battery did power up the back.  All seemed fine so I continued to shoot.  However after each shot, I noticed that the battery indicator would drop from full, to 1/2, to the lowest indicator while the back was writing the file.  As soon as the file was finished writing the battery indicator would return to 100%.
  3. When I attempted to zoom to 100%, the zoom went to over 200% and locked.  I could not go back down to normal view with a double tap.  I had to power off and power back on.  This series of errors happen several times, then I noticed on the right side, where the histogram should be there was nothing even though I could double tap the histogram to view it at 100% and then it showed up. Also both focus mask and the highlight warning would not engage when tapped.
This all went on for about 5 minutes as I tried to work the back.  I finally took out the 8GB scan disk ultra card and tried a different card, but the same things happened.  In frustration, I powered off, went back and pulled yet a 3rd battery this time a black Phase One cell, which had been charged up a couple of days’ ago.  This time all the functions came back and the back seemed to work correctly.
All of this strange activity happened in about 20 minutes, the outdoor temperature was about 92 degrees and I was working in the sun.  I finished up the testing with the black Phase One cell, but contacted my dealer Digital Transitions on Monday about the problems.  I was concerned that something might be going wrong with the back and it needed to be sent off to Phase One.  Digital Transitions took a different tack and asked me to try out the back in the same conditions but only to use the black Phase One cells, which I did, in fact  on 3 separate shoots total hours 12 to 14.  No problems and no repeats except  for the low storage warning when the Phase One cells shows low.  NO other problems which was a relief.
All of this strange activity happened in about 20 minutes, the outdoor temperature was about 92 degrees and I was working in the sun.  I finished up the testing with the black Phase One cell, but contacted my dealer  Digital Transitions  on Monday about the problems.  I was concerned that something might be going wrong with the back and it needed to be sent off to Phase One.  Digital Transitions took a different tack and asked me to try out the back in the same conditions but only to use the black Phase One cells, which I did, in fact  on 3 separate shoots total hours of back usage 8 to 10 hours.  No problems and no repeats except  for the low storage warning when the Phase One battery indicator shows low.  NO other problems which was a relief.
Silver vs Black Phase One 7.2 volt batteries no 2

Silver vs Black Phase One 7.2 volt batteries no 2

Out of curiosity I went back to the silver cells and worked with them in the IQ160.  I had two of them that had been in my pack which had been sitting in the sun.  The batteries were at 100% full charge, and when I placed one of them in the IQ160, I noticed that it was not fully engaging the brackets that hold the battery in place.  When a new battery is placed in the IQ160 back (or older P series backs) the back always powers up.  What happened when I placed the silver battery inside was that the back powered up, briefly then the screen went blank and the back powered off.  I double checked that the battery was still locked into place and it was.  However even locked in place you could still move the battery around and as I did this the back powered back on again.  It seems that over time the outer casing material of the silver batteries, may expand, and contract and as it contracts it slightly deforms the shape of the battery enough that the slot where the battery fits on the IQ160 does not hold the battery firmly.  I have also had several silver batteries that did not want to come out of the back after they were used.  I first noticed this about 6 months ago, on silver batteries I had been using for about 8 months.  This behavior implies that as the silver battery is used it gets hot (normal for a LI battery during discharge) but the silver case is also expanding and contracting causing deformations.  Over time these deformations can cause the silver batteries to either:

  1. Stick inside the IQ back, and become very hard to remove
  2. Not fit snug enough in the case and allow movement which will either not give the correct voltage to the back and cause errors.

With the older P series backs where the battery is external to the back, this issue is moot since the battery is held in place by a hard metal sleeve and it can’t slide around.

I have not noticed any cracks in the silver batteries, but as a safety measure, I have stopped using them.  I would not have any issues using them on a older P series back however like  P45+.

These are the results of one person’s usage of a IQ160 and the silver batteries that are sold to replace the standard black Phase One cells.  If you have using these silver batteries and are experiencing any of these issues, before you send your IQ off to Phase One, try working only with the black Phase One batteries and see if your problems persist.